Harper in action.

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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.