Friday, March 30, 2007


Around here, the twos are looking a little like the early teens lately. Today I had plans to take Harper to an open gym at the rec center. The play area is only open for a two hour window. About forty minutes before we needed to leave this morning I tried to get Harper ready to go. Well she was too busy playing, then she didn't want her diaper changed, then I put her in her crib because she was acting tired and cranky. I told her to let me know when she was ready to go. I finally thought to myself, "My day will be no less complete if we don't ride tricycles for half an hour, so why am I fighting this?"

Of course Harper eventually decided she wanted to go and it was too late by then. So she spent the rest of the day turning to me occasionally, putting on her best pout, and saying, "I want to go to de gym." After a while I just ignored the pout. If I encourage this her bottom lip will become so big she won't be able to hold her head up straight.

At one point in the dialog (before I'd decided to let it go) I was telling Harper again that we had to get ready to leave. She put her little hand over my mouth and said, "IknowIknowIknowIknowIknowIknowIknow." Message received.

The rapid-fire "I know" is a new one. Usually when you are saying something Harper doesn't want to hear, she'll tell you, "Shhhh. Be qui-et." An example:

Me: Harper it is time to get ready for be-

Harper: Shhhhh. Be qui-et Mommy!

I have to admit, it's a little difficult not to laugh at that one.

Harper is also adding to the list of stall tactics she employs at bedtime. One is to grab your arm after she's in bed and say, pitifully, "I neeeeed you!" The other is to say, "Way a minute. I haf a good idea for you. I hav a gwate idea!" Then you just stand there like a fool waiting to hear it. About ninety percent of the time there is no actual idea, but you've wasted a few more seconds.
Did I mention Harper didn't get to go to the gym?

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I am at an almost complete loss for what to say about our trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico, because it was so spectacular words can't do it justice. It was so good, I only read one-and-a-half books. There were just other things to do, like sleep by the pool, eat and drink whenever we wanted, and explore the huge resort.

Here are some highlights:

The first night we had a festive dinner with the 800 people in the group we were with. There was a Mexican band singing the oddest arrangement of songs I have ever heard. There were also two dancing girls in very skimpy black dresses, doing what looked like a low impact aerobic routine. Huh? We all ate and drank and then played carnival games. Despite being tired and having enjoyed several beverages I broke two balloons with darts.

The second day I began with a pedicure at the spa while Matt was in a short meeting, the only real business obligation of the trip. Then we spent all day at the pool, where the deck chairs sat directly in the water, and only got a little sunburned. (Seriously, the sun is powerful there, we used nearly an entire bottle of sun block in less than five days.)

The third day we went on an excursion to see the Mayan ruins at Tulum and visit an eco park called Xel-Ha. The ruins were beautiful, even if our tour guide went on and on and on telling us about how ancient Mayans distributed the buildings in a way that let them tell time and set a calendar, leaving us only about twenty-five minutes to actually explore them. There were iguanas everywhere! Sort of like the squirrels in our yard, but slower.

The third night there was a big awards dinner for our group which was fancier than our wedding. It was a lot of fun and probably the best food we had the entire trip. I did not get any pictures inside the ballroom, so you'll just have to believe me when I say it was fabulous.

The fourth day we swam with a dolphin!!! That is practically the equivalent of every childhood dream I ever had coming true. We got to hold and kiss the dolphin, take a "belly ride" holding onto her fins, ride on a boogie board while she pushed the bottom of our feet, and swim around with her a bit. I know that lots of people do this on vacation now, but I still get a little thrill thinking about how I played in the water with a 400 pound dolphin. She wasn't scary at all; I was, in fact, way more freaked out by all the littler fish in the water.

The last night we joined the other people from Matt's region for our own little dinner. We ate at the Mexican restaurant where nothing on the menu was mild enough for my palate. But guess what. . . All-inclusive means you can just go back and order room service if you aren't crazy about your dinner. And we did. To celebrate our last night in Mexico, I took a bubble bath in our tub which was almost big enough to swim in. Now that's a vacation.

