December 30, 2010

My Daughter, The Jet-Setter

In an effort to give my very wonderful, very tired and very pregnant wife a little bit of time to herself to sleep and continue incubating the future baby, which I'm sure she will use to run herself ragged doing chores that may or may not need to be done, I piled the current baby into the car and drove out to visit my mother.

The first long trip with Harper in a big girl car seat was a moderate success. She's still small enough that she looks like Jack sitting in the armchair of the giant. I'm not 100%, but I don't think she likes it. When she sits in the chair, she slumps over the side and stares off into space, as if contemplating a time when she will have parents who not put her in such embarrassing situations. If the other babies see, she'll have to change her name and move to Peru. This prospect makes her even more depressed because not only can she not speak Spanish, she doesn't know how to do high-altitude farming. On the plus side, she will be near lots of llama, which will remind her fondly of her mother and grandmother and their near obsessive propensity for knitting everything that even slightly resembles yarn. (You should see the amazing spaghetti scarf I got for Christmas! Warm AND tasty, although a bit monochromatic...)

If you watch Harper in the car seat for any length of time, you can see all of these thoughts wash over her face as she constantly internally debates the merits and drawbacks of becoming an ex-pat.

In order to give her the chance to eat something, stretch her legs and be reminded of all of the wonderful reasons to stay in the country, we paused at a haven of pure American essence; a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We ventured inside for a diaper change because I had not had one since we left the house several hours earlier.

I let her walk around inside for a bit and it turned out to be a baby convention! There were at least four other babies, all younger than her, in the seating area. Harper made her rounds, introducing herself to each in turn and attempting to strike up conversations regarding the finer points of high-chair use and the ever increasing prices of foreign imports. Only one young man, a seemingly well-bred 7-month-old named Colin, wished to engage her in conversation. He made interesting counter-points to her arguments by hopping up and down and concluded by drooling on himself.

Tired of the discussion, Harper wished to return to the car to eat snacks in peace. She told me later that she found him immature and pedantic. We sat in the car for a while and talked. She enjoyed the passenger seat.

She was SO pleased to be in the front that she loudly voiced her displeasure of being returned to her own seat. For the rest of the drive.

Upon reaching my mother's house, she proceeded to climb up and down the stairs for 45 minutes. She also found a seat that fits her much more comfortably.


Time for a daddy nap...

December 17, 2010

My Daughter, The Stuff of Nightmares

It is 3:30 in the morning and I am typing this blog because I am afraid to go to sleep. I was tossing and turning so I moved out to the couch around 11:45. That's when things got bad.

I had two horrible dreams in a row. In the first, several of my students found where I lived and showed up in the middle of the night. They didn't cause any damage, but they came and wanted to talk. They wouldn't leave and when I finally got two of them out, we couldn't find the third. This was upsetting but what was more disconcerting was that in the dream, I had been laying on the couch so it was difficult to tell that it was a dream. I woke up and had to walk through my house to make sure no one was there.

I went back to bed and fell asleep again only to be greeted by something far worse. The dream started out normal enough. There was a Greek king who kept an oversized bull in a dungeon below his palace. The bull had mythical powers embued upon him by the gods and the king had decided he had had enough and so he released the bull to be hunted and killed by the strongest and bravest of his warriors. Clearly, I was a spectator.

Somehow, this transitioned into a family dinner for Sara's family at some sort of lodge where I was notified that in order to make sure that Harper and Sara got to be together in Heaven for all eternity, Harper was going to be crucified before she was old enough to go down the wrong path.

Everyone was ok with this. I spent the dream trying to convince Sara through pleading, reason, emotional arguments, etc. that she shouldn't do this, but she had a glazed look in her eye and would not be convinced. She said that if I really wanted a child so badly, there was another on the way and I could just be patient. I stood behind cars so they couldn't go, I screamed at people, I wrestled Harper away from people, but nothing was working. More and more people kept showing up at the lodge so they could be present to watch Harper ascend. At some point, there was a discussion about the fact that I was just upset because I wouldn't be going to Heaven to see her and I was more than welcome to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. At another point, I got so angry with Sara that I tackled her to the ground so I could talk right into her face. It didn't seem odd at the time, but she had transformed into a different woman, one who looked very much like one of her aunts.

I woke up breathing heavily, decided I needed to be done with sleeping for the night. I got out of bed and stood sobbing in the kitchen. At what, I'm not really sure. It could have been the dream, it could have been the fact that I am becoming more and more concerned about my own mental state, it could be due to the fact that this may have been the worst week of my teaching career; it just won't seem to end and even at home, in the safety of my own bed, I can't escape the stress that it has been causing me.

I need to take a moment here to state that I know Sara would NEVER under any circumstances, attempt to sacrifice our daughter. She is the greatest mother that our little girl could ever have. She is an amazing wife and I don't deserve the love and devotion that she shows me. We do come from different backgrounds, but she has never asked me to convert and has made it clear that she never will. I have no fears of this happening. This week has taken its toll on me and my mental state. I have been distant, irritable (more than normal), and stand-offish. I am aware of these things and I have been making an effort to change them, taking a deep breath before I continue conversations, etc.

