Sunday, September 24, 2006


For a long time I have been meaning to post about Harper and her good friend Dana. I've mentioned Dana before, she is Harper's BFF, if you can have such a thing before age two. Several times in the past year, Harper and I have gone to Dana's house for play days. This has always been a nice chance for the girls to have some playtime, as well as an opportunity for Andrea and I to have some mom-to-mom time.

About a month ago we decided to try something new, Dana would come over to our house to play, but Andrea wouldn't stay. . . At first I was a little nervous about my ability to handle the two of them at once, which seems a little silly as I have successfully managed as many as 25 children in the past. The difference being, those children weren't toddlers!

Our first play day went beautifully. Without feeling a need to compete with the attention Andrea and I usually gave each other, the girls barely noticed I was there. They played with dolls, colored, danced, and had a great time. It was one of the easiest parenting mornings I'd had since Harper started walking.

Our second play day, a couple of weeks later, wasn't quite as smooth. Harper was going through a possessive phase (one of many, I'm guessing) and followed Dana around saying, "No way, Deeda!" whenever Dana attempted to pick up one of Harper's toys. Not so relaxing for me, as I ended up feeling like a referee for the first hour or so. Eventually the girls settled into playing nicely and did enjoy each other's company.

Well today we had the family play day to end all play days! Matt, Harper, and I met Dana and her parents at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery here in Dayton.

The girls had a blast! For the first forty-five minutes, they shopped in the grocery/general store. They probably would have stayed in there all afternoon, but we'd never taken Harper to Boonshoft before and we were hoping to see a little more of the place.

One of our next stops was the water table. Despite not being tall enough to reach many of the boats and other water toys, Harper and Dana found a way to get their hands in the water and get plenty wet!

The other place we spent a great deal of time was the "color wall." This is a three-sided room with a silvery wall across from a large screen. There is funky music playing and, as you move in front of the wall, some kind of light magic goes to work, projecting your imagine on the screen. The types of images rotate, but it mostly looks like a combination shadow/screen saver/laser show/kaleidoscope. I have no idea how it works, but the effect is very cool.

The best was when Harper started running in circles around Dana, the image on the screen made Dana's shadow look like it was surround by what Harper would look like if she turned into a human slinky. Groovy.

Dads and Daughters Dance in Front of the Wall

Harper and Daddy

Harper and Dana

Somehow Auntie M ended up with a bunch of buy one/get one free admission tickets to Boonshoft, so you can bet we'll be back again soon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Post-Nap Surprise

With all the excitement over the new potty training development, I nearly forgot to post about the wonderful surprise I found upon going to retrieve Harper from her afternoon nap.

She was so excited that she actually started running in place in her crib. "Ah pu shoks on hans!" she cried. Clearly, Harper thought no one before her in the entire history of the world had ever come up with such an idea. This means only one thing. I must commence sock puppet shows immediately, as she has been painfully under-exposed to this true art form. Socks on hands indeed!

Not only was Harper thrilled to have her socks on her hands, she was also delighted to discover there were "ABCs" on the bottom of the socks.

Recently, Harper has become more aware of letters in her environment. No matter how many times I tell her, "Yes, those are let-ters," she persists in pointing to any string of letters and proclaiming, "ABCs!" Which I suppose will do for now. And I guess it's too early to expect her to differentiate letters from numbers. . . That'll give us something to shoot for on the way to birthday number three.

Big News!

Drum roll please. . .

Harper went "number two" in her potty seat! Hooray! This is a big accomplishment in the world of potty training. It was the size of a chocolate chip, but still an accomplishment. Harper sat on the potty, looked up at me, and said, "Ah poop!"

See how proud?

The very best part was that we were sitting at the dinner table and she looked up and told us she had to go potty. This has never happened before. In the past she's only gone in the potty seat when we've changed her diaper and asked her if she needed to go. Perhaps we can hope she is developing some awareness of how everything down there works. Diapers, your days are numbered!

