Friday, June 30, 2006

All Gone?

There was something of a mass exodus from the Dayton area this week.

On Wednesday Nana and Dziatku left to go help Meaghan in D.C.

On Thursday, my mom, who had been helping out with Harper while I studied and went to class, headed back home to Wisconsin. Harper learned to say grandma while she was here, except she got the syllables a little mixed up. My mother's new name is, "Muga." When she left, Harper stood at our door and said, "Muga all gone. . ." in a pitiful little voice.

Later Thursday, Matt left for AAU Nationals in Tennessee. The earliest he will return is NEXT WEDNESDAY! Argh! We called his phone before Harper went to bed tonight to leave him a good-night message. She asked for him several times today. And then started saying, "Daddy all gone?"

Thank goodness Mike and Ann are coming home tomorrow. Harper won't be stuck all alone with me for much longer.

Today Auntie M took pity on us and we went with her to Batesville, Indiana, to spend the afternoon with her sister and nephews. Harper is in love with Auntie M's nephew, Ben. Except she didn't want to say Ben, she just called him, "People!"

I'm going to try to leave at least a short post and picture each day that Matt is away. That way he won't miss us too much!

(Protecting her bag from Rebound)

(Mommy's arrangement, which was knocked down shortly after completion)

(Harper replicating Mommy's creation)

(Working on the puzzle)

(All finished!)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

3 Months, 3 Cities, 3 Zoos

In April it was the zoo in Milwaukee.

In May it was the zoo in Cincinnati.

My friend, Dotto, had free passes to the Columbus Zoo, so guess where Harper and I were last weekend. . .

The zoo in Columbus of course!

We are thinking about starting a website comparing various zoos in the Midwest. I may wait until Harper can give some more specific commentary. Her speech is still lots of grunting and foreign baby-language, with the occasionally recognizable word. She would be happy to inform you that the Columbus Zoo has, "Oh. Big. Tur-tle!" And then she'd probably say, "sorry," repeatedly. The tortoises were having some trouble keeping their lunch in the bowl, and Harper said, "sorry," every time something fell on the ground.

The Columbus Zoo is enormous! We were there for three hours and didn't even see half of it. I was reading another blog written by a mom who also went to the zoo that day, she said she'd never seen it so crowded. That would have been my only complaint, it was stroller-to-stroller traffic all morning. Granted, it was a gorgeous day, I think everyone in about a 50-mile radius decided to head to the zoo last Saturday!

We mostly saw fish and monkeys, and I was still totally impressed. It's a beautiful zoo.

We spent lots of time in the building with manatees. There were at least three of them, swimming in a very large tank. There were also sting rays (I think that's what they were) and assorted fish in the same water. Harper just parked herself there. Every once in a while a large fish would swim right in front of her. It would startle her a little and then you could just see the thrill set in.

"Hi! Sish. Wa-wer!"

There were also ducks swimming on the surface of the water. I pointed out their feet to Harper, but she didn't make the connection. When I tried to pick her up to look at the part of the ducks she would recognize, she wriggled like I was zapping her with electricity and said, "No-oo, dow, sish." Which means, "Put me down you maniac, I was enjoying my lovely underwater view!"

Apparently we need to get this girl to the Newport Aquarium!

This zoo trip also marked Harper's first boat ride. The Columbus Zoo has a train, a carousel, and a boat ride! If you've ever been to a water park, I would say the boat ride compares to a lazy river ride. We just floated along this little course. I would not categorize it as a thrill-ride. You'll notice you can't even see the water in the picture I took!

The boat ride, Harper enjoyed. The waiting in line to get in the boat, not so much! She kept saying, "Boap? Wa-wer? Go!" Waiting your turn is a concept almost totally lost on a one-year-old.

We are debating a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo in August. They also have some sort of Sesame Street exhibit at the children's museum there. I'm pretty sure it would be Harper's dream destination.