I have two weeks off from school and it seems that more than ever before, I will need them. I need to do some serious thinking about my teaching style as well as my attitude. I also need to exorcise from my head the image of Harper being bundled up and driven to a field containing a 3 foot cross surrounded by candles.

There are other pictures, but I'm a bit distracted at the moment.

December 14, 2010

My Daughter, The Girl With Homosexuals In Her Family

A few weeks ago, another teacher and I were approached by some students and asked if the school had a Straight-Gay Alliance. It doesn't and they expressed interest in starting one. The other teacher and I agreed that we would be willing to be the faculty sponsors of the club and the other teacher began looking into how to start one.

She contacted the national chapter of SGA and sent an e-mail to the principal, who ultimately has the final say-so. She got lots of valuable information from the national chapter and received no response to her e-mail to the principal. Yesterday she went to see him. When she walked into his office, he asked "Is this about the gay thing?"

He then told her in no uncertain terms that it would not happen while he was in charge of the school. His reasoning was that it was a slippery slope and it would open the door to all sorts of other clubs "such as a pot-smoking club." He stated that if she wanted there to be a club like this one, she would have to wait 3-4 years until he was no longer the principal. He made several other statements about why this could not happen but the teacher conveying the information to me was very emotional and I don't want to quote anything else out of context.

Aside from the extremely offensive linking of homosexuality and illegal activity, this is against the law. The Equal Access Act states that any school which receives federal funds and has at least one non-curriculum club (including sports teams), must allow for the creation of an SGA. Should the school refuse, they forfeit all federal money.

I am stunned by this interaction. Our school has several students who are openly gay or support LGBTQ lifestyles. The majority of the surrounding districts have a chapter of SGA or one of its incarnations. On top of all of this, the school has been promoting how we need to be more attentive to the needs of our students, going so far as to place posters all over the school that read "Whatever it takes, out students are worth it." We have also been on an anti-bullying kick as well.

The next step, which has been taken, was to inform the students who have interest in the club that they needed to propose the club themselves. The club must, by law, be initiated by the students and have at least one faculty advisor. School officials are not allowed to change the name of the club to something more "palatable."

As a non-tenured teacher, I am taking a very back seat to this particular debate. Normally, I would charge in, guns blazing, torches ready to burn every bridge in sight. This time, however, I'm planning to support the students 100% and see what happens. There is no point in my fighting for this if the students don't care enough to do it themselves.

I have spent my entire life in the presence of gays and lesbians. My parents were part of a couple group when I was growing up that consisted mainly of homosexual couples. All of my mom's friends from the Peace Corps are all gay. This seems so normal to me that I am always baffled when people give the response of "Oh yuck! Gays! Don't touch me!"

I've had numerous discussions with friends and coworkers about gay marriage, DADT and various other issues surrounding the homosexual lifestyle and community. I have yet to encounter an argument that doesn't essentially boil down to being scared of, or grossed out by, homosexuals.

The concept of "love the sinner, hate the sin" strikes me as well intentioned, but idiotic. I understand it for things such as poor behavior in children, but this implies that homosexuality is something that is chosen. During discussions of this nature, I often make the argument that 50 years ago, people looked on interracial marriage as a sin and didn't want blacks serving in the military. I'm usually countered that people can't choose to be black. I can't even begin to go into the fallacies of this argument.

I'd like to think that there is something behind all of this other than fear and hate, but I have yet to be presented with anything to the contrary.

Harper will be raised to embrace the differences in people. I hope to instill in her the value that it's how you treat other people that makes you a good or a bad person.

I don't understand why this is such a debated topic.

Perhaps my new argument in these discussions will be "Just because I think that you're hideous and the idea of you having sex with anyone, let alone your wife, fills me with repulsion and causes bile to rise in the back of my throat, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to do it."

Maybe not. That seems intolerant.

November 30, 2010

My Daughter, The Biological Terrorist

This year, my aunt hosted Thanksgiving, so we packed up the baby, a few pairs of clean underwear and drove 300 miles through darkness and boredom to my mother's house outside of Philadelphia. The trip was uneventful with two notable exceptions.

The first being a vomiting episode on the part of the baby when we were about 2/3 of the way through the trip.

The second being the discovery that we had neglected to pack diapers on our trip, aside from the 4 in the travel bag.

Since we were more than halfway to our destination, we decided that it would be in our best interest to soldier on and make it to the home of two babysitters who would happily clean up any further vomit and essentially do everything that we normally do and allow us to sleep. (Thanks!!)

Thursday morning rolls around and there has been no further incidents of gastric distress, so we pack up and head to dinner. Harper lets us know how excited she is by running in circles through the house and trying to pull everything on to the floor. When it was indicated that it was time to get dressed and go, she seemed confused. She was under the impression that she would simply be scampering in circles for 4 days.

You want me to do what now?

Needless to day, her displeasure was not disguised. It did, however, take a more sadistic turn. She did spend much of the first few hours in blatant refusal to nap. All attempts to pacify her with the effigy of small, red creatures who refer to themselves only in the third person remained ineffective.

