Harper in action.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Adventure Baby!

Almost since birth we’ve been calling Harper “Adventure Baby”. She’s always loved being held upside down, thrown into pillows, flipped over, and doing somersaults. Now that she’s getting bigger and stronger, she enjoys climbing up on things. Anything. It doesn’t matter. If it’s taller than she is, she wants to climb it.

Harper is such a little dare devil. She has this insatiable need to be as high as possible. If she’s in a high chair, she wants to stand on it. If she’s sitting on a stool or chair, she wants to stand up on it. If she’s in a grocery cart, she wants to stand up in it. The seats on those things have those little pictures with a big line through it so you know your kid isn’t supposed to stand up. Harper can’t read those pictures.

I guess I have to take a lot of the blame. I was a climber when I was a kid. I loved climbing trees, rocks, mountains. I would climb up fences and get on houses. Shimmy up poles and get on top of my school. Then I would usually jump down.

Below is a quick clip to illustrate what I’m talking about. This is Harper Jo at her most daring. Testing the limits of her natural abilities, learning through experience the laws of physics.

My favorite part is the end when she throws the scooter aside like she's bored with it and runs away. It's almost to say, "I've conquered this, on to the next!"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sweet Tooth

I have to admit that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I don't go crazy and eat gallons of ice cream or gobble family size packages of Peanut M&Ms, but every now and then (probably more often than I should) I indulge.

But I do have one weakness against which I am totally powerless. It is my Achilles heel, my kryptonite, my garlic and holy water. It is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Surely, you can relate. There's that one item you pass in the grocery store, or at the movie theater; that one thing you see and think, "I probably shouldn't but..." and then you do.

It is difficult for me to describe how much I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And I have to specify them by brand name, because other types of chocolate and peanut butter combinations in cup form just don't cut it.

How much do I love RPBCs? I have often wondered how long I could survive eating nothing but Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and 2% milk. On some level I wish this had occurred to me in college, because I was in much better shape to survive on candy for a while, and I think I could have probably parlayed it into a bet of some kind and made money off of it. One more regret I have to live with, I guess.

Harper hasn't had any RPBCs. She's not strong enough to pry them from daddy's hand yet. But we do give her little treats occasionally and she has keyed in on jelly beans. We have this little Easter bunny jelly bean dispenser. You push down on the bunny's right arm and his left arm swings back allowing a jelly bean to pop out of his side into his little Easter basket. When you let got, his left arm swings forward urging you to take the jelly bean like a pusher in a crack den!

The first one's always free

Nothing in the world excites Harper like getting a jelly bean. There's an anticipation on her face, a consternation if we take too long, and an exclamation of pure joy when she finally receives it. She will take itty, bitty bites to make it last. And as soon as she's done, she asks for another. "Mor? Mor? Mor?", echoes her hopeful query.

The great thing about toddlers is they have lousy memories. Do something once, and they'll forget it almost immediately. It takes lots of repetition for them to remember things. Unfortunately, we're getting to the point where Harper retains more from each successive experience. Even though we keep the bunny pusher hidden behind a photo, sometimes she remembers where she saw him last and will point to the picture.

My solution? I'm going to start stuffing that bunny with peas and broccoli. Harper will be in for a big surprise when her dealer starts giving her veggies instead of candy. My laughter that day will be voluminous, muffled only by dangerous levels of chocolate and peanut butter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Master of the Universe

Something occurred to me while we were in Cleveland visiting McCall's family. Harper was playing with a new toy that McCall's mom, Susan, had bought for our visit. Well, actually, calling it a "toy" is understating it a bit. I believe they actually call it an "exploration center". If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about. These mega structures make the Ewok Village I had as a kid look like Lincoln Logs!

"Harper" loves her Exploration Center!

Anyway, Harper was playing and McCall, Susan, and I were all looking on. Since the activity center was made post 1990, it of course emits lots of sounds and plays songs in six languages. Harper triggered the alphabet song, or something and started to bob her head back and forth. To encourage her sense of rhythm and dance, we all started bobbing our heads and rocking back and forth. The funny thing was, we all started pretty much in unison.

Harper laughed delightedly and started to rock more enthusiastically in response. As soon as the song stopped, she played it again and we all bobbed and rocked together. It was then that the afore mentioned something occurred to me.

Harper must think she controls the world. If she wants us to rock back and forth all she has to do is play some music and we join in. If she wants to play chase, she simply gets up and walks away. As soon as she sees one of us coming after her, she starts running. To her we're just the huge automatons that serve her, clean her, and make her laugh. And I think a lot of babies probably feel this way.

However, the truth is, she doesn't control anything. The only reason I'm rocking to and fro, is because I know that doing so will cause her to do it even more and she's super cute when she's jamming out. I run after her because I don't want her to get run over and as soon as I catch her, I scoop her up and drop her back down where I want her to be, regardless of her will.

I know a little girl who's in for a very sad day when she realizes that she doesn't control squat! In fact, I believe that day, the very instant of that realization, will be quite significant. I believe it will mark the end of her infancy, and the beginning of the long, difficult road toward maturity. But for now, I'm happy to be her puppet. After all, she's usually only pulling on my heart strings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Barnyard Baby

Last week we flew home to Cleveland to visit McCall's family. Yes, you read correctly, I said we FLEW. For those of you who don't know, flying anywhere is a huge accomplishment for us. Not only were we going with the squirmiest baby on the block, but McCall has a horrible phobia of flying.

However, Kaiser Permanente hooked us up with some meds and McCall was, let's say, on a different plain on the plane. But before she was able to pass out, she had to deal with Harper while I wrangled luggage. And it wasn't until we were in the air that Harper finally went to sleep and McCall could relax. I have to tell you how proud I am of McCall, she was a real trooper and held it together. Way to go, babe!

While in Cleveland we stayed at McCall's mom's house which is called Critter Ridge Farm. It's just a house and a barn on about a half acre of land, but doesn't it sound cool? I've always loved properties with names: Camelot, Monticello, Southfork Ranch. We live in an apartment which I think automatically forfeits the right to name our home. Besides, if we were really honest, we'd have to call it something like Ant Springs, or Mount Toys, or Air Conditionless.

The Critter Ridge barn houses a variety of animals and McCall's mom, Susan, feeds and takes care of them every morning. She has two pigs, a goat, a sheep, a llama, and two alpacas. And those are just the barn animals. Inside the house is a cat, a horse dressed up as a dog called Charlie, and an African Grey named Einstein.

Harper made fast friends with Charlie and in the mornings went out with McCall and Susan to help with the animals. Here are some of Harper's animal exploits caught on film:

Harper Jo with Charlie

Harper with Peekaboo the cat

Susan and Harper prepare to feed Otis the goat

Harper and the animals size each other up

A kiss for Charlie

I love the following series of photographs. The sheep must have said something that Harper didn't like because she suddenly got very upset.

Here comes Charlie to the rescue!