Maybe we'll try to hit the Louisville Zoo in September? Giselle? Any thoughts?

Thanks for a great time Dotto!

(Dotto and Harper at the Culver's in Powell, Ohio. The other highlight of the day!)

P.S. I neglected to mention that Columbus is more than an hour from our house. Fortunately, Nana and Dziatku taught Harper all about big trucks last week, when they drove to Cincinnati. Since we were mostly traveling on I-70 , there were lots of big trucks. All I had to do was point them out to Harper and she was perfectly content!


For a long time I was keeping track of the words Harper said. After about number 70 on the list, I stopped. By that point I found myself responding to most of what she said by thinking, "Wait, has she said ___ before?" When I started having to look words up to see if they were already on the list, that's when I decided we were finished counting.

Right now there are a few words that feature prominently in her growing vocabulary; they are:

1) more -- This is said either in an insistent, whiny tone, or with a question mark at the end, depending on Harper's mood and the object of her desire. If I'm singing a song and she wants me to do it again, that's, "More?" If I've said no more cookies and put them away, that's, "Moooooore!!!!"

2) mommy -- Harper finally moved beyond hollering, "Ma!" at me and actually started saying mommy, which is very nice. Unless of course, I'm making dinner and she's wedging herself between my legs and the kitchen cabinets, using the insistent, whiny tone mentioned above. In this situation, the "Mommy" is usually followed by a string of "Up? Up? Up?"

3) no -- We all understand that it is only a matter of time before, "no," enters a toddler's vocabulary. I did not fully understand that it would become Harper's favorite word. I wonder if there's ever been a study looking for a relation between the number of times a toddler uses the word "no" in a day, and the number of minutes she spends in time out?

4) stuck -- This is perhaps the funniest addition to Harper's vocabulary. "Stuck," began about the same time she began to climb. Or maybe it was the week she got her leg caught in the bars of her crib several times. Either way, her little mind has adopted a very broad definition of the word. She now says "stuck" if she can't get up on something, if she can't get down, if she can't lift a heavy object, or if an object is out of her reach. It has become something of a fall-back word for her in moments of frustration.

Here's a picture in which Harper actually is stuck:

I would like to note that, being truly stuck, she was in no danger while I took that picture!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Best Tribute I Can Manage (School is Wearing Me Out)

When it comes to the men in her life, Harper is one lucky little girl.

She has Grandpa, in Wisconsin, world traveler extraordinare. He lives far away but we always know he's thinking about Harper. Who else would bring her not one, but two pairs of "squeaky shoes" from China? Who else picks up the perfect size handmade dress in Hungary? And, when we do visit, who else is willing to go up and down, up and down, up and down the condo stairs with her, over and over again? Harper will always know Grandpa loves her and has her in his thoughts and prayers.

(Harper in her dress from Grandpa)

Here in Dayton, Harper is lucky to see Dziatku many times in most weeks. Dziatku is always good for taking Harper for a walk when she's just had it with the restaurant high chair. Dziatku lets Harper play in the dirt and rocks at his condo. Dziatku always shares his desserts and is never afraid to get on the floor and just be silly with Harper.

And then, of course, there's Daddy. As Harper grows she will learn that her dad is dedicated, loyal, and loving. He will always be ready to dance in the kitchen, play at the park, share his beanbag chair, and turn Harper upside down. She will grow to learn that Daddy is about as much fun as they come and will always try to make her smile. She will also learn that her daddy cares for her deeply and will always be ready to listen to her troubles and triumphs. He will help make sure she never takes life too seriously.

Harper will come to learn that he will proudly display her crafty gifts.

He will share his passion for the game of basketball, teaching her all she wishes to learn. I will tell her how he started saving her a place on the bench before she was even born.