At some point, she succumbed to the inevitable brought on by sleep-deprivation and crankiness. She did not, however, go down without a fight.

"You want me to nap, of father of mine, I will require two things of you! First, I demand to be held and rocked in no fewer than six positions over a period of no less than twenty five minutes. This time-frame must take place during the discussion that illicits the most laughs and cheers from the participants downstairs, thus ensuring that you miss all of the inside jokes!

"Secondly, I demand to punch you about the head no less than ten times during said rocking, in areas that include, but will not be limited to the ears, eyes, nose, jaw and any pimples that may have sprouted on your head. I will also be entitled to attempt to reach your brain through your nostrils with the one fingernail I have that remains uncut."

After a lengthy discussion with her attorney, I signed the papers and the rocking commenced.

I knew that I had very limited time, so I went back downstairs and selected the food that I intended to eat. Knowing my daughter as I do, I decided it would be a better plan to simply throw the stuffing, turkey, potatoes, at least two other items that I can't recall at the moment, into a blender and hook them directly to my veins.

I assume the food was tasty.

Upon returning downstairs in a much better mood, Harper decided it was time for her to thank whomever it is that she thanks for her food. (Certainly not her parents.)

During the course of her nap, she had come to a conclusion. She had decided that since she was not able to walk home by herself to sleep in her own bed, she was going to embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving as best she can.

My daughter, the student of history, in the spirit of the early pilgrims, came to a foreign land, ate the food, enjoyed herself, affected friendship with the natives, and spread her horrid diseases.

She infected at least have of my family with small-pox.

Or, a stomach virus.

What? You wanna fight about it?

November 18, 2010

My Daughter, The One-Year-Old

Seriously, how the hell did that happen?

It was just last week that we were bringing her home from the hospital. How could that have actually been a year ago??

This has been an unbelievable year. In the past 12 months. We bought a house, had a baby, managed not to have to file for bankruptcy and still actually like each other.

At least, I still like Sara. I hope she still likes me.

Harper is walking, running, trying to open cabinets, able to identify exactly what we don't want her playing with, and is well on her way to getting approval for her doctoral thesis which she has titled "Why I Hate Boys And Will Never Be Involved With Them." I have high hopes that her committee will approve it and I look forward to helping her with the research and data analysis.

How can she be a year already? She's so tiny, but she she's so much bigger than she was. Sara is often commenting about how, when she's giving Harper her bottle, her body know wraps completely around Sara, where before she was almost too small to hold.

I keep getting flashes of what she'll look like in 15 years, which, my very helpful coworkers assure me is right around the corner. (Thanks, jerks)

I want to write more about this, but I'm just so shocked that I'm having trouble forming my thoughts into semi-coherent words.

Suffice to say, Happy Birthday, daughter of mine. You are wonderful and cute and frustrating and adorable and funny and loud and perfect.

You are so great, that as a birthday gift, mommy and I are going to make you a big sister. That present, however, is still cooking and won't arrive until March. I hope you can wait.

October 24, 2010

My Daughter, The Victim of Religious Freedom

There are certain phrases, which when uttered, cause my level of respect for the person speaking them to instantly decrease. The amount of respect depends, of course, on the phrase itself. Some pull out a double-barreled shotgun, place it directly into the mouth of my respect for the person, utter some pithy, cliche phrase like "How about a bullet sandwich?" and pull the trigger, spraying respect-brains and bits of respect-skull all over the respect-living room wall. This category includes phrases such as:

"Jersey Shore is the greatest show ever!!"

"Stephanie Meyer is a literary genius." (Or some variation using 3rd grade vocabulary. "She write good books!" Stephen King agrees with me on this one.)

"**insert politician here** hates America and wants to destroy it!"

Other phrases do not do so much damage, but do make cringe internally and make a mental note to keep them in mind during future conversations. Some of these include:

"I hate speaking ill of others, but..." then proceed to speak ill of others.

"I can't wait to get out of here and get a beer!" (This one is only bad during certain situations, like school plays and job interviews.)

"God has a plan."

At this point, you may have come to a screeching halt and thought "WHAT?!?" so allow me to elaborate.

I think this is an idiotic concept. What? That wasn't enough elaboration? Fine!

The phrase "God has a plan" followed by "for me" is not as bad as when it is followed by "for you." This is something said when a tragic event occurs, such as a building collapsing on top of a cardboard box filled with puppies, especially puppies that you owned. While weeping among the wreckage, someone will come up to you, thinking they are being helpful and supportive and say "Don't be sad. God has a plan." They will then pat you on the back and walk away feeling amazing at the wonderful work they've done that day.

What I hear there is "God wanted to kill your puppies. He wanted their little lives crushed out under hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete, wood, glass and metal."

The people who use this phrase with the idea that it will bring comfort to people who are grieving. For some, it may work. For people who have devoted their lives (or a portion of their lives) to the church, or the mosque, or the temple, it is a reminder of where they have placed their faith. It is a comfort in time of need to be reminded that they are a part of something larger and more wonderful.

