Harper in action.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Watch them break down, gDiapers earth-friendly diapers

I am thinking of trying these with Marley Man... since we're going broke on diapers, and he's not showing any interest in learning to use the "potty". (Well, except for the fact that he loves sitting on his potty - fully dressed - and having someone read "Potty Train" to him. It's his new favorite book.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Automated Parenting

Throughout the years technology has promised so many amazing advances (I'm still waiting for my jet pack, by the way). But something I think the tech nerds are woefully behind on is the robotic childcare provider, or RoboMom.

From Fritz Lang's Metropolis right on down to Dollhouse, we've seen men making machines to replace women in the bedroom. But in typical male short term goal orientation, there is never any thought about what comes post-coitus. You know, kids.

One of the few examples of advanced parenting is Rosie from the Jetsons. But again, she was a maid who also had to occasionally pull double duty while Jane was getting her galactic hair did and George was in hot water with Mr. Spacely.

Ironically, perhaps the best robotic babysitter was the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. The Terminator. In T2, the Terminator protected John Conner while simultaneously teaching and learning important lessons about the value of human life, how to use '90s teen slang, and why humans cry. Throw in a motorcycle ride through the LA river and some gun safety lessons and you've got the perfect candidate for the Big Brother program.

So maybe we can try to throw some of the stimulation money at tech research for creating caring, loving, nurturing terminators. Until then, I'll just have to rely on the same old stand by we've been using since the 1950's. Television.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

American Girl Dolls: Suck It Xavier Roberts!

Today is McCall's birthday (happy birthday, baby!) so we went to the Grove/Farmer's Market to do a bit of shopping and get some things to prepare a birthday fondue dinner at home. While we were there we decided to finally give in to the tractor beam-like pull of the American Doll Store.

I really didn't want to go in, and we don't have any intention of actually purchasing one of these things for Harper (at least I don't THINK we do). But we walk past it all the time and people fly from all over just to go to this store. Not going kind of felt like living in New York City and not visiting the Statue of Liberty. It just felt unpatriotic. Like by not going we were letting the terrorists win.

So in we go and the first thing you think is, my goodness this is a lot of dolls. I mean when I was a kid there was never any GI Joe store, no Transformers store, no Masters of the Universe store, and no Star Wars store! So to walk in and see an entire store dedicated to only this single brand of doll is a bit overwhelming. And the first floor isn't even where it's at. That's right. The store is two levels and the second floor is about twice as big as the first. It's like Harrods for dolls.

But let's get down to the real nitty gritty. American Girl Dolls are ridiculously expensive dolls for which you purchase ridiculously expensive accessories. Want a doll? A base model is $95. Packages go for up to $118.

It all seemed a bit silly to me but the funniest thing was the historical dolls. Go upstairs and you're treated to a sort of museum of American history. With dolls!

Meet Felicity, a young girl in 1774 who believes in colonial freedom. Wow, these are forward thinking dolls. Meet Amy, she fights for gay marriage. Yeah Amy!

Then we come to the ethnic dolls. You have to have minority themed dolls, right? Otherwise your company might seem racist. So of course American Girl features Addy, the black doll who...wait for it...escapes from slavery!

I was also very happy to find Kaya, the Native American doll. You know for all those little girls from the reservations I see at the Grove all the time. Want Kaya's tepee? A steal at $70.

Are you an Asian-American girl looking for an American Girl doll to reflect your culture and experience? We've got Ivy Ling for you. The Chinese doll. But I'm Korean, you say. Up yours! But I'm Japanese, you say. Shove it! But I'm... Look we have one doll to cover an entire hemisphere so take the NorCal, '70s Chinese girl or go find Laotian Barbie. We dare you.

Once you select your doll, you can have a photo session with it to remind you that you bought a doll. I can't even take the time to go into the cafe with $20 tea servings and little high chairs for the dolls. Or the salon where your American Girl doll can have her hair did (if you don't mind the two hour wait). Or even the infirmary where employees wear doctor's jackets and stethoscopes (for listening to what, exactly?) and your doll can have that leg the dog gnawed off replaced.

Amazing? Yes. Excessive? Absolutely. Delightfully tacky yet offensive given the current state of the economy? Probably. But I see a lot of red shopping bags wandering around the Grove so somebody somewhere is making a boatload, and the store looked like it must employ at least 100 people so maybe it's not all bad.

