Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry and Happy (and Tired)

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 2004

December 2005

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

Merry and happy to you and yours!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Once Upon a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, December 18, 2006

We're Still Alive

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

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

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

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

This is how Harper looked for about three days:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


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

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Signs That I May Actually Be Insane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Trauma Claus

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

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

December 2004

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

December 2005

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

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

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

December 2006

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

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