For others, however, it sounds more like "You are sad. You wouldn't be sad if you loved God more."

I know this isn't what they are saying and almost never what they imply, but this is how it sounds.

It's easier to smile and say "Thanks" than it is to get into a discussion about religious diversity.

God has a plan for my cuteness!

With this in mind, Sara and I had many long discussions before we had Harper about how to raise her in terms of religious traditions. Sara was raised Catholic, but doesn't really practice any more. I was raised Skeptical Jewish but now, I would have have to fill in the dot marked "None of the Above."

We wrote the wedding ceremony ourselves, selecting our favorite poems, songs and readings. We spent a few months in consultation with various priests, rabbis, shamans, witch doctors, etc., several of whom told us that unless we pick one tradition, our children would be hopelessly confused. One woman went so far as to tell us that unless one of us converted to the religion of the other, we shouldn't get married because some differences simply could not be overcome, no matter how much love exists.

We've decided that we're going to expose Harper (and future children) to our diverse backgrounds, taking special care not to imply that one is better than any other.

In my mind, spirituality exists to give comfort to people in time of need and help to explain things that we cannot understand. Religion is a collection of like-minded spiritual individuals who have found their comfort in similar concepts and rites.

To make an analogy, spirituality is the varied academic interests that people have in college while religion is there major.

We're not sure how this is going to work, but I have high hopes. I plan to teach Harper about the various religions of the world and teach her that no matter what she believes, she will always be our daughter and we will love her.

We will also teach her about religious tolerance, so that if she decides to be a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Catholic, Free Presbyterian, Locked-Up Presbyterian, Sun Worshiper, Maya, Inca, Jew, Muslim, Goat-Sacrificer, etc., she will still recognize that other people may not be any of those and that she should not tell other people how to live their lives.

I am a Mohawk Indian.

I am a Sun War-Shipper!!

I have a few more thoughts on this, but I'm rambling and there is bacon on the stove. God may have a plan, but if it doesn't include bacon, why should I care about it?

October 13, 2010

My Daughter, The Girl With One Living Great-Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most important people in my life. We had breakfast together before school several times a week for a few years. He was kind, generous, loving and understanding. I know that my mother, aunt and uncle knew a different side of him as well as this one, but I never did. In my eyes, he was wonderful all the time.

In the summer of 2000, just after my high school graduation, he was taken to the hospital for what they thought was pneumonia. It turned out to be an inoperable brain tumor. He was not given much time and I actually considered delaying going off to college for a year so that I could spend more time with him. In the end, he talked me out of it and I went.

Over the course of the illness, he lost his ability to write, read and speak. He knew what he wanted to say, but his traitorous body simply would not form the words.

During Easter break of 2001, I surprised my family by coming home. I spent several hours with my grandfather, telling him how school was going and just sitting with him, enjoying his company. I returned to school that Sunday, only to receive a call from my dad on Thursday telling me that my grandfather had passed.

One of the jokes in our family, which is only half a joke, is that you can tell how important a person was by the size of their funeral. My grandfather's service was packed, with every seat full and people standing, lining the walls three rows deep. The motorcade to the cemetery contained 97 cars.

I miss him every day and I have tried to live my life in a way so that he could be proud of me.

I have often toyed with the idea of writing a biography of him but I fear that my skills as a writer could never do justice to the life he led.

A few months before, I had ended my longest relationship to date with very mixed feelings. On one hand, I knew that it was not healthy for me or the young woman involved. Neither of us were treating each other very well and we should have been over several months before. On the other hand, I had even greater sadness now because I knew that whomever I ended up with would never know my grandfather.

Sara and I had many talks about this. She also lost her grandfather a year into our relationship and I did not get to know him nearly as well as I would have liked. I wish, more than anything else, that Sara and Harper could have met him and known him the way that I did.

It is a Jewish tradition that you name a child after a departed loved one. You can't use the entire name, just the first initial. This is why we chose an H name for our first born, as previously discussed in the fourth post ever in this blog. I know that my grandfather would have loved Sara just as much as I do and I know that he would have loved Harper even more.

I used to have dreams about him. Several times over the course of our relationship, I have woken up in the middle of the night sobbing uncontrollably and Sara has had to console me. The dreams are usually not sad, but the aftermath, the waking up to know that he's still gone, is crushing. Even as I'm typing this, almost 10 years after his death, I'm having trouble keeping it together.

My dreams are usually about us having fun, going out somewhere, enjoying ourselves and being happy.

Last night was the first time where he died. Throughout the dream, I knew he was alive and ill, but I went about my life as normal. Near the end, as I was sitting down to a meal, I received a phone call telling me that he had died. The food turned to ash in my mouth. I wasn't devastated, but I was unhappy and woke up soon after, thankfully not sobbing hysterically.

The dream did not make me sad for myself, but it reinstated my sadness that my daughter would never know her great-grandfather who meant so much to me.

I may have written this post before and I apologize if it is redundant. Occasionally, I need to talk about it again.