P.S. We'd also like to announce that, as you can see in the above pictures, Harper's hair is now long enough to pull it up on top of her head, Cindy Lou Who style. I believe this is a vast improvement over our first attempts at hair styling. Watch for this look to hit Paris runways soon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Christmas Came Early

So Harper may have a little teeny, tiny, obsessive streak in her personality. This is shocking. . . I have no idea where she could possible have gotten that! Anyhow, one of her current favorite obsessions is Blue's Clues, which is mildly unfortunate, as we do not have the cable channel that carries that particular show. On second thought, it's probably a good thing, since having that channel might mean that our entire day would revolve around the Blue's Clues schedule.

By now you are probably wondering how Harper became obsessed with a show on a channel that isn't beamed directly into this house. It began with a video from the public library (Did you know your library has videos and DVD's? They're free, please use your local library!). Then I found a $5/multiple-episode DVD at a discount store. Jackpot! Blue is the best thing since Elmo, which we still enjoy very much. It is nice to have a child obsessed with more than one character, which saves me from watching the same thing over and over again.

If you are not familiar with Blue's Clues, Blue is a very sweet, non-verbal dog. Blue's owner/companion Joe (or Steve, on older episodes) plays a game called Blue's Clues to figure out what Blue wants to eat/do/draw/play etc. The episodes consist of Joe, Blue, and friends traipsing around, looking for clues, and discussing color, shapes, sharing, and other preschool- friendly topics along the way. The show is extremely formulaic and predictable, which is why my little OCD monkey loves it so much. In fact, next to "Twinkle, Twinkle," Harper's most requested songs while driving in the car are those featured during Blue's adventures. She likes the theme song, the mail song, the good-bye song, you get the idea.

So why the title, "Christmas Came Early" for this post? Recently Auntie M's sister hit the jackpot at her local Goodwill store and purchased, for $1, a play-along TV set for Blue's Clues. The set came with a little plush Blue, three felt paw prints/clues, and one "Handy Dandy Notebook" with wipe off crayon. I thought Harper's head was going to explode with joy when she discovered these items yesterday morning. Her favorite being the "ha dadee otbook!"

Here's how you play Blue's Clues:

1. Hunt for felt paw prints which Mommy has hidden. Find them!

2. "Write" about the clues in your handy dandy notebook. This takes a long time.

3. Sit down in your thinking chair and think, think, think. Just like on the show. Consider all three clues to figure out what Blue wants. This is serious business.

4. I don't have photographic representation of the last step, but it basically involves jumping up and saying, "We just figured out Blue's Clues!" You also proclaim your infinite smartness. After celebrating and singing the good-bye ditty, Mommy gets to help you do the whole thing over again.

While the game may be a little boring for me, I can tell that this is going to provide fabulous entertainment for crummy/wintry/rainy days like today. In fact, I got Harper to go down for her nap by saying that we could play Blue's Clues when she gets up. I never thought I would be so grateful for television tie-in merchandise.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Daddy's Girl

It seems that Harper is becoming more of a daddy's girl with every passing day. She is interested in everything he does. And by everything I mean the girl is fascinated by the fact that he goes to the bathroom standing up. Sorry kiddo, you're not going to have any luck with that one.

Harper and Matt like to wrestle, tickle, and engage in throwing-around-in-the-air activities that I am not so great at. They are particularly skilled at enjoying baths and games of the "let's get all riled up before bed" nature. You can occasionally catch them doing something a little more mellow, like watching football, together.

One day last week while I was, ahem, indisposed, Harper managed to pull nearly all of Matt's ties off of a hanger in the closet. We both lacked the patience to hang them all back up at that point in time, so Harper and I put them into a nearby laundry basket.

Flash-forward to the following morning, Harper and I are lounging in bed watching Curious George when she decides to further investigate those ties. She fished one out of the basket wrapped it around her neck and said, "Ah go wok(work) now!" Then she came over to kiss me and said, "Bye-bye, swee (sweetie?). Too!"

