Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I read it...in a book.

This fall has new things in store for our family, as well as a return to a certain thing that has lingered on for far too long. Come September, Harper will begin attending the Mother's Day Out program at Harris Creek Baptist Church every Tuesday and Thursday. I will then be free to skip around town sipping milkshakes, getting pedicures and eating bonbons. If Days of Our Lives weren't so flippin' terrible, I'd watch soap operas to boot! If only Nicole would fess up that she stole Sami's baby--sheesh!

Okay, now that I'm done daydreaming, we can cut back to reality. Harper will go to MDO on Tues/Thurs from 9AM-2PM during which time I will be doing anything but lounging. You see, I've re enrolled at Texas State University to finish that pesky little masters degree. I will become a Master of Public Administration, once and for all! And yes, you will all have to call me "master," I insist. ;)

All that I lack to complete my degree is a pesky little thing called an Applied Research Project. (Enter that link at your own risk--I will not take responsibility if you die of boredom!) Actually, it's anything but a little pesky. It's a lot pesky. Ugh. I have to start, like, now, thinking of a new topic for my ARP. The topic I spent a semester researching and writing a lit review for is not worth resuscitating, so it's back to the drawing board for me. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, I will graduate in May with an ARP that passes muster. Let's just see how many laptops I can kill between now and then!

Seriously though, I expect this project to require all the blood, sweat and tears I can spare. I know this will place an extra layer of burden on my family, but I have no qualms that we will survive the next two semesters. I know I can count on Jeff's support, and Harper, well...your selection of reading material might be a tad drier than usual! I'll have her master the Turabian model of references and citations before she can tie her own shoe! Doesn't that sound fun? Ehh....don't answer that.

When I disappear this September, just know that I'll be back to my old self in May....well, we hope! Wish me luck!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ode to Grammy...

With all the help she has given us in the last couple of weeks, I have to send a little shout out to my mother.  The last two weeks have been filled with volunteer obligations, and luckily, Grammy was more than willing to cover my shifts with Harper.  She is off work for the summer, so it worked out perfectly for her to visit for a couple days at a time.  She kept Harper busy during the three long days Jeff and I spent helping out at the Starburst Junior Golf Tournament.  Amazingly, she agreed to come back and babysit again this past weekend while I attended to obligations for Zoobilee and Junior League.  Yet more amazing, Grammy is on board to watch Harper in August while Jeff and I celebrate our wedding anniversary at Becker Vineyards.  Three cheers for Grammy!

Harper enjoyed her recent visits with Grammy just as she loves hanging out with all of her grandparents.  Good thing she has plenty of 'em!  We love each of you--thank you for all of the things you do to make our lives a little easier.  

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!

Allow me to introduce you to our Thursday playgroup, from left to right:

Hadley, Kendall, Piper, Kylee, Cambell, Carter, H-Bomb, Blaire, and Makenzie.

As you can tell, Carter is the lone dude of the group.  The party was chaperoned--don't you worry!  ;)  Harper is the next closest to resembling a little boy, at least until her hair can manage a bow or barrette!  Hmmm...I wonder if that old school Mane 'n Tail shampoo could help a girl out here?  Surely they make a "no tears" version!  What about the curling shampoo that would supposedly turn naturally straight hair into ringlets with one washing?  No way, not buying it!  Well, not buying it again.  And I digress...

Anyhoo, we got together for dinner last week with Harper's playgroup, and we so kindly invited the dads, too!  Good food, good company, good emergency response handling...what more could you ask for?  Seriously, Harper was cruisin' for a bruisin' that night.  When she singlehandedly decided the couch photo-op was over, she then took a tumble head first onto the floor.  Luckily, Jeff's cat-like reflexes sprung into action and he scooped her up just millimeters from a face plant.  Whew!