October 12, 2010

My Daughter, The Neglected Child

If I treat Harper anything like the way I treat Sara, someone will have to call child services on me. This is not to say that I am abusive (although the daycare probably thinks so with all of the bruises she is always sporting.) In my defense, she received the gash under her eye at daycare, so they can't blame me for that one.

I am endlessly devoted to my wife and daughter and I never wish them anything but good will. My memory and common sense, however, are not so devoted.

Two years ago, Sara and I went to the Niagara-on-the-Lake region of Canada. We spent the weekend tasting wine and touring the countryside. It was the best vacation we had ever been on. (I know, I ended that sentence with a preposition.) For two months now, we have been planning to return. We book a reservation at the same bed-and-breakfast as before and were looking up the various wineries that we wanted to tour. We both took Friday and Monday off of work so that we could have a long relaxed weekend, what with the drive up being about 5 hours.

The plan: Harper would go to my in-laws Thursday night. Friday morning, we would get up, drive to the B&B, check in, gaze lovingly out over Lake Ontario, have a late lunch, and start our winery tours. This would continue through Sunday and we would wake up refreshed on Monday morning, collect our belongings and our various wine purchases and head home, picking up the baby along the way.

Doesn't this sound like a great plan?

The reality: I return from work on Thursday and hope to surprise my wife be having everything packed and ready to go when she gets home. As I am collecting my belongings, I discover something...upsetting. My passport expired a year ago.

After several minutes of screaming profanity to an empty house, I begin looking for solutions.

I pace (not a helpful or productive solution).

I called Canada.
**ring ring**
Canada: 'Allo?
Me: Hi. Do I need a passport to come enjoy your splendid country?

I called the passport office.
**ring ring**
Passport Office: Please listen to our automated message about pricing through which you are unable to skip.
Me: **Waiting...**
Passport Office: More information you don't want and can't figure out why anyone would want.
Me: **Waiting...**
Passport Office: What do you want?
Me: I need a passport by tomorrow.
Passport Office: No problem. That will be a $200 rush fee and will take 2-4 weeks.
Me: I need it by tomorrow.
Passport Office: No problem. That will be a $200 rush fee and you will have to make an appointment and show up in person and your local passport office.
Me: Which is where?
Passport Office: Philadelphia. Be there at 8:30 tomorrow morning.
Me: And then I'll be able to get my passport right then?
Passport Office: Maybe. Why are you asking me?

Solution: I felt like a neglectful husband for ruining this vacation for my amazing wife. I spent a few hours online looking up B&B's in the Erie area, which happens also to have an amazing wine area.

I found a nice place, we went and came back with WAY too many bottles of wine. We had an excellent time, in spite of my incredible incompetence.

The baby's reaction to all of this?

INDIFFERENCE AT OUR PLIGHT! Just happy to be a baby!

There are now people reading over my should as I type, silently judging my choice of words and use of time at school. More pictures when I get home.

October 5, 2010

My Daughter, The Chameleon

I'm constantly amazed at the depth of my daughter's character. It seems odd to be talking about it in those terms, but I can't think of another way. She is ever changing and yet still consistent.

She is a happy child. She loves to play and be affectionate. She explores and is only still when she's completely exhausted. She's active and runs circles around the boys at her day care.

She also has moments of quiet contemplation. As is true of my side of the family, these moments are few and short-lived, proving again that she could only be my daughter, but she does have them. When she gets in these moods, she doesn't seem to find much amusement in the antics of myself or my wife, but she does watch us with the interest of Jane Goodall observing the chimpanzees (good analogy for me, not so much for my wife). I half expect her to pull out a steno pad or micro-cassette recorder and start taking notes on the behaviors of the mature homo sapiens.

Physically, she's also changing dramatically. My parents who see her through Skype every week or so claim that she looks so different every time. I always smile and nod my head at their senility. I think they must be confusing her with someone else, like one of their other grandchildren.

Occasionally, however, I see their point. She looks like a different person from the one we brought home from the hospital almost eleven months ago.

She could be related to that first baby, her sister maybe, but not the same person.

I'm excited to watch how she continues to change.

I keep wondering what kind of person she will become, but I know that she won't be anything like I imagine.

I am just amazed by her.

October 1, 2010

My Daughter, The Anti-Depressant

I cannot even begin to express what a terrible day yesterday was. I can, however, give you a general summary of the incidents, in list form!

*Received a copy of a letter that a student sent to the superintendent about me. It put me in a nice light, but was a complete and total fabrication and possibly put me in a spot where I may be forced to tutor him FOREVER.

*Got into an altercation with a coworker. (Details are not needed)

*Students were particularly frustrating.

*Instead of tutoring in the after school math lab, I spent 20 minutes trying to enter the names, ID #, race, gender, grade, teacher, and class, of every student who attended.

*As I was leaving school, got a call that our babysitter was puking sick and I needed to get the baby ASAP. Sara, however, had the car seat.

This may not seem like a large number of things, but let me assure you, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.

My daughter is saving my life. When I got her home, she wanted to be held. By me! It was great.

She and I played, really played, for about 2 hours. We ran around the house, I chased her, she chased me, we wrestled, we looked out the window, we danced, we hung upside-down, we spun in circles. I play games with her, but never for this long.

