Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Week in Wisconsin: Thursday

Thursday we decided to head to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee. Guess what Harper found there. . . More sand! Apparently sand was the theme for the week. The sand table inside was a little crowded, so we headed outside to play on the patio where Harper had a little sand box all to herself. She was in heaven. Eventually the pesky bees drove us inside.

Back inside the sand table was still pretty crowded so Harper decided she could check out some other elements of the room we were in.

She liked crawling through tunnels, but she loved running up and down a ramp even better.

I'll be we spent at least twenty minutes watching Harper go up and down. At first she slid down, then she got up the courage to walk, and finally run down the ramp. A few times she failed to appreciate the height difference between the end of the ramp and the mat at the bottom, so she ran down and promptly face-planted. Hee hee hee. I only laugh because she wasn't hurt at all. She did it three times in a row before she finally figured out that she needed to time her last step a little more precisely. These are the kinds of learning experiences I just can't provide for her at home.

Before leaving the museum, we headed outdoors to catch a view of the Milwaukee Art Museum and Lake Michigan. Harper wasn't actually all that interested, which turned out to be a good thing, because it started to downpour not long after we got in the car.

Thanks for a fun day Muga!

A Week in Wisconsin: Wednesday

Wednesday was a fairly busy day in Wisconsin. Harper was pretty good at entertaining herself when we were at the condo. She must have spent a good half an hour trying to walk in my shoes.

At the (slow) rate her feet seem to be growing, this activity could keep her busy well into her grade school years.

Since Wednesday was a beautiful day, we took a long walk up to another park. It was on this walk that I took the picture of the unfortunate real estate sign. There were swings, slides, a merry-go-round, and various climbing structures at this park. Guess what Harper played in. . . Yes, the sand. How did you know?

We decided to take the long way around to get home, since it was so gorgeous, and our potential cranky-pants was in a pretty good mood. It took a little longer than we thought, once Harper insisted on pushing the stroller.

Harper loves to push, unfortunately she can't steer or even see when she pushes. Every once in a while she'll peek out from under the stroller to make sure we're still with her, but she's pretty much just off to the races. Harper and I have actually walked the length of several malls this way; she pushes while I steer. People laugh as we walk by, but it's a good way to kill a little time and let the Energizer Bunny run off some steam.

Wednesday ended with a nice long bath in Muga's tub. My mom showed Harper how to keep warm by keeping a washcloth on her back. They had a fabulous tea party with the bath water. Harper only drank a little.

Somebody Call Jay Leno

This is the best, non-human, thing I saw while I was in Wisconsin:

That realtor might want to rethink the sign placement. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Week in Wisconsin: Tuesday

Apparently, Sussex, WI, where my parents live, is the land of 10,000 parks. There is a park around every corner and they each have a crucial element for Harper's entertainment, sand! There are sand boxes big and small in all these local parks. The only bad thing about it was trying to convince Harper to leave when we were ready to go home.

Another downside to our outdoor adventures was the fact that the bees appeared to love Muga's hair spray and didn't want to leave us alone. Fortunately we all walked away without any bee stings.

If sandboxes were Harper's favorite Wisconsin activity, running on the deck with Grandpa was a close second. My dad spent lots of time with her, literally just running back and forth on the small deck behind their condo.

Again, Harper's least favorite part was when I put an end to that activity in favor of bedtime.

She is definitely at an age where she finds something she likes and wants to do it over and over and over again. Between playing with Grandpa and playing with Auntie Shannon (when Harper wasn't ignoring her), getting to bed proved to be a big challenge. We are currently in the process of re-conditioning her!

A Week in Wisconsin: Monday

Harper loves cars. More specifically, Harper loves cars she can sit in.

On Monday, my mom thought it would be a good idea to take Harper to Toys R Us and see if anything sparked her interest. She was hoping to find some toy that Harper was really interested in to take back to Mom and Dad's just in case Harper's infatuation with our old toys turned out to be short-lived.

Our first mistake was letting her loose in the store, rather than strapping her into a cart. A choice I will not make next time we enter a toy store!

We headed toward the baby section at the back of the store, in search of a couple of new "B's". Harper loves her yellow "B" and, after the recent stomach flu incident, I fully realized how important to our sanity it would be to have more than one. I had been looking for them for a couple of weeks, to no avail, until that day in Toys R Us, when I found two! Which made the whole crazy toy store trip worth it.

Harper did just fine until we found two rows of insanely expensive, motorized, ride-on vehicles like this one. Apparently she thought she'd landed in her idea of heaven and she never wanted to leave. She climbed in and out of car after car, looking for seat belts and asking for our keys. She turned knobs, delighted that a few of the cars had actual working radios. I'm not going to tell people how to spend their money, but if you have $300+ to buy a faux Caddie with working radio and cup holders for your three-year-old, you probably need to look into charitable giving because you have too much of it!!! Yikes!