As if that wasn't a convincing enough scare for us, Harper later decided to go all out WWF-style.  I missed the action due to a potty break of my own, but I surely recognized that scream as it spilled out of Harper's now bloodied mouth.  It turned my stomach a bit when I saw Jeff holding a red paper towel to her face--I admit, I imagined much worse than the purple lower lip he revealed to me.  One dose of Tylenol, one ice pack and one blood stain later, Harper was no worse for wear.  She shook it off pretty quickly, and hadn't made a peep about it since.  I have to give Jeff the credit for this recovery, too.  Way to go, Super Dad! 

I wasn't expecting to practice my stain removal tactics this early in the game, but I'll have you know that shirt gleams an even brighter white than it did on the rack at Old Navy.  More importantly, the lip is as good as new! 

Monday, June 22, 2009


Harper attended her first pajama party last weekend, and she wants to tell you all about it! Since she can't talk or write (surely we can cut her some slack--she's only 9 months old!), we'll let Cambell's mom, Storey, take over from here!

We owe a huge THANKS to the Cook family for entertaining Harper on Friday night. It was so much more than babysitting...she had a fabulous time with Cambell and her parents. We can't wait to return the favor!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nine is fine!

It's that time of the month again. (No, not that time, Jeff.) Harper turned nine-months old on Monday. Nine months!

I wished her a happy 3/4th birthday, of course.

Nine months is a significant time period to mothers for an obvious reason. Thank goodness the human gestation period is capped at nine months (though it's really ten, who are we kidding?), 'cuz I could not - and would not - have lugged Harper around in her one-womb apartment any longer. Think of the poor elephant! 22 months? I shudder at the thought.

Harper passed her check-up with flying colors. She was in a great mood, which was only briefly interrupted by the two shots she received. Amazingly, Harper's height (29.5 inches) ranked in at the 95th percentile! Jeff and I are not the tallest people, so we are always a little baffled by her height. She must get it from her Poppa Peel. :) She weighed in at 18.5 lbs (50th percentile), and you can bet your bottom dollar (I'm already at mine!) that Yo Baby yogurt and Cheerios accounted for 2.5 lbs of that total.

In other words, this kid is growing like a weed. Or growing like something else that is prettier and not as pesky as a weed. Wheat grass? A sunflower? Eh, you get the point. I'm a good five pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, and I give Harper all the credit. It takes everything I've got just to keep up with her! Scratch that--it takes everything I've got just to attempt to keep up with her. She is all over the place, and she isn't even walking yet. She does "cruise" quite a bit, and she stands on her own when she feels like it. If she could talk in clear English, I could imagine her saying "I do what I want!" with perfect South Park inflection. (Tiffany - isn't that what you say every morning when you wake up? ;) Muhahahaha!)

Nice shot of her two lower pearly whites...I confirmed her first upper tooth this morning. Let's just say she's been a smidgen grumpy today.

Where's Waldo? Our little explorer is hard at work...

I wish I could make music with every step I take.

Hey, that's where Momma takes her power naps...move along, little girl!

Yeah, I'm just gonna stand here with my block. Cool?

Please, Mom, no more pictures!

Harper ate them

Harper and I have been spending gobs and gobs of time out at the pool lately. Whether we're splish-splashin' around the big pool or the baby pool, there is always fun to be had. Most days we meet friends out there, and on other days Harper and I swim alone. Occasionally, Jeff will leave work at 5pm to play with us if he isn't too busy slanging insurance. (Gratuitous plug for Pinnacle Insurance Group--call Jeff if you need any personal or commercial insurance coverage! And now a word from our sponsors...) A pool just does something magical for a fussy kid. Throw in a handful of Goldfish crackers, and you've got your very own infant-mood-fixer-upper!

Enjoy a few pool pics from last week, and then erase all mental images of me in a bathing suit. The girls just ain't what they used to be, if ya know what I mean. I recently expressed displeasure regarding the post-breastfeeding rendition of my rack to Jeff, and he just didn't get it. (Which is actually a nice thing, I suppose.) I continued to complain about the disappearance of my boobs only to receive flattering comment after flattering comment from Jeff. He finally gave in to my complaints and asked "well, what happened to them?"

