Thursday, December 22, 2005

Glad Tidings

Hello to all our family and friends from the frozen state of Wisconsin! Actually, it isn't too bad up here right now. I was hoping to send a post before we left, including a fine photo of Harper screaming on Santa's lap. Unfortunately I didn't get my act together so well. Matt got home from a meeting early on Tuesday, our departure day, and I hadn't packed for Harper or myself. We were a little late getting out. I didn't think, "Hey, could we wait another 1/2 hour so I can post some pictures?" was going to fly. Matt was infinitely patient with me as it was. And when we finally hit the road our drive was uneventful. Sadly, I'm typing from my brother's laptop and there's no way to get the pictures from my camera into here. Oh well. You can all look forward to a long and photo-filled post when we return to Ohio. (In my defense, Harper pretty much refused to nap Tuesday morning, robbing me of much needed time to organize and pack.)

I also wanted to take a minute and publicly welcome Calum into the world. Cal is the brand new baby of our good friends Erin and Brett. I hope they don't mind the shout-out. We've been doing lots of praying for the little guy's safe arrival and it looks like it paid off! I was telling my parents about it at dinner last night and my dad says, "Great, I can take them off my list!" Apparently, once the baby arrives, you're on your own! People must have stopped praying for us when Harper turned about 8 months, the age at which she completely ceased to be reasonable! (Just kidding, we're very blessed to have a beautiful and healthy little tyrant.)

I do not expect to get on the computer again before the holidays, so Merry Christmas to all. If we had a mic I would try to record Harper saying, "ho ho ho," for all to hear. For now you'll just have to take my word that it is one of the cutest sounds in the history of the universe. Safe travel and happy eating to everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Some Events are Exciting, Others, Not So Much

We have lift-off!

The big news is that Harper recently took her first, actual, honest steps. By actual and honest I mean that she wasn't being shoved back and forth between Matt and I, taking one half-step, and then falling into the other guy's arms. Which is the closest she's previously come to walking. There was also one evening when she took one little step between the coffee table and the couch, because she was holding onto something already and I think she just forgot to reach out with her hands first.

Wednesday night, December 14, Harper walked (five or six steps) between my mother and I several times. Her grandma was in town, picking up Jamie from UD, and spent the night with us. I was trying to show my mom the way Matt and I had been kind of pushing her back and forth, when she said, "Well we just need a little more space here." She scooted so far back I was sure Harper would fall and get a face full of carpet, but, wonder of wonders, she just kept stepping! It was exhilarating and we are all so glad that she took those first real steps in front of my mom, who is usually far away in Wisconsin. At one point she actually teetered right past my mom and out the door of the room we were in before she realized what she was doing and promptly sat down. We even got her to walk down most of the hallway leading to the bedrooms. She's not breaking any land-speed records just yet. We've done some more of the back and forth, but the walking hasn't caught on, she still prefers her own unique half-sit/half-crawl method of getting from a to b. This may have something to do with the fact that her walk makes her look like she's just stumbled out of the bar at closing time.

First steps are really all the excitement one can reasonably hope for in a week, but we seem to have more than our fair share of excitement around here. Tonight we are having some folks from Matt's work over for a holiday party. I'm quite sure I wasn't thinking clearly when I agreed to that one! Anyway, my wonderful in-laws were over hear helping clean the house yesterday (a three person cleaning team is much faster than a solo effort, imagine that!) when I asked my father-in-law to take some boxes down to the basement. He comes to the bottom of the stairs and says,"I hate to tell you this, but you have some water down here."

When he says "some water" I'm thinking that maybe Rebound left a puddle in the basement. Then I go down to have a look. Some water actually meant about a 1/4 inch of water that covered at least a quarter of the storage room down there. (The silver lining to this cloud is that my obsession with storing things off the floor or in plastic boxes finally pays off!) Water in the basement is bad news itself. It takes a turn for the worse when you realize that the water has come up out of the toilet in the basement. Gross!!!! Yes, we had a clog somewhere, so that when we flushed the toilets upstairs, it backed up and came out of the toilet in the basement.

Let's just say I am not mentally capable of handling toilet backup in my basement. . .

Thank the Lord for my in-laws, coming to the rescue once again. They left me in charge of the baby and took the wet/dry vac down and cleaned up most of the toilet water. Then a very kind 24-hour emergency drain/plumbing person cleared out our clog. Forget professional athletes, someone with that job ought to get paid millions every year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's the Little Things

This is the time of year when things start to feel a little crunched. That happy holiday bustle has turned into panicked holiday frenzy. The joy that overwhelmed me when Harper woke up from her nap and saw the Christmas tree (oooh, she said), has faded somewhat. We have things to get out and do, but frankly, she'd rather not be dragged in and out of the car a dozen times a day. And really, who can blame her. I know that we'll have a great time having Christmas with my family in Wisconsin and then more great times with bonus celebrations here in Ohio, it's just that getting ready for them is getting a little nuts. Our Christmas card envelopes have been ready to go for nearly a month, but there's no letter in them just yet. And I woke up Monday morning and realized there's less than two weeks until Christmas!!! Help!