In the end we left with a ten dollar plastic tea party/dinner wear set, which provided hours of imagination-stimulating, no-batteries-required entertainment. Oh, and a screaming Harper who, if you ask her, is probably still angry that we didn't get her a car.

A Week in Wisconsin: Sunday

Yes, I'm going to do it, give little highlights of our trip north, day by day. If you are falling asleep with boredom at the mere thought of this, then check back later in the week, when I will likely have moved on to something else.

Sunday was the LONG drive up to Wisconsin, which turned out not to be so bad after all. My dad took advantage of the drive to get in Harper's good graces, by sitting next to her in the back seat and reading just about every board book we brought with us. Harper was eating it up. She can be kind of shy around people she doesn't see often, especially if she senses they really want to play with/talk to her. So now we know the answer: sit next to her in the back seat during an eternal car ride, proving to be her only hope for any sort of entertainment. You'll have a friend for life.

My sister Shannon, who has not been the fortunate beneficiary of a long car ride with Harper, had a bit of a harder time. Shannon's enthusiasm for her goddaughter was often met with crossed arms and pouty lips. Shannon -- I promise Harper will get over this as she gets older!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hello From The Land of Cheese and Beer

Dear Internet People,

I am having a great time here in Wisconsin. There are parks, new toys, lots of people to play with, and Blue's Clues every day because Grandma and Grandpa have the kind of cable with more than seven channels. Being on vacation seems to mean that I can have more than one cup of juice in a day, get a snack anytime if I tell Grandma, "please," and get to stay up late because so many people want to play with me and some of them don't get home from work until dinner time. It is really fun here. I miss Rebound but I think he has to keep Daddy company until Daddy comes up here too. Then Rebound will keep Nana and Dziatku and Aunt Meaghan company until we all get home.

I have to sleep in the basement bedroom here. I didn't like that at first but now it is okay. Mommy lets me have a book in bed because I read it to my baby and then I don't cry too much, just a little to see if she will really let me stay up even later. This doesn't actually work.

The best parts of the trip so far have been the neat park with a fire truck play thing and a big sandbox with a new sand turtle toy Grandma bought for me.

I also liked playing tea party with Auntie Shannon. And playing with her in the basement. I like her a lot but I am pretending to be shy because I don't see her very much in Ohio. I am getting used to her and she is fun. She got me an Elmo t-shirt about being Irish and I like Elmo.

Another fun game is running races on the deck with Grandpa. But I don't like it very much when Mommy makes me come inside and so I crossed some grumpy arms at her. The running game is much better than pjs and bed. Mommy should know that.

My mommy knows that she has lots of things to write to you about like my play day with Dana (it was really great that day!) and our trip from a long time ago to the kids' museum in Indiana. She will write about these things on another day. Today it got to be my turn but now I really have to go to bed.

I love you!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Love Those Books!

Like any parent, I want Harper to grow up healthy and happy, I want her to be respectful and care about others, I want her to feel good about herself and empowered to be a positive force in the world, but I don't think to often about anything specific I want her to be or do as she grows. I think about what she might be or do, but I want those choices to be hers. I don't want her to grow up thinking she has to be a doctor (or teacher or cab driver or physicist) because we whispered it into her ear as she slept each night. I try not to have too many expectations in this area because she's already showing me that what I think she should do is often very different from what she actually wants!

But, open-mindedness aside, I really, really, really want her to love to read. I hear busy moms say, "I don't have time to read," or, "I haven't read a book in five years," and it just doesn't compute to me. That's fine if someone else makes that choice, but I can't not read. I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Sure there have been times when it's taken me longer than others to read a book, but I'm always reading something.

We are doing the right things to encourage Harper to be a reader. We have books all over the house, she has lots of board books that she has access to, we read to her every night before bed, she sees us reading, we visit the library, etc. It has been discouraging that, during most days, she can't be bothered to slow down long enough to let me read her a book. This makes me extra glad that we worked it into her bedtime routine at an early age.

There are lots of times I wish she would take a little time out during the day and we could sit down and read quietly for a few minutes, but usually she is far too busy for this. Fortunately, even though we don't read as much as I'd like, lately she's been giving me some indication that she actually pays attention when we do read.

One of her favorite books right now is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. It has a nice repetitive text and features some of Harper's favorite animals. At this point, when we read that book, I can leave out about half the words for Harper to fill in for me. She always knows which animal is next, even before we turn the page. Recently, I was thrilled when a friend gave us the board book (we actually have the larger, hardcover book) because it meant we could keep one in the car. Harper loves this book so much that she has started to read it to her stuffed animals and she pretty much has it memorized.