(If I have not explained this before now, "Too!" Is Harper's way of saying I love you. Apparently Matt and I say,"I love you, too," to one another fairly often; Harper picked it up and just can't be bothered with all those extra words.)

When I had finished cracking up, Harper let me "tie" the tie around her neck.

She spent much of the morning wearing that tie, clomping around in a pair of Matt's shoes, saying, "Ah be Daddy!"

Just wait until he gets her on a basketball court! I can already feel my influence waning.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One Year Later. . .

I have brought it to my own attention that I have been posting to this blog for nearly one year. Considering the fact that I wasn't sure I'd last a month, I'm pretty darn proud that soon I will have persisted in self-publishing my mostly mindless prattle for 365 days. I keep you coming back with cute pictures of the kid. What was the world like before digital cameras?

So, as the blog-birthday approaches, I am wondering some things:

1) Who are you? I know that Erin, my dad, my sister, my brother, my mom, and Dotto read this pretty regularly. There are a few others who check in at least once in a while. Do I have any "lurkers" out there? People who read, but never, ever say anything to me about it, whether by leaving a comment or telling me in person.

2) Would you like to read more or less about Harper's poop? I'm just asking. I actually have a lot to say on the subject, but I try to refrain from commenting on it too often. Some people eat meals in front of their computers, I respect that.

3) Does anyone know of a way I can archive this for the kid, the main person I write for, who may want to read it someday? I live in constant fear that computer programs I like are going to a) simply stop existing, or b) start charging for things I used to be able to do for free. I guess I could cut and paste all the entries into a word document, but that's kind of boring. I'm open to suggestions.

4) Do you have a favorite post? For example, if I was going to put a little "highlight" reel together, what would I include?

And now for a public service announcement:

Beware of Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal! Harper is obsessed with the stuff. She covets it more than anything, including cookies. If I am foolish enough to ask her what she wants to eat she says, "see-al pease, see-al!" A request which lately has been followed up with, "Ah nee mik!" She needs milk? Use your manners child! Oh well, at least she says please for the cereal.

I'm well aware that it could be worse, she could be asking me for frosted pop tarts, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, candy. . . But high-fiber oatmeal cereal it is! And since she's not asking for candy, I'm likely to give her what she wants. Unfortunately she'd rather eat cereal than anything else, which is starting a trend toward even less variety in her diet. If only I could figure out a way to get some veggies into the cereal squares, then we'd be in business.

Monday, September 11, 2006

To Write or Not to Write?

I have never written much, even in personal journals, about September 11th. Not unlike many of us, I find myself reflecting and remembering in a different way this year, the fifth anniversary of the attacks on our country.

I was lucky that day, I didn't lose a family member or friend in New York, D.C., or Pennsylvania. My father was flying that morning, but he took off from somewhere in Texas and landed abruptly in Oklahoma (I believe) when planes were grounded. He rented a car with another business traveler and arrived home significantly later than planned, but safe. I find myself truly unable to imagine what this day must be like for the thousands of people who experienced a personal loss on that day which changed us all.

I watched some of the news programs this morning, but eventually I had to turn them off because I kept being overwhelmed by tears. It was unsettling to Harper, who looked at me quizzically. When I think about the fact that someday she'll ask me about all of it, my heart catches in my throat. There are some "whys?" I just don't have any answers for.

On September 11, 2001 I was not a mother. I was engaged, but not yet married. In the first few days following the attacks, I sincerely wondered whether either of those things would ever happen. I was scared. Thinking months, years into the future seemed almost foolish. What kind of future could I hope for in a world where things could go so terribly wrong?

