Harper in action.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Marley Firsts

Okay, so enough about Harper (for now). Let's remember the second cutest Lawrence boy in the family. Marley is now seven months old and is advancing every day. It constantly amazes me how quickly he is growing up.

About a month ago, Marley said his first word, "Da Da". It came in a string of nonsense babble, and it is clear that it is not actually connected to any intent of identifying me. Regardless, he has been very consistent in repeating it.

Then, about two weeks ago we felt a tooth just below the surface of his gums. Now both bottom teeth have poked through! He can gnaw on all sorts of things now (although his favorites still remain anything plastic and colorful). It certainly has been a momentous month for our little Marley Man.

He's even started getting up on all fours and rocking forward and back. We expect him to begin full on crawling any day now. When he does the rocking motion he kind of looks like he's a sprinter in the starting blocks waiting for the starter's pistol. Unfortunately, all his effort only allows him to move backwards so it's not very effective form for a competitive runner. But we have some time to work on that.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Harper the Grinch

Christmas time brings with it it's very set of challenges when you have a two year old and a six month old. For instance, if your home is totally child proofed (like ours), you have to start from scratch when it comes to decorations and tree lights. Heck, even the tree itself can be a death trap (not like ours). Then there are the presents to consider. Do you put them out a little at a time and hope that little feet don't step on them? Or wait and dump them all at once on Christmas eve with no build up of anticipation? We've decided to go with the first option. And so it was that last week McCall and I decided we would try to have a nice date with some friends of ours, leaving a neat pile of wrapped presents under our tree.

We were going out for a little dinner and a show. We had an extra pair tickets for Jesus Christ, Superstar starring Ted Neeley (the original Jesus from the movie). Now, it should be noted that Ted Neeley is nearly twice as old as Jesus when he died so it's a bit of a stretch to say the least. But, I will say that old Ted has still got some great pipes and was very impressive hitting some of the toughest notes.

Now, while McCall and I were blissfully enjoying our evening without a care, Harper and Marley were at home with a babysitter who will remain unnamed. Said babysitter definitely had her hands full because she was also watching Harper's best friend, Sophia (also two years old). Probably while feeding Marley, or giving him a bath, the babysitter lost track of Harper.

Harper then went totally Grinch on us and tried to steal Christmas! When we got home we found one of the gifts under the tree had been opened - a present from me to McCall, which will remain unnamed - and the box was empty. Actually, it wasn't empty. Instead of the gift I purchased, there was a plastic "K" from a toy alphabet collection. I assured McCall that this was not what I had gotten for her. After several minutes, she believed me. But I still had to find the gift.

I dug around the tree skirt on hands and knees and finally turned up McCall's present hidden within the folds. I was so upset with Harper (as well as the anonymous babysitter), but in the end I'm reconsidering. Perhaps I should thank them both. After all, McCall can't be very disappointed with whatever is actually inside the little box. Even if she doesn't love it I can always say, "Hey, at least it's not a plastic 'K'."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dancing Queen

Harper Jo loves to dance. Like most kids she is totally un-self conscious when it comes to busting a move. This is simultaneously heart warming and totally hilarious, because lets face it, toddlers are lousy dancers. They have no rhythm, poor muscle control, and a drunkard's sense of balance. But still one of my greatest joys as a father is watching Harper get down.

Almost all kids start out with the same dance. The dance is basically bending your knees and bobbing up and down. Some little ones who are very advanced in their motor development might even throw in a side to side rock. It's like an instinctual bone God throws to us all, as if to say, "If you never get any better, at least you should always have this one in your repertoire." Such is the case for my dad.

Harper's first real personalized dance movement was what we've come to lovingly call "the Peg Leg." While dancing the Peg Leg, Harper keeps one leg completely stiff and pushes forward off it while catching herself with the other. I've not really seen it anywhere else, so I think it's a true original. And totally hilarious.

It was also pretty early that she was jumping up and down on the bed shouting "Shake your booty." We never quite figured out where that came from. However, as jumping on the bed isn't really dance, I digress.

Next she developed a very simple double arm wave. Compare Harper's dance (shot on my cell phone)
with this clip from a Charlie Brown Christmas and pay close attention to the red head in the upper left corner. Even though she's never seen this Charlie Brown special, I couldn't help but see a similarity. Separated at birth? We may never know.

