Friday, August 31, 2007

Five Years and Counting

Back at the end of July, Matt and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. The five years have gone quickly in some ways and slowly in others. I have been blessed with a pretty wonderful partner to share home ownership, dog ownership, parenthood, and my life with. Matt is fiercely loyal and the best gift he has given me is the knowledge that he loves me. I was lucky to find one of the good ones.

This year Matt had a special anniversary gift for me and he gave it to me a week early; here's why:

On July 20, one week before our anniversary, my friend, Erin, had a baby. She even called me that morning to tell me about it and while I was on the phone with her, Harper went into the spare bedroom and did this:


You are looking at my iPod, and the ear buds for my iPod, which Harper had cut into three pieces. I remember things getting quiet when I was (so briefly!) on the phone with Erin and finding Harper in the spare bedroom, which she isn't normally allowed in by herself. I removed her from the room, not noticing the iPod until later. When I did notice it, let's just say I was a little upset. I know Harper doesn't understand the concept that I had to now go out and spend money to replace the ear buds, but that didn't stop me from being furious.

Later that same afternoon, Harper was in her room, "napping." It had been very quiet and I was under the impression that she had fallen asleep. But no, she wasn't sleeping. When I opened the door to check on her, I found she had been busy with a container of Vaseline. She had been "painting" with it, all over her windows, floor, curtains, shirt, and the back of her rocking chair. The container, which had been nearly full, was empty when I found what she was doing. The Vaseline was so thick on the windows that I had to use a squeegee to clean it off before I could even attempt to apply glass cleaner. The cushion on the rocking chair is, of course, dry clean only, and it cost us over $50 to get the Vaseline out of it.

Fortunately Matt was home that afternoon because, after the morning with the iPod, I did not handle the Vaseline incident all that well.

Sigh.

I understand that Harper is not going to be well behaved all the time, but I did not sign up for property destruction. And, yes, I should have closed the door to the spare bedroom. And, yes, I should have made sure the Vaseline was somewhere Harper couldn't reach it. Hindsight is 20-20.

So there I was, having a lousy afternoon, and Matt walks out to the living room and says, "I was saving this for next week, but I think you need it today." He handed me a stack of papers including:

-airplane tickets
-a condo reservation
and
-two passes to DisneyWorld!*

In addition to making all the travel arrangements Matt arranged for our parents to watch Harper for the week (yes, an entire week, seven days, together!!!) and contacted my professor to make sure he scheduled the trip around my fall class.

See?

Loves me.

We are going to be there from September 8, (Yes, we leave next Saturday!) to September 15. I only feel a little guilty about going to DisneyWorld without Harper. Then I think about what it would be like to take a two-year-old to DisneyWorld, or on an airplane, and I don't feel badly anymore.


(*I love DisneyWorld and Matt has never been there. We were supposed to go on a trip there the fall before Harper was born, but our hotel was leveled by a hurricane and we had to cancel the trip. I have always wanted to go there with Matt once without taking children along; that way he can experience the magic without schlepping a stroller, waiting in line with whining kiddos, and finding every bathroom in the Magic Kingdom.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why Parents of Two-Year-Olds Drink After Bedtime

Before I had a child I really considered myself a patient person, but Harper brings me to the end of my rope so quickly. . . and usually laughs about it, making me fear that we are raising a psychopath. I have been told that this is typical two-year-old behavior, if that's the case, three can't get here fast enough.

Harper and I actually had a very nice day today. We had accumulated books and videos from three different area libraries and made the rounds to return them. We lingered at the library with the guinea pig and then picked some new books. When we got home Harper actually sat still and we read all ten library books, without interruption, which I believe is a new record.


