Friday, October 31, 2008

Please Hum the National Anthem While You Read

(If you've already voted you get a cookie, and a pat on the back, and you probably don't have to read this post. Good job!)

What are you doing Tuesday? I'm taking Harper to school, taking the dog to the groomer, picking Harper up from school, and VOTING! I plan to take both children with me to vote, but I'm willing to be flexible and will call for reinforcements if the lines prohibit voting with children in tow. My polling place is generally not terribly crowded, even for presidential elections, but who knows what this year will bring. Harper has tagged along for several local elections, but I want both my children to know that they accompanied me to vote during the first presidential election of their lives. (Harper made her entrance to the world 13 days after the last presidential election.)

What if you don't want to vote for either candidate for president? It's likely that there are still important local issues and races on your ballot. Educate yourself and then exercise your right to shape what happens in your community.

What if you don't know if you're registered to vote? What if you aren't sure where to go? Have other voting questions? Click here for help!

What if you are still trying to sort through all the ads and interviews and debates and robo-calls and extreme emails? is a good place to being sorting it out - remember not to believe everything you read or hear!

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't vote. If there is a problem, ask to fill out a provisional ballot and if you are concerned that your vote won't be counted, contact your county board of elections.

Okay, you can stop humming now.


The Final Pay it Forward

Here are the photos of the goodies I received from Jenny many moons ago. Please note the inclusion of sparkly play dough for Harper. Good call! The second picture shows a fun group of magnets, which somehow failed to make the first picture.

I've been collecting goodies for my final pay it forward contest for over a month. . . I'm also going to amend the rules just a little bit (and hopefully stay within the spirit Swistle originally intended!). Normally the bloggy pay it forward contests have asked you to hold your own contest when you win, hence the title. . . The winner of this contest is welcome to pay it forward on her/his blog, but may also choose a general pay it forward activity. In other words, just do something nice for someone else if you win.

Um, of course I can't actually make you do anything, but the idea is to increase the good feelings floating around out there. And, let's face it, we're probably going to need it this week!

So you can enter by leaving a comment on this post by November 7, 2008, by midnight. If you aren't sure what to leave in the comments, let me know what your favorite Halloween treat would be if you couldn't have nuts/peanut butter. (Based on the candy dooled out in our neighborhood, most people really, really like the nut/peanut butter stuff. I challenge you to think outside the allergen!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To Blop or Not to Blop?

November is rapidly approaching and with it comes the question: Do I want to write a blog post every day for 30 straight days?

It's not so much that I worry about having things to write about, but these two aren't always keen on giving me time to write. . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Festivities

Last week I was able to accompany Harper on a fall field trip to a local farm market. I was happy to go, but I also felt like I HAD to go because the woman there was so rude to me when I called to research the allergy safety of the trip. (That was one of the things that had me feeling so frustrated a couple of weeks ago.) How could a peanut allergy be dangerous at a farm market? This particular trip posed two difficulties. 1) The trip included cookies provided for the children. When I called I was told they were not safe for children with any kind of nut allergy. So no cookie for Harper, we'd bring our own treat from home, but all the other kids in her class would be eating the unsafe cookies. 2) There were animals at the farm market and it is not unheard of for peanut products to be used as filler in animal feed. (BTW peanut shells can also be present in things like top soil and fertilizer.) I hadn't been to this specific place before and called to ask questions about what the animals are fed. The woman I spoke with told me she couldn't possibly be expected to know. She did say the children weren't supposed to touch the animals, but she couldn't help it if they didn't follow the rules. Lovely.

ANYWAY. . . despite several potential pitfalls, the field trip ended up being perfectly safe and delightful for Harper. She especially loved riding the bus to and from the farm market. (I followed in my car.) It was her first bus ride.

Other than the bus, the hay ride was the big hit of the trip. Unfortunately for me I am allergic to the hay. It was a l-o-n-g ride and every time one of the kids moved (three-, four-, and five-year-olds on hayrides don't sit very still!) all this hay-dust was kicked into the air. The children were thrilled, and I would have been too, had I not been acutely aware of the passages connecting my throat, ears, and nose before the ride had ended. Today was the first day I felt even remotely normal - I don't see many hay rides in our family's future.

Was it worth it for this smile?

Of course!

