Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We Went to the Zoo! (Yes, Again!)

Last week we used Aunt Meaghan's visit to make another zoo run. I was interested to see how Harper would do. When we went in Wisconsin, in April, she wasn't too interested in most of the animals. Meaghan and I were pleasantly surprised by Harper's excitement toward the animals. The Cincinnati Zoo is laid out very differently from the one in Milwaukee. It wasn't as crowed, there weren't as many other kids all over, and Harper was five weeks older this time. I'm not sure what made the difference, but she loved it. She tried to say the names of many of the animals, and used the words, "wow!" and, "big!" more than once. It also helped that we were there pretty early in the day, which may be a more active time for many of the animals.

Here's Harper and Aunt Meaghan in front of some elephants.

Here's Harper giving a drink to an elephant statue. That was one of many things that cracked us right up! She offered the sippy cup to the end of the elephant's trunk; not totally accurate, but not a bad idea either.

Once we were inside, Manatee Springs was one of Harper's favorite parts of the trip. She thought the Manatees were big fish, and greatly enjoyed them. If you look closely at her face in this photo, she was clearly unsure about the intentions of the large manatee statue. Being suspicious of large "fish" probably isn't a bad instinct.

Aside from the manatees, the elephants, polar bears, and the giraffe were probably Harper's favorite animals. We also enjoyed a close encounter with a peacock. We rounded out the day nicely with Harper's first train ride. She wasn't sure about staying on Aunt Meaghan's lap until the train got going. Once we were moving she enjoyed waving to the people watching, and saying, "Wee!"

It was great to be at the zoo and even better to spend the day with Aunt Meaghan. I'm sure it won't be the last visit for any of us!

Where Have You Been?

Or where have we been? I know I've been M.I.A. for over a week. We were fortunate enough to spend lots of time with Aunt Meaghan, who was visiting from D.C. I was also in need of a little break as we processed some of the big discoveries of the last few days. No, I'm not pregnant!

This is one of the roses in the gorgeous bouquet Matt brought me to celebrate the fact that I got a scholarship for grad school. We were of course excited by this news, but it also means that I have to commit to going to school full-time. As of June 12, I will be a full-time student at Wright State University. I don't mean to be disloyal to UD, but only Wright State has the program I was interested in. I will be a Raider for the next 1 1/2 to 2 years. (Don't worry girls, I'll still cheer for the Flyers!)

I know that getting my master's degree will be good for our family in the long run, and probably good for me as a person, but it will also be difficult. For five weeks I will have both a Monday and a Wednesday class that go from nine a.m. to five p.m. I have just one question. . . How am I supposed to sit still that long?!

It will be a long road for all of us. Nana and Dziatku, who will be our primary babysitters. Harper, who will have to get used to a little less Mommy time. Matt, who I may not see very often for the next two years. And not only will I have to attend classes and do HOMEWORK, I'm also going to have to significantly curb my evening television habit. Oh, the hardship of it all!

My goal is to keep updating here at least once a week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Grand Opening

On Saturday, Harper and I took Nana to the grand opening of the Children's Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens, another one of the great parks in Dayton. We all had a fantastic time, despite only staying for about an hour because of the crazy crowd. I'm hoping to take Harper back this summer, when there might not be quite so many people there. I was a little concerned she was going to get trampled.

The first stop we made was at a tent where they were giving the kids rocks. Yes, rocks! Harper could've stayed right there all afternoon. Each child was invited to take a rock from a crate and brush it off. Then they were able to draw on the rocks with permanent (yikes!) markers. We didn't do too much drawing (I thought it was pretty brave of me to even consider lettering her hold that marker), but Harper toted the rock around for the rest of the day.

The children's garden was divided into all kinds of little sections. There were limestone tunnels, fountains, a little bridge, a stream, flower boxes with plastic crayons and fanciful bugs sculptures, bird houses made out of painted gourds, and other wonders. Harper did lots of ooh-ing and wow-ing as we walked through the garden. There was a playhouse with puzzles and games inside, but some feuding siblings kept us from further investigation of that particular spot.

There was a maze of sorts, with musical instruments throughout. There were simple things, like a triangle staked in among the plants and a basket of cow bells. There were also more complicated instruments, like a giant xylophone, which Harper will need to be a little bigger to appreciate.

(You can tell, by her open mouth, that Harper was concentrating very intently on making that bell ring!)

Surpassing even the tent with the rocks, the highlight of Harper's experience was our time at the sand tables. There were three different tables, at three different heights, containing very fine sand. There were little plastic plants to arrange in the sand and different tools to dig and design with. Of course Harper required nothing but the sand itself. It was as though one of the designers jumped into her mind and built the very thing Harper would love the most. How thoughtful!