Getting home was something of an ordeal. There were late flights and missed connections. Instead of flying into Dayton at 9 on Sunday night, we flew into Indianapolis at midnight, rented a car, and drove back. We crawled into bed around three in the morning on Monday.

My mom managed to keep Harper unaware that we were home until about nine that morning. Eventually my mom told her to be quiet because we were sleeping. Harper pointed to our closed bedroom door and said, "In dere?" Then she said, "I go say hi." I woke up to see her smiling face next to the bed. She climbed up, crawled all over hugging and kissing both of us, looking as happy as if it were Christmas morning. Then she said, "I yike you, Mommy." Sure beats the reception we got after our trip last year!

(For those who are really interested, you can view many vacation photos here.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time, It Flies

About a year ago:


Yes, we're back from Mexico. And yes, it was a fabulous as you'd imagine!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Going Away to Relax is a Lot of Work

Tomorrow I will be here.

Actually I'll be there later today. I will be leaving for the airport in a little less than four hours. So why am I awake writing to you?

I have been relatively frantic the last few days, trying to get everything ready for our departure. Do you know how difficult it is to leave directions to care for a very particular two-year-old? It is a lot of work! I wanted to cover all of the bases and have spent the last couple of days putting a binder together with everything anyone might ever want to know about maintaining Harper. And really, I barely scratched the surface. What will she eat? How do we handle a food allergy emergency? What is her bedtime routine? Where are the markers? Why does she wear sunglasses in the house in the middle of the day? These are just a few of the questions that a person might have when caring for our daughter. Not to mention that our television setup is more complicated than a mission to Mars and there are things to know about the dog as well.

It's like writing substitute teaching plans, but worse. At one point I was thinking it might just be easier to smuggle her into Mexico with us. Then I remembered that I don't know the Spanish word for peanut. Actually I don't know many Spanish words, and I am being a typical American in hoping that won't matter too much. Otherwise I'll be stuck asking what time it is and counting to ten for the next five days.

While we will do some sightseeing and probably attempt to shop one afternoon, we are mostly planning on relaxing this trip. Food and drinks of all types are included at our resort, so we could basically go from bed to beach and back, grabbing food on the way, for four entire days. Actually we have a few events to attend, so that's not entirely true, but believe me there will be much lying around before Sunday.

I am bringing five books with me. Yes, five. Um, I don't really believe I'll read a book a day, but I could. And there's that long plane ride, and waiting in the airport, and the lying on the beach. And wouldn't it be horrible if I were relaxing in Mexico for a few days and I ran out of something to read? I'm like a chain smoker that way, I already have the next book (or, you know, seven) lined up before I finish the one I'm reading. And of course I don't know what I'll feel like reading once I finish my current book, so there's that to consider too.

Then again, I'm awfully tired, so sleeping on the plane sounds good. There might be a movie on the plane, and I love movies. So maybe I won't make it through all five books. . . but the idea alone is simply delicious. Instead of reading for a few minutes in my bed before falling asleep at night, I can read for a few minutes on the beach and then fall asleep in the afternoon. In the sun. Did I mention we're going to Mexico?


I know that Harper will be very well cared for by our parents for the next few days. But man, when I was putting her to bed tonight, I really started feeling how much I'll miss her, and worry about her, while we're gone. It won't stop me from having a great time, and I could certainly use the vacation, but darn it if I don't love that child more than anything else on earth. Makes it just a little hard to leave.

From the House of Mouse

Being a college man of leisure (just kidding, he works very hard) Uncle Jamie was able to hightail it down to Orlando for spring break with some friends. He called me, while leaning up against Cinderella's castle, to ask if Harper liked any specific Disney characters.

I love Disney World and was very jealous that he was there while I was not. Sigh.

