Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Eve

Someone might have been just a little bit excited about Santa's impending arrival:

Earlier today Harper got a big kick out of helping me make and decorate cookies for Santa. By help I mean she snatched loose bits of dough and added approximately three pounds of sprinkles to each baking sheet.

Of course we left them carefully on the coffee table. Hopefully Rebound will leave them for Santa!

When I was growing up we went to my mom's parents' house every Christmas Eve. On the way home we would listen to carols, marvel at the lights, watch the sky for Rudolph's nose, and always ask my parents whether we could open our gifts if Santa had already been to our house by the time we got home. Every year we were thrilled when they said yes. Every year I would hold my breath just a little bit as we walked in the door. And every year my heart would skip a beat as I thought, briefly, that the shadows in the living room were outlines of gifts. But Santa never beat us there. I think it was because we hadn't put out the cookies yet.

Harper was a little nervous going to bed tonight. She's very excited about the presents, but I think she may have mixed feelings about Santa (who she flees if we see in public) actually tromping around our house while we sleep. Maybe she takes after Auntie Shannon, who slept in my room every Christmas and Easter when we were little, so frightened was she about the benevolent treat and gift leaving folks.

I'd better get to bed now, so Santa can get to business.

Merry and Happy (and Tired)

Well it's technically Christmas Eve (Happy Birthday Dad!) and I'm about to go fall into bed. Before I do, I will try to remember to charge the battery for our video camera because tomorrow I'm going to have a serious conversation with Harper about the red-suited jolly fat man. Her take on Santa is pretty hilarious these days.

We have lots of Christmas books which we've been reading nearly every day. Combine that with a healthy dose of holiday music, decorations, and not one, but two, holiday DVDs starring Elmo and we've done a pretty good job of hyping the child up for the 25th. She fully expects that tomorrow night, once it gets "gark" (dark) Santa and his team will be landing on our roof, Santa will come down the chimney, boots first, and leave presents by our Christmas tree. She also expects that Santa will eat some cookies, which she has instructed me, more than once, to leave on the table. We must also leave him something to "grink." Cookies make you thirsty, you know? Oh, did you know Santa will be bringing a bag of presents to our house and that bag will also have a reindeer in it? That little nugget is courtesy of Elmo Saves Christmas. I keep trying to explain that, usually, the reindeer just wait on the roof. Harper disagrees. Then I remember that she is two and will figure it all out in her own time -- extended discussions about reindeer are probably unnecessary. I'm pretty excited to see if Harper is thrilled on Christmas morning, when she sees the gifts, or if she'll just treat it like it's matter-of-fact. I'd put my money on excited, since she still "wow!"s 90% of the time when I flip the Christmas tree lights on.

We've been so busy getting everything ready for the holidays that I haven't taken a new photo of Harper in nearly two weeks. Don't worry, I can assure you there will be a giant photo onslaught in the next few days.

Tomorrow night it's Christmas Eve Mass, then dinner with Nana, Dziatku, Aunt Meaghan, and Auntie M. Potato soup at our house, followed by riotous games once Harper is asleep. Monday we'll open Santa gifts, then head to Nana and Dziatku's to open more gifts, then take a nap break, then head to Cincinnati for dinner and a gift exchange at Aunt Patty's. On Wednesday we'll head up to Wisconsin and continue the festivities from there. By the time we finish, we'll have celebrated Christmas about five times. We'll all be exhausted.

Since I don't have a photo of Harper, here's a picture of some of the loot that's been wrapped at our house. None of Harper's gifts are included in these piles. If you are one of the lucky ones to be exchanging gifts with us in the next few days, can you guess which one(s) is yours?

I'm really looking forward to a Christmas morning in our own home, now that Harper is old enough to appreciate Santa a little. Two years ago we were here, but she was merely weeks old. Last year we celebrated in Wisconsin over the actual Christmas holiday.