After dinner tonight we settled down to a new game called Lucky Ducks. I purchased this game months and months ago (I know it was before Easter), when I found it on clearance at Target for $6, but we only gave it to Harper on Monday. There are some serious flaws with this game: the motor is loud, it quacks incessantly when you play, the pieces don't fit back in the box well, and there is a four pointed shape which is supposed to be a star. While the shape is sort of star-ish, I am really surprised they couldn't manage an actual star. If the part of the point of the game is to teach shape recognition, you'd think the creators would have been able to come up with something a little more conventional. There are only four shapes in the game, it isn't like they had to come up with two dozen. Anyway. . .

Harper is in love with this game. Today she told me she loves it because she likes ducks, they make her happy when they quack. I like it because it doesn't take long to play and is not difficult to set up. When Harper is having a short attention span day we can play it twice and I don't feel like it was a waste. It is also easy to play six or seven (or 328) times in a row. I like that kind of versatility.

Harper has a pretty good command of shapes and colors, so I don't think this game is helping her make great academic strides, but the social elements of game playing are equally important at this age. She is great at taking turns. She struggles a little in the sportsmanship department. Now I am not one who thinks that children should win every game they play, but I do think they should win sometimes. This game is very difficult to throw. As a result, Harper loses at least as often as she wins, if not more. Those lucky ducks have given us lots of opportunities to discuss being a good sport. I don't think Harper totally gets it, but something is sinking in. Tonight, while she was having a fit and trying to get back in my good graces she said, "I promise I will be a good sport," but she wasn't referring to any sort of game play.


So we had a lovely afternoon and evening and as we started to put Lucky Ducks away, the stuff hit the fan. Harper had a complete and total meltdown, which included head butting me right in the face (charming) and ended with her being put in bed without any stories read and a rather forceful shutting of her bedroom door.

Just the way I like to end my day.

Not So Extreme Makeover: Harper Edition

Here's the thing; for a long, long time Harper had no hair. In the last year or so it has really grown a lot (a lot being totally relative). Back in February I took her for her first haircut, but I was pretty chicken about it and allowed very little of her hair to actually be cut. The good that came out of that first trip was the fact that Harper had a positive experience and was not scared to go back.

Once again, Harper's hair has been reaching such extremes of disarray, her style was starting to look like we woke up and stuck her finger in a socket every morning. I can tame it somewhat with barrettes and pigtails, but she usually ends up pulling them out halfway through the day and then her hair looks even more ridiculous than when we started.

If you have been reading for a while you'll know I have posted several times about the state of Harper's hair. I know that physical appearances are not everything and blah, blah, blah. The hair situation bothers me because it has started to look like we don't comb it or even wash it much and I don't want to be walking around with people following behind muttering, "neglect," and making mental notes to look up the number for CPS.

So here is Harper before the much needed haircut I took her for yesterday:




We headed off to see Miss Laura, the very woman who saved me from a disastrous haircut which happened the week after my honeymoon. Since then, no one else brings scissors anywhere near my hair. Harper wasn't afraid to get her hair cut, but she was very serious this time around, keeping an odd poker face and refusing to speak to Laura. What can I say? Welcome to my two-year-old.




The only thing I asked Laura not to touch were her bangs, because bangs would mean I have to either a) learn how to trim them myself (not likely) or b) take her every four to six weeks for another haircut (not happening). So we will still have a minor hair-in-the-face issue, but anything had to be better than that light socket look.

The after pictures:



Not bad!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Visiting

More pictures. . .

One of the best things about spending an entire week in Wisconsin is the chance to visit some extended family.


Mugga, Harper, and Great Grandma (my mom's mom)

Great Grandma, Harper, Great Grandpa (My dad's parents)

Harper and Rebecca, Harper's favorite relative.

Rebecca is my oldest cousin's daughter.

Nicole, Natalie, Harper, and Rebecca -- Natalie and Nicole are my only two first cousins on that side of the family who are girls.

Harper's love for Rebecca was enhanced significantly by the number of Dora-related play items. To Harper it must have seemed like visiting some kind of Dora fantasy land. Aside from a sit'n'spin, we are completely void of Dora toys.