She wanted, more than anything else, to play with me.

At some point, Sara was making dinner and on the phone. Part of her conversation involved her blurting out, loudly, "Oh no!!"

Harper and I were on the couch, looking out of the window at this point. My daughter, the prodigy, without breaking stride or turning around, said "oh no!" in exactly the same intonation as her mother. My baby is growing up and learning new words! She can say "banana." We think she said "dinner."

People occasionally ask "If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?" I've never been able to think of anything I could do because I am fickle and get bored VERY easily.

I could happily play with my daughter for the rest of life and never feel like I was missing something.

I am now back at work and trying very hard to keep myself calm and not re-ignite the conversation with my coworker from yesterday (I will be avoiding that person for as long as possible). I am sustaining myself on thoughts that I will soon be home with my daughter, running around the house and playing games.

I hope that she'll still be in the mood to play today...

Ok, pictures!

September 29, 2010

My Daughter, The Audience

There is no sound in the world quite like the hysterical laughing shriek of your own child.

That's all for now.

P.S. I hope everyone is still enjoying this blog. If you can think of ways to improve it, please let me know. I'm always looking to up my readership and improve the quality of the posts.

September 27, 2010

My Daughter, The Elvis Impersonator

What's the next thing to do after you've mastered walking? Why, dancing of course!

She just can't help herself! When the music is playin', she gets the itch! Just gotta move! Just gotta groove!!

Afterwards, we celebrated with a fried banana and peanut butter bottle.

Thank you! Thank you very much!

September 26, 2010

My Daughter, The Bowler

There was a huge thing a few years ago with a baby who was laughing hysterically when he tore a piece of paper. I wish I had grabbed the camera sooner because then you could have heard that she was laughing just as hard.

September 23, 2010

My Daughter, The Face On The Milk Carton

Since Sara and I were under the weather, my mother-in-law swooped down and whisked Harper off to the medical safety of her house for a few days. We are eternally grateful for the fact that she will not catch the blight that has been put upon us by what I can only assume is witchcraft or devilry.

Two adults with this is bad enough, but a baby with the inability to think "I can feel bile rising in my throat and a sense of increased gravity in my lower bowels. Perhaps I should meander off to the bathroom, or at least a tiled room, so as to minimize the blast radius" I think it would be too much I would have to move to Cambodia to become a monk to atone for my life of sin.

With that said, by the time I pick her up tomorrow, it will have been a full 70 hours since I've seen the baby.

I miss her something fierce.

**frowny face**

September 22, 2010

My Daughter Cares Not For Your Disease

Human babies prove that Darwin was a fool.

Never in the history of any species has there been a creature with less self-preservation.

After spending Monday night evacuating all substance from her body, my poor and half-broken wife wandered into the living room in preparation to head to the hospital to get fluids forced back into her. What does my daughter do?

"Oh mother! It is so wonderful to see you! I care not for your virulent strains of plague! I care not for the phlegm dripping from your every orifice! I wish to thrown my tiny arms around you and press my face into your aching body, sharing as many fluids as possible!"

Had there been sharp objects around, she would have asked to use them as replacements for her pacifiers.

Two days later, with Sara recovering at home, what is Harper doing?

Aren't those the cutest shoes? Once her feet grow and they stop being clown shoes, they will still be cute.

September 20, 2010

My Daughter, The Dental Patient

6:20 am: No toner or paper for the school copier, no clue what I'm teaching today/this week. Perfect time for a blog entry!!

Dear faithful reader (no, the singular is not a typo. I have no delusions,about the popularity of this blog),

I must apologize to you. I have not been as diligent in the updating of this blog as I have in the past. This is only semi-intentional. I did not want this blog to turn into a mundane list of daily activities, detailing the every move of myself and my family. I wanted it to be an irreverent list of daily activities, but it turns out that I'm not nearly as good of a writer as I want to be.

I know that in order to be good at anything, you need to practice regularly and Kurt Vonnegut says that to be a writer, you need to write every day, no matter what you write. Sadly, while things are happening that I think are cute and adorable, I don't think that they are for the general public, or that I could explain them in an interesting enough way to even entertain myself.

On top of all of that, I have been monstrously busy, not necessarily with work, but with time-consuming activities, like traveling to and from work. This semester, I'm "teaching" a physics lab at Duquesne University, which means that on Tuesday and Wednesday, I leave my house at 5:15 am to get to school with enough time to do my work before the copier gets hogged by Social Studies teachers, leave school around 3:30-4 to drive to the university, teach the lab from 6-8 and get home between 8:30 and 9. Sadly for me, this means I don't get to see Harper at all on these days, which I hate. She's asleep when I leave in the morning and (hopefully) asleep when I get home.

As a direct result, I've been trying to make the most of the weekends, spending as much time with my women as possible. This past Saturday, Harper turned 10 months old and my mom turned (something)7 so we went to Philadelphia to celebrate. My grandmother took the family out to dinner at an amazing restaurant that I will never go to unless someone else pays.