But recently Harper Jo's added a brand new "go to" move. Now, if you ask her dance she will kind of jump around or shake her booty like she's building toward something. Then suddenly she gets down on her hands and feet and sticks one of her legs way up in the air. It's almost like she's trying to do a somersault and can't generate the momentum to get her feet over her head. Again, we have no idea where this came from or how it developed. None of her friends or schoolmates are dropping these kind of mad skillz so it's not peer influenced.

It is possible that she may be trying to imitate some break dancing she saw on one of her favorite shows, Yo Gabba Gabba. A kids show that features break dancing (not to mention Tony Hawk, and Biz Markie)? Now that's good programming.

Whatever the case, it's easy to see that Harper has a genuine love of dance, and I look forward to seeing her next wave of dance evolution.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spanish Fly

We live in an area of Los Angeles called Korea Town. True to its name, a significant portion of the local population is Korean, and a huge amount of businesses are Korean owned and operated. In fact I can't read most of the merchant signs in my neighborhood because none of them are in English. It's almost like going on vacation to a foreign country every day. Except instead of that location being different, it's always Seoul. In addition, there is also a massive Latino population in Korea Town. So I guess some days it's like visiting De La Seoul. Rimshot!

Harper goes to a preschool at the end of the block whose students are primarily Latino. And her best friend is of Venezuelan descent, so she gets an earful of Spanish every day. I think this is great. I wish I had a better grasp of the Spanish language, and I think if she can be fluent someday, it will open up doors of opportunity for her throughout her life.

However, right now her handle of Spanish is a bit iffy. Up till now her primary educators have been Dora and Diego. So she knows arriba (up) and abajo (down), and she can tell us that dinner is delicioso! Harper also knows how to count in Spanish...sort of.
Harper: Uno, dos, tres, taco, cinco...
Me: No, quatro. Like daddy's razor. (Rimshot!)
Harper: Cinco, quatro...
Me: No, tres, quatro, cinco.
Harper: Tres, taco, cinco, quatro...
Me: Nevermind, watch some more Dora.
Harper: ¡Delicioso!

But there's one word she has down pat, . In fact, she doesn't say yes anymore. Only . The other day I asked her if she could say "yes". She said, "S..., yes." She had to stop and correct herself because she was going to say ! Oh well, I guess I shouldn't complain. She could be bringing home a lot worse words than that from preschool.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Crying Game

You know how scientists say that you can tell approximately how far away lightning is by counting how long between the flash of light and the sound of thunder? I've always heard that it's one mile for every second that elapses.

Well I've developed a similar method, sort of a game, for determining how badly Harper and Marley are hurt based on the same science. The length of silence between the catalyzing event and the first shrill cry is directly proportionate to the severity of the injury. Here's an example from about 30 minutes ago.

Marley was playing on the floor with a toy. As he was playing he bonked himself in the head. Immediately he started flailing, kicking and clutching. But there was no noise, not a peep. His face was distorted in a soundless howl, as though he had hurt himself in a silent movie and was waiting for the title screen to read "Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh". And then the floodgates burst and much high pitched wailing followed. Fifteen seconds between impact and the breaking of the sound barrier. Pretty bad.

But I've also found this observation to be fairly useful. It provides a concrete criterion for us to communicate boo boos to each other.
"Harper fell out of her chair."
"How bad was it?"
"Not bad, three seconds of silence."

However, unlike with real science, this is something you can use in everyday life. If you have a little one, see if my observation isn't spot on. And if you don't, go sit at a park and watch toddles in their natural environment. You'll probably get all the necessary data to replicate my findings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harper 2.5

So Harper is now two and a half years old! It's really amazing how quickly she's growing up and how beautiful she is. Here are a couple of anecdotes to make you wish she was your child.

Harper loves to watch videos in our family vehicle, which she call's "mommy's car". When we drive around town, she watches DVDs of her favorite shows (Dora, Diego, etc.), educational videos, or kids films.
She also loves McDonald's (which she calls "Donald's"). Sometimes I will take her to "Donald's" for special Daddy/Daughter Dates. These are usually nights when McCall is otherwise occupied (read: happy hour) and I don't want to deal with cooking. I follow in a proud tradition of Lawrence men in this respect.
Well one day I was picking her up from day care and she asked me, "We going in Mommy's car?"
"No."
"Mommy's car has videos."
So I asked her, "What does daddy's car have?" She paused for a second, scratched her temple as if deep in thought, then replied, "Donald's".