Matt was in charge of Harper all day on Sunday while I baked and made candy to dole out with holiday greetings to our neighbors. Kind of a good will gesture since we still don't know some of them very well. Despite spending nearly all day on my feet and having a sore back the next day from leaning over a table well into the night wrapping caramels, it was nice not to be 100% percent in charge of anyone for a few hours. A much needed break. Unfortunately, when I went to deliver the tins of goodies this afternoon, only two of the eight people were home. Hopefully everyone will find the festive holiday tins on their doorsteps and get them inside before the stuff freezes, although the buckeyes are good that way. . .

Harper is reveling in some newfound independence, which is exciting and frustrating at the same time. She has had a lot of recent success with feeding herself. She can get the fork and spoon into her mouth with about 95% accuracy, as long as we put the food on first, and it isn't something like soup. The downside is that she now pretty much refuses to eat her yogurt in the morning unless we let her feed herself. At this point it's a very s-l-o-w process. I thought I might speed things up by putting the yogurt in a bowl that stuck to her tray, and letting her use this Gerber feeding utensil that is a sort of ridged plastic thing the food is supposed to just cling to. That worked for about five minutes before Harper decided to eliminate the middle man and just started eating with her hands.

Something to smile about (besides the spectacle itself), even when eating with her hands, she didn't make too big a mess. Very little yogurt even ended up on the floor. That's my girl!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Peace on Earth

It's not exactly the lion and the lamb, but she sure loves that dog. Rebound is just getting to the point where he'll let Harper pet him or sit near him. He used to get up and move whenever she approached. Perhaps his new willingness has to do with the fact that Harper mostly eats table food now and feeds him pretty generously by way of the floor. In fact, we usually know she's finished eating when she starts throwing her food to the floor on purpose and then watching for Rebound to come and get it.

It will be great fun for both of them when they can chase each other around. Rebound, in his exuberant playfulness has managed to knock Harper over once or twice. I don't think he's ever hurt her, but it does startle her. She'll cringe when he comes running into the room, even though he usually misses her. Since there aren't any other children or dogs in the house (and no plans for either in the near future), they are each other's best bet for built-in entertainment. Me, I only have so many hours of playing on the floor in me each day.

They act remarkably like siblings at times. Harper has recently discovered the joy of tormenting Rebound. The other day we gave her an empty tissue box to explore. She absolutely delighted in banging Rebound on the nose with it. He kept trying to bite onto it but mostly just ended up making his head bob all around. Harper found this uproariously funny. Since then she has found great joy in tormenting Rebound with any number of household objects. Last night it was the plastic spoon we use for pasta. He's a good sport. To be fair, she also tries to play with him in nice ways. Yesterday he was all curled up on the couch and she got a rope toy out of his basket and, with much effort, pulled it up onto the couch to give to him.

Once in a while Rebound does get jealous of all the attention heaped upon Harper. Usually he lets us know by eating one of her toys. We've discovered certain things we must put away anytime we leave a room. Like the Little People farm animals. Sadly the horse is no longer with us. Fortunately Fisher Price must have anticipated this exact situation and a set of replacement animals (a new horse for now, and the rest as insurance) will be on the way to our house shortly.

So they torment each other, tease each other, play with the other guy's stuff. . . but mostly they love each other. And if there can't be peace on earth, let there at least be peace in our living room.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Giving Thanks

Much to everyone's relief, the digital camera has been returned! After a few lonely days in Cincinnati, it is back in my obsessive clutches and I can continue to document Harper's daily life with an unreasonable number of photos. Whew. I'll sleep better now and I'm sure you will too. Thanks to Nana, who let us borrow her camera in the interim, without which the previously posted lunch photos would not have been possible. What are grandparents/in-laws for, if not to grant access to digital technology in a pinch?

Here, at long last, are a few photos of Miss Harper on Thanksgiving Day. I would like to point out that her adorable outfit was a birthday gift from our friend Susan and her family in Nebraska. (Don't worry Susan, my concerns about the outfit being too big were not founded!)

Want to entertain the baby? Put her in front of a window. Even better, put her in front of a window that she can look out while hiding behind some furniture. To make it totally irresistible, add the lure of an outdoor cat to the mix. We spent lots of Thanksgiving Day looking out those windows.

Did you know that wicker furniture is also highly entertaining? Harper made beautiful music by alternately pounding on it and running her little fingernails over the surface. The girl has the music in her.

Thank you to Kathy and Dave not only for hosting a lovely Thanksgiving meal, but also for providing a room full of furniture the perfect height for Harper to cruise around to her little heart's content.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Our Sweet Little Weirdo

Hello People,

Harper here. Want to know what I had for lunch the day these pictures were taken? Huh? Do you? Here it is:

1/2 a rather large banana
1/2 a (smallish) can of green beans
1 graham cracker
1/2 a turkey dog
1 slice of American cheese
lots of milk

I swear, it's true.