However, I do wonder about the little girls who have these dolls, but maybe even more I wonder about the little girls who don't. Are American Dolls the status marker that Cabbage Patch dolls were when I was their age? I can't imagine otherwise. And it makes me sad that Harper Jo may one day be excluded because she doesn't have one. And it makes me sad to think that I may one day buy her one so she won't be.

Was playing: The Doors - Light My Fire
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: LTJ Bukem - Inner Guidance
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: LTJ Bukem - Inner Guidance
via FoxyTunes

Monday, July 13, 2009

Photogenic HJ

Harper, who won't sit still for family portraits, has suddenly started requesting that I take her picture posed with her stuffed animals. She usually labels the players involved, as well. As in, "I'm the mommy and this (this being a stuffed monkey) is the baby".

Harper, too fast for the camera...

And Harper as "Mommy" with her stuffed animals...

In this one, the monkey has a baby, too. The stuffed dog. Harper knows nothing about genetics.

What kills me is the perfect smile in each. And she would have sat for five minutes until I took these pics!

PS - Check out this fun little add on from Firefox. It tells you what I was listening to when I started this blog (like an hour ago), and below that, what I'm listening to right this second! Look for it in upcoming blogs. Or don't!

Was playing: The Prodigy - Mindfields
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: R.E.M. - You Are The Everything
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Classy Brunch

My mother is in town for my birthday. (Oh, and this is McCall speaking.... Er, well it's me typing really. But let's move on, shall we? My/McCall's mom is in LA and we all (Kyle, Myself, Moon and Harper Jo) decided to have a nice Sunday brunch at Elements Kitchen in Pasadena... Where Moon, who goes by Lorena there, works. (are you with me, or am I blogging too late?)

Anyhow, Kyle ended up staying home with a napping Marley Man. (I thnk he was secretly very thankful to have the time "off" - brunch isn't really a Kyle-kind-of-thing anyhoo.) So, it's me, my mom, Moon/Lorena, & Harper Jo. A girl's bruncheon, right?

Yeah, well, there is clearly a darn good reason why fancy brunch places don't have a kids menu... Or Crayons. Within about 2.3 minutes of her syrup laden (bad idea, both for the sticky factor and the inevitable, impending sugar rush/crash) breakfast arriving infront of her, Harper Jo had managed to make finger puppets out of the fresh raspberries and get bright red berry juice all over my mom's white leotard! (Why my 65 year old mother still wears white leotards and blue jeans ala the late-great Farrah, is best saved for another blog. And the fact that I, the supposed "responsible parent", grabbed for my iPhone, to take a picture, in a moment I shouldve been grabbing for napkins... Well that's a lecture you can feel free to give me in the comments section, below.

In the meantime, here's the photo I got:

-- PS My mom paid, but Moon and I left an extra $10 to the tip - that table (and the whole floor under/around it) was a complete disaster!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Marley the Patient

Last week Marley got his one year vaccinations. Not surprisingly he quickly spiked a fever and we had to take him in for a quick check out and some lab work.

He had to wear a hospital gown, and though McCall and I were concerned while we waited for the doctor, Marley seemed fairly relaxed...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My first try at making a music video...

AMAZING, right?
Here's a little secret: It took me all of about 13 minutes from start to finish. And that includes the upload time to YouTube and Facebook! (And this blog.)

If you want to put an end to YOUR boring old slideshows - make awesome music videos from your photos instead! Just CLICK HERE and try it out. Animoto has a super sweet interface, it's extremely easy to use/intuitive.

Oh, I almost forgot.. if you indeed love it as much as I do, you can buy unlimited monthly access and get a whopping $5 off by using this referral code: xyktmpec (Seriously, use the code. I'll get 3 months free. Then you can do the same with one of your pals.)

Well Educated

Goodbye Gramps, originally uploaded by McKyle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I ain't scared of no lil' doggy!

Marley, like his sister before him, is intriuged by very loud, small dogs.

See Harper Jo's similar reaction here:

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Pancakes

A long time ago we started feeding Harper Jo frozen mini pancakes (yes, she actually eats some of them frozen, she calls them "chili pancakes"). At first she just ate them plain, then somewhere along the line McCall started decorating them with smiley faces made out of frosting. So now almost every morning Harper wakes up and asks for happy pancakes.