This is a totally true story. The other day we all leaving the house for a stroll around the neighborhood, and McCall and I were talking about something and McCall remarked that it "makes me feel bad." Without missing a beat, Harper corrected her, "Makes you feel badly." We were both shocked and amazed. We have no idea how she knew the correct grammar.

Harper is very inclusive. She likes to make everybody feel involved. If we're playing Ring Around the Rosey, or having a dance party in the living room, she wants everybody to get up and take part. This comes out in conversation, too. I may ask her, "Harper, do you know that I love you?" And she will often reply, "Uh huh, and Mommy, and Marley, and Harper, and Daddy," making sure it's clear that I love everybody in our family. And often it doesn't stop with our immediate family, she wants to make sure I love all her friends and their families as well, "...and 'Laina, and Jack Jack, and Sophia, and Vikki, and Tina." Yes, I love them all, but really I just want to make sure you know I love you!

And just this morning we were sitting with Harper having breakfast talking about an audition she had yesterday. McCall and Harper were telling me about the actor who was playing the role of her father. They were telling me in what ways the two of us are similar and different.
"Eyes," Harper said. "That's right. They both have blue eyes."
"No hair," Harper said while rubbing her face. "No, he didn't have any facial hair, did he?"
Then McCall asked her a question in terms she could understand, "Which one is prettier?"
"Harper!"
I think she's probably right.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mr. Marley Man

Please welcome our newest addition (better late than never!), Marley David Lawrence. Marley joined our crew on May 21st, 2008. He arrived via c-section (planned this time), of which I got some gnarly video and photos, which I will spare you.

Marley spent much of his first month in and out of the hospital due to jaundice and then some digestive complications which required a spinal tap!


Marley's first time in a tanning bed.



Harper is very excited about her role as big sister.


But he is now VERY big and healthy and is the smiliest little buddy around. He is already rolling over, and should soon master quantum physics.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Baby Shouter

The time is approaching. Soon there will be another Lawrence added to our family. Marley Elijah (or maybe William, or perhaps David, possibly Jacob...the middle name is a little up in the air), is due in mid-May.

Harper has known about the imminent arrival for a long time now and she seems to be adjusting well. Of course, it's all theoretical right now and who knows how she'll react when we actually bring home her little brother. But for now she's pretty open to the concept.

For months now, when we ask her where the baby is she's been pointing to McCall's belly. But recently she started taking it to a whole new level. Now she will go over to McCall and shout at her belly button, "Hello, baby Marley!" at the top of her lungs. It's very cute and only slightly disruptive to our neighbors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Royal Birthday Party

Daycare is kind of the common denominator of society. Regardless of where you are on the scale, chances are you need to have your kid in some sort of childcare program so you can do all the things that you can't do while constantly running after a toddler.

This creates a pretty interesting phenomenon wherein people from all walks of life mix together without really knowing it. I mean, the average conversation I have with my fellow daycare parents is something along the lines of, "Hi, how are you?", followed by pleasant response.

However, our kids are spending eight hours a day together so they become best friends. This was how we came to be invited to a very impressive birthday party. One of Harper's classmates, Estella, was celebrating her second birthday and all the kids from her daycare received special invitations in the shape of a crown. The invitation specifically said, "Royal Attire Requested". Unfortunately, Harper went as a little piggie on Halloween so we had to go out and buy a princess costume. Luckily we live in LA and the best costume shop on the planet is right up in Hollywood and is open year round.

I wanted to get a traditional pink princess costume. McCall in her need to be "different", wanted to dress Harper (our DAUGHTER) as a knight. A knight! I reminded her that Harper was born sans penis, and she said, "You know, like Joan of Arc." I reminded McCall that Joan of Arc was likely schizophrenic and was definitely burned at the stake!

We compromised and purchased a traditional pink princess costume.


Harper and her friend, Estella.


We also decided that we'd have a little fun with it all and bought a crown and sceptor for me, and a tiara for McCall. I decided to have a little more fun and threw on my bathrobe and pulled up some dress socks to look a little more kingly.

We knew that Estella lived in the Hollywood Hills so we left plenty of time to deal with traffic, winding hilly roads, and the possibility of getting lost (even with a navigation system those roads can be tricky). As it turns out we were the first guests to arrive.