To which I replied, "Harper ate them."

As soon as the words fell out of my mouth, we immediately choked with laughter. Welcome to the latest running joke at the Peelton... (Another joke--comparing our house to the Hilton. Not with that kitchen, wood paneling and pink brick. Don't get me started!)

Ok, I'm done. Now you can enjoy the pics. Focus on the babies, folks!

Spaghetti striptease!

Due to the broken laptop situation and the Starburst junior golf tournament, I'm way behind with updates again. My apologies! I can already tell that the ol' blog is gonna be sparse this summer...it's just so much more fun to play at the pool! Plus, we all know how fussy I can get in the summer heat. Don't be surprised if you catch me borrowing Harper's pacifier to soothe myself!

Topless spaghetti dinner, eh? Yeah, you got it. That is exactly what happens after a long day exploring the zoo and splashing at the pool. All you have to do is make a delicious meal of spaghetti and Italian sausage, strip the kids down to their undies and/or diapers and let the games begin! I'll leave it to your own imaginations to decide if anyone else at dinner was topless! ;)

The zoo was cool....and hot. Not H-O-T hot, but I've always thought that ultra humid Texas summer days are far worse. The air was so thick and sticky! Yuck! We checked out a few animals and headed out before the seeds of fussiness had a chance to be sown. And I'm not talking about the kiddos! (I told you I don't do well in the heat!)

Hey, cuz'!

Audrey & her aunt...

Decked out in her jogging stroller!

Audrey & her mom....

Mr. Giraffe looked pissed when he saw Chelle's purse. What's a girl to do?!

Checking out the elephants. Good call, Mom, on the cup holder full of goldfish crackers!

Elephants have a gestation period of 23 months? Or was it 22? You gotta be kidding me! If I were an elephant (please hold the smart ass comments), I would definitely adopt!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I "heart" SWT

If you know me at all, then you know that I absolutely love SWT and San Marcos, Texas. To steal a line from Rod Stewart, they're in my heart and they're in my soul! Last week, I was lucky enough to visit San Marcos twice...and Jeff was lucky enough to have sole custody of Harper...twice!

Alyssa and I trekked to San Marky, and we kicked I-35's ass on the way there. The entire purpose of our trip was to consume the world's most perfect hamburger courtesy of the Tap Room. Since the ol' Tap-a-roo doesn't open until 3PM, we were forced to kill time shopping at the mega-crazy-gigantor outlet mall beforehand. A travesty, I know! Unlike college shopping trips, I targeted children's stores like Gymboree where I may or may not have picked up another four swimsuits for Miss HP. Shhhhh! Also, I may or may not have tried on a ridiculous blue jumpsuit for Miss Alyssa, which she may or may not have also videotaped.


Anyhoo, fast forward to the Tap Room. Behold the Mushroom Swiss burger and a side of fries with medium wing sauce for dippin':

A little taste of heaven on Earth!

My longtime friend, Hank, met us for an early dinner and drinks. We love Hank, too! He is the best brother that I never had. The powers that be may as well hang a historical marker around his neck since he is one of the most well-known San Martians ever! He informed us of all the recent changes in SM including the new bar closing time of 2AM! We always wished for an extension of our drinking hours, but it was probably best that it didn't take place during my years! Oh, and Hank also took us over to the newly remodeled and renamed bar, Harper's Hall. It's got a nice ring to it, eh? ;)

JenHowePeel & Brother Hank!

Alyssa & Jennybean at Harper's Hall!

Two days later, I returned to San Marcos with my other good buddy, Kristin. Kristin is the most spontaneous friend I've ever had, so I had a feeling she would be game for the adventure I had in mind. Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen were scheduled to play an acoustic show at Cheatham Street Warehouse in SM last Monday, and I just knew I had to be there! (It would have been much easier to attend the show they put on in Waco a few nights before, but it didn't work out as planned.) Anyhoo, Kristin jumped on board, and we headed southbound to good ol' San Marvelous. (FYI, there is no shortage of catchy nicknames for our beloved town.)