To keep things interesting we have started to mix it up a bit. We got some larger sized pancakes and added more colors of frosting. So below are some pics from earlier in the week. Harper asked for a flower instead of smiley faces.

McCall and I did this one together, the red gloop on the leaf is a ladybug, courtesy of McCall.

It's possible Harper was more excited about her Elmo plate than the masterpiece in frosting we presented her with.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fiesta Amarillo

That means "Yellow Party" for all you gringos out there. It's exactly what it sounds like and it's exactly what we just had on Saturday to celebrate Marley's first and Harper's third birthdays.

For regular readers of this blog (read: McCall), it is well known that yellow is Harper Jo's favorite color. So her request was to have a yellow party. We asked Marley if he was okay with a yellow party and he didn't object. So we turned our front yard into a yellow paradise. Balloons, streamers, banners, chairs, a yellow pinata, even yellow foods (bananas, pineapples, mac and cheese, corn dogs), and everyone wore yellow!

I don't know if I can adequately describe the scene, so see the photos below:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I just can't get over just how precious the interaction I caught in this series of images is...
My mom, Susan, (who Harper calls "MaMoo") was here in LA for a quick visit to celebrate 3 birthdays --- Marley: May 21st; her own: May 25th; and Harper Jo: May 29th.

Hopefully, Kyle will write some sort of clever recap regarding our big backyard birthday bash. It was really quite the event! (And quite YELLOW!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gridiron Girl

I asked Harper if she would like to play football and she said yes. So I threw the ball gently to her and it bounced off her head.

"Hey!" she exclaimed unhappily.

"That's football," I said.

"NO!" she replied emphatically, "That's headball."

Hard to argue with that logic.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Marley Can Walk!

Marley has started experimenting with becoming a full fledged biped! He recently started taking tentative steps and while hanging on to someone's hand could walk pretty well. But over the weekend he really came into his own as a semi-ambulant, stumbling like a sailor on shore leave.

Here to prove his accomplishments are photos of Marley in action (disclaimer: standing may be considered action).

While the photographic evidence leaves much to the imagination, I can assure you Marley is able to cross our living room with little effort. And he loves it.

Marley smiles and squeals with glee when he walks. He's so proud of himself. Almost as proud as we are.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


If you read this blog, or know Harper Jo personally, you are probably familiar with the fact that she absolutely adores Yellow. The color. The word. The IDEA of Yellow.
We find this fact so endearing that we tend to cater to it a bit. For example, (insert photo) for Valentine’s Day, we gave her a yellow tutu and leotard (and wings). Because she had inquired upon entering her very first ballet/tap class “only pink and black mommy?” And when the teacher asked, “What color butterfly are you? Let me see you open those pretty butterfly wings.” (This was during their caterpillar to butterfly dance, obviously.) Harper gleefully screamed out – over the peaceful classical music - “YELLOW!!! I AM YELLOW!” Alas, teacher had no yellow ‘flying arms’ in her cardboard box of wings. Harper finally found some cool rainbow, semi-translucent, fairy wings that sufficed. But since Feb 14th, it’s pretty much only been her yellow tutu/leotard/wings for dancing.

Another typical example? Insistence on Yellow Nail Polish - she balked at my offerings-on-hand: a full rainbow of reds, plums, pinks, burgundies and browns.

The latest presentation of Harper’s Yellow passion has been Flowers. Our contribution to her zeal? Last weekend, we bought home a “flat”, full of each yellow flower species (that would thrive in full sunlight) and together, we planted a small garden of yellows around our purple lavender plant/bush. Thanks to Dora or the Wonder Pets or some other children’s tv gem, Harper knows very well (and regularly recites/occasionally sings) the “Four Things We All Need To Live/Grow” – (1) Sunlight; (2) Water; (3) Food; and (4) Love. (Thanks PBS!!! You are raising a great kid.)

With these factors in mind, twice a day we now have to walk around our garden (once on our walk to school, and once upon arriving home) and give Love for the flowers to grow. Harper does this by way of a little prayer, usually. This morning’s was as insightful and endearing as typically they are: “Thank you for the flowers, and Mommy, and Marley and Daddy, and, and, um, thank you for everything I hope for. Amen”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Harper and Costello

The other day the family was trying to get ready for a trip to our favorite breakfast spot, Piper's. Harper came into the dining room without a shirt on which prompted the following dialogue...