A cake fit for a princess!


At first, I thought I had the wrong address. But all the balloons suggested otherwise. You see, the house was not what you expect for a couple and their two year old daughter. It was more along the lines of say...Tony Montana. This is by no means an indictment of Estella's parents. They are, in fact, wonderful, generous, caring people. It's just to say, this place was HUGE!


Princess Harper and King Daddy


We showed up at the same time as Cinderella. That's right, Estella's parents hired a woman in full Cinderella costume to provide entertainment for the kiddos. When we entered the home we had to walk up three flights of stairs to get to the floor where the party was going to take place. Of course we could have taken the elevator but I wanted the exercise.


Cinderella made balloon animals, did face paint, pedicures, a magic show and washed our car. Okay, I made up the bit about the balloon animals.


There were decorations everywhere, including huge Fat Head-style wall prints of all the Disney princesses. The party was totally catered with delicious chicken penne, calamari, and mussels in paella.

The house overlooks Los Angeles and has an amazing view of the Hollywood sign from nearly the same elevation. It was a really spectacular setting.

Lots more people showed up to the party and while several little ones had various costumes on, I was the only adult wearing a bathrobe and crown. Go figure. But we had a great time and were so appreciative of Estella's parents going out of their way to make a truly magical evening for all the kids.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Run, Daddy, Run!

Marriage and fatherhood are life altering events. For me they also happened to be body altering as I have been hovering around 200 lbs. since about the time Harper was born. I knew my lifestyle was demanding a change. I had little energy, was sluggish in the mornings, snacked a lot and generally was just not very fit. In short, I was an average American dad.

Then, last November (or so) a friend of mine challenged me to change the way I ate and start exercising. I was getting pretty tired of seeing my gut every time I got of the shower. Plus I had all these great t-shirts I couldn't wear anymore because I was too heavy.

Since that time I've been eating much better by cutting out most of my fast food intake, cutting back most of my soda intake, and getting much more regular exercise. I'm down about 15 lbs. and have been running around my neighborhood. However, I wanted to see if I can run around my neighborhood faster than other people. But since that was too difficult to organize, I decided I would participate in organized events.

So in January I ran in my first race, the Miracle Mile 5K. Unfortunately, because most things I do are poorly planned the first time (no offense, Harper), we forgot the camera. Not that it would have mattered anyway. Since I had never run a race before, I had no idea how long it would take me so I conservatively estimated for McCall that I would be about 45 minutes. Which is why she and Harper were eating breakfast in a nearby diner when I crossed the finish line at 29:31.

Yesterday, I ran in the 30th Annual Firecracker Run, part of the festivities in Chinatown celebrating Chinese new year. This year, 4706, is the year of the rat. The race earns it name because before the start of the 5K they set off 100,000 fire crackers at the starting line! Then we all stood around ready to go while they swept up the debris.

And this time we brought the camera and McCall and Harper waited patiently for me run from Chinatown up to Dodger Stadium and back. I completed the course in 27:52 and McCall got some great shots (see below).


Getting limber, i.e. Trying not to pull a muscle!



Before the race, I found a little beggar girl. Better luck next time, sweetheart.



Harper was crushed to find out that she could not be a Chinese beauty queen because she's too short.



Harper and Daddy before the race.



Racers and spectators look on as 100,000 firecrackers add to LA's air pollution.



The final stretch. That's me on the right but somehow my arms got transplanted onto the guy on the left!


This Sunday I attempt my first 10K (pray for me!!!), and I'll be competing in events at least once a month through June. So keep checking back to see if I can get under the elusive 25 minute mark.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Home Sick

Sickness has befallen my household in a major way. A few weeks ago Harper came down with a bad cold. We suspect that she actually picked up respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) from a friend but we can't be certain. Regardless, there seems to be a lot of nastiness floating around SoCal right now and most of the people we know (especially those with kiddos) are coming down ill.

Due to the extremely responsible yet annoying rules of Harper's daycare, she couldn't go lest she infect the entire infant/toddler population. So we've been home with her for most of the last three weeks. It's kind of a microcosm of last year when she was sick from November to March.

McCall likes to be really cuddly and kissy with Harper so, surprise, surprise, she is also now really sick with infections and coughing and leaky eye and sorts of just bad. Meanwhile, God has blessed me with terrific health. So here I am trying to take care of Harper Jo and McCall while also trying to not run out of steam (or patience).