December 2004

December 2005

Oh, I forgot to mention, in the midst of all this craziness, there will also be football! Family, friends, good food, presents, game playing, and football all crammed on to one fabulous week. I will go to sleep tonight hoping for a new year miracle win for the Packers over the Bears and grabbing that last wild card spot in the playoffs. What could be better?

Merry and happy to you and yours!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Once Upon a Time

A long, long time ago there was a little girl named Harper who went to St. Louis with her mother. . .

Actually it only seems like a long time ago. We went to St. Louis the second weekend in December and a report about our visit has been delayed, courtesy of the flu of 2006.

It was the perfect weekend; just the right balance between outings for the kids and serious down time at my friend Erin's parents' house. Her parents were kind enough to open their doors to use because there were beds and rooms enough to accommodate two toddlers and two extra adults. That way we all got to stick together and no one had to sleep on the floor!

I am not planning on relocating any time soon, but St. Louis is a pretty awesome place to have kids. On Friday afternoon we took Harper and Calum to The Magic House, which is the St. Louis children's museum. There were sand and water areas, so Harper was pretty happy with that. She also enjoyed playing in some balls and with the push-wall-thing.

There was another large part of the museum which was not open yet while we were there, but that really didn't keep us from having fun. The only negative was that Harper was too engrossed in her activities of choice for me to get many good pictures of her because she just wouldn't look at me! Oh well, I guess that's how it should be.

As far as Harper was concerned the only downfall of The Magic House was the lack of livestock. Unfortunately, she thought we were taking her to see magic cows when we were saying magic house. Hee hee hee. She asked for the cows right away when we got out of the car. Oops.

Saturday, Erin's husband Brett returned from being out of town. He came over to see us at Erin's parents' house and after we introduced Harper she looked at him and said, totally unprompted, "It's nice to meet you!" Who is this kid?

We all traveled to the St. Louis Zoo on Saturday. The weather was lovely and we got in for free so we didn't feel like we had to trek across every square inch of the place. We just strolled leisurely to see a few favorite animals: seals, monkeys, a polar bear, and penguins. Harper was especially interested in some friendly monkeys. At one point an animal ventured pretty near the glass and she said, "My name is Hahper, dis is my fren Cama." Which translates to: My name is Harper, this is my friend Calum. Again, I have no idea where she gets this stuff. It was really funny. Probably the best part of was that she pointed to herself and then gestured toward Calum while she was saying it.

I got such a kick out of it that she repeated the introductions to the polar bear.

We ended the day at a Culver's for dinner. Harper had "yemonade" to drink. If you ask her about her trip she will tell you that her friend Calum tried to drink her lemonade, which he did. Apparently Calum's impressive table swiping techniques made a big impression on her. Rebound takes her food, but usually only if she puts it on the floor!

If Erin or her parents read this, we'd like to extend another huge thank you for all your hospitality! We would love to visit again someday.


Given the recent stint we've had with nasty diapers, I have been a little nervous when I hear sound from Harper's backside.

I'll ask her, "Do you have poopy pants?"

Nine times out of ten she replies, "No Mommy, dat's jus gas!"

Monday, December 18, 2006

We're Still Alive

I guess when people start to call to see whether we're okay over here, it's time to start updating again!

The last week was lost to us in a blur of nausea, stomach cramps, pedialyte, crackers, and lots and lots of laundry. The stomach flu went right through all of us. As Harper started to feel better, Matt and I were felled, and she had a rough day or two in which she did not get as much attention as she's used to! Ann and Mike (Nana and Dziatku) were life-savers, answering our middle of the night call when Matt need to go to the hospital to be rehydrated.

We seem to be mostly recovered, although Harper's stomach is still rejecting all things dairy in the form of very nasty diapers. Her diet is pretty limited as it is (you try feeding an opinonated two-year-old!) and staying away from milk, cheese, fruit, and any high-fiber starches has left me totally scratching my head as to what to feed her. We are working on tricking some soy milk into her. We're going to give vanilla a try tomorrow. I poured her some regular soy milk tonight, she took a couple of sips and said, "I can't want that milk!"