Anyway, Harper has a few "Classic Pooh" accents in her bedroom, so she gets excited about Winnie-the-Pooh stuff. She was also recently obsessed with the big mouse himself; after about 389 viewings of a Mickey Christmas DVD some friends gave us. (Incidentally, we used to have a wonderful babysitter named Vicki and Harper called the mouse Vicki Mouse for a very long time. He he.)

Well Uncle Jamie came through.

First, there was a collection of short-but-sweet Pooh stories. The way time is flying, Harper will probably be reading them to me before long.

Then there was an actual Mickey Mouse!!!

Harper pulled him out of the bag and danced around the living room with him. She said, "I luf him, he's my fafrit!" Then she went on to explain to us that he has yellow shoes and red shorts and black ears and a black nose. . . She was so funny, alternately describing and dancing with Mickey.

Mickey even has a special marking on the bottom of one foot so you know he is the real deal. Impostors need not apply.

Down on the Farm

Harper was eating a snack of Quaker Oat Squares and playing with her Fisher Price farm this afternoon. I entered the living room to find she had placed her animals all around the barn and "fed" each one. . .

What you can't see in the pictures is the fact that Harper prompted each animal as I took these photos. (She can't pronounce some "s" blends so "sm" comes out sounding like "f" -- "file = smile" in Harperese.)

"File Bunny!"

"File Seep and Pig!"

"File Cow and Goat!"

You have to admit, the cereal pieces do look a little like tiny bales of hay.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Nap Wars

Have I mentioned before how inconsistent Harper's naps have become? Despite our attempts at consistency and rountine, putting her to bed at all has been a fairly significant challenge since Harper turned two. I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of our decision that Harper should give up her pacis. On days when I'm really frustrated with the lack of nap I often find myself wishing for a paci. Paci in the mouth, and Harper would collaspe onto her matress, often without another peep. Although those days also involved getting out of bed in the middle of the night and fishing pacis out from under the crib, so that wasn't all roses either.

Here is my problem, Harper is not even two and a half, she cannot possible be ready to go all day everyday with no nap, can she? The baffling part is that, when she does allow herself to fall asleep, she naps for two to three hours in the afternoon and still sleeps fine at night. If she was only taking afternoon naps of thirty to forty-five mintues I could see how this might lead to a phasing out of the nap, but hours? Not so much. Not to mention that her post-lunch behavior practically begs for a nap: cranky, yawning, rubbing of eyes. . . Harper is a fairly strong-willed child and I firmly believe the days she doesn't take a nap have everything to do with the fact that she just won't let herself fall asleep.

Let's take Tuesday for example. We went to ABC class and then played for another hour at a rec center open gym. Harper spent a good chunk of time pulling two other toddlers around in a wagon. She could barely keep her eyes open on the way home. So we ate a quick little lunch, read stories, and into bed she went. Forty-five minutes later I heard disturbing sounds coming from her room and went in to investigate. I found her pillow, stuffed animal, and blankets on the floor, which was not a surprise. Most of those items go overboard when Harper decides not to sleep. I was, however, surprised by the folded up pants and diaper sitting on her book case. And even more surprised when Harper said, proudly, "I peed!" And peed she had, all over her mattress. I don't even know what to say about that.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Lots of happy sighing around here today. . .

It was my morning to drop Harper off and have three glorious hours to myself. First, I sat alone in a coffee shop and wrote for an hour -- the equivalent of a mental bubble bath and massage. Absolute bliss as far as I was concerned. Then I ran to the store and picked up a few items without stopping to look at the fish or birds or hamsters. Finally I came home, unloaded groceries, and went to the bathroom all by myself. And I didn't even have to call out, "Harper, what are you doing?!" I also listened to a little NPR and read some of my book club book.

To top it all off, Andrea said Harper was well-behaved, which means I'll get to do this again next month! (I do have to say, the three hours goes much faster when you're the one without the two-year-olds.)

Then tonight I had my last graduate class for this quarter. I handed in my final and stayed just long enough to collect my grade and leave. No class for two weeks! And between now and the first class of next quarter I'll be in Mexico for five days.