She started to throw the sand eventually, which was our signal to leave that area. Unfortunately this logic was lost on Harper. Getting her away from the sand was no picnic. I'm glad Nana was there to help distract her! It was no consolation to Harper at the time, but I'm sure we'll be back there soon.

Trainer in Training

I know that Harper isn't even two yet, so it might be a little early to speculate about her future career choices. . . I do it anyway. So far mountain climber and archeologist are near the top of the list. Recently, however, she has shown some interest in, and aptitude for, animal training.

Ever since Harper became a little steady on her feet we've allowed her to help give Rebound treats. In the beginning this meant that we'd hand the treat to her and she would fling it to the floor and scamper away, watching Rebound devour it from a safe distance. Lately, Harper has been feeling a little more confident around the dog and she's started to make him earn his treats. She will hold the treat in one hand, point the opposite index finger in the air, and command, "Sis." Rebound sits. Then she holds the empty hand in front of her like an officer stopping traffic and says, "Taaaa." Rebound stays. Delighted with her new found power over the dog, Harper keeps him waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Eventually Rebound, who has the patience of a saint, will stand up and try to retrieve the treat clenched in Harper's fist. She will say, "No!" and pull the treat away. Then we're back to, "Sis. . . taaaa. . ." and Rebound waits.

A few times as many as ten minutes have gone by, with Harper exercising her control over the dog again, and again, and again. If she doesn't give it up then, we end up prying it out of her hand while praising Rebound for being such a good boy. Then he gets extra treats for not tackling Harper. I'm starting to think this is really just an elaborate plan they've concocted to get Rebound bonus treats. I just know those two are going to get in all kinds of trouble together.

More Friday Fun

I thought I'd add some additional pictures from last Friday. As if playing with Dana and walking around the pond weren't enough excitement for one day, Dziatku came over to help us get the lawn mowed. Harper had a blast playing with Dziatku and Rebound. Please notice that we have even procured a castle for our little princess**!

**I wish it were easier to convey sarcasm in writing. When I refer to Harper as a princess, it is with a hefty roll of the eyes. I love her dearly and think she's beautiful, smart, hilarious, and all-around amazing, but she's not really the princess type. Unless you count the fact that she thinks she should always have what she wants when she wants it, but I'm pretty sure that's just toddler syndrome!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

T.G.I.F. (and Sunny!)

After many days of standing at our windows and looking out at this:

. . . the sun came out on Friday! And that was just the beginning of a glorious weekend.

Friday morning we went over to play at Andrea and Dana's house. After the girls had played for about an hour, we headed over to Fraze Pavilion. A local radio station was having a party there. We sat out near the fountains and enjoyed a cheap ($2!) and delicious lunch. Andrea's mom also met us there. A little girls' time out. Harper and Dana enjoyed their packed lunches and also had fun watching all the people, dogs, and geese that were everywhere. The fountains also proved to be very entertaining. Harper kept exclaiming, "Waa-waa!" (water), as though she was repeatedly surprised to see it shooting up in the air.

Of course, they had to check out each other's rides.

When Andrea and Dana headed home for Dana's nap, Harper and I took a few more minutes and walked up to the pond. There we saw more geese, ducks, and ducklings. When Harper started to nod her head in the stroller, I knew it was time for us to head home. I sang Elmo songs at the top of my lungs all the way home, so she wouldn't fall asleep in the car. Even a five minute snooze can totally ruin her afternoon nap, and that's no good for either of us!

Friday, May 19, 2006

18 Months

Marking Harper's year-and-a-half milestone was a three-day saga. And I do mean saga. She is the next Drama Queen of the Universe.

We started out by having her pictures professionally taken on Tuesday. (You know, because I don't take nearly enough pictures with our home camera. . . ) Matt was a good sport about it, especially after I promised that, from this point forward, we'll only get her photo taken around her birthday (and maybe for the occasional special event). No more half-year shots! We've had some pretty good luck at the portrait studio, especially last time, when we had Harper's picture taken with live bunnies. I was feeling pretty optimistic about our session. Unfortunately when we arrived on Tuesday morning Harper had no interest whatsoever in having her picture taken. The photographer was patient, understanding, and all-around wonderful. Between her snapping upwards of thirty pictures, and some very clever cropping, we ended up with some beautiful photos. In all except one you can see at least a hint of the beat-up stuffed animals they use to get kids to smile. Allowing Harper to drag them around in front of the backdrop was the only way we could get her to be still for even a fraction of a second.