And, finally, a video. I asked Harper if she was having fun and apparently she was having so much fun all she could do in response was fall over.

video

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last One for the Day, I Promise

All those zoo pictures and I forgot one of my favorites; Harper as the turtle you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley:

She looks like a turtle looking for trouble. And how I fear the ways in which that Attitude will manifest itself when she is a teenager!

(Keep scrolling down if you don't like to miss things, there were three new posts today.)

More Zoo Photos

I don't know why I've felt compelled to publish all these zoo photos, but here are a few more. My mom and dad are traveling in Europe right now and they, at least, will probably enjoy a few extra pictures of their only granddaughter.

There's a peacock behind Harper in the photo above.

You can see it better here, but miss the pretty flowers.

Harper and Auntie Shannon on the train.

Harper looking like she might have been asked to smile one too many times.

Slightly frightening goats that we didn't actually let Harper near. Because of her peanut allergy, animal feed is generally not a safe thing for her to have her hands in anyway. Based on the look of these goats, I was happy to have a solid reason for saying no!

Here Harper pets a much calmer goat who appears not to be regularly fed by zoo attendees.

She was looking for seals, which I failed to capture on camera, but don't you love her little silhouette?

One More Thing

Alexandra (Hi! Nice to meet you.) tagged me for an eight things meme. I am feeling a little repetitive since I just did the seven things last month. I am not sure I can come up with eight more random facts. . . and I am tempted to just add one to my previous list. But I won't be a cheater, here you are:

1. I love football season. I cheer heartily for the Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers. Last year when Brett Favre choked up during an interview after the last game of the season my entire family was in tears in our living room watching it. My brother, who is nearly 22, does not remember a time when Favre was not the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. I'm fairly serious when I say that one of the saddest things about living in Ohio for me is that I do not get to see the Packers play every weekend. Before I had a child I would nearly always find a bar where I could watch the game, now, not so much.

2. I'm listening to Mandy Moore's new CD right now. It's good. Not all pop-princess like her early stuff. She co-wrote this new album and it is in the singer/songwriter vein I so enjoy. Good job Mandy!

3. I started playing tennis as an adult. I only play occasionally now, another thing that fell by the wayside when I had a child, but I love it. I also really enjoy watching tennis on television and am excited about the U. S. Open. My tennis serve is all goofy (though effective) because of all the years I spent playing volleyball.

4. I have a MySpace page and no idea why. Actually that's not true, some of the musicians I follow had their schedules and things on MySpace and I had to get my own page to view their pages. So MySpace is pretty much a giant conspiracy. Want to be my friend?

5. I am predisposed to enjoying almost anything I find even remotely interesting. For example, I read several Sweet Valley University novels, borrowed from the library (at least I didn't purchase them), when I was way too old to be doing so. If our local library carried them, I would totally read the Gossip Girl novels (but I won't buy those either). Since our huge library system has not one single copy, I am thinking I should actually run in the other direction.

6. I am a little embarrassed by number 5. I want you to know that I also read lots of award winning, high quality literature. I read three Faulkner novels one summer when Oprah's book club had them published in a nice boxed set. (Although I think I lose a little credit if I only did it because Oprah told me to, so maybe that's not the best example.)

7. I am not picky about movies either. I don't like horror movies, but find movie watching in general to be a very pleasing experience. I saw Hairspray this weekend and loved it. I also rented a movie called Millions and loved that too. A movie has to be really, really bad for me not to enjoy it. I always want the soundtracks to movies I enjoy. I rein in that impulse much of the time. Also, movie previews often make me cry. Saw one for August Rush this weekend that nearly had me sobbing. It's the music; emotional music puts me right over the edge.

8. My favorite color is purple.

I'm supposed to tag six other people to do this, but I usually break that meme rule. If you enjoyed this, and want to do your own eight things, leave a comment so I can go read yours.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Two Lists

Things that were difficult to handle today:

1) Eleven hour car ride back to Ohio from Wisconsin; usually takes around seven hours, eight on a bad day.

2) The DVD player refusing to function the final five hours of the trip.