Today is the day we celebrate fathers, and someday she will be able to use her own words to tell Daddy, Grandpa, and Dziatku just how very loved they are.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Foray into Science

A few weeks ago I was going to make some soup. I know, I should slow down with this post, the excitement is threatening to overwhelm you. . . I like this particular soup with a little onion flavor in it, so I had purchased a red onion at our local Kroger. The onion was in a plastic produce bag on the counter. I never made the soup. Then I noticed little green things in the bag. Apparently, if you leave an onion on the counter for too long, it grows.

I ask you, what does a normal person do in this situation? My guess is one of two things:

a) Throw the onion out. When new stuff grows on your old food, that's usually a good sign you shouldn't eat it.
b) Cut off the offending growth and use it anyway. Maybe this is what a thrifty person does.

Being decidedly abnormal, Harper and I choose a third option:

c) Put some toothpicks in the "bloomin' onion" (ha, ha), prop it over a container of water, and see what happens.

Though we may be missing a few technical terms, Harper can point out to you the roots, onion, and sprouts. She is very proud.

Someday I will show this picture to Harper and say, "Look, it's your very first science experiment!"

Incidentally, does anyone know what will happen to this thing? Biology expert Erin, if you're reading, any advice on how to care for our newest houseplant? Should I plant it in the yard? How big will it get? Will it get stinky and decay? I clearly haven't thought this through. Seriously, what do we do now?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Consequences

Parents face all kinds of challenges on a regular basis, not the least of which are keeping your kid alive and not pulling out all of your hair. We are currently navigating the murky water of discipline and the unreasonable toddler. Don't get me wrong, Harper is a complete doll. She is funny and intelligent and a general charmer. She is also quite headstrong and asserting her independence with every breath she takes.

Harper is old enough, and has developed enough brain power, to understand what we don't want her to do, most of the time. Unfortunately the "why" of things is still pretty lost to her. Most of the time I imagine that I must seem like a big old barrier between her and all the potential fun in the world!

Most parenting sources seem to pretty much agree that the way to deal with undesirable behavior from this age group is just to redirect the child toward a more accepted activity. I understand and agree with that, in theory, but wonder if these methods have been tested on a child as determined as mine?

Some things we try work, and some don't. Often, when we're reasonably sure she'll understand, we'll tell Harper what we want her to do (i.e. sit down, pick up the toy, step away from the stereo receiver) and then count to three. We don't count to three as a threat. It is simply a way of giving her a chance to take care of whatever it is on her own. She knows that if she hasn't cooperated by, "three," we will help her cooperate. It usually works best in situations where we want her to stop doing something. Obviously it isn't a good philosophy if she's about to run into the street or stick her hand in a blender.

Then there are times when we can simply alter the situation to take care of the problem. She won't leave the computer keyboard alone? We leave the room the computer is in. If only it were all that easy.

Last weekend we were sitting at her little table in the kitchen, coloring. Harper is still mastering the physical properties of the crayon and the crayons often roll off the table. I have tried placing the crayons in many different types of containers and she always insists on taking them all out and placing them on the table, where they roll. She is now physically capable of getting down off the little chair to pick the crayons up herself. The down side to this is that Harper will occasionally pick a crayon up and then run to color on something in the kitchen. Saturday it was the oven. Fortunately the washable crayon wipes off just about anything. After a stern reminder that we only color ON THE PAPER, I handed Harper a wet paper towel and set her about cleaning the oven. Which she did.

Never mind that I had to clean it again later to get the little fingerprints off. If she's old enough to color on the oven, she's old enough to understand she's responsible for cleaning it up.

I don't believe she colored on the floor, but she was having so much fun cleaning, she did a little of that, too.

Harper's happy wiping-down of several other kitchen surfaces had me thinking about punishment, discipline, consequences, etc. If she's having fun cleaning it up, did she learn anything? On the other hand, is the point of cleaning it punishment (which, in theory, isn't fun) or to learn the logical consequence of her behavior? Did I just encourage her to color on the oven in the future so she can enjoy cleaning it?

