Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Holidays Are Here!

The weather forecast this morning said today was supposed to be overcast and dry (perfect photo weather!), so I stuffed Harper's new Christmas dress in my back pack and we biked to Hyde Park Village for a holiday photo shoot.

Of course, the weather forecast was wrong. It turned out to be pretty sunny for most of the morning, which made things tricky because our little camera can't handle anything except absolutely perfect lighting. Perhaps, if we are very good, Santa will bring us a new camera for Christmas someday. 

Temptation! It had rained the night before and Harper had such a hard time keeping her hands off of the wet display. 

But she did play a little hide-and-seek between the giant packages.

"You're it!"

Eventually I was forced to pull out the big guns and had to get "Dina" the Christmas Dinosaur out of my backpack to keep her focused. I love the lighting in this shot. And dinosaurs make everything better.

Look over there, mom! Santa Claus is sleeping on the sidewalk in front of that wine bar! 

This was taken just after I told her I had forgotten pennies for the fountain. It was one disappointment after another all morning long.
By this point she was pretty tired of my shenanigans.

After a short apple cider break at the local coffee house she was in much better spirits.

Then it was back to the fountain, wishing for pennies.


They had a huge Christmas tree on display in the main square.

Harper was fascinated with the ornaments on the tree.

I threw caution to the wind and finally decided to let her play in the water in the hopes of getting a couple of candid shots. 
Don't you think she looks like a little present snuggled in there with that bow on her head?

Then the splashing really started! I'm not kidding... I have probably twenty unusable shots like this with her eyes closed. But she sure had fun!

Soaked and sated. That dress is going straight to the cleaners. Two year olds and taffeta do not mix. I don't know what I was thinking.
One last time checking out the ornaments.

Our pretty Christmas girl in Santa's sleigh. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Holiday Thank You

Happy Thanksgiving! The Bookers had a quiet holiday this year. Brad has been working some crazy hours for the past few months and had the entire day off so I absolutely insisted we stay home and rebuffed any would-be company.

Harper pronounces it "Shaun the Shipe", just like any good Irish lass should.

Our Thanksgiving (or Great Feast of Starch, as we call it) was simple. Since I am vegetarian and Harper is too (thus far), Brad opted to barbeque a couple of turkey thighs for himself while Harper and I were sated with poultry-esque veggie patties. We feasted on all the standards; mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, dressing, green beans, buttermilk biscuits, cranberry sauce, and finished with pumpkin pie for dessert. (Yes, store bought pumpkin pie. I am not as hard-core as you Bess “I’m going to whip up a couple of homemade pies on Thanksgiving morning and make everyone else look bad” Bauer.)

Those of you who have kids know that teaching manners gets big around two years old. So I thought a perfect way to reinforce saying thank you could be taught during the meal.
When our plates were served but before we started our meal we explained to Harper that Thanksgiving is a day when we say thank you for the things we love. Then I started by saying I loved daddy so thank you for daddy, and I love Harper so thank you for Harper etc. When I was done I asked Harper what she loved.

She looked down at her plate and said, “Sweet potatoes.” “Yes, sweet potatoes,” I encouraged. “Thank you for sweet potatoes.” “Thank you (cranberry) sauce,” she said. “Yes. Thank you for cranberry sauce,” I agreed. She went on. “Thank you green beans. Thank you chicken.” By this time she really was in the spirit of things and looked up from her plate. “Thank you dinosaurs. Thank you parks.” It was so sweet and heartfelt and I really feel like she understood the meaning behind the exercise. What a special moment to cherish and remember! Then Brad said his thanks and we ate.

Brad is totally going to love this movie some day, if he ever catches up on sleep. 
After dinner we all sat around in a carbohydrate coma for about an hour. Later, after we had washed the dishes and put everything away and after I was able to pry Harper away from Shaun the Sheep to put her to bed I finally, after two years of prodding, got Brad to watch The Princess Bride. Or, rather, it was playing on the DVD player while Brad slept through it.  

Oh well. Maybe next year.  
Season’s greetings from the Bookers!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dress Up

I wish these photos were better but I had to live in the moment and snap what I could before she stripped everything off. I know, I know, we need a better camera.

Harper picked out her nap time ensemble this afternoon...

then she took a minute to check herself out in the hall mirror.

For the record she's wearing a fleece snow hat, fleece gloves, Chinese silk paiamas (thank you, Karen), pink striped leg warmers and fuzzy silk slippers. She also insisted on wearing her underwear over her diaper.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Halloween Retrospective

The day before Halloween we managed to go to the Children's museum.
Harper LOVES that ball pit.

So Halloween happened.