3) The flooded, and hence, closed, freeway from Illinois to Indiana which caused us to be stuck in a massive traffic jam; moving 2.5 miles in 2.5 hours.

4) The less than considerate drivers that kept driving up the shoulder of the road, zooming past the stopped cars, and then trying to merge back in; making a difficult situation much more so.

Things I found myself extremely grateful for today:


1) The DVD player worked the first six hours of the trip -- Dora, thank you for your two-year-old-mind-numbing magic. I love you despite the fact that I cannot get the "We did it!" song out of my head.

2) Harper cried for a mere 3 minutes of the entire ordeal.

3) She slept for 2.5 hours and did it after the DVD stopped working.

4) She requested a bathroom trip, during which we all emptied our bladders, approximately fifteen minutes before we became stuck on the freeway of no return. Her timing was perfect. Had we not made that stop. . . I shudder to think of it.

5) There was no peeing in the car.

6) There was no throwing up in the car.

7) There was nothing even remotely resembling a tantrum in the car.

8) When the DVD stopped working, and Harper stopped napping, I was miraculously free of motion sickness while reading to her in the backseat (I'm generally only a front seat reader).

9) Ann drove an extra 140 miles or so to meet us where we finally got off the freeway of no return. (We were doing a meet and switch, so my mom didn't have to drive all the way to Ohio and back.) She was supposed to drive a little less than 1/2 way and ended up coming probably 2/3 of the way. When "the way" is a total of 425 miles, that's a significant difference.

10) I was not alone with Harper in the traffic mess.

11) We were not stuck in traffic while fleeing a natural disaster (although, incidentally, if it ever becomes urgent for large masses of people to flee east from Chicago, we're all in big trouble.).

12) We had a nearly full tank of gas when we got stuck in the 2.5 hour traffic nightmare.

13) Everyone arrived home safely in the end and Matt and Rebound were here to greet us.

All's well that ends well.

And Now, the Zoo Photos

Back in July, Aunt Meaghan and Auntie Shannon were both here visiting and we all took a trip to the zoo. I decided I couldn't decide which photos to post, I must post many, and so here is the first installment. These are all pictures of Harper and zoo statues (or statue-like things). Please enjoy and then leave a comment to let me know whether you also think the girl-statue reading a book is just a little creepy looking. It might help you to know that she is almost directly across from the polar bear exhibit.



(I interrupt these photos to point out that Harper was trying to hold the girl's hand, but, darn it, she wouldn't let go of that book.)







Somewhere at home I also have a picture of Harper, in this same turtle shell, in which she looks like a total thug. If I remember I will post it later this weekend.

There are lots of things that went undocumented this summer, now that I'm trying to do a little catching up, I feel uninspired to do much writing about most of it. So you can look forward to a few photo-heavy posts. Because please, who wouldn't want to look at pictures of Harper all day?

I also have many fun photos from our week in Wisconsin, mostly of Harper with the people we visited, but I need to take them home and do some strategic red eye removal before they are ready for posting. Stay tuned!

For Your Amusement

I was about to post a bunch of pictures of Harper with various statues at the Cincinnati Zoo when I saw a little film-looking icon in the tool bar of the Blogger posting screen. So I decided to try to upload a video instead.

Now I love YouTube as much as the next guy, but if Blogger has created a tool that allows me to directly post video, without uploading elsewhere and then cutting and pasting URLs? Well I might just kiss it, no, make out with it, and consider marrying it. . . well maybe that's a little extreme. Blogger? May I take you to a movie and buy you a snow cone?

Oh yes, this video is Harper playing my parents' piano and singing, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," none of which you'll be able to hear because the sound quality of our little camera is questionable. But please note the enthusiasm with which she plays!



video


Edited to add:

It worked!!! I am a little frightened at how excited this makes me. I really do want to kiss Blogger.

Blogger, I love you. I am sorry for all the times I complained that you were slow. And for that one day when you failed to notify me about a comment. All is forgiven. Will you go out with me?