"Can't want" is Harper-speak for "don't want." Some other examples would be, "I can't want to go to bed," and, "I can't want to eat dose peas."

This is how Harper looked for about three days:

She was all about the beanbag chair and PBS or the DVD player. In our misery, we let her watch absolutely as much television as she wanted. Of course now we are deprogramming those decisions. Harper usually, "can't want the td oss (tv off)!" But she is readjusting.

During our stint with the stomach flu Harper's favorite phrases were:

"Dat's a big mess!"
"It's all dirty!"
"It's all ofer (over)!"

You can use your imagination to determine what she was talking about.

I will try to get back on tomorrow and report on our St. Louis trip, which was fabulous. Harper was mostly delightful and hilarious while we were there; charming the pants off our hosts. We had lots of adventures and, despite the stomach bug which hit on the way home, it was a wonderful weekend in every respect.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


We went to St. Louis, we had a great time, we returned with the stomach flu. It's been a rocky couple of days. I hope to entertain with stories from our trip very soon. But first, another load of laundry.

P.S. If there is an adult and a toddler in the car, the toddler is throwing up, and there are 130 miles between the adult, the toddler, and home. . . Well there's just no good way to deal with that.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Signs That I May Actually Be Insane

Tomorrow Harper and I will get in the car and drive about six hours (give or take) to St. Louis. Yes, I am willingly getting into a car and attempting to drive 390 -ish miles with a toddler, solo. I have many diversions, video, audio, and edible, for the car and I keep telling myself that we'll just stop when we need to stop, that we aren't in any tremendous rush to get there. The driving part does not particularly worry me, it's the six hours in a confined space with a two-year-old. It could be a very very good time or a very very bad time. Say a prayer for us.

Why would I do this? The reward is getting to spend a long weekend with a dear friend and her (nearly) one-year-old son. Harper loves being with other kids so I won't be the only person to entertain her all the live long day. Matt has about 349 basketball games to coach or attend this weekend, so the timing of our departure is pretty much perfect.

These days there seem to be two Harpers. The one that is charming and delightful and funny. And the one that spits acid and shoots fire from her eyes. I'm really, really, really hoping the delightful Harper joins us for the weekend, or we may not be invited back to St. Louis any time soon!

In all her twoness, Harper is really cracking me up lately. Here are some photos of her taking care of the baby doll Auntie Shannon gave her for her birthday.

This particular baby doll spends 98.3% of its life in the high chair being fed cereal. This does not say a lot about the level of exciting activity I provide for Harper in the course of a day. All she is able to recreate is breakfast!

Here's one last note from the vault of Harper's apparently amazing memory:

Today we were Target, getting a few supplies for our trip and she made two rather astute observations. When we were rolling up the juice aisle, she pointed to the Welch's grape juice and said, "Dat juice at Nana's house." It is the kind of juice she drinks at Mike and Ann's, and not the kind we have at home. Then we were in the aisle with baby dishes, cups, etc. and she pointed to a set of Elmo dishes on the bottom shelf and said, "Dos (those) at Mugga's house!" And she was right, those were the dishes she used at my parents' house. And she hasn't been there since August! A nice little reminder that I have to watch what I do around here.

We'll be back in a couple of days with a report about our St. Louis trip!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Trauma Claus

I'll bet you can guess where this is going.

Here is a brief history of Harper's visits to Santa:

December 2004

Even though Harper appeared to be waving in that first Santa photo, she was about six weeks old and I'm pretty sure she was mostly asleep.

December 2005

A year older and wiser, Harper was clearly awake and not interested in talking with Santa last year.

Which brings us to yesterday. Now we dove head-long into this holiday season. We've been singing carols, watching Christmas movies, reading Christmas stories. . .And Harper will tell you that Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. Having so recently celebrated her birthday she is 100% clear on what presents are. I was hoping she would be excited to see Santa.