It never occurred to either of us that the show might sell out, oh, say two to three days earlier. We pulled up to a sold out show at Cheatham Street where a scalper without tickets tried to get us to bite. We tried to pull a string through a friend and family member of Wade Bowen, but even Wade couldn't get us in! Kristin and I were heartbroken at the prospect of not getting into the show, so we headed over to Tap Room for another chart-topping burger and beer. Then we pulled up to this guy/dog, and we laughed so hard that we knew we couldn't give up that easily!

After dinner and drinks with the Hankster, we headed back to Cheatham to test our luck and/or possibly get ripped off by the sucky scalper. By some stroke of pure luck, we were offered tickets at face value by two girls with two extras. Kristin and I were so happy we could have peed ourselves! (For the record, we did not!)

The place was packed--I mean, it was no wonder the band couldn't add any more names to the list. We found a cozy nook with some nice guys and a steady supply of free beer to enjoy the show. We had the best time ever! Randy and Wade put on an awesome show, and it was well worth all of our efforts! At one point Wade addressed the crowd and mentioned he is from Waco, Texas...cue the scene back over to me...I proceed to YELL out a big "woooohooooo!"....and Wade laughs his butt off because I am the lone Wacoan present. He may also have been laughing because he realized I was one of two idiots who drove two hours for a concert they did not have tickets for!

Just a fraction of the people wedged into Cheatham Street that night! Thank goodness they now A/C that joint!

Jen-a-licious & Kristin-a-licious ;)

It felt great to be back in San Marcos for a little while. I lived there from 1998-2006...it was a great stretch! I was amazed at the thought of how drastically my life has changed in the last three years. I met Jeff, moved to Austin, got engaged, moved to Waco, got married one week later, got a new job, came thisclose to finishing my master's degree, had a baby and quit that ol' gig. Whew! Lucky for me, I happen to love this new life of mine even more than I loved my old one. It helps that Jeff, Harper and Wrigley are all so darn cute! ;)

Do all laptops go to heaven?

Well, there went my laptop. My first laptop, purchased eighteen months ago with my very own hard earned money, went down the tubes at an undetermined time on Sunday. Funny, because it worked fine that morning as I sipped my coffee and read the newspaper online. Jeff and Harper had yet to wake from their slumber. I remember it well--it is a rare and precious joy to have any time to myself these days! Anyhoo, Jeff informed me of my computer's tragic, yet unexplained, death later that evening. It simply would not turn on. Hmmphh! I bet you a pint of ice cream that the boring articles on the Waco Trib caused my computer to pull it's own plug...

In any case, I have resorted to reconnecting with the world wide web via Jeff's old iMac. Luckily, I upgraded the memory and operating system just weeks before I bought the now deceased laptop. Now I only need to add an office suite and the trusty Mac should help get me over this rough patch! $35 for Microsoft Office via my SWT hook-up is a much better investment than the $450 charge to "fix" my laptop. Thanks, but no thanks! And thank goodness we didn't get rid of this computer or you'd soon find me hunting and pecking over my iPhone, squinty eyes and all! The iPhone makes for a handy supplementary Internet access point, but it is definitely not intended to replace your main computer. Unless maybe you have hands the size of Harper's and incredibly deft management of your digits!

That's all I've got for now as we're off to the pool. I see a frozen margarita with salt in my very near future! Later, tater tots!
BLOG REVISION: Yeah, it looks like the iMac isn't gonna help me do much other than surf the 'net. I'll just have to convince Jeff to bring his laptop home from work every night until we can afford a replacement. I'm going to need y'all to refer mucho insurance business his way, or be prepared for even less frequent blogging from this girl! Too bad I only ordered an ice water from the pool....that margarita is sounding much better right about now! :/

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A very important date

Harper and I were fortunate enough to get hooked up with an awesome playgroup shortly after Easter. Thursday mornings have become a much anticipated part of my week! Harper seems to have a great time interacting with the other kiddos, and I truly enjoy talking with the other moms...and playing with all the kiddos myself! Jeff teases that I have a crush on the only little boy in the group, Carter. Maybe I do, but you can't blame me--he is stinkin' adorable!

