Saturday, June 30, 2007

Adorably Insane

After leaving Auntie M's house today, Harper insisted I roll her window down. As I looked back, she was holding her hand up to the edge of the open window, fingers curled as if holding an imaginary handle. Then she brought her hand to her mouth and made a ssssppp sound.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

Harper replied, "I am just catchin some wind in this cup so I can grink (drink) it."

And for me that pretty much sums up all there is to love about a two-year-old.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There's A Crap on the Patio!

I'm trying the video thing again because look what showed up at our house!

(I know you really can't hear Harper in that clip, I think that poor sound quality is a side effect of using the digital (mostly still) camera to record video.)

After the mulling over the plight of the lack of local sandbox I called my parents, less than 48 before my mom was scheduled to come visit and said, "If you have time, maybe you could check if this sandbox is available at the toy store in Wisconsin." And it was!!!

It was not even at the store closest to them, and they drove late Saturday night, my dad on pain medication from having a tooth pulled, to pick it up for Harper. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

My mom drove it down here, Matt bought some sand, and we set it up Monday night after Harper had gone to bed.

She went with my mom to let Rebound out this morning and ran back into my room saying, "There is a crack sandbox in my yard!"

For some reason Harper cannot remember to pronounce the end of the word crab with a b sound. It either comes out crap or crack. He he he. She spent the afternoon playing in a red crack full of sand.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting Good and Messy

Recently a whole host of factors have been conspiring to keep me away from this blog. It all began about a week ago when I tried to post a video and neither YouTube nor this computer were cooperating. I am usually pretty flexible when it comes to computer glitches, but I have been losing patience lately and that stubborn video clip was just pushing me over the edge. So at the end of this post there will be another video clip and I still have no idea whether or not it will work. Either way, I am finished monkeying with it. So there.

One Sunday (possibly last Sunday), we were all enjoying some idyllic time in the back yard; Matt and I reading at the table on the patio, Harper romping around in the fenced-in yard, and Rebound trotting all over. There was a lot of clunking and grunting coming from a place in the yard we couldn't quite see. We explored it to find that Harper had been digging in some soil we'd emptied from a broken pot (the pot was gone) and trying to get Rebound to eat the dirt.

Once upon a time I was reluctant to purchase a sandbox because I was afraid we'd be tethered to the patio all summer long and I had visions of Harper wailing as I closed the back door and forced her to spend some time in the air-conditioned house. As it turns out, she's going to treat the entire yard as if it were a sandbox and I probably shouldn't have been so afraid of the real thing. Dirt is filthy! Seriously. It was really difficult to get her dress clean.

Of course now that I've decided a sandbox would be a good thing, there aren't any decent ones left in our local stores. We looked at one today that was a) too small and b) less sturdy than what I could build myself with some construction paper and electrical tape. Sigh. For now we'll just keep visiting the local parks which have sandboxes. We can always break down and buy one online.

Among the many things I have been meaning to write about two little announcements seem the most important:

1) My friend Colleen, who was in first grade with me, had her second baby earlier this month. Welcome Ben!

2) My friend Tracy, a friend from college, had her first baby just a few days ago. Welcome Ruth!

Congratulations to both of their families!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Ah. . . It is hot here. And dry. And sunny. And we are getting around to some genuine summer activities. Including taking pictures on bright days.

We had stashed some Christmas money away and recently used it to buy a Cincinnati Zoo membership. We got the kind that includes free parking and one free guest; so come visit and we'll take you! Harper is a big fan of animals and taking her to the zoo is seriously one of the greatest pleasures I have known as a parent. Last year we visited zoos in Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. This summer we may just take many return trips to the Cincinnati Zoo. The best part about having a membership is that we can leave first thing in the morning, spend a couple of hours at the zoo, and head home for lunch. I don't have to feel guilty for only being there a couple of hours because we didn't spend a fortune to get in and park.

On Saturday we took Dziatku to the zoo with us. Even though they look very serious in this photo, the two of them had a wonderful time.

The zoo I grew up with does not have a manatee exhibit, which has become one of my favorite parts of the Cinci Zoo. There were other fish swimming around with the manatees, and Harper kept insisting that they were babies. She would not be dissuaded. Did you know two-year-olds are experts in most subjects? Kind of like teenagers.

Potty training update:

I would like to mention that Harper wet her pants only once during the zoo excursion. Not bad, considering we were in the car for at least 45 minutes each way. We were standing in the reptile building when Harper got a funny look on her face; I looked down and she was creating a little puddle right there in her sandals. I suppose that is to be expected. And she made it through another gymnastics class today with no accidents, so I remain optimistic.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Back to The Point

I have been meaning to share these pictures since Thursday, when we made a return trip to The Point, that church's indoor play land. It was supposed to be over 90 degrees here, which seemed like a good enough reason to drive a little way to let Harper do her running around in air conditioning. We did not go with a friend this time around; I had my fingers crossed that she might be a little more adventurous than last time.