So here we have a series of photos which sum things up pretty nicely:

December 2006

We tried to get Harper to tell Santa, "Merry Christmas," and talk about presents. The sad thing was, when we tried to leave the Santa area, she cried more, saying, "I want presents!" She thought she would get some then and was upset because she hadn't. Oops. Not our finest parenting hour.

She did get a little paperback Christmas book. When we read it later she said, "Santa gave dat to me!" So she doesn't appear to be scarred for life. Still, we may have to tone down the talk about Santa coming to our house for a couple of days.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Fitting End

Apparently Harper wanted to give this month-long-blog-a-thon a proper send off. We are having some napping issues at our house. Namely, she doesn't always want one. Two out of the last four days she has napped for nearly three hours, the other two she played in her crib for nearly two hours and slept but not at all!

Today was one of the no nap days. I could hear her in there, talking, singing (Happy Birthday, Jingle Bells, and Three Blind Mice), and generally making merry. I had no idea how merry she was making until I walked in to retrieve her and found:

1) Harper nearly nude, with her diaper out of whack, but not actually removed.

2) Clothes on the floor.

3) Blankets and animals on the floor.

And, oh yes, she had reached over to her book case, got hold of the nearly full tissue box and I found:

4) Approximately 60 tissues on the floor; the other 30 were in her bed.

I immediately burst out laughing and then went to get the camera. I know she shouldn't have wasted the tissue, but I'll move the tissue box and then won't have to worry about a repeat performance, at least not while she's sleeping in her crib. She was throwing the tissues up in the air like leaves and shouting, "Wee!"

I did make her clean them up.

The evidence:

So, while we aren't about to make a habit of allowing Harper to empty our tissue boxes, it was great fun and I'm not sorry she spent her "nap" that way.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'Tis the Season

We had a nice day today, playing in the mall play area and having lunch with Nana. The play area was a zoo, full of the children of holiday shoppers. I was glad to have two sets of eyes to watch what Harper was doing. After lunch we rode up and down the glass-walled elevator and the escalator, just for fun. We also walked through Santa's area in the mall, but avoided the jolly guy himself. I have a feeling our picture with Santa may be similar to last year's, which featured a screaming Harper. We'll see. At least she likes the tree.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mostly Not About Harper

Guess who doesn't listen to me much.


That's who.

It's gotten worse in the last few days too, like some new element of age two blooming before my very eyes. Blooming like something poisonous with thorns.

We've been through phases like this before, when Harper has been generally disagreeable, but a few times in the last couple of days I've asked her to do something and she has not only not complied, but shouted, "No!" vehemently. I am not making outlandish requests. When she throws a book on the floor and steps on top of it, I expect her to pick it up. I'm all for allowing her certain freedoms, but ruining her books by trampling them is not one of her domestic liberties. Other things I've thoughtlessly outlawed like the evil dictator I appear to be: throwing cereal on the floor, beating Rebound over the head with a paper towel roll, and dragging my iPod around like a dog on a leash.

It is difficult to deal with such forceful defiance from a two year old.

Deep breathing.

This, too, shall pass.

Matt said, this afternoon, that Harper tends to sprinkle her charm in strategic intervals. Currently, she's about nine parts frustrating to one part totally stinkin' adorable. The adorable comes around just often enough that you don't actually throttle her.

(I guess that was more about Harper than I anticipated.)

Guess who else doesn't listen to me much.

Paid telephone fundraisers.

We get these phone calls nearly every day. Or so it seems; it is at least once a week. And yes I care about police officers, fire fighters, burn victims, hospitalized children, crippled children, and people with any terminal or chronic disease. I want them to have money for research, teddy bears, wheel chairs, and all the other things they need.

Here is my problem; even if we just gave the small, "comfortable" amount to everyone that called, that would be one huge donation. I have to fight the urge to share with these people all the charities we do give to. We are caring citizens. Pardon me for not shelling out $20 bucks to everyone with a phone! I always feel like a bad person after I, nicely at first, tell them that no, I do not want to receive a donation envelope in the mail.