While I lost a piece here and there to Rebound or my lap, most of that actually went into my mouth. Hard to believe they are having trouble getting me to gain weight, isn't it? I eat like a horse. I'm slim because I'm on the move. After the hour it takes me to eat lunch, I am itchin' to get out of that chair and go, go, GO!

Of course it wouldn't be lunch time without some entertaining antics for Mommy:

I have to warn you, this last photo is not for the faint of heart. Please remove small children from the room. Are they gone? Good. Now look closely. . . see that orange-yellow spot near my eye? Do you know what it is? Guess, I dare you!

That's right People, it's cheese, a small piece of cheese, on my eyelash. Around here, lunch isn't a meal, it's an event.

Can you handle it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What Will We Look at Now?

I can't remember when it happened exactly, but sometime between leaving Aunt Kathy and Uncle Dave's on Thanksgiving and unloading the car I realized that - horror of horrors - we'd left the digital camera at their house. On the end table next to the chair in which Matt sat watching Thanksgiving football, to be exact. My first thought was, "What am I going to put on the blog?" As if it would be some sort of tragedy not to have recent pictures of Harper to post. In order to give us all some perspective, I thought we'd revisit a photo of Harper at Thanksgiving a year ago:

Looking at that picture makes her seem pretty impressive now! There are lots of things that Harper seems to be taking her time with. We thought she'd never crawl or pull up and cruise around the furniture. And she up and did both when she good and felt like it! Now we are waiting for her first steps. If you try to tempt her into taking even one step without holding on to something, she just sits right down. She'll crawl right off the bed (yikes), but she's not much of a risk-taker on her feet. When part of me starts worrying that it's going to be another six months before she walks, I need to look at these pictures taken a mere year ago, and remember that she'll get there.

I wonder if any other new moms find that the baby book gives them a complex about how well they know their children? For example, there is a space to write Harper's first word and the date she said it. Well. . . what counts? Apparently some babies just up and say a distinct and clear word and the parent goes, "Hooray! Your first word!" Um, not our baby. We're pretty sure she says, "doggie" which sounds like, "deegee". She doesn't use it all the time, but has used it in context enough that we're pretty sure she means it. She also seems to say, "Daddy." And occasionally, "hi." Nana and Dziatku are thoroughly convinced the child says, "thank you." I'm not sold on that one yet, but maybe she's much more advanced than I imagine. Harper's favorite and truly first word is probably, "Oh!" But is that really a word? Does it count? When she sees something new or something she likes she says, "Oh!" She also says it often when "reading" her books. So which one of these should go in her baby book? And does, "sometime in October" seem specific enough for the date?

(Aside: as I was spell checking this post, the Blogger spell-check did not recognize the word "blog." Hmmm. . .)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Birthday-ed Out!

It has taken me much longer than intended to get this post up. After the whirlwind of visitors, celebrations, and presents that accompanied our birthdays last week, I have needed a few days to recover. The birthday evidence is scattered throughout the house. I'm hoping to have a handle on it by Christmas. . . In the meantime, here are a few thoughts and pictures about Harper's birthday celebration.

Sometimes I'm just not a good mother. Example: I didn't take a single picture of Harper on her actual birthday. Her party, on the other hand, is very well documented. It begins with this lovely cake. Which I was sort of forced to make from scratch. . .

When I opened the box of cake mix, which had been lovingly selected at Kroger, I found that the bag was torn and the mix was mostly loose in the box. Now it was probably fine, but I didn't feel right about using it since it had been open. It just seemed too strange. So here I was, already in my pajamas, all ready to "bake," with no cake mix. I stood, baffled, for a moment, and then, gasp, got down a cook book and looked to see if I had the ingredients necessary to bake a cake the old-fashioned way. Thank you Betty Crocker. I was nervous about the finished product, but all the party guests ate the cake on their plates and no one called the next day with food poisoning, so I think it was fine.

After that I was inspired and I actually made vanilla and chocolate frosting to decorate with. Harper even smiled at the finished product, so I think she recognized it as a dog.

This is Harper as guests began to arrive. I think the main question in her mind was, "Why do I have tights on if we're not going to church?" She was fairly social once things got rolling, and I think most everyone enjoyed the party. We had enough food and enough to drink. The only tears I can remember were from Harper the second time her Daddy put a party hat on her. She was less than fond of the elastic strap.

Here we have Harper before she melted down wearing the party hat. Does anyone out there know why the cow has a purple mouth and one purple spot? Not complaining, just curious.