Wednesday marked Harper's actual 1/2 birthday and the sun actually came out! I was so thrilled with some nice weather that we went to the park twice in one day. The second time we took Nana with us, after a lovely girls' dinner. Harper added the word "stick" to her vocabulary. As in we spent half our time at the park walking around and picking up sticks. There was a part of my brain suggesting that a toddler walking around holding sticks might not have been the best idea. However, we were in a park full of large, old trees and it had been storming for a week. There were more sticks in that park than there are people in Manhattan. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Incidentally, I did draw the line at holding the sticks while she went down the slide. I'm not completely irresponsible as a parent!

We rounded-out the three days of festivities by dutifully heading to the doctor for a check-up on Thursday. Oh the drama that ensued! Apparently Harper has some memories that office and getting shots. She was doing fine until the nurse came at her with the little forehead thermometer (which is less painful than a soft breeze, by the way) and all heck broke loose. Cut to me pinning down Harper's arms for every blessed thing that had to be done: temperature, head circumference, listening to her heart/chest, measuring her length, having ears and eyes looked into, and, finally, two shots. By the time she actually got the shots she was screaming so furiously that I'm pretty sure she didn't even notice she was being stuck. Sigh. It started thundering as we left, which sent Harper into another fit. She was so upset that I couldn't even get her to stop crying long enough to eat lunch. I finally just put her down for a nap and she proceeded to sleep for the next three and a half hours.

One nice thing about our appointment was the doctor telling me that most children Harper's age, "Aren't big fans of anything that isn't their idea." This made me feel better about Harper's often obstinate behavior.

Here is her most recent set of statistics. . .

Head circumference: 19 1/2 inches, +97%

Height: 33 1/4 inches, 90%

Weight: 23.9 lbs., 25-50% (up from 5% at one year!)

So she's somewhat tall and has a huge noggin. We're just happy she's healthy and (usually) happy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Proud Mama

Harper and I enjoyed several indoor stops around town today. We started with storytime at the library, where it was kite day. Harper loves the singing and dancing part, then we heard a kite story, and made kites, which we then "flew" while dancing around to "Let's Go Fly a Kite," from Mary Poppins. We saw some friends from Harper's scary singing class. It seems that each time we go to the library, I end up meeting at least one new person. Even if we don't see them outside the library, it is still nice to know other moms in the area.

Our second stop was a little less glamorous; we had to visit the post office. I happen to love the post office, being a big fan of the United States Postal Service in general. The appeal of the post office has yet to sink in for Harper. She whined and strained to get out of her stroller the entire time we were there. Fortunately the other people waiting in that long line weren't too cranky about her disgruntled noises. One day Harper will know what it truly means to send and receive mail, then she won't mind waiting so much. If she's really, really lucky, her future class will take a field trip to see the inner workings of the post office. I took a class to visit the post office once and it was totally mind-blowing! If you ever get a chance for a behind-the-scenes look, take it!

As a treat to make up for forcing her to wait in the long post office line, I took Harper to Books & Company (also a favorite place of mine) to play with the trains. There weren't any other children there today, so Harper went back and forth between the two tables full of trains, rearranging and playing with them in any way she wanted. She was in heaven. I was enjoying the peaceful moments before she became aware of all the books on the shelves around her and started tearing the place apart.

Eventually the trains did lose their allure and she spent a few minutes taking plush Sesame Street characters out of a wicker basket. Once she'd held up Big Bird, Zoe, Elmo, Ernie, and Oscar in his trash can to show me, she put them back in and started eyeing the shelves full of books. All of a sudden her eyes lit up and she ran over to a shelf saying, "Moon! Moon! Moon! Moon!" Soooo excited. She reached in and pulled a copy of Goodnight Moon off the shelf and handed it to me. "Moon!" she said again, apparently for emphasis. I'm actually not kidding when I say that I had tears in my eyes. All that fuss over a book. I'm not sure I've ever been so proud of her as I was in that moment. That's my girl!

Rain, Rain, Go Away. . .

In an attempt to remind the universe how happy Harper is when she is outside, I am posting these pictures from a bubble blowing fiesta Harper and I had last week! Maybe the universe will take a hint and it will stop raining long enough for the puddles to dry out and allow us a return trip to the park or front yard. We are all going stir-crazy, especially the dog. One thing that keeps me sane on these incessantly rainy days is the gratitude that I only have one child to entertain indoors, instead of a recess-starved class of first graders. Oh how I loathed indoor recess. I send a prayer for patience to elementary school teachers in every community that is currently being drenched!

It's a little sad that most of us probably don't recall when a few soap bubbles brought us this much joy. We were actually only outside for about half an hour, after dinner, blowing those bubbles. I just couldn't stop taking pictures because Harper looked so darn happy.