I try to be kind, I can't imagine having the job of calling mostly cranky people and begging for money all day long. I would hate that. I always listen politely the speech and then say we won't be able to help at this time and good-bye. I should just hang up then, but I don't want to be rude. Unfortunately, in trying not to be rude, I have to say no so many times I end up being rude in the end and feel terrible when I finally hang up the phone.

Once in a while I will say yes, go ahead and send the donation envelope, because I just want to get off the phone. Do you know what happens if you don't mail that thing back right away? More phone calls!

occasionally I'll ask the person what actual percentage of the donation goes toward the actual teddy bears, wheel chairs, or whatever they are raising money for. It's usually like 27%. Not an impressive number. Do you give money to all those phone people? Do you know how I can get them to stop calling me?

Thank you for listening to me rant. Have a good night.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Verbal Acrobatics

Harper is speaking pretty well these days, never mind that I'm the only one who can understand her half the time. Perhaps it was mean, but I had a nice laugh in the car this morning, getting her to repeatedly say Dziatku and Cox Arboretum in the same sentence. She was a good sport.

It didn't look very nice outside today, but I'll take cloudy and fifty degrees any day in November. It actually got much warmer than that, but we had to make our trip to the arboretum in the morning. No pretty flowers or butterflies this time, but plenty of open space and fresh air.

On another verbal note:

What is perhaps more shocking than what Harper is able to say are the thoughts she puts together.

Saturday morning we were at Auntie M's house and Harper was chasing one of the cats saying, "Comere (come here) kitty! Comere kitty! Don't be shy!"

Tonight we were dancing to Christmas music in the kitchen, putting on a mighty nice show for the neighbors or people driving by, and Harper instructed me to,"Dance wif your arms on top!" Meaning, over my head.

Also tonight in the kitchen I enthusiastically, um, passed a little gas. Harper looked at me very seriously and asked, "Do you need to go baf woom Mommy?"

It's Not What it Looks Like

Some pictures come out all right or all wrong, it's a matter of perspective.

I find it hilarious that Rebound appears to be eating the child in this photo. And, in fairness, she had just put a quilt over his head so you could say she had it coming. Fortunately it is only a wonderful depth of field illusion (or something like that).

Look, the dog is eating the baby! Ha ha ha!

Please, if Rebound were really eating Harper, do you think I would post it?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Last Lap

So the month of blogging every day is nearly over. Thank goodness! It's not that Harper doesn't give me things to write about, there just doesn't always seem to be a good time in the day to sneak away to the computer.

We've been so fortunate to have lots of family time lately, beginning the week of our birthdays and running right through tonight. Matt's sister Meaghan has been here twice in the last two weeks! Harper is blessed to have lots of people who care about her. What says love more than the willingness to spend part of Thanksgiving in the bathroom, playing with the water in the tub? Yes, Harper is lucky to have a Dziatku who will go to the ends of the earth to entertain her.

After dinner tonight the two ditched the aquatics and opted to read some books together on the couch. As each one was finished, Harper jumped up and said, "One mo book!" and scooted to her room to retrieve another title. Dziatku patiently read them all until it was time for Harper to go to bed.

It must be rough to have so many loving adults doting on you.

Tomorrow we are going to try to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we've been having and go walking at Cox Arboretum with Dziatku. We'll see if autumn offers any good photo opportunities.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Diaper Girl

For today's post, I thought you'd all enjoy some photos of Harper in her pre-Thanksgiving outfit. That's right, before heading to Nana and Dziatku's for dinner, Harper spent the morning in her diaper and some sandals she found in the closet. Apparently this is a very comfortable look for watching the parade and spreading toys to all corners of the house.

There was also an interest in hiding under the computer desk which, let's face it, is not the safest place for man or beast.

Monkey see, monkey do. She actually ousted Rebound from his position so she could sit under the computer.

And what do you do for entertainment?

Deck the Halls

I'm so busy decorating the Christmas tree that I am about to miss the deadline again.

Here are some things Harper said today:

"Oh wow!" On several occasions, including seeing the Christmas tree in three pieces on the floor.