Harper opened gift, after gift, after gift. We have very generous family and friends. This circus toy is one of her new favorites. Me, I'm just thankful we have some new toys. She still finds them interesting enough that I can occasionally get her to stay in one place for more than fifteen seconds. She also got some much needed clothes, a great children's CD (a life-saver in the car), and some wonderful books. Auntie M is insuring her literary future with titles like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Finally, after the piles of presents, it was time for the cake. Due to my own inability to let go of my natural anal-retentiveness, Harper didn't actually get to put her hands into the dog cake. In all honesty, I don't think it would have occurred to her that the large cake was for eating. Instead I made her her own little cupcake and we put that on her high-chair tray. I am not exaggerating when I say that, for the next twenty minutes, a dozen adults sat mesmerized as she ate that thing.

Harper started out eating the cupcake like a little lady. She was picking tiny pieces off the bottom (her child-instinct must have told her that frosting-side down makes the biggest mess) and putting them, one by one, in her mouth. It was very serious business. The rest of us made almost no noise, aside from the occasional encouraging comment. Finally I flipped the cupcake back over, hoping she'd realize the joy of frosting, and shortly after that she tried to shove the entire thing in her mouth. Which lead most of us to cheer, and her nervous grandmothers to feel a little worried. Thankfully, there was no birthday choking.

It took a really long time for Harper to finish dissecting that cupcake, and try to pick the crumbs up from her tray. Even after deleting the pictures that were just not good, we still have nearly two dozen photos of her enjoying her first cupcake. I believe there is also video footage. The first year of Harper's life has been so well documented, I'm feeling a little bit of pressure about the next, oh, eighteen years. Not to mention any subsequent children.

Thanks to everyone, near and far, who helped make Harper's birthday special. See you next year!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One Fine Year

Dear Harper,

Today, you are one year old. I have repeatedly held up my index finger at you and exclaimed, "Yay! Harper is one year old! How old is Harper?! One!" in hopes that you'll realize that very same finger you use for pointing can express your age. As we were practicing this at lunch yesterday, it occurred to me that I should have started trying to teach you that about a month ago. Oh well. Perhaps we'll start working on the finger representation of "two" tomorrow. That'll show 'em.

It is a real shame that you don't realize the significance of this day. Daddy has spent the last couple of days saying, "Last year at this time. . ." and reminding me about our packing for the hospital, taking pictures before we left, getting ready for you to be born, showing you off for the first time. I can't say anything back to him because every time I think about the fact that once you weren't even out in the world with us, my voice catches in my throat and tears come to my eyes. How is it possible there was a time that you didn't wake me up in the morning? How is it possible there was a time when I couldn't lift you up and feel the weight of your head on my shoulder? There are days now that I really have trouble remembering who I was before I became your Mommy. And, while I do miss spending entire days with grown-ups, Happy Hour, sleeping-in (and I don't mean until 8 a.m.), and lots of other little things from my life "before," I wouldn't give you back for any of it.

Before you were actually born, one of my favorite things was to get in bed at night and watch you move in my tummy. Yes, I could actually see it. I loved the swishy sensation of you finding your way in that world. It felt like a secret we shared. I thought I would miss that when you finally arrived in the light and air. Silly me. The you I can hold in my arms is better than I ever imagined.

We have good days and bad days, you and I. Sometimes we both wake up cranky. You don't feel like eating or sleeping or playing. You want the opposite of whatever I am trying to give you at any moment in time. I love you everyday and some of those days I still don't feel like singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" for the hundredth time in a row, or ignoring the ache in my back so you can walk holding onto my hands. The loving you part doesn't mean you can have anything you want, anytime you want it. It doesn't mean you'll always be happy. It does mean that Daddy and I will do our best always to do what is good for you, even when you don't like it. And I do apologize for the grumpy days, even though I'm sure there will be more. If you forgive me mine, then I'll forgive you yours (yes, even the teenage ones).

I think any parent has lots of ideas about what kind of parent they'll be and what kind of kid they'll have. I think part of every kid's job is to work each day to show the parents how terribly mistaken most of those ideas are. . .

Even before you were born, you made it pretty clear that you liked things a certain way. Even two doctors pushing very hard on my very pregnant stomach (which is less than comfortable, by the way) couldn't convince you to put your head down and be born the way Daddy and I imagined. So even though your birth was nothing that we thought it would be, once you'd arrived, none of that mattered.

Month by month, it seems, you are finding new ways to show me that I need to let go of all my expectations. My job is much less to help you be who I imagined you'd be, and much more to lend a hand as you reveal to all of us who you already are. I have a feeling most of it is quite clearly set up inside you, and you'll let us in (or let more of you out) one delightful bit at a time. I thought I was patient and flexible before you were born. . . ha!

It's late, so late that in about one more minute it won't be your birthday anymore. I think I could write forever about the ways you amaze me and everything you're teaching me. Instead I should probably go to bed, you'll be waking me up in a matter of hours. Happy first birthday Harper, take your time growing up, I still have so very much to learn.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do You Have a Receipt?