In fact our last trip to this indoor play land was part of the reason we decided to sign Harper up for her gymnastics class, because she had been so scared of everything.

Well the gymnastics has apparently been making her a little more brave because we were not there long before she actually climbed up the very set of stairs that had terrified her mere weeks ago.

Harper happily climbed up into the tunnels and had fun looking down at me from various perches. It probably helped that there weren't very many people there, so she wasn't intimidated by all those big kids running (climbing) circles around her.

We even packed a little lunch so we could stay and play longer. There is a small area with tables in the next room and Harper felt like a big girl sitting in a regular chair. Unfortunately she was so eager to play she couldn't be persuaded to eat much lunch.

An observant person will notice that Harper is not wearing the same pair of shorts in all these pictures. I guess when you are playing in what looks like a giant hamster play set, you forget to pay attention to the sensation that tells you it is time to go potty.


Despite my efforts to get her in the bathroom periodically, Harper still had an accident. These things happen.

After a while, another family of children arrived and made Harper an accessory to their game. They were running around defending some sort of imaginary fort, and the little one, maybe age 4?, kept saying, "Run, she's trying to kill us!" That sounded a little dramatic to me, but whatever. They made a game out of knowing where Harper was and shouting things like, "What is she doing now? Did she come out of the tunnel?" Harper, for her part, was happy to be even marginally included and enjoyed the fact that they ran away if she chased them.

The day ended on a slightly sour note. Harper in her new fit of bravery, climbed way up into a corner of the play structure. And she couldn't get down. The other kids (the oldest was probably 7? 8?) tried to help her, but no luck. I could see her up in the corner and when she started to cry I decided I was going to have to climb up after her.

Fortunately I am still relatively agile, and I didn't run into any tunnels that I couldn't fit through, which was a genuine fear! I helped Harper out of the corner she was stuck in, only to find she had wet her pants again!

So we both climbed down, I changed her into a diaper (the only thing I had left) and we headed home. Harper said three things over and over again on the ride back to our house:

"Sanks for coming to get me Mommy."

"I'm sorry I went potty in my big girl pants."

"That was fun at Point!"

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Reason I Flush

. . . dead bugs down the toilet.

As I started to clean up the remains of our dinner I opened the trash can and something flew out of it!

My life has officially been shortened by about ten years.

Early today I found a fly, on its back, on our kitchen counter. In all honesty it is the first time I can remember ever seeing a fly in this house at all. In over two years. Weird.

I squished it between a couple of tissues (or so I thought) and put it in the garbage can. Only to have it fly back out at me hours later!

So Matt can laugh when I request that dead spiders be flushed, but that fly is exactly why such precautions are necessary.

(Unless of course, there was a second, non-squished fly in the garbage can. I deny that possibility because if it were true I would need to start to look into an apparent infestation.)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gymnastics Photos and Funny Phrases

Here's what's been making me laugh the last couple of days:

Harper's room, 1 a.m., Harper knocks on her door and says, "I want dinner." Huh?

After spinning around, Harper stops, sways, and says, "My house is fahying (falling) down."

Harper has a habit of narrating about the scenery while we drive.

Today she told me there were two kinds of trees. "Yook Mommy, there's bof (both) trees! Pine trees and bird trees!" Apparently she hasn't ever seen a bird in a pine tree.

Later, during the same drive, she got all excited about a bunch of birds on a lawn. "Yook Mommy, there's a mommy wobin (robin) and a daddy wobin and a brudder (brother). . .(pauses). . . There's a fyock (flock) of wobins!"

"A what?!" I ask.

"A fyock. Yots (lots) of wobins make a fyock."

"Oh, a flock?"

"Yes, a fyock!"

How the heck does she know what a flock is?

And now, for the gymnastics. These photos are from last week, but we were there again today. Today was the first day she tried all the elements of each station without any cajoling on my part. The first couple of weeks she spent a good ten minutes not wanting to do anything except go down the slide. Seems she's finally warmed up.

Here we have the "tumble track" which I imagine older gymnasts use for learning to flip and things (The black part in the middle is like a trampoline). The little ones are supposed to do "open-close" jumps on it; think jumping jacks with less arm action. Harper just runs down it like a maniac until she careens off the side or the end. Today she did dial it down long enough to do one or two actual jumps.

Last week the instructors totally turned Harper's universe upside down by placing the end of the slide in the pit of foam squares. They also covered the entire thing with a parachute, making it a little dark in there. Now Harper loves the slide and the pit of foam squares individually, but she was totally unsure about the combination.