Kyle: Where's your t-shirt?

Harper: Huh?

Kyle: Where's your t-shirt?

Harper: (Pause) You're my teacher!

Kyle: Not teacher, your t-shirt.

Harper: I don't have a teacher.

Kyle: Not a teacher! T-shirt, T-SHIRT! You need a shirt.

Harper: Where is it?

Kyle: That's what I'm asking YOU!!!

It was in that moment that I realized that my daughter had unwittingly roped me into our very own Who's on First? routine and somehow she was playing the part of the straight man.

I can't tell if that says more about me or her.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Daffodil Letdown

Harper's favorite color is yellow. In fact, Harper may be living proof that personal preference can be taught at a very young age. See, McCall used to have this car, and by car I mean steel deathtrap on wheels. Anyway, it was a 1970 VW Fastback and it was yellow. We gave the car to her younger brother before Harper was born but McCall has always loved yellow cars and loves pointing them out.

As Harper was learning colors, it seemed to me that McCall gave a little special preference to yellow. So it's no surprise that Harper has never wavered on the question, "What is your favorite color?" It has always been an enthusiastic reply, "Yellow!"

So we like to point out yellow things for Harper: there's a yellow car, yellow sign, yellow shirt, whatever. Recently, McCall was hunting online and found a story about a woman in the San Bernardino mountains who has a giant daffodil garden that is open to the public to come and see. It is advertised as sea of yellow. In fact here's the story (edited for length) McCall read to us as we drove out towards the mountains yesterday:


Several times my daughter had telephoned to say. "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day -- and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

"I will come next Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain. As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail's pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived.

When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren. I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears—and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.

"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they've finished repairing the engine," she answered.

"How far will we have to drive?" I asked cautiously.

"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said cheerfully. So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. "I'll drive," Carolyn offered. "I'm used to this."

We got into the car, and she began driving. In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World road heading over the top of the mountain.

"Where are we going?" I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. "This isn't the way to the garage!"

"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"Carolyn," I said sternly, trying to sound as if I were still the mother and in charge of the situation, "please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather."

"It's all right, Mother," she replied with a knowing grin. "I know what I'm doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, hand-lettered sign "Daffodil Garden."

We each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt. Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered.

Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils.

The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils.

The effect was spectacular. It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.)

"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home. " Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.
"50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

There it was. The Daffodil Principle. For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun -- one bulb at a time -- to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain-top.

One bulb at a time. There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts -- simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded. Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time -- often just one baby-step at a time -- learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

As McCall read our anticipation grew. She showed us pictures she'd printed out of this magnificent garden.

Then McCall got quiet, "Oh, wait."


She read on...

She has been through 2 fires in the last 4 years and has lost many of the daffodils.
Perhaps, only if you want to, you can send her $5 in the mail so she can buy a few new bulbs.

This is what I said in my head: "How could you have possibly missed that??? It's at the bottom of the page you're reading right now. THIS is the story that convinced you to pack us all in the car drive an hour and a half and look at some burned flowers!?!? And you didn't bother to actually finish reading it?"

Out loud I said, "Hm."

What was the point? We had already built it up for Harper, our day was planned around this trip, there was nothing to be done but forge ahead. Besides, it's not about the destination, it's about the journey, right? Right?

We arrived at the same church mentioned above. We parked in front of a pair of port-a-potties and followed the crowd to the garden entrance. As we wondered down the dirt path I kept wondering how many flowers was "many". The story said that she'd lost "many" of the daffodils. What does that mean?

We rounded a bend, and I got my answer. "Many" meant "nearly all". There were a few patches of yellow here and there, but for the most part, the mountain side was dirt and scrub brush. There was some detectable fire damage and the home on the grounds looked brand new. We later found that Bauers, the couple that own the land and keep the garden, had lost their home in on of the fires as well.

It was, to say the least, a staggering disappointment. I tried to imagine what it must have looked like. It was difficult to know how far they may have once stretched. We followed the path that winds through the garden stopping every now and then to look at the few remainders. Eventually we came to a bench. It was obvious that this bench was the last stop on the path. Most likely it was placed to maximize the effect of the best view. I marveled at how tremendous it must have appeared in years gone by. But for us, it was simply looking out over the San Bernardino valley.