Tomorrow is Harper's first birthday. On Saturday a small group of family and friends will gather at our house to celebrate. Presumably many of them will bring gifts. Unfortunately, after opening gifts with me yesterday, Harper has amended her wish list to:

1. Wrapping paper scraps.
2. Possibly another dog, just as excitable, a bit smaller.

At least fifteen minutes of delight were had by all, audience included, as Harper "fed" Rebound paper scraps and watched him rip them to shreds. She was doing that great belly-laughing that only babies seem capable of. And fifteen minutes is an impressive amount of time for Flash to pay attention to anything these days. Don't think I won't be saving all the wrapping paper from her birthday and Christmas. I just figured out what we'll do from 9-9:15 every morning for the next few weeks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Day to Me

Apparently Matt tried to get Harper to draw a birthday picture for me, like the one I had her do for Auntie M. It sounds like she would only eat the crayons this time around, (don't worry, they're still non-toxic) so no birthday picture was had. She did give me a Disney DVD for the big day. I know it's ridiculous that I love those as much as I do (not all of them, but many), but what can I say? The heart wants what it wants. At least now I have a kid. Someday I hope she'll even watch them with me! And go see them in the theater. Then I won't have to explain to my mom why I chose Chicken Little (fun movie, by the way) as the movie to see during my birthday afternoon out with Matt. I can just say we're going because Harper likes it. And by the time she outgrows them, there may be another child to drag to G-rated movies. A perk of parenting, as far as I'm concerned. We'll revisit this topic when Harper starts wanting to watch the same Disney movie over and over, all the time, everyday. Perhaps I'll feel differently.

She also slept until 6:00 this morning and then played and dozed in bed with me while Matt got ready for work. I didn't actually have to put my feet on the floor until nearly 7:30. All in all, not a bad start.

Later, Harper and I will have dinner with Nana and Dziatku to do a little more celebrating. Matt's basketball team has a scrimmage tonight. But he spent all afternoon Saturday doing ridiculous things with me that he would never choose to do otherwise, so he's off the hook!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fall Festivities

We had some gorgeous weather here last week. The calendar says November, but it was in the low seventies outside. This time of year, Rebound is constantly dragging leaves in from the back yard. I would have to vaccuum once every half-hour to clear them all up, so we just deal with a little backyard in our family room. Last week Harper was playing with one of the dead leaves Rebound had dragged in like it was the most fascinating object she'd ever encountered. She was shaking it, crunching it, clapping with it. I'm quite sure tasting would have been involved sooner or later. So we're sitting inside on this beautiful afternoon, playing with the sad little leaves Rebound has dragged in, and I am truly embarrassed to say how long it took me to figure out that I could actually take Harper outside to play in the hundreds of leaves on the patio. Duh! Sometimes as a mom, I am so slow on the uptake. Anyway, some pictures speak for themselves:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Harper Anne Variety Show

Just yesterday I was thinking that I hadn't posted in a really, really long time. Then I realized it had only been about five days. . . My initial goal was to update this once a week, but I don't think that's going to do it for me. There are so many thoughts, so many cute pictures, I don't even know where to begin. If you are reading this, then you are probably interested in Harper, and we aim to please:

This is Harper and my friend Dotto. Aunt Dotto? Miss Dotto? We are still trying to figure out that fine line between teaching Harper to be respectful of adults and the awkwardness of calling very close family friends by their formal names. Lucky for us, Harper doesn't talk yet; we have at least a few weeks to figure this one out. (Dotto, I hope you don't mind sharing your smile with the Internet!) Harper's face is covered in this picture because she was joyfully shaking her birthday card, perhaps waiting for music or a flashing light? Nearly every baby toy lights up and sings these days. She was happy, we could have stopped right there. Dotto could have taken her wonderfully sweet gift and shared it with another baby. But no, Dotto wanted Harper to have her wonderful gift. So Harper opened it. . .

And within she found the greatest joy of her lift to date. . .

A hanger! Never mind that the hanger came with a cute turtle neck and denim jumper, as well as an informative board book of animal sounds. While we've since come to enjoy reading the book, Harper spent most of the afternoon on Saturday playing with that hanger.

Shoes, hangers, keys, the old computer keyboard. . . These are Harper's favorite playthings. Why are we spending money on toys, exactly? Oh yes, they're educational! They are developmentally appropriate! They stimulate brain development! They will teach Harper to name colors in four different languages! Or, you can just give her a hanger.

On Sunday we came back from church and Harper was looking mighty fine in her dress clothes (translation: anything requiring wrestling a squirming baby into tights), the lighting was nice in the dining room, and Harper was sitting so sweetly looking out the window.

"What a great picture that will make!" I thought. I didn't get the picture I expected, but we are thinking of changing her name to Flash.