Today she was reading it in the car and it sounded like this, "Bow beh bow beh wha see? Ah see burbe ook me." Which is actually, "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me." Pretty good, huh? But the best part was when she looked up toward me in the driver's seat and exclaimed, "Ah reereg boop, Mommy!" (I'm reading the book Mommy!) Music to my book-loving ears.

Maybe there's hope after all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I am apparently one of about 12 people in the United States who actually gets excited about preseason football. I get excited because I LOVE football season! I love it even more this year, which is probably Brett Favre's last, and trust me, I will be watching all the Packer Football I can get my eyes on. As you may remember from last winter, the brainwashing begins early in our house. The Packers didn't fare so well in their preseason opener, but I have faith, Cheeseheads always have faith. Every year I truly believe that we can win the Super Bowl, even when Matt is willing to bet me fifteen hours of rubbing my feet that you know where is more likely to freeze over than the Packers are to win 8 games this season. Oh we'll just see about that!

I have been preparing Harper for the onset of the actual football season by teaching her some important language and football actions. We are working on "Go Packers!" which may prove confusing, since she just learned "Go Dragons!" And she is working on her end zone dance:

See! She's even giving the dog a, "Yeah, I know you'd like to be as good as me, but it's never gonna happen," look.

I am so proud.

Much to Celebrate

A) Harper recovered from her stomach flu, despite a difficult next day in which she wasn't allowed to eat much at a time, or much at all, per doctor's orders. This involved a lot of her crying and screaming, "ma mo pease!" (one more please!) in fits of icky-flu feeling frustration. Fortunately we are all better now, and no adults were struck down. . .this time.

B) I FINISHED MY FIRST QUARTER OF GRADUATE SCHOOL TODAY! (Sorry for shouting at you.) This means that I successfully completed my research paper, presentation PowerPoint, handout, and had the technology work for me to present this afternoon, which I did without throwing up or making a terribly large fool of myself (I hope). I have three school-free weeks now before we start all over again in September.

C) Matt and I have a most-expenses-paid getaway to Cincinnati this weekend, during which we will relax, eat well, and just generally enjoy each other's company. This is part of some raffle/contest he won at work. We even get to have a couple's massage, which will make me feel like I'm on The Bachelor, but I won't be worried about whether they guy will keep me around after the date.

D) Harper is having her first friend over to play tomorrow. Dana, or "Deedah!" according to Harper, will come over to play for a couple of hours in the morning and then have lunch with us. I think it will be fun for the girls, I'm just hoping they won't gang up on me.

There's a lot of pressure when it comes to entertaining one-year-olds you know. Do we have enough crayons? Is our juice an acceptable flavor? Will the girls repeatedly seek out toys that there are only one of? How will the dog react to be confined so as not to knock over the company? Since I don't have to do school work tomorrow, I may even get on the computer again and let you know how it goes. This will be our first play date with two girls and only one mom. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 11, 2006

11:30 p.m., It Begins. . .

Warning: More gross content!

Does God punish students who procrastinate? I was all geared up for working into the wee hours last night/this morning, as the deadline for my research paper (the last summer assignment!) approaches. What was I doing instead of typing? Cleaning up vomit, calling the 24-hour nurse line, catching second-time-around stomach contents with a large plastic bowl, changing sheets, and doing laundry.

Harper appears to have her first stomach flu.

There is a certain blue bowl which I will never again use for food of any sort.

Banana scented vomit is an unbelievably foul thing.

Watching a one-year-old dry heave (after plenty of productive heaving) is one of the most heart-wrenching sights I have ever encountered.

Harper's stomach finally settled back down around 1:30 a.m., but only after about six rounds with the blue bowl. She's still sleeping now and I'm a little nervous about how I'll juggle the side-effects of her flu on my own because my hero, otherwise known as Matt, still had to go to work today.

I say hero with the utmost sincerity. Not only did I wake Matt up to help deal with vomit, his most feared and hated substance on the face of the earth, but he even maintained his composure when Harper let loose all down the front of his shirt. While I changed sheets and searched for a suitable replacement blankie (guess what, there's no such thing), Matt rocked and consoled Harper as gently and lovingly as ever, despite the fact that he was repeatedly forced to utilize the blue bowl. That is my kind of man.

P.S. Upon further consideration, I decided that no benevolent God would punish me for procrastinating by making Harper vomit. If I was being punished I would have been the one in need of the blue bowl.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Not in a Million Years

Warning: Semi-gross content!

Here's a little scenario I would never have imagined for myself. . .