We had been to a different pumpkin patch last week as a family, but a racoon or some other animal took Michael's gourd off our front porch. Harper decided her pumpkin from the field trip could be for Michael. She's a good big sister.

Matt and Harper enjoyed the annual gutting and carving of the pumpkins, while I happily stood aside to provide photographic support.

Michael, for his part, thinks he'll wait until next year to get revved up about Halloween.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thank Yous and a Meme

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who left such supportive comments or emailed or called to check in after one of last week's posts. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't understand the whole blogging thing but I have found a powerful sense of community through this blog of mine and I am extraordinarily grateful for that. I still plan to write about some of the frustration I was feeling, but not tonight.

Astarte recently tagged me for a six things meme. . . I've done this a couple of times before and I'm too lazy right now to go back and look to see what I've written in the past. Hopefully most of these aren't repeats:

1. I hate to eat ice cream once it gets melty. I have developed a habit of eating ice cream really quickly because once it liquefies it grosses me out a bit.

2. Frosted Rice Krispies are my favorite cereal. Did you even know there was such a thing? They are very difficult to find. I have to go out of my way to get them around here, so I don't eat them very often - which probably isn't a bad thing.

3. When I was in fourth or fifth grade I slept over at a friend's house and we tried to get her dog to ride down the stairs in a sleeping bag. The dog was not thrilled.

4. One summer in high school I went bungee jumping with my dad on a family vacation in the Wisconsin Dells.

5. When I was a freshman in high school I was the "Freshman Princess" on the court for our winter formal. How I ended up on that court has always been something of a mystery to me. I wasn't ostracized or anything like that in high school, but I never considered myself one of the "popular kids." In fact there were many "popular kids" I probably avoided talking to because I assumed they were too cool to be interested in talking to me. Now I wonder how many of them thought I was just stuck-up. . . I'm glad high school is over.

6. I was a secondary education major for the first few semesters of college. My children's literature class helped me realize I really wanted to be an elementary education major. I think that switch was one of the better decisions I've ever made.

7. When we were young my sister and I took baton twirling lessons at our neighborhood park. We twirled our batons in a couple of parades. I was not a gifted baton twirler, but I can still do the handful of tricks I learned. Baton twirling tricks used to come in handy for impressing children I babysat. (One of these days I'll have to track down a baton and impress Harper.)

The children wish to remind you that October is Fire Safety Month. Make sure your smoke detectors are working!

Midwest Mom, now with more public service announcements.

Linky Love

A fellow blogger has given me an award! To be fair, I should mention that she gave it back in September and it has taken me this long to finally pass on the love. Thank you to Pam, from Life with our Lads, for the shout-out.

Now I get to give this award to seven other bloggers. Here are some that I've been enjoying for a while:

Moments of Sanity

MO Mommy


Back to Me

Semi-desperate Housewife

The Muddled Sage

Learning to Love Life in a Tiny Town

The mission for the winners, should they choose to accept, is as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who has awarded you
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Add links to those blogs on yours and
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Autumn Day

The first fall-ish feeling day in these parts and even I couldn't resist going on an outing. Fridays are not school days and are therefore a little flexible. After Michael's mid-morning bottle, I loaded the kids up for a quick trip to the arboretum. I was hoping there would be some pretty leaves already and that I might get a chance to take a few photos.

We parked the car and immediately stumbled upon this flower/pumpkin/bales of hay set up that all but had a sign on it saying, "Take your children's pictures here!"

One good thing about the age difference between Michael and Harper is that she is old enough to help hold him for photo shoots. Too bad I didn't get video, then you'd hear Harper saying, "Mom, you better get over here before I drop him!"

I am absolutely shocked that I got not one, but three pictures in which both of them are smiling. I have new hope for holiday photos.

Is it just me, or does Michael look enormous in these pictures? Harper's lap could barely contain him, he's becoming such a little chub!

The above picture was the last one I took of the two of them. As soon as I put the camera away I picked up Michael to put him in the stroller and he spit up all over my coat - so much that I had to take it off and put it in a plastic bag so it wouldn't get all over everything else. Fortunately I don't go anywhere without a few extra bags!

Michael was not at all phased by the spitting-up (possibly because it landed all over ME and not all over HIM) and proceeded to fall asleep in his stroller while Harper and I explored.

Harper spent a lot of time "climbing trees" but I think it looks more like she's practicing for senior pictures.