With Harper’s birthday party on the 20th and Brianna’s fundraiser on the 28th (which was a HUGE success, by the way) it was on top of us before we even realized it. I was going to make the cutest little fish tank costume for Harper (per her request) out of foam board, felt cut-outs, shells, sand and plastic aquarium tubing but, after some serious soul searching and time basic management calculations, came to the conclusion that it was not to be. So on Saturday we went to the mall looking for a tutu to complete a zombie-ballerina ensemble (what are the odds, Jenny?) and ended up going home with a dragon costume instead. Luckily, Harper L-O-V-E-D it.
My sister-in-Law's sister's twins were zombie ballerinas for Halloween.
We live in a small, zombie lovin' world. I love their little zombie walk!
I hope the Great Pumpkin didn’t skip our house for our seeming lack of enthusiasm. I had just enough time to pick up some very basic decorations Halloween morning and then carved the pumpkin during Harper’s afternoon nap. But in spite of time constraints I had the front porch decorated by 3:00 pm sharp and I had enough time left over to toast the pumpkin seeds and make apple cider for snack time. I love toasted pumpkin seeds and warm apple cider.

Before going out for the evening I did the Halloween drill with Harper:

We say Trick-or-Treat. We take one piece of candy. We say thank you.

We practiced until I thought she had it and then I put on her costume. She was so excited to get dressed! Neighbor Karen had given her a Snoopy doll wearing a pumpkin costume a couple of weeks ago (thank you, Karen!) which she decided to bring along in her multi-tasking library/Easter and now Trick-or-Treating owl bag (thank you, Wessels family!). Brad had to stay home and hand out candy to Trick-or-Treaters but took a couple of minutes (at my urging) to take some pictures on the front porch for posterity and then we were off in the red wagon.
Harper's spooky dragon. When asked what sound the dragons make Harper replied, "Stomp! Stomp!"
Our humble Jack-O-Lantern (Harper specifically requested a "happy pumpkin").

Harper and mommy about to hit the town.

A surprised daddy and Harper.


Let's go, mom!

Harper got performance anxiety at the first house we visited. After some coaxing she finally whispered a barely audible, “Trick-or-Treat,” as the elderly woman handed her a piece of candy. “What do you say?” I prompted as she put the treat in her owl bag. “Another?” she queried. Of course the woman thought that was the cutest thing she’d ever seen so Harper got another piece of candy, which only served to embolden her at every subsequent home we visited.

We only stayed out for about an hour. Harper came home exhausted and with quite a stash. We let her have one lollipop and then it was off to bed. Afterwards, Brad and I turned out the porch light had some quite time. It was a nice evening.
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Please Come to Brianna's Fundraiser

It is tomorrow, Sunday the 28th, and I am not above begging. We really need people to show up. Please come by if you can. Thanks. More here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Happy Second Birthday

And by popular request… it’s the birthday update!!! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get it together. I sound like a broken record.

First of all, let me start by updating all of the new and wonderful things Harper is doing:

She has the entire alphabet memorized, both upper and lower cases. Although sometimes she gets the lower case “b” and “d” mixed up as well as lower case “p” and “q.” (But who doesn’t?)

She knows all of her numbers 0 through 9 and can count to twenty if you don’t care about 14 or 15. (But who does?)   
She is narrating her tantrums these days. “Harper is crying!” she’ll wail, adding, “Harper is sad!” Often the appropriate ASL signs will accompany the blow-by-blow action.

This is Harper's idea of a good time.

She can recognize and name nearly 15 different species of dinosaur.
She knows the name and sign for just about every animal you can think of. "Turtle," you'll say. "Box turtle," she'll correct. The same goes for Beluga whales, Orcas, Brown bats, etc. She's got more brains than she knows what to do with (thankfully).
Nudity is big. She’ll take her pants off whenever the mood strikes, although this may be genetic (no wait, I’ve said too much). Today she got her pants completely off at the Children’s Museum when I turned around for a mere second to put somehing away.

She will tell you what she has drawn. That brown scribble? A snake, obviously. The yellow blob? A heart. The purple streaks on my end table? "Puppy. Puppy." she repeats. 

She can climb up the chain ladder at the park to the upper platform of the jungle gym. It is heart-stoppingly thrilling to experience first-hand. I nearly threw up the first time she did it.
She is starting to sing. Amongst her favorites are The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Secret Life of Six. The latter may have been heavily influenced by yours truly.  
Not my favorite TMBG diddy but solid, none the less:
She is using more pronouns. There’s a lot of “I” and “me” which, I understand, is a precursor to “Mine, mine, MINE!!!”
She likes to walk the dogs. By herself. Backwards. We have to set aside painfully large chunks of time for a simple walk around the block.

She is just a genuinely sweet kid. She loves to cuddle and give kisses and hugs. 

She also has the best smile in the entire world (complete with dimples). 