I walk into the living room and my foot slips out from under me because something has made the floor slick. I look down and my immediate thoughts are, "Is that smashed banana or did Harper's diaper let some poop through when she was sitting on the floor?" Upon closer examination I realize it is surprise disgusting substance number three, a little bit of dog puke.

True story.

All I can say is thank God we got rid of the white carpeting.

(And for those of you wondering how banana, poop, or dog puke would have arrived on my floor without my noticing it before I stepped in it; get yourself a dog and a one-year-old to chase all day, you'll understand.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Zoo Photos

The Indianapolis Zoo was the fourth zoo we've taken Harper to this year. I have to say we've enjoyed them all, but the zoo in Columbus might be my favorite so far. The zoo in Indy is a "cageless" zoo, so the animals look like they are in their natural habitats. We got there early in the day which was good for two reasons:

1) The animals were more active.
2) By the time we left it was about 700 degrees outside!

Harper was a real trooper. We were there for about three and a half hours and she only rode in her stroller for about five minutes. She did not much want to be carried either. We just kept offering her water and hoping for the best. She probably could have kept going, but all the adults in our party were about to pass out. Harper would look at something for as long as she was interested and then wave/say, "Bye bye," to it, letting us know we had a green light to move on. She would charge ahead saying, "Mo more, anmoos." (One more animal!)

Harper especially enjoyed the desert area and community of meerkats. When two of them started playing and then struck a hugging pose in front of her she said, "Awww. Meetat coot!"

The other highlight was the dolphin show. It wasn't as fantastic as something you'd see a SeaWorld, but it was still fun. Best of all, it was indoors and therefore out of the glaring heat of the sun. We had to wait in our seats for about fifteen minutes before the show started and Harper was fairly content to be passed from one lap to another and watch the dolphins swim in the pool. Her favorite part of the show was when the dolphins used their tails to flip beach balls into the audience. She was impressed with that bit of aquatic athleticism.

The other really cool thing was the underwater dolphin dome, which was basically a glass room built into the dolphins' pool. You walk into it and the dolphins can swim on three sides of you as well as over your head. Here is a picture of Harper in the dolphin dome, you can see she is enjoying it, even if you can't actually see the dolphins in the photo.

Since it's only two hours from home, I'm pretty sure we'll visit the zoo again. Perhaps when the asphalt is not melting beneath our feet.


Tonight, while in the bathroom getting ready for bed, I took Harper's dress off because it got all muddy at Auntie M's and I wanted to rinse it out. Then we got the toothbrush ready. While brushing her teeth, Harper told me she'll like her diaper off, so she could sit on her potty. Which brings me to the news I keep forgetting to get to:

Harper peed on the potty! (There is just no mature-sounding way to make that announcement.)

So there she was tonight, proving herself to be a child of the busy 21st century, brushing her teeth while sitting on the potty. Hers will be the first generation to routinely use a laptop while "eliminating."

These are pictures from the very first time Harper peed on the potty. There was lots of shrieking and clapping and exclaiming.

Look at that big girl.

Matt and I were both proud when she requested reading material.

We are not doing any kind of hard core potty training boot camp here. We brought the potty up from the basement when Harper started showing increased interest in out bathroom habits. She also hates everything about diapers and having her diaper changed, so we're at least helping her understand she has options.

A note to other moms who will eventually enter this potty training business: a friend of our recommended a book that Harper really loves, and it seems appropriate for her age. Lots of the books are geared toward slightly older children. If you're looking for good reading about learning to use the potty (not to be confused with good reading for while you're on the potty) check out A Potty for Me by Karen Katz.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What a Weekend!

We had a terrific weekend in Indianapolis with Nana and Dziatku. We spent a day at the Indy Zoo, a fun night at our hotel, and a day at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. It will probably take a week to share the highlights of our experience. For now, here are some pictures of Harper enjoying the hotel.

The very first thing she did was beg to be set on the king sized bed, flopped down on the pillows, and pulled the lap desk over herself! She did not want to get down. Much to her dismay, we'd brought along the pack-n-play for her to sleep in.

The most fun was, of course, the hotel pool. We had terrific timing and went swimming when no one else was there. Perfect for a girl who is not so fond of noise.

Harper explored the ladders and the stairs, and just enjoyed "swimming" with Daddy and Dziatku. Nana and I took full advantage of the lounge chairs.

Matt perfected his splashing techniques as Harper checked out the perimeter of the pool area. She found that no place was out of her Daddy's range.

Nana and Dziatku brought a new doll along on the trip, partly to entertain Harper during the two hours (each way) in the car. Harper dutifully cared for her new baby, realizing that moms don't even get to change out of their swimming suits before taking care of the little ones!

Okay, it does look a little like she's strangling the baby in that picture. I promise, she didn't learn that from me!