I have used the word sweet, or some variation thereof, one too many times. So this is the last addition for tonight. I just wanted to share Harper's joy at her first experience with crayons. We were making a birthday card for Auntie M. I taped the blank card to her high chair tray and she went to town. Most of the crayon ended up on the tray, thank you to the fine minds at Crayola for creating art supplies whose marks truly do wipe away with warm water! Harper calls her technique, "drumstick style."

Please note Rebound in the background, waiting for Harper to drop a crayon, which he hoped was food. Usually she does not disappoint. Hang in there Rebound, the label says non-toxic and I'm sure, one day, you'll have the opportunity to taste one and find out.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Heat Is On, The Heat Is O-On!

Please tell me you are now hearing the accompanying music in all of your heads. If not, you need some schooling in 80's music, now.

The gentlemen I am considering recommending for sainthood arrived on Tuesday (that's three days early people!!!) to begin the process of installing a new furnace, humidifier, air filter, and air conditioning coil.

"Air conditioning coil?" you ask, "I thought the furnace was out?"

Well people, the broken furnace is only the beginning of the joy. Once they take that puppy apart, there is apparently an entirely new world of items that might be broken. I am beginning to think homeownership is some kind of wicked karma and every bad thought we've ever had is now coming back to haunt us in the form of a broken something. Sigh. At least it's one less thing we'll inevitably have to fix in the spring, when we have the air conditioning checked out.

Anyway, back to the saintly gentlemen, they stayed all day Tuesday. These guys didn't even stop for lunch. At least I don't think they did, I haven't actually inventoried the items in our downstairs freezer, but I'll sacrifice a few chicken breasts and frozen vegetables for a thermostat that reads above 58 degrees. They didn't finish on Tuesday, but were back on Wednesday to wrap things up.

Here's the best part: when everything was in place, they came to ask me where the vacuum cleaner was and they cleaned up after themselves. They swept and vacuumed part of the kitchen floor and the basement stairs, which are now cleaner than they've been in months. One gentleman even discovered that the attachment hose of the vacuum cleaner was clogged and he fixed that too. I wonder how many more cobwebs I would have tried to suck up before realizing I wasn't at full power?

And Harper. . . her cold is slowly getting better, I had to wipe her face off far fewer times today than yesterday. Unfortunately (especially for me), she seems a little slow on the uptake about the whole time change thing. I thought she'd adjust after a couple of days, but noooo, up at 4 a.m. again today and very little napping. She is an evil genius and she's trying to deprive me of sleep until I walk around like a zombie while dust bunnies take over the house and she is left to chew happily on remote controls and power cords all day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The First Halloween

A photo journey:

This was the first stage of Harper's costume. It involved me cutting out unreasonable amounts of furry fabric in our dining room. When I was finished, it looked like I'd gotten into a fight with a band of wild poodles, and sheared them. I'm still finding loose fur in the house.

Hooray! My first big sewing project is Harper's finished Halloween costume. The pumpkin prop was graciously provided by Nana and Dziatku. They also agreed to let us use their yard for the photo shoot. We had to trick-or-treat there on Sunday, as Nana was going to be out of town for our actual trick-or-treat night. Good thing too, between the cold and the not sleeping, Harper didn't enjoy trick-or-treat at all. A better mother wouldn't even have tried to take her out.

Harper and Mommy smile for the camera.

Harper and Daddy, looking excited about Halloween. Please notice the cute tail on Harper's costume.
Photo in which Harper asks, "Seriously people, could I be any cuter?"

Finally, we have Harper on Halloween Day. The pumpkin outfit is courtesy of our friend Kay. Thanks Kay!
This picture marks the only five minute window in which Harper was happy and calm yesterday. Our trick-or-treat experience consisted mostly of her crying on our friends' doorsteps, and in the car. She was only happy at Auntie M's house, where she laughed at Auntie M's big black dog, Atticus.
Good thing we get to do this about a dozen more times! Despite a relatively cute finished project, I don't see any other furry costumes in Harper's future.

Indiana's Not Looking So Bad

There ought to be an exemption from Daylight Savings Time for people with small children. All it's saving me right now is a chance to get a good night's sleep! I know it's only been two days since we changed the clocks and I need to be patient, but sheesh! Harper woke up at 5:00 Sunday morning (not too bad, since we go to early church), 4:30 Monday morning, and 4:00 this morning. And when I say woke up, I mean wide-eyed, get me out of this crib, I'm ready to party, awake. This morning I decided that her hour of waking was just too ridiculous and I nursed her and put her back to bed, where she stayed for about an hour and a half. What kind of schedule can we keep if she wakes up before 5:00? I don't want to suddenly start nursing her at 4:00 every morning, especially since we're thinking we'll be finished with that within the next month. Ugh.

In other news, Harper has a terrible cold, which I'm sure is another contributing factor to everyone's lack of sleep. Poor baby, she is one fountain of snot. And also coughing. And bleary eyed misery. Baby colds are the pits. At least if you are a grown-up, you can take some knock-you-out cold medicine and sleep for a few days!