Don't get me wrong. The view was spectacular. San Bernardino is beautiful and the views from the mountain are breathtaking, but it wasn't a view of the valley we had come all this way to see. And so we departed, drove down the mountain a way and had a picnic lunch under a tree on the side of the mountain before making the return trip to Los Angeles.

Mrs. Bauer started planting the daffodils in 1958. This week, Easter Sunday, the daffodil garden will close forever. I am glad to have seen it, though it feels like seeing MJ playing for the Wizards. And I am thankful that there are people like the Bauers who choose to create beauty privately and share it publicly.

For a complete history of the daffodils click here. It's a transcript of a powerpoint presentation by Dale and Gene Bauer themselves.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our LITTLEST Theologian...

...or maybe he just read Daddy's latest blog and wants to keep on pace with his big sister.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Little Theologian

With Easter fast approaching, we decided to teach Harper Jo about the meaning behind the holiday. We want her to have a grounded biblical knowledge of painted eggs, and chocolate bunnies. We have a sticker book that McCall purchased and as soon as I'm done with it, and understand who all the characters are, I'm going to tell Harper all about it. (Not the story of Easter, I'm going to tell her about the sticker book Mommy got me and how cool it was. Seriously folks, I'm here all week.)

Now I have some personal hang ups about telling a two year old a story that is basically the execution of an innocent man who, oh yeah, also happens to be God! First of all, it probably won't instill her with a lot of faith in our justice system (regardless of the fact that the story happened 2,000 years ago under the Roman empire). Secondly, despite the happy ending, it's also primarily a story about betrayal, brutality, and death. I'm beginning to wonder if the story of Easter is inappropriate for children. Maybe, we'll just celebrate Christmas again.

Despite all my concerns I've still showed her the sticker book, spending lots of time on donkey riding and palm branches and kind of rushing through plotting to kill Jesus.

So last night Harper and I were in her room with her new Fisher-Price Discovery Channel View-Master Learning Projector (View-Masters have come a LONG way since 1983!) learning about farm animals. Lo and behold there was a slide of a donkey. I asked Harper, "Who rode on a donkey?" There was a brief pause and then she said, "Jesus!" And then, and this is what blew me away, she added, "In Darusalem!" "That's right," I said, "in Jerusalem."

So the sticker book is an early success. I just hope that when Easter rolls around and we ask, "What do people shout on Easter?" She'll say, "He is risen!" and not "Crucify!"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

She's a Very Chased Girl

Harper has developed a new game she loves to play. Each day after we pick her up from preschool we usually spend some time in the front yard playing. This helps to wear her out a bit and we all get to enjoy the blue sky and exhaust from the rush hour traffic.

Recently, Harper has taken to running around in the yard yelling, "Try to catch me, try to catch me!" She is not satisfied until one of us starts chasing her. And it doesn't matter what game we might actually be playing at the time. We might be drawing with sidewalk chalk, or playing with Nerf rockets, or pushing Marley in the baby swing. Whatever it is, it quickly dissolves into, "Try to catch me, try to catch me!"

Sometimes we play outside with Harper's neighbor friend, Sofia. But Try to Catch Me is an exclusively one way game. Harper has little to no interest in chasing anybody else. In fact it's pretty funny to see two little girls running away from each other with nobody chasing either one of them. After a while she's back to one of us imploring us to resume the hunt.

The funny thing is, it's not like there's any doubt that we can catch her. There's really no trying to it. The one advantage she has is that McCall and I are usually pretty tired by the end of the day and we're kind of sluggish. In fact, to a curious pedestrian we might even appear like a scene out of some horror movie: two zombies slowly stalking a toddler yelling, "Try to catch me, try to catch me!" Call it Late Afternoon of the Living Dead.

I've been saying it a lot recently, but I can't wait for Marley to start walking. He'll love trying to catch her. Then the two of them can play with each other and McCall and I can sit on the porch and take part in the newest parental craze sweeping the nation: keeping an eye out for potential kidnappers.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Night and Day

I can't believe how different Marley and Harper are. And it's not little things. It's really big things that create a significant difference in our experiences with them. You may recall (though probably not) my post about how much Harper hates to sleep. You should check it out, it's a good read.