Also, sorry for the poor lighting, it is not Blogger's fault.

Note to self -- work on videography skills!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Enough?

Here's how you can tell your child has watched too much preschool television:

Earlier this week Harper was asking for something that had a guitar in it -- she pronounces guitar, "ki-tar."

"I want the ki-tar one! Ki-tar, ki-tar, kiiii-taaarrr. Can you say ki-tar?"

We (my mom, dad, sister, and I) all say, "guitar."

"Good job sayin' ki-tar! I knew you could say ki-tar!"

******

Other funny things Harper has said this week include:

Watering the driveway and then saying, "Now it will grow into a tall mountain. The biggest mountain in the whole wide world!" (Incidentally, I thought that was fairly good reasoning. Watering things makes them grow and what would concrete grow into besides a mountain?)

Pulling up her big-girl pants after a trip to the bathroom, "Dziatku calls them britches, can you say britches? Now I will sing the britches song. . . britches, britches, britches, britches."

Newport Aquarium

Way back in June my mother came to visit her only granddaughter, bring us a sandbox (which was actually not a reason for, just a happy side-effect of, her visit), and give Matt's mom a break from babysitting while I was in school. On the day I did not have classes, we decided to take Harper to the Newport Aquarium, in Northern Kentucky. If you don't count the time she attended in-utero, it was her first visit. Harper enjoys fish, so it seemed like a good fit.

Before we took her in the aquarium, however, we made her stand in rather intense wind for this photo with Cincinnati in the background. It looks like she's about to be blown down into the river, but never fear, Mugga never would have let that happen.


So the aquarium is a pretty interesting place. My only complaint is that it is designed to flow in one direction so you pretty much go from beginning to end and it is difficult to backtrack and take another look at something. For most visitors this probably isn't a big deal, but Harper, once she learned there were SHARKS! really wasn't interested in looking at much else. We went on turbo speed past many cool exhibits to get to the SHARKS! which, being the most popular attraction, are located at the end of the setup.





We learned something new during our day at the aquarium; actually two new things. 1) Given the one-way orientation, it needs more bathrooms. 2) There is an animal called a shark ray which can be viewed there. There are two and apparently this is the only place they are on display in this hemisphere. I believe this aquarium boasts the only shark ray breeding program in the world. Now, did you know that some sharks are born alive and some hatch from eggs? (Consider yourself educated!) When we were there someone asked a guide whether shark ray babies would be born alive or hatch from eggs, and the guide said, "No one really knows." Um, huh?! I really though scientists had already documented most of that stuff, but I guess not!

Here's what Harper looks like after a long day of fish-gazing. The aquarium gets an A+ for Toddler Poop-Out Factor.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Long, Long Ago

Those of you who also read Giselle's blog will know this story already, but it's too good not to share. . .

Way back in mid-June Giselle, Jeff, and their children, Lily and Andrew, were in town for a wedding. The night of the rehearsal dinner, Giselle and the kids opted for pizza and a visit with us while Jeff met his groomsman obligation. Let's face it, rehearsal dinners are rarely fun for children, even if they are in the wedding!

We had high hopes for Andrew and Harper's getting together because they both tend to say hilarious things. I think we all imagined some intense preschool conversing, but it never really happened. They warmed up to each other about ten minutes before our guests had to leave. Harper, with no siblings of her own, gets so excited about children visiting that she can barely contain herself, but she didn't really know what to make of Andrew and she practically buried Lily by handing her a bazillion toys.





I know it is quite difficult to imagine, but Lily is far cuter in person than she is in photos, and she's darn cute in photos. If you don't want more children, then you'd best not meet her, because she is that adorable and agreeable.

Now for the funny part:

At one point both Harper and Andrew had to go to the bathroom. We decided to let them use the bathroom at the same time, Andrew on the "big potty" and Harper in our potty seat. Harper glanced up while Andrew was sans underwear, gasped, and exclaimed, "Andrew, you have a tail!"