After while, she was no longer content to chase bubbles. Harper insisted, in her mostly non-verbal but totally understandable way, that she be allowed to do it, too. So I handed her the (non-toxic) bubble solution in its little tray and the "wand" I'd been using. She proceeded to mostly inhale and spill the bubble solution, but she looked like a pro doing it. This girl doesn't miss a beat. She'd swirl the wand around in the solution, hold it up to her mouth, and attempt to blow through it. It didn't bother her in the least that she produced exactly zero bubbles. She was just pleased to be doing it herself.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Last week Harper's grandma and grandpa from Wisconsin were in town, picking up Uncle Jamie from UD. We had a really nice evening with them. It's easy to see that, although they live far away, Harper loves Grandma and Grandpa!

Daddy's Day

Last Saturday a good friend of mine had a Day After Cinco de Mayo party, so Harper got to spend the afternoon and evening one-on-one with her daddy, who actually did not have a basketball game to coach! Since I wasn't there, I don't have all the scoop on the fun the two of them had, but Matt knows me well enough to have taken after-dinner-pictures. Part of dinner was chocolate pudding:

We made the unfortunate discovery that chocolate pudding might not sit too well in the stomach of a one-year-old. Harper was still struggling to fall asleep at ten that night and I suspect the pudding. If you ask her, I bet she'll tell you that the chocolate was worth it!

Hit The Ground Running

For someone who claims to be a stay at home mom, I've been working a lot lately! I subbed five days in the past two weeks. I still have two students for tutoring after school. My in-laws are once again looking like saints, as they have sacrificed a lot to watch Harper lately. I keep thinking of things I want to write on this blog, then I sit down at the computer and poof! they go right out of my head. There are only about three weeks left in the school year around here, which means both tutoring and subbing will be wrapping up. That will all be finished just in time for me to go back to school this summer. Uh-huh, how is that going to work? I guess we'll find out in about a month!

After Harper's adventures in fashion and her version of dumpster diving, things have been relatively calm around here. The other day we walked over to visit with the neighbors across the street and Harper had a field day digging in huge amounts of potting soil. I worried that she would mess it up for the neighbors, but they said they didn't mind and we just let her dig to her little heart's content.

That picture was taken after I'd already made several swipes at her face with a washcloth. She was so intent on digging that she was in the dirt up to her elbows at one point, then just leaned in and her whole face hit the dirt. If you look closely, you can see the potting soil coming out of her nose. Our neighbor said I was so great to let her do that. She said many people wouldn't want their children to get that dirty. "What's a little dirt?" I thought. Unfortunately she was still blowing soil-boogers two days later. Oops.

We have got to get this kid a sandbox, I just don't know if I'm ready to spend every waking moment sitting in it, making sure she doesn't eat too much, and keeping the dog out of it. Maybe she'll be content with the mulch at the park for a while. Until we actually get a sandbox, she won't know what she's missing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Breaking Down Walls

The title of today's post is in reference to an odd obsession my college roommates and I had with one Shania Twain. Man, she really broke ground when she started recording hits that registered on the pop and country charts. Let's take a moment in honor of this fine woman. . .

Apparently Harper has been channeling Shania in recent days. In case you don't recall, I'll take this opportunity to mention that Shania was the Queen of the Bare Midriff in the late 90's. Incidentally, this broke down another wall in country music. Can you even remember back to a time when showing one's belly button was considered scandalous?

Anyway, when I got Harper up last Monday, I found she'd been in her crib trying out some new fashions with her pajama top. She is a toddler living on the edge!

We've been in touch with Jessica Simpson's people about a clothing line for the under-three set. We'll see what kind of offer they make. I'm not sure I'm ready for Harper to go all Mary Kate and Ashley just yet!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Last Saturday Harper and I were just chillin' in the living room, hangin' in our pajamas, playin' with the zoo animals. . . It was a lovely, lazy Saturday morning. As I have mentioned before, Harper has a hard time staying in one place if she's not firmly planted in front of Elmo on TV. So while we were playing, Harper would occasionally get up and take a lap through the dining room and kitchen and giggle as she ran back to me. All stairs were blocked off, doors were closed, and I can hear it if she tries to get in the cabinets, so I would let her run her little laps, knowing she would come back to me safe and sound.

After one of these laps, Harper came trotting back into the living room chewing something. Now I will not claim to have clean floors, but there's nothing large enough on the floor to pick up and chew! I wondered if she'd gotten into Rebound's food again, a problem I thought we'd conquered, but that wasn't it. She had pasta in her mouth. Pasta? Yes, she was chewing away, happy as a lark. I, on the other hand was very confused.

"Harper, show Mommy where you got the food," I said.

Harper promptly marched back into the kitchen, raised the lid on the garbage can, and reached in for another handful of the week-old, pasta casserole I had thrown out earlier that morning.


This, from the girl who routinely refuses to eat anything except bananas and graham crackers. Would green beans (which she used to eat by the pound) be more appealing if I placed them at the top of the trash can?