Around the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center, I was conducting reading groups in my first grade classroom. I found out about the attacks after I walked the children to their gym class. I turned on the television in my room, watching about half an hour of news coverage, then turned off the television and picked up my class. I couldn't cry. I couldn't seem scared. By then the children could tell something was going on. When they asked questions, I told them some airplanes had crashed and many people were hurt. We said a prayer. I assured them we were safe at school and we went about our day the best that we were able.

Late that afternoon there was a sonic boom that could be heard throughout the Dayton area. As you can imagine, it scared us all. The following day at school, that is what all the children talked about. We sat in a circle on the rug and they all told about where they were when they heard the noise. Some of them ran outside with their families, some were called in. They didn't really understand what had happened to our country and they were very nervous. I repeatedly told them, they were safe, our school was safe, their parents were safe, although I wasn't entirely sure that was true. After our two hour "circle time," on September 12, we pretty much returned to business as usual. With six- and seven-year-olds, there was no other choice. But for a long time I saw fear in their eyes at any loud noise, a siren, a door slamming, thunder.

For months after 9/11 I had nightmares about bombs and planes. I had trouble sleeping and eating. I was scared to be alone. I looked for an airplane every time I heard one, watching for any signs that it was flying too low, that something was wrong. The noise of a plane overhead still makes my heart skip a little, sends a shadow through my thoughts.

I am not as scared as I was in the weeks and months following 9/11, but I am still scared. I see all the terrible things in the world, terrorism, war, poverty, disaster, and I wonder what kind of place this is for my daughter to grow up in. I sometimes wonder if we were wrong to bring a child into this uncertain world. How can any of us hope to be happy in a world where so many things are wrong? And then I look at her.

Harper reminds me that the world is also full of hope and wonder and love. She helps me remember to find happiness right here while we have it. I have a beautiful family and amazing friends. I have so much love in my life. I laugh some, every day, even the difficult ones. While I will always feel sorrow on this dark anniversary, I will also try to remember how the country came together in those following days. I will remember to have hope, to be kind, to love. And do my little part to leave the world, at least this part of it, better than it might have been without me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Welcome to the House of Nast

Nast was our way of saying "nasty" or "gross" in college. Just in case some of you couldn't make that mental leap on your own. And if that isn't enough to keep you from reading on, well, that's your own darn fault.

(Just a little photo to distract from the nast to follow.)

So we have kind of a long-running joke in our house in which anytime Matt asks what's for dinner or if I'll make a snack, and I ask him what he wants, he answers, "A pork chop!" Now pork chops aren't actually difficult to prepare, and we usually have some in the freezer, but I am not a fan of microwave defrosting (for no explicable reason) so I don't find pork chops to be a spur of the moment food. Anyway, I decided yesterday that I'd actually humor Matt and make pork chops for dinner. I went down to our freezer in the basement and two things happened when I opened it:

1) I reached for a pork chop and thought, "Huh, it shouldn't be soft. . . "

2) I was simultaneously nearly knocked over by the smell of rancid meat that was coming from our freezer which had apparently stopped freezing. Eeeewwww!

I regained enough sense to close the door but that smell followed me all the way upstairs and seemed to linger in the shirt I was wearing. I say this with no sarcasm or disrespect intended: Smelling the smell from that freezer gave me a teeny tiny insight into what life in New Orleans (and other devastated areas) must have been like after the hurricane last year. I cannot fathom being surrounded by a smell worse than the one I experienced last night.

Needless to say, we did not have pork chops for dinner. And we had to throw out probably $100 worth of spoiled food (that could have been much worse). Matt cleaned most of it out, as I was still recovering from unknowingly sticking my face into that nonsense. (As I am typing this, I swear the smell is still lingering in my nostrils.)

That was only nast thing number one.

Number two came during dinner. I was telling Matt that Harper ate a decent-sized, relatively healthy lunch: most of a banana, some applesauce, a cheese stick, raisins, and some Quaker Oatmeal cereal. He looked at me like I was crazy and swore off changing any more diapers that evening. Just as I was saying it wouldn't be that bad, I become acutely aware of how vigorously Rebound was licking Harper's chair. He often hovers when she eats and laps up stray crumbs, so I wasn't concerned about this at first. Then I realized he was really going after something and I wondered what it was. I looked down and saw a dark spot at least five inches in diameter on the leg of Harper's pants. There had, in fact, been a diaper explosion of epic proportions.