Once the tree had lights on it she told me it was, "So cool Mommy." Seriously, she said that.

At dinner her broccoli, according to Harper, was, "Nice and warm, not too hot."

She also commented, "Dat's good!" about her dinner, which is a nice change from telling us to take things away.

Finally, when dancing to Christmas tunes in the kitchen, Matt told me to shake my booty. I did. Then Harper said, "Good job Mommy!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day

Since I'm guessing there aren't a lot of people reading blogs Thanksgiving night, and many will be shopping or working tomorrow, this will be brief. I couldn't hope to truly list all the things I'm thankful for, but here's a sample:

I'm thankful for my family and friends, especially Matt, Harper and Rebound. I am blessed in that area for sure.

I'm thankful that MaryEllen taught me how to make awesome apple pie from scratch. It is nice to contribute something to a meal and have it be appreciated. If you like pie, and you're coming to visit us, let me know, I'll make you one!

I'm thankful that I only sliced a small part of my thumb, rather than cutting the end entirely off, while chopping vegetables this morning. I'm really thankful no trips to the emergency room or stitches were required.

I'm thankful for this gorgeous day and spending it with people I love. I'm also thankful for the loved ones I wasn't with and knowing they also were blessed with good company and good food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Let the Christmas music play!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

For the first four weeks of her life, we rarely gave Harper a pacifier. We were worried that it would confuse her and she'd have trouble nursing. Once she was a firmly established eater, we introduced "pacis." We didn't use them all the time but they were especially great in the car, in restaurants, and in church. I remember nearly crying with joy the first time Harper reached down and put a paci in her mouth on her own.

By the time Harper was one, we had firmly established a loving relationship with a particular type of paci. Then we went to Harper's one-year check-up and the doctor suggested we (read: told us to) get rid of the pacis. The problem being that Harper went right to sleep when offered her paci, making very little fuss about going to bed or taking a nap. At that point I was just not ready to strip her of that comfort or myself of that guaranteed way to calm her. I reasoned that, at two years old, she might actually be able to understand giving up her pacis and it wouldn't seem like some cruel punishment. As a compromise, we limited paci use to Harper's crib only.

About six weeks before her second birthday we decided it really was time to give up the paci. Often Harper would wake up in the night and cry because she couldn't find it. Getting up, giving it to her, and going back to sleep was getting a little old. So I started to talk with her about her birthday. After much talking and prompting we developed a little exchange that went something like this:

Me: Harper, how old are you?

Harper: One!

Me: Yes. And pretty soon it will be your birthday and we'll have a party. Then how old will you be?

Harper: Two!

Me: And when you are two will you be a baby or a big girl?

Harper: Big girl!

Me: And what are we going to do when you turn two?

Harper: Put pacis way, give to baby.

Me: That's right! Do big girls need pacis?

Harper: Nooooo.

Me: Who uses pacis?

Harper: Babies.

Me: That's right!

We did this so many times that eventually, when I asked Harper how old she was going to be, she would say, "Two. Pu pacis way, gif to baby!" All in one breath.

The morning of her second birthday we gleefully traipsed around the house collecting pacis and putting them in a paper bag, to give to a baby of course.

I was this close to calling a woman we know with an infant and asking if we could actually give them the pacis. I ended up stashing them in a closet. Yes, Harper was totally down with giving up the pacis. . .Until nap time.

Three days she went with no nap, instead screaming in her crib for her paci, the green paci! But we held firm. It took her a long time to fall asleep that first night, but sleep she did. And now naps are happening again, and bedtime is slowly getting easier, and I'm really proud that Matt and I didn't run for the bag of pacis during that first rocky afternoon.

Man, paci withdrawal is rough. But it is already paying off, as I don't have to get out of bed two or three times a night to find the paci and give it back to her. Instead, she just doesn't wake up, or she wakes up and is able to get back to sleep on her own.