Despite the not sleeping and miserable cold, Harper still managed to enjoy some noodles for dinner the other night. Rebound also enjoyed the multitude of noodles that landed on the kitchen floor, this is how our dog is going to become fat.

Friday, October 28, 2005

On Our Toes

This picture explains why I don't spend more time answering e-mail. I had to let it happen, she was so happy playing in that paper. She wasn't eating it, so I figured this was a relatively safe activity. And then I spotted a dirty tissue among all that harmless paper -- YUCK! That was the end of that game, and the end of a few quiet minutes for me.

I just can't believe how busy Harper is. And these days, while we're sleeping at Nana and Dziatku's, there is no pack-n-play at our house. Which means I have to watch her every second that we're here. Yesterday she was standing up, playing with a coaster on an end table. While I was watching, she got frustrated that she couldn't reach a framed photograph farther back on the table. Somehow she wriggled herself around the corner, between the couch and the end table. I present to you, Baby Houdini. Unfortunately she works backwards, getting herself stuck on her own, and needed help to be freed. She didn't seem to realize she had a problem until I tried to free her from between the couch and the table, then her eyes got a big as dinner plates and she geared up for some major screaming. Lucky for me, it was a swift rescue mission.

I apparently jinxed myself by saying that nap time had gotten easier. Today it took Harper nearly an hour to finally fall asleep. Frustrated does not even begin to explain how I was feeling. And then, the last time I went to lay her down, I placed her on her back and covered her up, and, when I put her little giraffe next to her, she wrapped her arm around it and hugged it to her cheek. So sweet! I've never seen her do anything like that before. To me, it looked like such a "big-kid" gesture, and that just melted my heart. It's a mental image I will file away to reference the next time she is spitting pureed green beans at me and throwing Cheerios at the dog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Countdown to Heat: 8 Days

This is Harper and her dziatku. While I am loyal to the UD Flyers, I am afraid it might be difficult not to "Feel the Power of X" when it comes to Harper. I think the basketball influence of her father and dziatku might win out. I'll do my best. At least she's a Packer fan. (I know she looks like a boy in this picture, but I'm not into taping bows into her barely-there-hair.)

Furnace update: New furnace (heat!!) should arrive no later than Friday, November 4th.

I am so lucky to get along with my in-laws, despite their sketchy loyalties in the wide world of sports. It has been pretty chilly here, down near freezing over night. Since we're still not feeling great about the combination of space heaters and the baby, Harper and I are bunking at Nana and Dziatku's for a bit.

The first night was rough. Harper often wakes up, for no apparent reason, in the middle of the night. I don't know if it's gas or bad dreams or what, but she hasn't needed to eat in the middle of the night for months and months. Usually I just walk in (or stumble, as I'm mostly asleep myself), lay her back down, and go back to bed. Most nights she gets the idea that it isn't time to be awake, and falls back asleep. Unfortunately this doesn't work when I go back to bed in the room she's sleeping in. I would look over from the bed and see her little head popping up from the pack-n-play she was sleeping in. Then she would scream until I rescued her. She was up from 3 to 4 a.m.

Last night we brilliantly moved her into the clean bathroom attached to the room I'm sleeping in. My in-laws, who thought of this plan, are geniuses. She doesn't know she's sleeping in the bathroom, I can still hear her, and she doesn't realize how close I am and therefore gives up on being pulled out of the pack-n-play. Brilliant! She slept until a little after six this morning.

We are hoping that it will be warm enough to stay in our own home by Saturday night.

Matt has been a trooper, sleeping here to keep the dog company. He uses the space heater and sleeps on the living room couch with the gas logs turned on. Last night the temperature in that room reached a balmy 64.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

That Will Be About $3,000, And Have a Nice Day

Here is a homeowner's tip. When the man from the heating company, who has come to do a routine inspection, comes up from the basement and says, "Ma'am, would you come down here a minute, I'd like to show you something," do not go in the basement!!! Nothing good will come from following this so-called "technician." You go down there, and the next thing you know you'll be hearing words like "efficiency," "BTU," and "unsafe condition." The kicker comes when the guy says he can't leave your furnace on under these conditions; followed by, this is a very busy time of year and we can't get to you until the first week in December. Then he looks right at me, as though I can possibly think this is somehow fine, and says, "You might want to get some space heaters."

Space heaters!!! Flash to all of us standing in the yard at 3 a.m., posing for the news crew in our pajamas, as we watch the fire department try to put out the fire that the space heaters started. Harper is too young to understand stop, drop and roll, or to even tell us, "Hey, my curtains are engulfed in flames in here!" So I find myself not thrilled at the prospect of heating our home this way for a month or more. Yes, I know, these things are much safer than they used to be, but still. Not having a working furnace seems like something that you should have to deal with for a couple of days, at most! Aren't there heating technicians somewhere that work seasonally, you know, back-ups they bring in for the busy season? Kind of like accountants who do extra work during tax season. . .