And I'm even feeling better.

Now I'm off to have very sweet, stress-free dreams.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Close Enough

(Please allow me to whine for a moment. . . Harper is just about over her cold, but she coughed in my face and wiped her nose on me for nearly a week so now I have it too. My allergies have kicked up in the last two days so I am miraculously afflicted with congestion and a runny nose as well as sinus pressure and one eye, the right, which seems to be tearing/weeping uncontrollably. Lovely right? Do you remember Patrick Dempsey from the opening scenes of Outbreak? That's pretty much me right now. To top it off Matt left for Bloomington, Indiana, for the weekend. So it's just Harper and I until sometime on Sunday. It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. But the pity party is over now, thanks.)

Despite our sniffles, I had to run some errands with Harper today. One of which took us to the post office. I generally try to avoid heading there with Harper but we didn't have much choice. Today we were lucky and there were relatively few people in line ahead of us. I was trying to point out various things around the post office and keep Harper talking and entertain her. I noticed that the tiles on the floor were unusually shaped (they were hexagons) so I asked Harper if she knew what shape they were. By now, most of the people both working there and in line were looking at me like I was crazy, but Harper thought for a moment and said, "ocagon?" I told her they looked a lot like octagons, but were actually hexagons. To which she said, "otay!" Meanwhile the people around us were gaping. It was pretty funny. Then she also pointed out the circles at the bottom of the stands which held the line divider. When we were paying for our postage the clerk held up a package and asked what shape it was, Harper identified it as a "swear!" She was right. She also knows what a trapezoid is, which is fun just to hear her say it. It comes out "tap-i-zoid." I may have mentioned that one before, because it totally cracks me up. Sadly, there were no trapezoids in the post office.

She likes shapes. Recently she was riding in the car and I heard her shout, "Yook Mommy! I made a ti-an-gol!" She figured out how to form a triangle with her thumbs and index fingers and was exceedingly proud of herself.

Now I don't think Harper is some kind of math genius, or any genius at all. I'm sure she's bright, but she is also good at memorizing things. She pays attention. She has a peg puzzle made of shapes and we've watched the "Shapes and Colors" Blue's Clues DVD more times than I can count. So the kid knows her shapes.

I would like to point out that I'm not really a flashcard kind of mom and I'm not pushing to teach Harper much of anything. We talk to her and read her books, but I'm not so much interested in sitting down and working our way through flash cards of the presidents. I have no problem with people being more deliberate in their attempts to teach their children. That's just not really my style. And it wouldn't jive very well with Harper's personality. She pretty much bulldozes any attempt at structured activity; in return I have a child who has her own ideas about how and what she'd like to play and often doesn't want much interference from me. She likes me to be in the room, and watch her, but she doesn't necessarily want my input. We do actually have some flashcards, but Harper mostly likes to take them out of my hands and throw them on the floor, so you can see how that's not a great learning set up anyway. I believe that if kids are in a nurturing environment they will learn what they are supposed to learn when they are ready to learn it. But children are all different, and we each know our own better than anyone else. So if your child likes/learns from flashcards, go for it. If not, don't sweat it.

Besides, I'm pretty sure Mensa won't be accepting any members who were ever photographed like this:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dinner and a Story

Those of you who don't know me personally may need a little background here. I live in Ohio, but I grew up in Wisconsin, where my parents and sister still live. My younger brother is currently a junior at the University of Dayton (my alma mater) and lives about fifteen minutes from us. He's a very involved and busy college student so we don't see him as often as you might imagine. Still, it is really nice to have him so nearby and get to see him at all!

Last night he came over for a home-cooked meal and some bonding with his niece. The meal did not come without a price, as he ended up dragging laundry up from the basement, wiping muddy dog paws, feeding the muddy dog, and entertaining the child so I could fold laundry and clean up the mess from dinner. He was very gracious about the fact that I kept assigning him tasks by saying things like, "Harper, why don't you see if Uncle Jamie wants to go get the clothes out of the dryer!"