Little miss independent could hardly be bothered to walk next to the stroller. She enjoyed the adventure of taking different paths than I was on - which was fine with me as long as I could see her. I'm just glad she wasn't begging me for a ride!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At A Loss

Does anyone else find it the most difficult to write when you really have a lot to say? I don't put a lot of pressure on myself here, on this blog, because I feel like most of the people who read are genuinely interested in what our family is doing, or in looking at cute photos of the kids, and don't necessarily keep coming back expecting post after post of stellar writing. I'm sure it is painfully obvious that I often just hop onto the computer and jot down a few thoughts/stories about our days and then move along. I don't attempt to make each post well-crafted or masterful writing. So when I have something to say that feels more important to me, when I feel like it matters which words I choose and how I use them, I often find myself stuck.

In the last two days a couple of incidents have really worked up my inner turmoil about handling Harper's peanut allergy. It is something I want to write about, but it feels so big to me right now, I don't even know where to begin.

So I'm not going to write about that tonight. Instead I offer this anecdote from our Sunday morning breakfast:

Nearly every Sunday we go with Matt's parents to the same place for breakfast. This past Sunday we were sitting in our booth, chatting and devouring a feast of breakfast goodies, when Harper looked over and noticed a gentleman with a bandanna covering his head and tattoos up and down his arms. She leaned over to Ann and said, "Nana, I think there's a pirate here!"*

*Or something along those lines, I was too busy laughing/crying to cement her exact words in my memory.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Will I Do With These Kids?

Earlier this afternoon we noticed that Michael had developed a nasty looking rash on/under his chin. Because of our history with Harper any skin disturbance immediately has me thinking allergies with a sick feeling in my stomach. He has always been a bit of a spitty baby and he's also been super droolish lately. Perhaps his skin is just irritated from all that moisture? We can only hope. The dog did get away with licking at his chin earlier today (usually we manage to keep the dog away from Michael's head!), but I'm not convinced it was the dog. If Michael was allergic to the dog, then wouldn't it also bother him when his hands and feet were licked?

He's not feverish, or extra fussy, or touching his chin, or having trouble sleeping, so I am trying not to worry too much. Our current strategy for the mystery chin rash is to keep an eye on it and maybe call the nurse tomorrow afternoon, especially if there's not appreciative improvement or if things look worse. In the mean time, if any of you recognize that rash as something we should be more immediately concerned with - don't be afraid to speak up!

Then there's Harper. . .

She had a lovely day including a trip to the park with Matt and many hours of dress up. At one point I noticed that the combination of her pink high heels and her rapidly-growing-too-small summer shorts had her looking a little, well, skanky. She, of course, thought the shoes made her look rather glamorous and clomped around in them most of the afternoon.

One of her Christmas or birthdy presents this year is going to be a pair of sparkly dress up flats! Seriously. She has already learned the dangers of the poorly constructed high heeled shoe and I am half holding my breath, waiting for her to break herself each time she wears those plastic things. I guess she's learning early that style and comfort don't always go hand in hand.

Harper was angry about this last picture because it didn't show off her shoes!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Alright, I'm still not totally convinced that my children look that much alike but I do see some resemblance when I look at the following photos:

The top is Michael at an adjusted age close to five months, and the bottom is Harper at five months. I guess it isn't a stretch to see that they are brother and sister.

In the beginning it was difficult to compare the two, because Michael's start to life was so vastly different from Harper's. Now I feel like I'm starting to notice ways in which Michael is different. For example, Harper has always been something of a drama queen. When she got upset as a baby, calming her down was not easy. Michael seems to get upset quickly, but he seems more easy distracted than Harper was as a baby. When he was so sick the last couple of weeks it upset his sleep some, but with very few exceptions he was as happy-go-lucky as usual, even with an ear infection. I'm pretty sure if Harper had had an ear infection at that age, we'd still be hearing about it now!

In the last few weeks Michael has really started noticing and interacting with toys/objects more. One thing he does that completely cracks me up is getting a hold of something and then just waving his arm up and down so that the toy/blanket/object slams repeatedly into the ground, first near his waist, then above his head. It's impressive. He also does this with a toy that is attached to his crib rail. It's a little dog with a bone rattle hanging from one of its paws. He grabs the bone and then starts flailing his arm back and forth, making the entire dog slide and the plastic link holding it to his crib makes all kinds of noise. This is what he does as he's getting ready to fall asleep. I know that Harper never did anything quite like it, I don't think it's something I could have forgotten.