Part of me thinks that I probably over-think a lot of these things. I try to avoid reading materials that start me worrying that everything down to the volume at which I breath will influence Harper's chance to be a happy and successful person. We try to maintain our clam and do what feels right for our family. I suppose the most important part is that Harper knows we love her, and that is something I feel 100% confident about.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Allergy Update

On Thursday, last week, we went back to the allergist to get the results from Harper's allergy blood work (who knew there was such a thing!). The tests showed a "class three" allergy to peanuts. Basically she is really allergic and we will continue to impose the Great Peanut Product Ban on our house and all who enter here. The better news was that the blood tests did not show any allergy to the five tree nuts they tested for. (A prize to the first person to properly identify those five nuts.) The allergist said this makes her 75% certain Harper isn't allergic to tree nuts. To be 100% sure she will also need to do a scratch test, which is about as pleasant as it sounds.

Harper is going through a stage where she is completely terrified of anything remotely resembling a doctor's office. She was in pretty full panic mode the entire time we were there. She was actually fine in the waiting room, until the nurse came to let us know we could go to the examination room. As soon as Harper saw the woman in scrubs, she lost it. We decided to hold off on the scratch test until she is two, at which point the doctor seems to think she will have mellowed a bit. We'll see. This appointment was nearly two full weeks after our first one and I heard one of the nurses say something like, "The one who doesn't like doctors is back!" That's right, she screamed loud and long enough to be remembered. A drama queen already.

In other news, Harper's allergy has not disturbed her ability to make a mess.

Her desire to clean only imaginary messes also remains firmly intact.

Give me another month or so, I'll have her sweeping up the lawn clippings on mowing days!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's Been a While

I already typed this entire post last night and then Blogger got crabby and lost it. It's hard to complain about a free service, but sheesh! So I'm going to try again.

We were so lucky on Monday to have friends from Nebraska visit us! The weather cooperated perfectly. Harper got over her initial shyness pretty quickly and we all enjoyed a lovely summer afternoon and evening. We grilled out, played cornhole, went to the park down the street, and just enjoyed each other. I even managed to get the house pretty clean. You know you are important company if I'll terrorize Harper with the vacuum for you!

When I first met this family I was a junior at UD. They had posted a sign in the education building, looking for a baby-sitter. At the time, Katie was three and the twins, Thomas and Nathan, were about six months old. Taking down that number and making the phone call were two of the best decisions I have ever made. They all became like family to me. Less than two years later, Anthony was added to the mix. When I started dating Matt, he would often join me on my baby-sitting adventures. Dan and Susan (the parents) became both friends and mentors to Matt and I.

The family traveled to Wisconsin when we got married (no small feat!) and even brought up the gifts at our wedding mass. It was shortly after the wedding that we learned they would be moving back to Nebraska, where Dan and Susan were originally from. I had known they were thinking about leaving Ohio, but I wasn't really prepared for how sad I felt when they left. For my birthday that year Matt gave me a plane ticket to Nebraska. In March of 2003 I went out to visit and had a fabulous time becoming acquainted with Lincoln, Nebraska. They also visited Dayton in the summer of 2003. That was the last time we'd seen them, until Monday!

The kids have grown so much! Katie is as kind and intelligent as she is beautiful. Both Nathan and Thomas have come so far and were very sweet and gentle with Harper. Anthony is a firecracker! His personality and smile know no bounds. Rebound is still a little tired from running with Anthony in the backyard.

It was wonderful to see them all again. The time was fun, but too short. Maybe we'll have to think about a trip to Nebraska.

Come back soon!

Friday, June 02, 2006


Harper is a child of many nicknames. Matt sometimes calls her "Harp." My sister calls her "Hammy," or "Hamster." She's been called "The Great HAM," "Monkey," "Pumpkin," and "Pudd" (short for pudding). I have called her many of these names and others like "Missy," or "Stinker." The name I most often call her, besides Harper, is "Peanut." She has been my little "Peanut" for as long as she's been on this planet. So you can imagine my dismay when one of the things we have been grappling with of late is the fact that Harper appears to be allergic to peanuts!