Anyway, while she is still as adamant about not sleeping now as she was then, Marley is so easy. We lay him down, he goes to sleep. Usually we give him a bottle, but there have been times when I put him in his crib, and he'll wind down and go to sleep on his own. This has never, ever, ever happened with Harper. From the time she was very young, I'm talking weeks old, she would scream and wail against the prospect of being put in her crib to go to sleep. As soon as she could pull up (which was pretty early) she would stand at her crib side and cry until she started coughing and choking.

Harper took her first steps at eight months and was walking confidently by nine months. This excited us because we thought we must have the most brilliant child ever. However, now it feels like we got a truncated infancy stage and have had an extremely long toddler stage. Marley on the other hand is right on track. He's just started experimenting with standing and should probably be walking by his first birthday (as opposed to climbing up steps and going down slides like HJ), so we're getting an idea of what real babyhood is like.

One thing that really frustrates me about Marley is his extreme dislike of laying on his back during diaper changes. If Harper had this issue I do not remember it at all. Marley, as soon as I lay him down, starts fussing. He squirms and writhes and as soon as I let him go he flips over onto his belly and starts trying to crawl off the changing table. The only thing I can do is try to distract him with a toy or something. Thankfully, Harper is pretty much potty trained at this point so we're only changing diapers for one kid. And I'm so thankful because Harper's toddler dukes are not pretty in her training potty. And her bottom is much easier to clean after sitting on the toilet than if she were to sit in it for a minute before being changed!

One way that they are very similar, though is their appearance. Marley looks like a mini version of Harper. Their first pictures are almost indistinguishable as seen below:

Harper and Marley as infants. That's Harper above, and Marley on the right. Or is it Marley above, and Harper on the right...?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mr. Marley Man Update

I can't believe how quickly Marley is growing and learning. In just the past few weeks he's had so many breakthroughs. He recently started sitting up all on his own, and I anticipate that he will be standing soon and at some point will start walking.

I didn't want him to ambulate too early because Harper was SO quick to walk that it seemed we were chasing her right out of the womb. But Marley has gotten so big that it's just become painful to carry him around. My arms are constantly sore and I can't wait to be able to put him down and have him not fuss about being limited by his inability to keep up with the rest of us. I mean, we go on walks around the neighborhood and all he does is cry about having to crawl on the sidewalk.

He's also started patting his lap, and clapping his hands. We play a game when he's in his highchair. We say, "Pat, pat, pat," and he pats the table top. Then we say, "Clap, clap, clap," and he pats the table top. Then we say, "No, clap, clap, clap!" and he pats the table top. So we say, "Fine, pat, pat, pat," and he claps. It's a lot of fun. I call that game Stratego.

Then just today we discovered that he can wave goodbye and say Mama. As I reported below, he's been able to say Dada for a while but today was the first time that we heard Mama and it really seemed that it was directed at McCall. She got so excited. Then I asked her if she really wanted Marley to be able to ask for Mama. After all, one of McCall's biggest frustrations is that Harper almost exclusively wants her Mommy. Very seldom does she ever ask for Daddy. Hey, it's not my fault, although it probably doesn't help that when she does say Daddy, I correct her. "No, no, no, you mean Mommy. Now try again."

The goodbye wave is cute, it's the classic baby wave which is actually more of an open-shut action with the fingers and less of a wave. I don't quite get how babies see a wave and mimic it as this finger flex motion but whatever. Although there is a part of me that's concerned that when I blow Marley a kiss he mimics this by flipping me the bird. Probably just a phase.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Very Sweet Moment

So last night I was reading in bed. I discovered this amazing techno-thriller called Daemon which I cannot recommend highly enough. It's a bit over my head technically, but the author keeps the story compelling (and frightening) enough that you cannot put it down. But I digress.

So I'm reading in bed and McCall had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room. I heard some rustling and thought it might be McCall, but after a moment I could tell that it was actually Harper. I assumed she was using the potty and would do one of three things, 1) go back to bed; low probability, 2) go out to the living room; high probability, or 3) come into our room; moderate probability.

Well, it ended up being number three. I saw her little head on the far side of the bed and put my book down and looked at her. Typically, in the middle of the night she is very groggy and sometimes severely discombobulated. But while she was obviously sleepy, she was also alert. As soon as I looked at her, her face changed from the sleepy, "it's too bright in here" frown common to most of us to a great big smile. She then reached out to me and rushed to the side of the bed to be lifted up. I pulled her in and she snuggled right up to me.