Anyway, Harper’s birthday was this past Monday, but the celebration started Friday night with a trip to the Tampa Museum of Art (for me the party actually started Wednesday night as I spent hours molding and baking her cake topper- but I’m getting ahead of myself).  

The Tampa Museum of Art. Not bad. Not bad at all, Tampa.

I’d been meaning to take her for a long time; pretty much ever since she was born (especially because they have free admission every Friday from 4:00pm-8:00pm). In fact, we had actually gotten in the building 3 or 4 times prior to Friday, but poorly timed meltdowns necessitated our immediate departure. But Friday was the night!

Both the permanent and traveling collections are displayed on the second floor of the museum, and the first exhibit room you enter is a display of Greek and Roman antiquities. Across the room is this statue…
Poseidon. All of him.
… which Harper stands pretty much eye-ball to groin with. So of course, the first (and inappropriately loud) word out of her mouth was, “Penis!” And, of course, the UT students snickering next to us just made it a game. So every 3-5 minutes or so of our laborious 20 minute visit was punctuated by an enthusiastically proud, “Penis, mommy! Man’s penis!” Yes, honey. You have a wonderful vocabulary and a keen eye for anatomy.
We held the party at Kate Jackson Park in Hyde Park.

Anyhow, the next morning was the day of her party but we all awoke late so we decided to get some bagels and head over to the park where the party was going to be held. Brad, Harper and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while waiting for her guests to arrive. Harper looked super cute in her brand new, hot-pink, Astronaut-Dinosaur Riding a Rocket Ship in Outer Space T-shirt that was made especially for her (I love etsy) and matching hot pink hair bow (she has just enough hair now to keep it in place for short periods of time).
Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast! 
Our pretty birthday girl looking very serious. Contrary to this photo she really did spend most of the day smiling.
Look! A hair bow! In her hair!
I had to special order this in silver on hot pink. Why do boys get all the good T-shirts?
We decided to buck a traditional party and, in lieu of gifts, we had guests bring potluck items. All of her little friends showed up with their parents in tow and enough food to feed an army. Not a small one, either, but a regular sized army. One that could invade a country. The kids in attendance were Julissa, Amaya, Fiona, Ethan, Linnea, Cevan, Grey, Ava and Zoe (although you'd never know it to look at the pictures. None of them could stay still long enough for a group photo.) Along with their parents it made for quite a crowd. Even Harper’s sitter came by with a little gift!

I decided to make the Stegosaurus cake topper pictured above (found on etsy, of course. I love etsy) but it turned out to be much more of a project than I had envisioned. Mainly because I had never made anything with polymer clay before. And it is likely I never will again.
If I had bothered to check the directions before I started making the stupid 8 1/2 inch long Stegosaurus I would have known that it takes 1 hour to bake every inch of polymer clay (which is why, I later surmised, the one in the picture above is only 3 inches long). Add to that the 2 1/2 hours it took me to mold the polymer clay, plus the time it took to watch a frosting tutoral on youtube (yes, a frosting tutoral. And not once but TWICE), bake, frost and decorate a triple layer birthday cake and what you're looking at here is nearly two full work days. Who do I talk to around here about getting paid?    
We sang happy birthday and had cake and then enjoyed snacking on potluck items while chasing the kids around the park. As a finale we got them all changed into their miniature swimsuits so we could chase them around the water fountains. It was a great cardio workout after all the food and the kids had a great time.  

Ethan and Harper

Ava's back, Harper in profile and Zoe's back. I'm telling you, it was hard to get those kids to stand still for photos. 

Mommy Laura in the action with Harper, Ethan and Ava. 

Handsome Cevan getting some sun.

Harper and Ethan.

Harper's attempt to drink from the fountain (which I did put the camera down to stop) gave Zoe an opening to grab the basketball. 
On Sunday Brad put together her Super-Duper Birthday Extravaganza gift from us… a tricycle! We are sure it would have been a bigger hit if her legs were long enough to actually reach the pedals. Soon enough.
Isn't this the coolest tricycle you've ever seen? It was Brad's idea to get it for her. We almost bought her a push bike... until I saw her try the neighbor's out. Let me just say she's not quite coordinated enough for one yet.

And speaking of hits, we also opened the gifts from the grandparents. She really loved all the books and her new garbage truck but Nana won this year for favorite gift with a Dinosaur Train coloring book and colored markers. Harper has literally slept with the coloring book every night since opening her gifts.
Serious concentration is required when coloring in the Dinosaur Train coloring book.
Thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Nana and Pa!
In the end it was a perfect celebration for our little pumpkin. I can’t believe she’s already two years old and I can’t wait to see what this next year holds in store for us. I guess we’ll find out. Soon enough.