As the next few months pass, Michael will reach the age Harper was when I started this blog. I'll be interested to see how my experiences with him compare to the experiences I recorded of Harper at similar ages.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Six Plus One

Somehow I failed to give much of a six month update for Michael. Probably because I spent a few days mentally knocking my head against a wall, wondering how this baby of mine could possibly be half a year old. . . and now, in a heartbeat, another month has gone by. Sheesh!

His six month stats were:

Height: 24 1/2 inches - still not on the darn chart

Weight: 13.6 lbs. - also missing the chart, just barely

Head circumference: 42.5 cm. - 25%, apparently, like Harper, Michael has a huge head!

Michael at six months:

Michael today, at seven months old:

Michael showing his displeasure with the attempted photo session:

We went back to the doctor today to get his six month shots. The obstacles to getting them sooner included illness and massive power outages.

Michael after wearing himself out crying over his shots:

Does he look like a chubby baby to you yet? Because, let me tell you, the boy has been doing some serious growing this month. The two bottles a day that had been mandated by our pediatrician were really messing with my milk supply and pumping was not going well, so we are down to only nursing first thing in the morning and Michael is taking bottles of formula the rest of the day. The special formula we have to give him is higher in calories than regular infant formula and having it four or five times a day seems to be having the desired baby-bulking effect. He's like a baby Tom Hanks, eating Snickers and Doritos to pack it on for his latest movie role.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Harper now rides in a booster seat.

Michael rolled over from his back to his front (finally!).*

I am suddenly feeling a little like pressing the pause button on all the growing that is going on over here. I officially file the petition to freeze time and enjoy my children at their current ages for a little bit longer.


Hillary and Ryan (though I'm guessing the prize will really go to Hillary!) won the Dar CD and Wondertime subscription from the latest pay it forward contest. Congratulations! Hillary is a friend in "real life" and I've known her since we were camp counselors, working together to fend off hairy jumping spiders in the Wisconsin wilderness. Hilliary will soon be holding a bouncing baby boy in her arms!

Heather won the second Wondertime subscription. I have never met Heather, but we have some mutual bloggy friends and have become connected in this big, bloggy web. (Heather, I'll need your info for the subscription!) Heather is Mommy to two darling boys and I know she likes to read, so I'm sure she'll enjoy Wondertime as much as I do.

*Just this morning I was talking to Erin about how it felt like it was taking Michael forever to get to this skill, guess he showed me!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Well the short story is that I survived my week of subbing. I actually really enjoyed the teaching part of the week, but it was a difficult week for being away from family.

I think Harper has been a little thrown by the sudden change this week and has not necessarily been on her best behavior. Michael, who had been sick since BEFORE the power outage, just got worse and worse. He's been to the doctor twice this week, once with Matt and once with my mom, and has been diagnosed with both an ear infection and croup. Poor baby! You can imagine that he has had some trouble sleeping and has not been in the most stellar of moods. While I knew Michael was in excellent hands this week, I worried (am still worried) about the fact that he's had a cold for over three weeks and I worried that I was leaving my mom in a really impossible situation.

I tripped in the parking lot at school and twisted my knee, which is now swollen and a bit painful, especially on stairs or when getting out of the car. I feel like an old lady!

Our cable company couldn't reach an agreement with our local NBC station and is currently not providing an NBC station. Isn't that. . . weird? There was some sort of dispute over money (of course) and neither side was willing to back down.

When Monday rolls around I think I'll actually miss the third graders a little bit, but we're due to settle back into a routine in these parts, that's for sure.

Back in the summer I received a fun pay it forward package from Paige and I forgot to post this picture when I announced the newest contest, so here it is:

She sent a CD, journal, necklace, fun scrap booking-type items, a bear (which Harper quickly adopted!), and a little set of fun nail polishes and lip glosses. It was such a fun package to open!
And I am finally paying it forward, don't forget to enter!

Thank you to everyone who sent prayers/good wishes for my friend. She is on the other side of her procedure, feeling tired but the painfulness has significantly subsided. I know she'll be glad to get back to her class on Monday. I am just honored I was able to play a small part in the chain of what will hopefully be a cure for a very sick woman.