By the look on her face you'd think she was sliding into a pit of snakes or worms or broccoli.

But she was cool with the arrangement once she realized the foam squares were the same ones she'd happily jumped into the week before.

She's also getting the hang of the bars. (Get it? Hang? Bars? Ha ha ha. Please try not to be too astounded by my wit.) Eventually the children are supposed to let their parents or the instructors help them pull their feet up and flip around the bar. But I'm just happy Harper will hold on and pick her feet up off the ground.

Which she now does with enthusiasm.

I figure she's got plenty of time to learn to hang upside down from things.

Finally, on the potty training front, today Harper went to gymnastics, to the library, to a friend's house, and out to dinner -- all without diapers! Not one accident today. Although I did get up three times during dinner when Harper said, "I haf to go potty!" As we were leaving our friend's house, actually pulling out of the driveway, she said she had to go. I asked if she could wait a few minutes until we got home. And she said yes. It took us about ten minutes to get home, Harper fell asleep during the ride, and she still managed not to wet her pants. I am cautiously optimistic!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Making the Grade

Not to long ago I received an email from a friend who wondered if I was still in school because she didn't notice it mentioned in recent blog posts. Which means I am clearly not doing enough whining and complaining in this blog! I am still in school, headed into the last week of the quarter. I've even been doing an internship this quarter. Wednesdays I am at a local elementary school from 7:15 until 3; then I have class in the evening from 4 until 7. I also have class on Monday nights. The reason I haven't written about it more is that I'm usually blogging as a break from all the school work I have been doing on the computer and I just don't want to talk about it! :-)

I started my program last June and I'm getting pretty close to the finish line. I will take four classes during summer quarter (two each half), and then I will only have the exit seminar to finish up in the fall. If all goes as planned (watch the lightning strike me down), my graduation date will be November 17, 2007; which is also Harper's 3rd birthday. I think it will also be a day of celebration for Ann (Matt's mom, Harper's Nana, my amazing mother-in-law) who has been the primary babysitter through all of this. She has been a real trooper. I feel that I'm asking her for something nearly every time I pick up the phone to call her and if she is cringing on the other end of the line, I've never been able to tell. My mom has also provided periods of relief, swooping in and taking over a few babysitting days here and there. We are so blessed to have such a supportive family.

As part of a current class, I had to develop an educational website. My website is geared toward parents of young children who want to help them prepare to be readers. Many of the people in my class are currently teaching and had classes to design their site for; not me! So if you are a parent of a young child and you are interested in the topic of preparing kids to read and do well in school please check it out! It would be nice to know that I created it for something beyond the grade I'll receive. There is a book blog tied to it, which I will continue to update if I sense there is any interest whatsoever. Curious?

The website is: Tending the Garden: Raising Children as Readers

The blog is: Tending the Garden: Book Blog

The main concerns I had were: not making it too preachy (I feel pretty strongly on the importance of reading with children), not making it too overwhelming, and not making it seem like I thought everyone else in the world is a moron who doesn't know how to read to children! It is something I have been asked about a lot and I hope the information is helpful. Some of the tips are probably things we all know/do naturally but might not think about. I am interested in feedback, but you don't have to leave it in the comments, just email me.

Okay, enough babbling!

Coming soon -- a gymnastics update, with photos!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dispatch from Potty Training Boot Camp

After a long time making very little progress in the arena of potty training, we decided to try a change of tactic. Our living room recently became the staging area for Potty Training Boot Camp.

Want to try your own? Here's what you need:

1) a potty seat, in the middle of a room you are willing to spend a lot of time in

2) a sippy cup, kept full of liquid to ensure many opportunities to practice using the potty seat

3) easy access to toilet paper (that's on our fireplace mantle), so you can do a quick wipe, then head to the actual bathroom to dump the potty seat and wash your hands

4) any toy, music, movie, activity that will keep your child in the room with the potty seat; we've watched a lot of George in the last couple of days

5) not pictured, toddler/preschooler with no pants on

We've tried to make this as easy/pleasant as possible, so Harper can just learn to recognize the feeling that she needs to go to the bathroom and react to that feeling. Later we'll conquer wiping, hand washing (which she can do, but with all that liquid, we'd spend several hours a day washing her hands), and getting pants and undies up and down. The first day Harper went totally bare-bottomed, the second and third day she's been wearing Curious George "big girl pants" which are easy to get on and off when not further complicated by another layer of clothing.

She's made it to the potty seat with only four or five mishaps in three days, which feels like real progress. Today we even ran some errands and used the toilet at a friend's house for a couple of hours, totally without incident. Yay Harper!

And now, my first attempt to put video in this blog. . .The sound and picture quality are not great. I'm just experimenting with the fact that I discovered I can record 20-second video clips on our camera. Enjoy!