To which a dismayed Andrew said, "I do not!"

(Yes, yes, an anatomy lesson is probably in order.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coming Soon!

Hello! Harper and I are at Mugga and Grandpa's in Wisconsin. We drove up with them today. From Ohio. It took eight hours.

Eight hours in a car.

With a two-year-old.

Which, as it turns out, is exactly the situation God forsaw when he created the portible DVD player and Dora the Explorer DVDs, available at the library.

Harper was an angel.

Please don't send me hate mail. . . we only use that thing for these long trips. Let's face it, sitting on the freeway in bumper to bumper traffic outside of Chicago is no picnic even if you are an adult!

We even made it all the way with no bathroom accidents.

So we're here for a week. It's vacation. My summer classes are finished. I plan to spend the week being relatively lazy and trying to catch up on some of the things I didn't blog about this summer, such as:

a visit from Giselle and her beautiful children
two visits from Mugga
a visit from Aunt Meaghan
a visit from Auntie Shannon
our fifth anniversary and a huge surprise from Matt

All this and pictures coming up -- stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

We're Melting!

Ugh. It's hot here. And we have air conditioning. I cannot imagine what we'd do without it during a week like this. Yesterday, to protest the heat, Harper spent much of the day running around in her purple shoes and big girl pants.



Behind Harper you can view her zoo animals lined up in "time out." Harper has seen a lot of time out lately and she has started routinely giving her animals (stuffed and plastic) their own time outs.

Today, over protesting the heat and fully clothed, Harper was lucky enough to spend some time out with Nana. Ann came and took Harper to lunch and then back to her place to get ready for a showing. Since it is end-of-the-quarter-crunch-time it was wonderful to have a couple of quiet hours to tap away at the computer.

Later this afternoon, after a wonderful time with Nana, all attempts to get Harper to nap failed and she turned into a late afternoon cranky beast. While in time out in a dining room chair she decided to test the laws of physics. I was mere feet away in the kitchen, getting some test results from the allergist, when I heard a tremendous crash. I ran into the dining room to find Harper on her stomach, under the table, screaming an "I am hurt and I mean it!" scream.

I gently lifted Harper, still screaming, from under the table, and immediately a drop of blood splattered on my arm. Her bottom teeth had cut the inside of her lip when she fell. Of course it took several minutes to figure that out, due to all the blood. In case you were not aware, the inside of your mouth? When you cut it? It bleeds. A lot.

I felt much better once the bleeding had stopped and I had determined that all of Harper's teeth were still firmly rooted in her gums. She felt much better once she was sucking on some ice cubes and getting blood on a washcloth, rather than the front of my shirt.

She now has a bit of a puffy lower lip, accompanied by teeth marks inside her bottom lip, and a skid mark of sorts on her chin.



After all the crying (and bleeding) had stopped, I asked Harper what had happened. She told me she stood on the chair and, "Just put one foot out and stepped wite (right) off."

I doubt she'll be doing that again. This week anyway.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hide and Seek

I don't think Harper is alone in enjoying the challenge of fitting herself into small spaces. Children have fun playing in (real or imagined) forts and tents, places that feel private and cozy.


She likes to hide under tables and under shelves. She likes to hide behind furniture and behind doors. I know this about Harper, and yet I was not quite prepared for what I found in her bedroom this afternoon.

I went in to see whether she'd actually fallen asleep or not and discovered she'd emptied the contents of her sock drawer onto her bed. And separated all the pairs, because that is how a two-year-old rolls.



You might notice a suspicious lack of Harper in the bed. Apparently, once adorned with socks, the bed was no longer an acceptable sleeping space. So Harper did what any logical child would have done; created a nest of dirty clothes, retrieved the decorative pillow that was in the closet, and snuggled in under her changing table.


Because of the curtain that hangs over that storage space, we couldn't tell where she was at first. It is pretty unnerving to walk into a child's bedroom and not be able to find her.


Next time I guess we'll know where to look.