During the day, Sara, Harper, my mom, Joan and I went to a Renaissance festival near New Hope where I got to wear my kilt, Harper got to wear her kilt, and I ran into someone with whom I went to high school and have not seen in 11 years. The festival was great fun and, as with the Scottish Highland Games, people stopped and gaped in wide-wonder at the joy they had found in my daughter toddling around in a kilt.

We've also found that as a gift for turning 10 months old, my daughter received a molar.

My baby is growing up so fast!

Since I am updating this from work, I don't have any new pictures or videos, but I hope to post some when I get home today.


September 12, 2010

My Daughter, The Scot

If I ever needed independent confirmation that my daughter is painfully adorable, I received it this weekend. We went to the Scottish Highland Games in Ligonier and I got to wear my kilt (Blackwatch tartan). I also got to buy a new one (MacKenzie tartan) as well as a ghillie shirt so you can guess how I'm dressing up for Halloween this year.

I also bought a tiny kilt for Harper. I found one in Blackwatch so we would match, but she looked MUCH cuter in Lindsey.

As we walked around, me in my kilt, Harper in hers, walking at a toddler's pace, half a dozen people asked if they could take pictures because she was so cute.

August 27, 2010

WWF Showdown! Harper vs the Giant Purple Monkey!

Here is the action from Wednesday Night!

Same wrestling arena (the living room).

"Baby Girl Aion" in one corner weighing in at 17 lbs, 12 oz. 27 inches tall. She's been working on her moves and techniques since the last time we saw her in action.
In the other corner we have "Puffy, the Purple Monkey" He's puffy, filled with air and always happy! He doesn't have a clue!

The crowd watches as Baby Girl pulls Monkey from his place in the corner behind a chair. She tests him by chewing on his tail a little.
No reaction.
She plops him in front of her and looks at him.
He's so complacent.
She pushes on his chest to see if he reacts at all. He just keeps smiling up at her.
She's thinking of the next move and for encouragement she looks at the crowd.
She sees "Mum" and "Ada" watching with great smiles on their faces! They cheer her on!
With renewed energy she decides to jump onto the monkey!
He rewards her with a great "Sssqueeeaaakkk!!" The breath is knocked out of him!
She rolls over him and flops to the floor. Will he attack while her back is turned??
Somehow he's still smiling!
She decides to wipe that smile from his face once and for all!
She jumps again and bites at the same time, he sits and does nothing. Another high pitched squeak, squeak and that's about it.
She's tired now and ... oh wait there's something shiny over there...

August 26, 2010

My Daughter, The Great Relocator

School has started! I am quickly learning the limitations of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants teaching style.

It sucks. Time to get organized.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I will be teaching a physics lab at Duquesne University. When I returned home last night, I found my wife and brother-in-law's girlfriend sitting on the floor in the living room studying for a test that the latter is going to take tomorrow. My brother-in-law and daughter were nowhere to be found.

I sat down at the computer quietly and began doing...things... (I don't remember, but it was probably wasting time.) I hear the door open and I look over my should to find a tiny gap-toothed mouth smiling at me from 3 inches away. My brother-in-law had taken Harper for a walk and she was excited and hyper!

As I'm sure you can see from the videos that I've posted ( that the little baby has started walking/running around the house.

She is not crawling at all anymore. When she falls down, she immediately stands back up and keeps walking.

When she was put on the ground last night, she screeched in joy, toddled over to my wife, patted her on the knee and proceeded to walk in circles around my living room, going until she found a wall, then turning around and walking back. She giggled the entire way.

When she first started walking, people said "Oh man, are you ever in trouble!" I thought "Nah! This is great! Now she can follow us around and that will be adorable!"

It is adorable!

It's also terrifying.

Two nights ago, I had followed the Great Wanderer into our bedroom and lay on our bed as she paced our room. To my horror, I watched walk over to my wife's night table, pick up her glasses, turn around, walk over and, very deliberately, place them behind the dresser, where they fell about 16 inches into a crack between two pieces of furniture.

She then looked and me, giggled and ran out of the room.

I'm moving everything I own into a box and gluing it to the ceiling.

August 9, 2010

My Daughter, The Screen Hog

WARNING: The Following Movie Review Contains Spoilers!

This past week, Sara and I watched the newest production from New Parent Pictures, entitled "Baby's First Beach Vacation." It was an interesting film, filled with all sorts of twists, turns and cameos.

The film opened with a quick trip to the grandmothers' house after work on a Friday. The star, the lovely Ms. Harper, spent the evening walking around the house while her supporting roles, played by Mom and Dad, went to sleep.

Saturday morning found or characters on the road to beach, excitement building to a stunning climax that culminated with their being stuck in traffic and taking an extra hour to reach their coveted destination. Our main character spent most of this time enjoying the amazing images on the inside of her eyelids.

The beach was reached, surprise family members were present, much rejoicing was done. Monday morning greeted the father of our heroine with the pleasant surprise of poison oak all over his hands. That will teach him to weed gardens without gloves! Four Benedril and a full days rest later, he awoke and went into the ocean for perhaps the second time in a decade.