Harper go so bad that for a while her breathing was pretty labored and her oxygen level was at 83%. So the good people at Kaiser Permanente gave us a nebulizer, which is basically a machine that vaporizes albuterol (a medicine commonly found in asthma inhalers) to assist her breathing. The problem is you have to strap on a mask to breathe it in and we had to give it to her every four hours.


Harper has a future in Scuba diving.


At first Harper hated the treatments. We had to physically restrain her and hold the mask over her face for 15-20 minutes. Eventually we were able to bribe her with TV. We would only allow her to watch one of her favorite shows, Go Baby, while using the nebulizer. It worked brilliantly and now she will ask for the mask whenever she wants to watch the show.

It's just one more way that TV gets an assist when it comes to raising our child.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas Chaos!

Were your holidays like ours? I sincerely hope not for so many reasons I don't want to go into right now. But it wasn't all crying and feelings of hopelessness. We also had a really fun Christmas morning. At least Harper did.

Somewhere along the way Christmas changed for me. I wasn't upset when gifts transitioned from Star Wars figures to Nintendo games. That was actually pretty cool. But then I started getting "grown up" gifts. Dress shirts, organizers, desk calendars. You start to get needs instead of wants as you grow older. This is all well and good, I don't want to sound ungrateful. But there's something about being a six year old boy and getting a Jabba the Hut Action Playset that really inspires the imagination.

Harper made out like a bandit this year. I was never an only child, so I never had two parents, two sets of grandparents, and scads of aunts and uncles buying exclusively for me. This was Harper's situation for Christmas 2007. Some highlights:

The first thing Harper opened was her ginormous, overstuffed stocking. Among her favorites, was this Elmo doll.


Perhaps her favorite gift was this baby doll from her Great Grandmother, which came complete with pacifier and sippy cup.

Some for you...



...some for me.


Harper also got some books. I think her reaction below says it all.


Harper's favorite TV show is Teletubbies so we got her the entire collection.

From left: Po, Dipsy, Tinky Winky. Not pictured: Laa-laa


One of the more...unique gifts we received came from Harper's Great Uncle Jeff. It's a stuffed, sleeping dog that breathes. Just put in the batteries, turn it on, and watch it sleep. And breathe. Not overly exciting but with all the electronic doodads and gizmos she got, it was actually a really nice change of pace to have a calm toy that just quietly lays still. Thanks Jeff!

This comatose dog is the only animal in the house that doesn't poop, pee, or puke on the carpets and furniture (including Harper and McCall)!

Thoughts On Discovering We're Pregnant

In case you don't know, McCall is pregnant. She has been for quite a while, actually. So long that we know we're having a boy. But we wanted to be a little more cautious this time around just in case it "didn't take". Anyway, the day we found out she asked me to write down my thoughts. Here they are:

Wow, what a day! This morning we found out McCall is pregnant. She’s been feeling really poorly for the last two weeks. So yesterday she suggested I pick up an early pregnancy test while I was shopping at the grocery store. I know, fellas, I’m living the dream!

So this morning McCall peed on the thing, and the little plus sign showed up. I think it was either trying to be positive, or it was trying to remind us that we were about to be adding a lot. Adding another mouth, adding more dirty diapers, adding debt. Plus sign indeed.

But today also got me thinking. There are a few specific days that really stand out as defining moments in your life. Some may be bad, like the passing of a loved one, the end of a relationship, failure in the big game. But there are also amazing, positive days that change our lives forever. Graduation, promotion, I do.

Obviously, one of the most life changing days we can possibly experience is bringing a baby into the world. But almost equally as impacting is discovering that you’re expecting. In fact, I consider the day before I learned McCall was pregnant with Harper the last worry free day of my life.

So it’s a good thing I’d already given up my Bear Necessities attitude this morning when McCall took the pregnancy test. Actually, I should more accurately say, when she so totally failed the pregnancy test.

And it’s funny because I bought the cheapest test I could find and then we went to Kaiser Permanente and the most sophisticated medical machines available confirmed the ten dollar plastic stick sitting by the bathroom sink at home. So don’t spend extra bucks for a brand name, they all work the same. Okay, that’s my consumer advocate advice for the month.