She wanted some water so I got her cup from her room and then she wanted to be under the covers so I pulled them over her. We lay there for a minute and I relished every second. I was afraid to breathe because I knew it was unlikely that she would fall asleep with me. After a moment she asked, "Where Mommy?", signaling the beginning of the end. I informed her that Mommy was in the living room on the couch and she could either stay with me or...

Before I could finish listing her options she was head, shoulders, knees, and toes rushing out the door for the living room. Oh well. I'll take what I can get. And what I got will be a cherished memory. For me at least.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Our Yellow Butterfly Ballerina

So Harper Jo has been taking this Ballet/Tap class for toddlers, and she LOVES it. Her only complaint? The ballerina clothes were all black and pink and white. She wanted YELLOW (her very favorite color) and let me tell you, yellow tights are hard enough to find, let alone a whole outfit. But thank the lord for both the internet and a site called Etsy.com - where someone can hand-make just about any darn thing you might need/want. In my case, it was a full yellow ballet/butterfly getup. (See, at a certain point in class, the kids all put on their wings and do a flaying dance.) Anyhoo... my girl got her yellow and I must admit, it does suit her rather well. ; )

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Single Dad pt. 2

Well, day two of the adventure also went pretty well. Picked up Marley and Harper and went over to the Eyres. When we pulled up Harper asked if Alaina lived there. I had to explain that we weren't going to see Alaina and she has a different family that lives elsewhere. I think she associates Jackson and Alaina and considers them a package deal. See one, see the other.

Clarice didn't arrive with the kids for a while so Harper was pulling everything out. She even dumped all of Jackson's Hotwheels on the floor. I made sure she picked them up reminding her how particular Jackson is about his cars. Jack-Jack has a little duck call that Harper loves. She kept blowing this thing all night.

As soon as Jackson came through the door he said, "Harper's here?". He was very excited to see her. Harper did pretty well eating her pizza (after removing every bit of topping including most of the cheese!). She had a bit of salad, and a bite of pineapple and grape. After she was excused she was all ready to play again. But Jackson apparently LOVES to sit at the table. He would not get up from his seat. Clarice told me that the other night she had to set the timer for 30 minutes and then made him leave the table. That is so not Harper.

So then Marley started to get fussy as it was already past 7:30pm (his bedtime). I gave him a bottle, packed him up and gathered all our stuff and we headed home. After another phone call to Mommy for lullaby, Harper went to sleep very easily.

I thought I had everything situated nicely when Marley started crying. I could tell it wasn't regular crying and he was coughing a lot. I gave him a bit of medicine, and offered a bottle, but he was not interested. I picked him up so he wouldn't wake up Harper and tried to soothe him. But nothing worked. I changed his diaper, offered the bottle again. But I had a hunch that he was having gas pains because he wouldn't take the bottle. I gave him Mylicon. Put him down, he cried. Picked him up, he cried. I sang, sat, bounced, walked, swayed. And he cried. Finally, he settled. I went to the living room.

He starts crying again! Then here comes Harper Jo, all flustered and confused. So now I have to put HJ back to bed but Mr. Marley Man is still all fussy. I explain to Harper that I need to check on Marley. Then she starts losing it. Okay. I figure she's closer to sleep than he is anyway. I'll stay here for a second and check on him when she's out. After about ten minutes, I was able to leave her room. And Marley was asleep. Try everything, something's bound to work, right? Well, something did work and he slept soundly the rest of the night. Harper joined me as usual in the middle of the night and showed me how much she loves me by digging her heels in my side. Ah, fatherhood.

Well, both kids are away to school again, but my day is short because Harper has a commercial audition at 4:30pm in Santa Monica so I have to take both of them! Yikes. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Single Dad

McCall is out of town this week in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I am on my own with Harper and Marley. Last night actually went very well. Marley is fine, I'm not sure he knows that he's supposed to miss Mommy yet. I almost think that he won't notice she's gone until she gets back, then it will be like, "Oh yeah, I haven't seen you in forever!" and I think he'll be really excited and happy. In the meantime, I think his thoughts are something closer to, "Something's different. What is it? Okay, okay, wait a second, I got it, it's on the tip of my brain...nope. Lost it. Hey, look a duckie!"