I didn't post about this earlier, we've known for over a week, because I was just really upset about it. I feel like I've used the last few days to gain a little perspective. There are certainly many worse things we could be dealing with. Many, many people live with serious food allergies. I know this, but only one of them is my kid.

We spent lots of time last week ridding our house of any nuts, peanut butter, anything containing peanut flour or peanut oil, and anything with a label that said something like, "May contain traces of peanuts." We asked the allergist if Matt and I could eat the stuff and her response was something like, "Sure, but then you have to brush your teeth, wash your hands, sterilize the counters and tables, burn your dishes, and fumigate the room you ate in before you even think about your daughter." So we just got rid of the stuff. I may be exaggerating a bit, but she did say that even baking peanut butter cookies could cause a reaction because of what is released into the air as the cookies bake. We don't know yet if it's just peanuts or if she's also allergic to tree nuts. We had some blood taken to test for those allergies. We'll meet with the doctor again later this week. I will keep you posted.

We are armed with Benadryl for minor reactions and epi pens in case of a major one. It's a little daunting. We can manage her exposure in our home, but what about the world at large? Going to school? Other people's homes? What about when she's a teenager and carrying around a fanny pack containing your epi pen is simply NOT COOL?

There is a small, small chance that she'll outgrow this. That's our hope. But, if not, we'll all learn to live with it. Fortunately Rebound doesn't speak. If he could he'd be saying, "Dudes, where's the peanut butter you used to stuff my Kong with?" I think he's forgotten it already.


In other news, Harper has started to climb, and I mean seriously climb, anything she can think of. The other day she was standing in front of the chair to my desk grunting and the next thing I know:

After I snapped the first picture she grabbed a pen off my desk and looked down as if to say, "You can go now, I have work to do."

I think I feel my hair going white!

Two Beautiful Women

Thanks for such a great week Aunt Meaghan!

Catching Up

I don't have any particularly wild or humorous stories from our family Memorial Day/weekend gathering. I still wanted to post some of the pictures. Some of which Harper was more interested in than others.

Here she is with Aunt Meaghan and Daddy. I don't think she was as sad as she looks. She just wanted to get down and run around with that little cow bell which she had snagged off one of Nana's antiques.

One of the great things about the get together was having so many family members in one place. We got to see Bill, Marsha, and the girls before they move to Philadelphia. Aunt Meaghan was still in town. Aunt Patty and Uncle Lou came up from Cincinnati, as did Aunt Kathy, Uncle Dave, and Matt's grandmother. We still can't figure out how to differentiate Matt's Nana from his mother, who is Harper's Nana. We've toyed with Great Nana, but Matt likes saying, "Nana Nana." Which then reminds everyone of Little Caesars -- Pizza! Pizza!

Uncle Joe, who is godfather to both Matt and Harper, also blessed us with his presence for the day. I don't think he'd seen Harper since her first birthday. They both enjoyed the reunion.

Nana makes a wonderful cheesecake, which Harper thoroughly enjoys. She also managed to pinch a few bites of brownie here and there. The most exciting dessert gets for her around here is Kroger Vanilla Wafers, so Nana's desserts were thrilling.

It was also just great to have a long weekend, no basketball for Matt, and lots of family time. It was both productive and relaxing. I think there should be a long weekend like that once a month. Maybe I'll start a petition.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Zoo (has) Rocks!

Yesterday I forgot to mention Harper's other favorite part of the zoo. . . the gravel surrounding the picnic tables! We had to bribe her away from there and then avoid the area so we wouldn't have spent $20+ to sit around and watch Harper dig. Sometimes I wonder why I try so hard to entertain the girl when all she really wants is a big pile of rocks to play in.