So for those of you struggling with paci issues, and you know you're out there, don't fret. Someday you, too, will know life without the paci.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Statistics and an Apology

Matt was quick to point out today that I didn't post yesterday. Although I did. Here's what happened:

I was busy putting address labels on our Christmas cards (ha -- aren't you jealous of all the organization over here?) and I looked up and saw it was 11:56 and I hadn't posted yet. (Some of you may recall that I was attempting to post every day in November.) I jumped up and ran to the computer, as though it might explode if I didn't post some drivel about Harper before midnight. I missed. The computer didn't explode, but the post, which I started on Monday, technically posted on Tuesday, at 12:06 a.m. Sue me. I'm going to forge ahead as though I didn't miss that little deadline.

Yesterday morning we took Harper for her two year well visit at the doctor. It was the third time we'd been to the doctor in less than two weeks. We were there ten days ago to investigate the wheezing, then we had a check-up with the allergist, and then back for our well visit. Harper has been so much better at the doctor's office than in the past. She even got a flu vaccine with barely a whimper. A nice change from our appointments six months ago when we were both in tears. Here are her two year stats:

Height: 35 1/4 inches -- 90%
Weight: 26 1/4 pounds -- 50%
Head circumference: 50.3 centimeters -- 97%

So she's still tallish, less skinnyish, and continues to sport one large noggin. Seriously, we've had to pack shirts away because they just couldn't be coaxed over that melon. Our doctor keeps saying we can expect great things from that big head, but I don't believe there's any actually correlation between head size and intelligence. I suppose we'll see.

Matt is celebrating because he heard someone say that if you take a child's height at age two and double it, that's how tall she'll be. Since he's all set to sign the papers on Harper's college basketball scholarship, he's happy to predict that she'll top out at just over five feet, ten inches. Unfortunately the formula the nurse gave us, which has to do with the parents' heights, predicts that Harper will be more like five feet, five inches.

I'm not going to worry too much about her athletic future until she learns to get two feet of the floor when she jumps.


I promised some birthday highlights and photos. Here's a rundown of the main events:

Harper's cake -- it was a fish. It was pink at her request. While recognizable as a fish, it turned out nothing like I imagined it when I started. Oh, and there was about a million pounds of frosting on the thing to disguise the fact that it more or less came out of the pan in two pieces. At least Harper liked it. She was trying to eat it all day long, caring very little about the customs of singing and sharing the cake with guests. What did she want for breakfast? Cake. What did she want for lunch? Cake. Did she actually eat the cake when we offered it to her after dinner? Not so much. She did lick all the frosting off her piece though.

Harper's gifts -- Harper got lots of great gifts this year; books and puzzles, musical instruments, clothes, snow boots, pretend food, a baby doll, doll accessories, and her kitchen. She was a hoot opening her presents. We would tell her who they were from and she'd take the gift up to that person and say, "Here you go." She was a pro at tearing off the wrapping paper, then she'd hold the gift up, game show style, and yell, "Taaa daaa!" No idea where that came from, I'm not much of a taaa-daaaer myself. It was hilarious. I don't actually have any very good pictures of gift opening because she wouldn't a) stand still or b) face me.

Harper's happy birthday song -- Harper clapped with glee when we sang to her. She seemed utterly delighted. Then she counted to three before blowing out her candle. Who does this? Then it didn't go out on the first try so she counted before blowing again. The very best part of the entire cake experience was when we gave her one of the gumdrops from the cake, she chewed on it for a second, then spit it back out on the cake tray. I had just turned the video camera off moments before or I'm sure Amercia's Funniest Home Videos would be cutting us a check. You can't win 'em all.

So now that we have all the birthday madness out of our systems here, bring on the holidays! We bought new lights for the Christmas tree today. This weekend we'll have holiday tunes blaring, holiday movies playing, and I'll be cursing up a storm as I try to get those new lights wound around the tree. Deck the halls! Come midnight on Thursday, you officially have my permission to let loose with the holiday cheer.