But for Harper it's a totally different situation. She was really good after school. She was great during dinner (she won the Clean Plate Award for eating all her pasta). She was allowed to watch one episode of the Berenstain Bears, she had a nice bath, we read books. But then it came that time when I usually leave and McCall sings to her. Suddenly, she started saying how much she wanted her mommy there.

How do you explain to a two year old that her mommy is in Utah and can't be at home right now? It's very hard. But thank goodness for 21st century technology! I got my cell phone, put it on speaker, called up McCall and voila, lullaby time! It worked really well and Harper calmed down after we hung up. I thought it was going to be all smooth sailing after that. But Harper has this music playing, light up, plastic aquarium thing (this really is me trying to explain it the best way I can!!!). If you have kids, you probably have an idea what I'm talking about, if not just don't worry about it too much. Suffice to say that Harper uses this thing to help her fall asleep each night.

Well the batteries have been dying for a while and last night they went kaput. It would stay on for about twelve seconds at a time. And Harper kept sitting up to turn it back on. I knew she would never be able to go to sleep while she was reaching back and pushing the button so much. So I stood over her and pushed the button until she went to sleep. You got to do what you got to do, right?

And so far so good this morning as well. Marley to school (a bit late). Harper to school (a bit early). And tonight we have plans to go to a friend's house for pizza! Hooray. Should be a good time for all (fingers firmly crossed).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our Trip To Cleveland...During The Coldest Week Ever

So last week we flew to Cleveland to visit McCall's family. And boy did we choose the perfect week to be there. Record lows and non-stop snow. Yep, that basically sums up our trip. Meanwhile, Los Angeles set a record for the warmest week in January. Nice timing.

Here now, is the Blogosphere version of family vacation slides.

Harper Jo and Charlie, McCall's mother's dog.

Harper had never seen real snow before. She'd seen a lot about snow in cartoons and heard all about it at school. But to actually see her experience it for the first time was awesome. And all she wanted to do was make snow angels.

The finished product!

And more snow angels...

Seriously, this is all she did in the snow for two days!

Well, that and this...

I love this picture. Harper looks so happy to be in the snow. Everything is so peaceful. You can imagine the wooded area we found to take this snap shot.

In reality it was next to the hotel parking lot...

We spent a lot of time participating in indoor activities like eating meals, watching TV, and taking naps. But McCall found the Cleveland Children's Museum online, so we braved the frozen tundra and drove through the whipping snow to be inside somewhere else instead of our hotel room.

The Cleveland Children's Museum features animal costumes for the kiddos. Or, if you're married to McCall, they're for everyone. Hooray!

Piggy Marley

McCall is one hot chick!

Harper driving. I thought I had another 14 years
before this nightmare becomes reality.

No, it's HJ!

The Cleveland Children's Museum teaches kids how to shop.
What a valuable service!


"This one was on sale!"

Marley the weatherman says, "Expect more snow, Cleveland."

McCall's mom (or Mamoo) has quite a menagerie at her home: dog, cat, pig, sheep, llama, two alpacas. One of Harper's favorites is an African Gray named Einstein. Einstein can sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", but he's also an Indians fan which begs the question how smart can he really be, but I digress. Harper loved feeding him peanuts, which I told her was bird food. After seeing me eat several she started asking me for bird food.

"Seriously, what?!?"

We visited our good friend's the Weinstocks and Harper got to catch up with their daughter, Gilda.

Then, deciding that Cleveland just wasn't exciting enough, we drove 45 minutes south to Akron! There we spent the evening with McCall's friend Rachel. Harper loved Rachel's kids, Clay and Gwen.

"Hold everything, you two..."

"...smile if you want hot chocolate."

Marley even got to meet his Great Grandparents John and Joanne Sanders...

"We want to go home!"

Cutest...baby picture...ever!

Last round of "goodbyes" before heading home...


Uncle Jeff

Great Grandma Sanders

Great Grandpa Sanders

One Final Note:
Sunday, after we got home, McCall ended up with a flat tire about two blocks from our house. While walking up to meet her (in flip flops, a t-shirt, and shorts), I was thinking about how warm it was. I couldn't believe that only a day before I was packing up a car in the falling snow with a frozen mustache! In spite of it all, I think we had a great time, but were all very thankful to be back home.