It was so nast that, despite my best efforts to avoid making things worse, it got smeared down her entire leg. Matt gave Harper a bath while I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to save the pants, I'll spare you those details.

The freezer, sadly, has reached the end of its working days. But the pants are stain-free (thank you, Baby All) and the basement now smells more like Pine-Sol than rancid meat. Things are looking up.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Last Hurrah

As our goodbye to summer, Matt and I decided to take Harper to Cox Arboretum for the morning.

Labor Day happened to be the last day the Butterfly House was scheduled to be open. Unfortunately many of the butterflies weren't in flight yet because their wings were still wet from the dew. Harper was still able to enjoy the late summer flowers and bugs, which she enthusiastically pointed out to us.

There were many huge caterpillars in the Butterfly House, which were right at Harper's eye level. And we did find at least one winged friend for her to say hello to. I'm not sure, but it might have been a moth? No worries, it still looked like a "buseye" to Harper.

As much as Harper enjoyed the bugs, "sours," and "buseyes," her favorite part was the little waterfall.

Oh yes, it looks like we perched our baby precariously on the edge of a rock above running water, but it's all about camera angles. Matt was only inches away.

Harper was very happy from her rocky perch. Matt made some joke about getting in the water and it was all we could do to keep her from jumping in. She was all set to take her shoes off and go swimming. Harper was not at all happy when we walked away from that area.

After the arboretum, we headed up to Alter High School for AlterFest. We bought a string of tickets, let the high school kids ooh and aah while Harper cheated at carnival games, and came home with an armful of lovely prizes (read: junk). Most of the games involved Harper throwing things, so she was quite happy. Next year she'll be more aware and we'll likely have to stand in line for an hour to let her ride a motorized elephant or strawberry or some other nonsense. We thought about getting in line for a ride this time, and then we remembered that Harper is totally unaware of the fact that she could possible get on those things! Having a child who is only nearing age two does have some advantages.

Dayton Metro Parks Strike Again

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Her Royal Highness

Is there a princess in the house? Harper isn't princess-like in that she is prissy and girlie, she's about equal parts tomboy and girlie, but she is definitely on a quest to be the ruler of our little castle.

Lately, she is using her newly acquired verbal skills to see how much power she actually has in this family situation. Unfortunately for her the answer is very little, but it doesn't keep her from trying.

Some examples:

Harper has started to say, "No way!" Not as in, "No way, that is so cool!"

I'll say, "Harper it's time to brush your teeth."

She'll reply, "No way Mommy!" For effect, she often crosses her arms when she says it.

She's also become much more verbally demanding. When she calls me from her crib in the morning and I walk in to her room she'll say, "Ah way uk (wake up) now!" Meaning, "Don't you dare give me a book and think I'll entertain myself in here for one minute more."

She also informs me that she wants to, "Eat befess! Eat unch! Eat didder!" and emphasizes these points by climbing into her chair.

When she wants to go somewhere, she stands by the door or runs through the house shouting, "Ah rebby (ready) Mommy! Ah rebby!"

She has also picked up the charming habit of saying, "Beep beep," to anyone or anything that gets in her way. I didn't have to look to far to figure out where that came from, as it's often what we say to Rebound. Oops.