He even had Harper clean up the mess in her "kitchen" by getting her on board with the idea that they could surprise me by cleaning up. I am pretty sure I used this tactic to get Jamie to clean up his toys on many occasions when he was younger. (Jamie, by the way, is nearly nine years younger than I am so I spent many joyful hours serving as his babysitter.)

As I was sitting on the couch, folding a basket of laundry, I was treated to the image of watching my little brother read a book to his niece, who was clearly thrilled to have his attention.

Harper calls him "Unca Jabee," pronouncing his name as though she has a cold. I'm sure she'll grow out of it someday and it's a good thing we'll have this blog to remind us all that there was a time she couldn't say "Jamie;" a time when happiness was sitting on the ottoman, wearing one-piece pajamas, being read to by her kind and patient uncle, and feeling loved.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In Like a Lion

We're back!

Did you miss us?

As soon as I officially declared my hiatus, Harper seemed to be enticing me to blog by being downright hilarious. Not once in the last week would I have thought, "What am I going to write about?" Which figures.

For a two-year-old Harper self-entertains fairly well. And she never stops talking, which is good for me. I can occasionally go to work on the computer and, as long as I hear her talking (to her doll, animals, our dog, etc.), I know she's okay. If it gets quiet, or I hear the refrigerator open, I know I need to go see what's happening. We live in a ranch, so there's only so far she can go.

Last Thursday, as I was working away on my project, I hear, "Mommy, yook at me! I a baby!" And I glance into the living room to see this:

That would be the doll stroller she is sitting in. And yes, she also took her clothes off. It's thirty degrees outside, only sixty-eight or so in the house, and Harper wants to run around all day in her diaper. I wish I had a digital video camera, because not only was Harper sitting in her stroller, she was cruising around in it, Flintstone-style. I did make her get out though, I'm pretty sure it's not meant to convey actual toddlers.

Later that same day she walked into the bathroom, where I was occupied, and said, "Hey toots!"


When he was home over the weekend, Matt was in charge of Harper so I could get things finished up. He decided he should teach her to play poker:

I pulled up solitaire on my computer the other day and Harper asked where the chips were. She calls it, "pokers." I told her I didn't know how to play, it's a game to play with Daddy. That's seemed to suit her just fine. Who knows? Maybe she'll fund our retirement on the Poker World Tour someday.


Apparently Harper internalizes my end-of-the-quarter stress and it weakens her immune system because, for the third time, as soon as I start getting into serious work mode, she gets sick. She has had a terrible cold for about five days now; coughing, sneezing, low fever, not wanting to eat, and waking up every three seconds all night long. Saturday night we had such a hard time getting her to stay asleep that Matt took her into the living room and laid on the couch with her. She wandered into the family room (where I was on the computer) around 1:30 a.m. and pouted, "Daddy didn't make woom for me." Matt had rolled over and sort of edged her off the couch. She was a pathetic mess.

We went to the doctor yesterday and her ears are clear, lungs are clear, and she doesn't have strep. All good news, except that there's not a darn thing to do but ride it out. And this morning I woke up with all her lovely symptoms. Sigh. Too bad moms can't call in for sick days.

Harper was totally cool with getting a "ceck-up" at the doctor, until they did the swab for the strep test. I guess there's no better way to do it with a toddler, but the doctor sort of just jabbed the swabs down her throat, much to Harper's horror, and a little to mine. Fortunately she seems to have forgotten it already. No hard feelings I guess.

The best part about going to the doctor is the sticker at the end. When I wasn't looking, Harper relocated her sticker. I finally noticed it wasn't on her shirt anymore and asked where she put it. Her response? "It is on the window for yater." Behold:

Fortunately it came off without too much effort.


So there's our little (or long) update. The comments have been very quiet, what have you been up to in the last week?