Parents really should not allow their children to watch Jaws at such an impressionable age...

Luckily, the story did not take place in Seaside Heights, which experienced a 6-foot shark swimming into the beach (

After a day of recovering from poison oak, Harper's parents went deep sea fishing and caught 1/7th of the fish caught for the day.

I'm sort of bored with this style of writing and it has taken me all morning to do, so I'm skipping it for now.

We had a very nice relaxing few days until we woke up Friday morning to realize that our bikes had been stolen right off of the porch. We are not pleased. Filed a police report and now we wait. I have no hope that they will be recovered at this point.

Saturday, my uncle, cousin, aunt and grandmother came down for the day and we had a blast. It was great to be able to spend time with everyone and it helped us to forget how pissed we were about the bikes. I spent a good portion of the day in the ocean. I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and now have the most absurd burn on my armpits...

We spent Saturday night with my mom and drove home yesterday morning.

Vacation with an 8-month old is an interesting thing. I won't go so far as to say that it's not a vacation, only a change of venue, but it's very close. It was actually harder than spending the days home with her because with the heat, the humidity and the new environment, she didn't nap at all. She was cranky and very hard to keep happy. I was slightly stressed and we almost came home early just so we could get some sleep. But we persevered, and were rewarded with the theft of our bikes on Friday and an awesome day with my family on Saturday.

I start back at work on Wednesday and I'll be pleased to get back to a regular schedule. Many teachers say that their favorite perk of teaching is summer vacation. I like that very much, but it's not my favorite perk. My favorite perk is being finished with work at 2:30 in the afternoon. I'm a morning person and am best able to concentrate on getting things done first thing in the morning.

Dropping Harper off at my brother-in-law's place at 5:45 should be a blast!

I have other thoughts on this topic, but she's crawling around and needs attention. Here are some pictures from vacation. There are more, but Sara accidentally took the camera to work with her. I'll post them later.

July 15, 2010

My Daughter, The Appropriately Named "Lady Not Appearing In This Blog"

My skin is crawling!!

Never have I been so happy to get my daughter out of the house. I wanted this post to be about my first few days as a stay-at-home dad: the trials and tribulations of diaper changes and peeing during nap time.

That will have to wait for another day, sadly. Did I mention that my skin is crawling? Why is my skin crawling, you may ask. Allow me to tell you the tale of two rooms.

The first room, which we will call "The Basement" is a quiet room, below the house. "The Basement" contains the laundry room, the pantry and a family space that is pseudo-finished. Two days ago, I noticed a few flies buzzing around the lights and thought nothing of it. I killed them and went about my happy existence. Yesterday, I noticed that there were...a few more. These few could be seen from the outside of the house as they decided to congregate on the window panes.

By "few" I mean "thousands."

They were not swarming, merely hanging out on the windows, the curtains, the ropes to the lights, etc.

Today, the plan was to spend the morning with my gorgeous daughter, have lunch and then my mother-in-law was going to get her and take her through tomorrow, having a nice sleepover!

As is typical, I get up before my angel and do some things around the house before she wakes and we start our day. Today, I was sitting on the couch finishing The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford when I glimpsed movement out of the corner of my eye. This movement appeared to be a flying insect in our front room. I went to investigate.

Thus begins the tale of the second room, the front room. This is a beautiful room, slightly off from the main area of the house, with a tile floor, nice windows and a sunny disposition. I went into the room to see if I could find the fly. As I rounded the corner, slowly and dramatically, I might add, I saw not one flying creature, but many. It was not a fly.

The room contained, what appeared to be, one hundred bees, flying between the windows and the walls. I called my mother-in-law and asked if she would be so kind as to take Harper a little earlier than she planned. Over the next 20 minutes, I called multiple places looking for an exterminator. As a tribute to my mother, as well as all of the other good liberals I know, I called several local places, none of which picked up their phones. My anxiety was mounting.

I eventually called Terminix and they said they would have a guy out between 11-1. I have, by this time, closed Harper's door, starting packing all of her things and by the time she got up, I had her changed and out the door in 5 minutes. In between the time I saw them and the time I got Harper out of the house, a span of maybe 15 minutes, I moved from concern to full blown panic.

I dropped her off at Sara's aunt's house and returned to mine to wait for the exterminator. Luckily, the bees were still contained in the front room, only three having ventured into the rest of the house. I'll spare you the details of the actual extermination. The guy did help me set off bug bombs in the basement, ending the reign of the flies down there. Within 10 minutes, the windows were clear.

Thus, bugs in two rooms are gone, or will be slowly over the next three days, according to the exterminator.

They are not, however, gone from my mind or under my skin. I keep thinking I'm seeing things out of the corners of my eyes.

A year or two ago, we had fleas. It took a day or two of thorough cleaning to get rid of them, but for weeks afterwards, every time a hair moved on my leg, a small itch appeared on my skin, I slapped at it, thinking I was covered in bugs. This is how I feel now.

I'm slightly afraid to take a shower because I'm worried what it will feel like.

Alright, I'm done. Here are some pictures...



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