Her Brand New Kitchen

Harper got a lot of great gifts, but the best buy was probably the kitchen set she received from Matt and I. Oh, and also the gift of Matt and Joe putting it together into the wee hours the night before her party.

Come on over, she'll make you pretend dinner.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Two Years and Two Days

Dear Harper,

Two has hit us in a big way. You turned two on Friday and, even though I saw it coming, even though I could no more walk away without my head than forget your birthday, I feel like it came out of the blue and ran me right over. You are two. As in two years old. As in 24 months. As in 99.9 % of my being wants the world to stop right now because you are growing so fast I can't catch my breath and I can't hold on and I can't even get it on camera because you move, all of it moves, at the speed of light. My heart is screaming, "Please stop!"

But don't.

Because I'm going to listen to the .1% of my being (which is sometimes the only reasonable part) that whispers to me how it's only going to get better. I'm going to listen to the .1% that tells me, as much fun as you are now, I still have no idea who you are going to become and wouldn't it be a shame if I never got to know?

What if you had stopped last year? I think now about what you were like and I barely even know that you anymore. Last year you couldn't talk, you could barely walk, and you ate mostly strained mystery food in jars that no sane person would even remotely consider edible. And this year? This year I'm fairly certain you could conquer the world with $5 and a passport, because you are one amazing child. An amazing child I couldn't even have imagined 12 months ago.

I'm learning what Two looks like on you, and I have to say, it isn't always pretty. And parenting Two doesn't always look so great on me either. Since you've discovered the power of speech you have delighted in voicing your opinion, which differs from mine at least 50% of the time. Lately you are not so into eating, unless we're feeding you cookies. We hardly ever feed you cookies; a situation you are less than pleased with. You have also employed a wondrous array of sleep avoidance techniques (especially since we put all your pacifiers away) including, but not limited to; throwing every movable object out of your crib and then screaming to get them back, asking to go potty, crying about the injustice of your crib and then begging for a tissue, taking all your clothes off and calling for help, and pooping immediately after we put you to bed. And those are just the techniques you try after we've put you in the crib. You also dislike having your fingernails clipped. Me, I'm just attempting to carry out the basic functions of parenting: feeding you, making sure you get exercise, play, and sleep, and keeping you relatively clean and groomed.

It shouldn't be so difficult.

There are times when being Mommy brings out the absolute worst in me. Times when I'm so frustrated that I feel like I need to stand up on a tall object and shout in the loudest voice I can manage so you will just listen to me. I don't do this. In fact, I'm quite certain it would do no good. I'd start to yell and you wouldn't hear me because you'd be looking for your own object to climb on and yell from.

And you know what?

Part of me would be proud of you because I know that you are already a strong woman. You know what you want. You aren't afraid to stand up for yourself. You have a brilliant spirit and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Not even for easy.

The good news is that Two also brings out the best in us. I love seeing what a terrific little person you are and all the things you're learning to do. Just the other day you named the colors of all the fish on the bathroom shower curtain. You know colors, just like that! Which means all the playing and talking and reading we do are paying off. You are learning all kinds of things and I think it's as much a joy for me as it is for you. You count and play hide and seek, you draw, you play pretend in more ways than I would have thought possible, you take care of your animals and you even try to take care of me if you think something is wrong.

You show compassion, you are intelligent, you delight in the world around you, and you have a terrific sense of humor. And, while this is not nearly the most important thing about you, you are absolutely beautiful. I watch you move through your day and you take my breath away. Everything about you amazes me. Over and over again.

So . . . Bring it on Two! We will have bad moments but I know we can conquer Two, you and I (and Daddy!). And this time next year, God willing, I'll be looking back again, marveling at what you've accomplished and wondering where the time went. I love you sweet girl.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Party Day

1 cake made (from scratch) to sort of resemble a fish +

1 OSU vs. Michigan football game +

10 guests +

1 new play kitchen +

80 bagillion other fabulous gifts +

1 over-tired, sugar-filled Harper =

a two-year-old's birthday party

(Stories and photos to follow.)

Friday, November 17, 2006