To make it even more fun, Harper is in the basement with me during all this, writhing in my arms. She would like to get down and crawl on the basement floor (yuck), but I'm so busy looking for the cracks in our heat exchange with a system involving a flashlight, long mirror, and laser pointer, that I can't really watch to make sure she doesn't eat any dead bugs.

Did I mention it's cold enough right now that snowflakes fell from the sky yesterday afternoon? (Fortunately this is just a cold snap and it should be a little less frigid in a day or two.)

Honestly, as I type this, I think I can feel the temperature dropping. So even though I am annoyed and a little bit panicked that we now need a new furnace and will have to huddle together for warmth in the evening (ohmygosh, and what about the pipes freezing?), I'm also really grateful for this house, even if it's falling apart, because I cannot imagine what it would be like to be homeless and trying to stay warm. So thank you God, for our walls, at least we won't have a wind-chill factor to deal with.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Harper has achieved new heights of greatness over the weekend. Friday morning Matt was watching her so I could grab a quick shower before he went to work. And the baby, she actually crawled for this first time! She has been on the move for quite a while now, but had never done a real, up on all fours, crawl. Up to this point she's been inching forward on her belly, rolling, rotating, pushing off and pulling to get where she wants to be. While she'd become quite successful in getting from A to B employing these methods, it's still pretty exciting to see her actually crawl. And Matt is thrilled he got to see it first. For a long time we'd pretty much figured she was going to skip the crawling part.

Of course now that she can crawl, she's devised an even faster and more ridiculous way of getting around. I'm not sure I can even explain it. She's basically sitting with one foot underneath her and one one the floor, knee in the air. She leans forward and puts her hands down in front of her and sort of scoots along on her bottom. I sense we're raising a rebel here, as she pretty much finds the way something's not meant to be done, and does that!

In other news, Harper's seventh and eighth teeth finally cut all the way through. She's cut about six teeth in the last month, almost simultaneously. Maybe we'll have a little break from the teething now, and she'll stop waking up in the middle of the night.

The novelty of standing in her crib also seems to be wearing off a little (knock on wood). The past two days it hasn't been quite so hard to get her to nap. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it was just a little phase we went through. So I should still expect her to take two naps a day until she heads to kindergarten? Right? (Ha!)

One other note to wrap up this post. We are so lucky to have Matt's parents nearby. They are wonderful to and with Harper and a great help to us. I am sorry not to live closer to my side of the family (hello up there in Wisconsin), but I'm glad we do have family so close. Last week Harper's dziatku (Polish for grandpa, as far as I know) was here three times, once while I substitute taught, and twice just to help out while I was getting ready for book club. Then, yesterday, Harper's nana was here for several hours in the afternoon. Our husbands were together at the Detroit Lions game in Cleveland. She fed and played with Harper, kept me company, and allowed me to get FOUR full loads of laundry done (including folding). A huge accomplishment for one afternoon. So, even thought the Packers lost, it was a pretty good day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Getting Started (Again)

It doesn't bode well for me that I already typed my first post, and then lost it, while attempting to move a picture I'd inserted. I used to think myself fairly computer savvy, that was, until I became a stay-at-home-mom and my IQ started dropping daily. We'll see how this goes. In the future I plan to post mostly about my wonderful daughter, Harper. For now, I'll just post her adorable picture.

Someday I'll figure out how to put the picture below the text, which is where I meant for it to be. For now you can just use your imagination.

We Make Noise While Harper Sleeps

We make noise while Harper sleeps. Or at least we used to. Harper is our beautiful daughter, she is now 11 months old. In days gone by, Harper was a great sleeper, super sleeper, Sleep Queen of the Universe. . . then she learned to stand up in her crib. Now a good part of my day is spent trying to get the child to lay down long enough to fall asleep.

We get up early and go to church with my in-laws most Sunday mornings. Then we all go out for a big breakfast. Then we all come home and Harper, tired and full, takes a nap. Okay, sometimes we all take a nap. About three weeks ago we were going along our merry Sunday routine and life as we know it changed. When Matt went to get Harper up from her morning nap he called me to come look. Lo and behold, the child, she stood up in her crib! We gushed, we clapped, we were so excited, we were so stupid.

Harper apparently loves this new trick. Nearly every time we have put her in her crib to nap, she now stands up, throws her pacifier on the floor, and starts talking, which becomes whining, which becomes full-fledged screaming. So we go back in, Supernanny style, lay her back down and leave. This can go on for up to an hour. Sometimes she wins then and I get her up because we just need to get on with the day. Other times she finally falls asleep, and then you better not breathe too loudly in my house, because if you wake that baby Sister, you can entertain her until bedtime!

Something I don't understand about Harper: we don't have this problem at night. And you can't tell me she's not tired at nap time. If you could see the child pre-nap, you would understand that she needs one.