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.