I snapped a few pics today of the older babies playing--ok, eating off the floor--together. Since I will eventually transfer my blog into an actual book for Harper, I want her to be able to remember that Wrigley is her best friend though not her only friend! :) Next week I will try to remember to get a picture of the younger babies (Blaire, Kendall and Hadley) and the two that were out of town (Piper and her little sis, Mackenzie), too.

Carter and Cambell start off with the Cheerios snack buffet!

Harper considers having applesauce for lunch, but eventually the Cheerios won her over, too.

These kids are like miniature vacuum cleaners!
Jeff--does that look like a "Hook 'Em" to you? ;)

Kylee so kindly offered me a baby cheese puff! Not gonna lie, those things are pretty tasty!
Breyer and her twins, Kase and Kyle, joined us last week when Harper and I hosted everyone at our house. She works in the afternoons, but she was able to adjust her morning schedule to fit us in before work. I bet they spent the entire afternoon telling Grandma Sherri about all the girls they met that day! Don't tell them that I put the Exersaucer in storage or they might not want to come back!
As soon as Harper wakes up from her afternoon nap, we're headed out to the pool...again. We don't go every day, but it's getting pretty close! Most of the time we run into our new friends out there, too, which is another added bonus! Alrighty, time for me to squeeze myself back into my bikini (yikes) and slip HP into her super-de-duper precious little strawberry swimsuit. Just wait 'til you see the matching hat...that pic might be one worth saving for the ol' high school senior yearbook ad!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Picture perfect

Ok, I promised a real blog post, and now I will quasi-fulfill that promise. Honestly, time is like gold these days, so I'm not feeling inclined to retype my long lost post from Monday. How 'bout we do a quick pic catch-up of the last two weeks and call it even? Harper had her picture taken today by an awesome photographer, Marlo Collins, and surprisingly, the session went well even without an afternoon nap!

P.S. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge their view in another window if you so desire. I'm just sayin'...I know some (or one) of you had corrective eye surgery that was only a temporary fix! ;)

Swimsuit season has begun!

Apparently, modeling season has also begun.

Off to the Kentucky Derby...
The pool officially opened on the Friday before Memorial Day. The water may have been just a tad chilly.
That's our dirt-diggin', leaf-eatin' baby!
Much happier faces seen in the heated pool in Abilene over Memorial Day weekend.

It can be difficult for me to tell if Jeff or Harper has more fun playing. We'll call this one a tie.
Upgraded to the new car seat--getting too tall for the infant seat. Rear-facing blows...we're all excited for the day she can flip around and face the front!
Until that day comes, Harper will continue to sit quietly and snack on her foot.

Harper loves the baby pool! She prefers to cruise around the edge rather than sit in the water. My new problem is convincing her that she has to sit, not stand, in the bathtub. We've yet to come to an agreement on that one.
I'm pretty sure none of the babes will be diving into the twelve-inch baby pool, but just in case...

Eating a goldfish while simultaneously doubting whatever statement was made by the nearest parent. I think we'll be seeing this face A LOT in the years to come.
Harper watches her buddy, Carter, stuff fishies into his mouth. They just love their poolside snack buffet!
Next, Harper sets her sights on the lime from my margarita.
Not sure if the water, sun or the margarita-soaked lime did her in, but she was out for the count!
This one is for Alyssa--modeling the turtle onesie, except I could only catch one turtle in the pic. R.I.P. Bob, '98.
There went my box of Kleenex! I guess now I'll have to go back to blowing my nose on Jeff's sleeve. ;)