Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

Hadley drew this picture for me yesterday. I was first impressed with the sun (she called it a "spider sun") and the border around the picture. I haven't seen her do that before. But then Jesse told her to tell me what she wrote on it. It says, "Mom." The way that it is showing up on this entry, you have to read it top to bottom, but you get the idea. I sure did.

She showed me the letters, "M, O, P, O, M" and then paused for a minute and said, "That's not a P Mama, it's just a circle with a line through it."

And here's what Harper can do:

I don't think I have a good definition of what grace is, but I think about that concept a lot now that I have children. It doesn't seem right that I have Hadley and Harper. And today I am sick. I have what feels like a very sharp knife in my throat. My body aches like I was in a bar fight (if I knew what a bar fight was like). I haven't showered in two days (I look gooooood). I don't feel like myself. But my girls know who I am - they can write and say it - and that seems to be a nice reminder of who created them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Single Digits

We weren't able to have a decent birthday party for Harper last Monday because we were traveling back from the midwest, so we celebrated Harper's birthday last Friday night. And I haven't had the time to post any pictures or write about it because I've been busy eating bon bons and watching soaps. So please forgive the fact that Harper is almost 1 year and two weeks old as I post this.

We went out to eat on Friday and came home for cake and presents. I made a ginger molasses cake that people seemed to enjoy, and our condo didn't burn down so I consider it a success.

Apparently Harper thought it'd be more fun to take little bits off of her piece and line it up on the tray instead of eating it. She eventually ate the cake, but she likes to check things out before she takes action.

Here's a picture of the birthday girl and her daddy:
And here's some shots of the girls playing with Harper's new kitchen:

This was a little difficult for Hadley to understand that this was Harper's gift as you might imagine. In all fairness, Hadley wants to share but she doesn't always understand the concept. Plus, both of the girls are so hard headed and have this idea of what they want to do, that makes it difficult to play together because the other is constantly getting in the way. So there were some tears, but we all dealt with it. However, Hadley frequently asks before she goes to sleep, "Am I going to have a birthday tomorrow?"

"How can I prepare your eggs for you?"

"Salt makes everything taste better!"
"What do you mean it's time for bed? What am I going to do about the souffle?"
On Harper's birthday I updated my Facebook status saying, "Happy Birthday to my drama queen Harper. I wonder where she gets it from." Getting to know Harper this year is a lesson (and probably a reminder) of the kind of person I am as well. Harper takes her time with everything, and if she doesn't want to do something, she's not going to do it. Under any circumstances.
If she's done eating, she will swat the spoon (full of food) out of her way, usually splattering the wall, table, high chair, a parent, and herself with whatever was being served. She does this without warning. She could be in a good mood or a bad mood. It makes no difference. That's how she says she done.
Harper likes to put tops, lids, caps, on things. She also likes to open and close things. However, if she puts a lid on something and can't open it up, she will SCREAM until someone comes over to help her. Her legs go straight out, her fists clench, the little veins in her neck pop out, and the noise that comes out sounds similar to something out of Jurassic Park. Again, she could be in a good mood or a bad mood. It makes no difference. That's how she says, "I need some assistance, STAT."
Clearly I don't behave this specific way, but what I see that Harper has inherited from me is her extreme lack of patience and her unbridled temper. Some people call it being a "passionate" person, and on our good days, Harper and I are full of passion. But there will be days when we take each other down, and that's why it is good that there are the Hadleys and Jesses of the world. They balance us out (or tune us out), and make us see that there are other ways to express your point then throwing food on the wall.
But Harper is now 1, and I am so proud of all the things she can do: clap her hands, crawl like she's on fire, take her shoes and socks off in a split second, laugh and babble, and most importantly, bring even more personality into our family. She is my girl, and I am thankful that I get to be her mother.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicago Is My Kind of Town

Here's a picture of a couple of my favorite things: the Chicago skyline, and my girl Hadley. This was taken at the Shedd Aquarium last week. Hadley, my dad, and I spent the day there looking at the aquatic life. Although, if Hadley were to recall any of it, she'd tell you that her favorite part was playing in the submarine.

This thing was pretty cool, and I'm trying to figure out a way to recreate it in our home (yes, Jesse, you should be a little nervous). Give Hadley anything with buttons on it, or gadgets that you need to push, pull, shift, whatever, and she's a happy camper.

Thankfully, we didn't find the sub until we'd looked around for awhile, and watched the water show which was really fantastic. Here's a picture of the "theater" before the show started:

We got to see penguins, beluga whales, seals, and a couple of hawks. It was really fun to take Hadley to this, because she got a kick out of watching the different animals swim and jump out of the water.

We also saw some stingrays and other fish in the exhibits walking around the museum.

And there was a place where kids could put their hands in the water and touch starfish, etc.