Of course she uses her verbal power to charm as well as make attempts to control. She can often be found in her little rocker, with a doll or stuffed animal, singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." It sounds something like this (use your imagination):

Kinka, kinka bebe staas
Wewa wa wor wa woo ars

Then she starts over. It's pretty darn cute. If you are rocking her at night, she'll lay her head on your shoulder and whisper, "Kinka?" to you. It almost makes me want to go wake her up.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Week in Wisconsin: Sunday Again

Our itinerary had us departing from Wisconsin Sunday morning. However, since half of the golfing fun from the day before had been rained out, Matt and my parents departed for a very early tee time Sunday morning. This gave Harper and I one more day to sleep in and be a little lazy. We engaged in some last minute "Big Bird Hands;" a game invented by Harper and Grandpa and a pair of Muga's dishwashing gloves. Harper would put them on (or get someone to help her) and then run around waving her arms in the air and yelling, "Bee Birb Hans!" Makes me wonder if I have any of those gloves around here. . .

We tried to get a family photo on the deck before we left. Harper was not much in the mood for being photographed. Oh well, it's a nice picture of everyone else.

The drive back to Ohio was relatively painless. We made pretty good time despite a Cracker Barrel lunch stop, which is always a gamble on Sundays. We probably won't drive up to Wisconsin again until the week after Christmas, but we're crossing our fingers for a visit from Muga sometime this fall.

A Week in Wisconsin: Saturday (for Erin)

Saturday was our last full day in Wisconsin. Shannon had survived the sleep over with Natalie and Nicole and brought them over to see Harper before taking them back to Burlington. Harper was very happy to have some more attention from the girls. She's a fan of a pint-sized audience, being decidedly less shy around children than she can be around adults. She was feeling ownership of our old toys by then, and wanted to have a little say about who played with what. Fortunately Natalie and Nicole were fairly flexible in that regard.

My parents and Matt had taken off early to try to get some golf in, one of the primary motivators for Matt to drive all the way to Wisconsin. I think they managed about nine holes before pouring rain drove them off the course. Activities such as tickling Harper were not impacted by the rain.

Matt, my parents, Shannon, Harper and I enjoyed a big spaghetti dinner Saturday night. Matt tired to teach Harper a little game with the spaghetti noodles.

It took Harper a little while to catch on, then she thought it was funny. I'm hoping she'll have forgotten this by the time we eat spaghetti again. It would be very like her to refuse to eat another spaghetti noodle unless Matt was also eating it. I don't think this would go over well in restaurants.

After Harper went to bed we played a game of hearts. This used to be a favorite family game when we went on vacation, especially since my little brother is good at cards. My memories of playing hearts are both good and bad. I enjoyed the family time, but I was terrible at actually playing. Recently I have learned both pinochle and euchre and played a fair amount of each. Having this increased experience in the realm of card games, I'd hoped I might have absorbed something that would improve my ability to play hearts. Alas, this was not the case. Fortunately I am not competitive enough to have an evening ruined by losing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Week in Wisconsin: Friday

Friday we got moving at a decent time, in order to take Harper to Burlington, Wisconsin, to visit some relatives. Amazingly enough, I failed to take a single picture while we were in Burlington! Which is really a shame, as Harper saw three great grandparents and several of my aunts and cousins. Including Aunt Ellen, giver of the tea set; and Aunt Pam whose little dog had Harper squealing with delight during most of our visit. How I passed on the opportunity to take pictures of my cute child with a cute dog, I'll never know. Shame on me.

We also picked up my cousins Natalie (my goddaughter) and Nicole (Shannon's goddaughter) while we were there. They came back to Sussex with us where they played with Harper's toys and watched The Disney Channel while Harper napped. When Shannon got off work we all went to see a movie, then had dinner, and the girls slept over at Shannon's. I left at 10:30 when Matt arrived from Ohio. Yea!

While Shannon and I were having our girl time, Harper went out with my parents to the restaurant where some of my dad's colleagues were having dinner. Of course they were hoping Harper would charm the pants off of everyone, but I hear she mostly clung to my mom and threw her pouty-lip-look around. Oh well. I've always said she's not a very "on demand" kind of kid, meaning she'll only ham it up when she's in the mood. Which is fine, since we're raising a daughter and not a circus monkey.