Hadley kept getting annoyed that her hands were getting wet, or that the water would splash on her. Well, kid, that's what happens at sea. This part of the museum was getting me dangerously close to my scuba diving experience off the Great Barrier Reef. I tried to stay calm and not think about breathing under water.

Here's a picture of Hadley and I outside the Aquarium. We are standing in the same spot as my mom and were in another picture that was taken when I was a baby.
Hadley also rode the el during our trip to Chicago. She and my dad road it back and forth between Austin and Forest Park (I think, I can't remember how far they went), and except for the submarine, I think that was a real highlight for Hadley. She is still talking about it.

During our trip to the midwest, we learned that my brother is getting married. Here is how my mom and I took the news:
But can you blame me? This is what she does with her free time:

I mean, I agree that bacon is delicious, but c'mon, Kellee.

I had a chance to visit with a good friend of mine from high school who came in for the weekend because she was up for an award for excellent reporting (she's on the morning show in Madison, WI). She has two kids as well so it was fun to watch the four of them interact. Harper, however, was very fond of their dog. Here she is with one shoe off (I can usually get her to at least wear one), playing with Maddie.

The child hates shoes, but loves dogs. I'm not sure how to relate to that.
The older kids went nuts when Sarah said she had Dora and Diego movies. Here they are huddled around her telling her which one they wanted to watch. I should've taken a video of it because each of them were telling Sarah every detail of their favorite Dora or Diego episode. It was sort of like watching Nick Jr. on speed.

I'll end this post with a shot of two more of my favorite things: the Chicago skyline and my girl Harper.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yes, Michigan! The Feeling Forever!

I like to pretend that I'm a famous blogger and that for the last two weeks my readers have been wondering why I haven't posted anything. But the reality is that the people who read this blog know where we've been - Grand Rapids and Chicago. So for the Chicago crowd, here's what we did in Michigan (tomorrow's post will be for the Michigan crowd, OK?).

We were able to see a Dance Guild performance which was a real treat since the star of the show is are very own, Mallory Feyen. This year we even got to go back stage to see some of the behind the scenes action before the show started. Shani was really excited about this.

We were also able to celebrate Halloween in Grand Rapids which was really fun. This was Hadley's first "official" Halloween. She really wanted to be a monkey, and thankfully there was a monkey costume at Target. (No, I don't make my kids' costumes. I wish I could, but anyone who has ever tried to teach me how to sew, knit, crochet, whatever, is no longer my friend.) The rest of the family wanted to get in on the Halloween fun, so we dressed up, too.

Nice looking group, huh? Jesse's a baby. He is sporting a really nice sleeper that my brother got him for Christmas last year. Surprisingly, Jesse has gotten a lot of use out of this thing. I am Olivia. You know, the pig? From the children's book? Harper is supposed to be a diva construction worker. We put her in overalls, and Jesse tied ribbons to a set of Hadley's play tools, and attached them to a belt. We also got the cutest little boots for her, but Harper would have none of it. Harper HATES wearing shoes and socks. She hates it with a passion. We're thinking of looking into some kind of therapy.

Here's the crew getting ready for trick-or-treating. I have an outstanding video of Jesse walking in his dinosaur sleeper, but I'm pretty sure he'll kill me if I post it, so you'll just have to imagine it. It really does rival the Magnum P.I. costume a few years back.

Getting ready to knock on the door....

Hadley didn't quite understand the concept at first, but once she saw got the hang of it, she really got into the idea that knocking on people's doors and saying, "Trick or treat!" led to getting candy. In fact, she was the last to come in the house. Here's a video of my happy monkey singing happily while trick or treating:

After trick-or-treating, Hadley and her cousin Maria decorated cupcakes for everyone.

And Harper loved them!

She loves her Aunt Mallory, too.

While we were in Michigan, we had a chance to see my cousin Tara and her beautiful family. Cole and Chase tried to show the girls how to play Dance, Dance Revolution.
They thought the mat was really cool:

Harper loved playing with blocks with Cole and Chase:

And Hadley enjoyed doing puzzles (one of her favorite past times) with Tara and Chase.

On our last day in GR, we had a chance to walk around Calvin for a bit. The school has made a lot of changes, and it was pretty impressive to take a look around. It is always fun for me to go back to Calvin because it made such a difference in my life....despite how long it took me to appreciate being there.

We also had a nice dinner with friends at Rose's on Reeds Lake. This area is my favorite part of Grand Rapids.

This is Valerie's son Joshua with his dad, Paul. I just told Joshua that he had to take Harper to the PROM, so you can understand his expression.

And Hadley had a very good time sitting next to Elisa, our friend Todd and Rhonda's daughter. Hadley kept calling her "Elisya" because that is Diego's sister. She was a little confused when I told her that Elisa was not Diego's sister, but that she was, however, Seth's sister.

We had a great week in Michigan, and were happy we could make the trip out to see our friends and family.