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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas in Peoria

I'm a little late with this post, as we've been back home for four days since our trip to Peoria. Overall, I would say the trip was a success. I loved getting caught up with family and friends and having some time to relax. Bryn thought that Peoria was one big party, which resulted in her being far too excited to sleep for the duration of our time there. Ben and I both spent a lot of time watching cable tv in the middle of the night while attempting to put Bryn back to sleep (always unsuccessfully, unless our attempt involved putting her in the car and driving around town).

So we were definitely exhausted at the end of the trip, since Bryn seemed to think that 2-3 hours of sleep a night were ample to maintain her party schedule. We left some very tired grandparents and aunts behind when we returned to Indy! But aside from the exhaustion, we had a fantastic time. Bryn loved all her presents and did a pretty good job tearing into the wrapping paper herself. Of course, the oranges were still her favorite (she collected them from all 5 stockings at my mom's house), although she discovered that the skin does not taste very good!

My favorite part of the trip was getting caught up with old friends and old places. Dining out included Italian favorites Aggatucci's and Avanti's, and my Clan of high school friends even managed to make a stop at Panache, a coffeehouse that was our regular hangout during our senior year. Several friends (Derek, Jolyne, and David) came over to my mom's house to recapture our days of hanging out in the basement in front of the Nintendo, and we were so glad to see each other that we immediately began brainstorming future Clan reunions and trips.

On our last day in town, I managed to connect with Melissa, Maria, and David for coffee. It was wonderful to see my friends! Our busy schedules don't permit for visits very often. Jolyne is a doctor in Chicago, David is a grad student in Providence, Maria is a lawyer in Chicago, and Melissa is living on a remote volcanic island in Nicaragua to research monkeys for her Ph.D. Oddly enough, I did not manage to connect with any of my friends that actually live in Peoria, which was disappointing, but there's always next time. At any rate, we are now all safely home, listening to our little evil genius's cackle. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our Evil Genius

The newest addition to Bryn's vocabulary, if it can even be categorized as such, is the phrase "bwahahahaha." We refer to it as her "evil laugh," and if you can't imagine what this sounds like, just remember the Count on Sesame Street and you'll be pretty close. We thought it was really cute when she first started doing it, but now we have found that she does it most often right before getting in trouble..... For example, when we were in Peoria for the holidays (more on that later) and she woke up in the middle of the night, a little "bwahahaha" preceeded her 5-hour crying streak. Today at lunch, whenever I tried to feed her a bite of meat, she promptly threw it to the dogs without even trying it. When I said, with all the firmness I could muster, "Brynie, no no no!" she just grinned at me and gave me her evil laugh. She wins the prize, though, with her antics from "naptime" today. She refused to go to sleep when I put her down, but I left her in the crib in hopes that she would eventually give in. Over the monitor, I could hear her continually going "bwahahahaha" in there all by herself. I thought this was pretty funny, and even called Ben at work to tell him how cute our daughter was, until the cackling turned to hysterical crying and I ran upstairs to see what was wrong. I found Bryn still in her crib, soaked to the skin. No, we had not had a diaper accident. She had stood up in her crib, reached through the slats to the changing table, pressed the button to open the box of wipes, and systematically removed all of the wipes one by one, piling them in her crib until both she and the crib sheet were covered with sanitized moistness. She thought this was hilarious; I thought it was the work of an evil genius, one with the laugh to prove it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Came Early

Last night we did our own family Christmas, since we'll be travelling over the actual holiday. We wanted to tear into our stockings as soon as Ben got home from work, but little Miss Bryn insisted that we eat dinner first. We had a yummy crock pot recipe of turkey and stuffing and felt like we were actually at some big holiday celebration. And hey, there are plenty of leftovers for Ben to eat for the rest of the week!

Then it was finally time to tear into the presents, a big relief for Ben, who has been snooping around the house for the last month to find out what I got him (but he'll never find my super-secret hiding place!). Ben and I took turns helping Brynie open her presents, and while she did occassionally give a tug on the wrapping paper, for the most part, she was far more interested in the contents of the floor than the contents of the box at hand. She did, however, seem pretty interested in sorting the lottery tickets that Santa left in all our tickets (including the dogs), and at one point, she tried to make her escape by crawling off with a handful of them. Sad to say, she would not have gotten very far on her newfound riches, as the 10 tickets netted us $1.00 in prize money.

The big culprit in Bryn's present-distraction?
The first thing she pulled out of her stocking--an orange. Growing up, my mom always put fresh fruit in the toes of our stockings, so Ben decided to do the same for me and Bryn. Bryn liked her good-smelling, roll-able orange so much that she promptly absconded with mine as well and spent the rest of the night crawling around the floor in search for them. We have many pictures of her clutching an orange (or two) while propped up (and utterly uninterested in) her real presents. Ah, if only we had known, we could have saved big money!! :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Brought to You by the Letter S

Several days ago, as Bryn cried unconsolably, I gave in and cuddled her in front of the TV. She promptly stopped crying as she was sucked in by the adventures of Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, et al. I had forgotten (or maybe I never noticed, since I was probably about 5 the last time I sat and watched an episode) how clever and funny "Sesame Street" is. I had also forgotten that at the end of each episode, they say who "sponsored" that episode, as in, at the end of the episode Brynie and I watched, we were informed that it had been brought to us "by the letter R and the number 4." This has inspired me to have this entry of catch-up news have a theme.... So this blog entry has been brought to you by the letter S.

Shrubbery - On Monday, the dogs went crazy barking at the windows Shortly after I had gotten out of the Shower. This is pretty typical, Since there is So much construction in our neighborhood, but they Seemed to be rather more infuriated than usual. When I finally looked out the window, I Saw a crew of Six or Seven workmen installing Several Shrubs and a Small tree in our front yard. Our construction manager had warned us that the landscaping company would probably just Show up, but I was definitely Still Surprised to See them, considering that it was the coldest day we'd had yet.

Shots - On Tuesday, Brynie and I got up early (for us) (meaning at the Same time as normal people who go to work) and went to the health department for her to get her 1-year booster Shots. Much Sobbing and Screaming commenced.... for the rest of the day. She was obviously very Sore, and the Sadness continued for the next two days.

Sod - On Wednesday, the dogs resumed their window-barking with a vengeance, and a peek out the window revealed another crew of workers laying Sod in our yard. Again, this Seemed odd, as temperatures were Steadily dropping, but what with all the Screaming and Sobbing from my Sore baby, I didn't really have the presence of mind to worry about it. So our house actually looks like a real residence now.

Seniors - On Wednesday afternoon, I took my Snotty baby (She has also come down with a cold) to Zionsville HS for a callout meeting for the annual Mr. Zionsville pageant, which I have directed for the last 2 years and will be helping with this year. The classroom was packed with Seniors, all of whom want to be involved with the pageant in some capacity. Sad to Say, there was of course much drama (one of the aspects I don't miss all that much about teaching high School), but after the big meeting, I got to Sit around with Some of my favorite Students to do Some planning. Makes me realize how much I miss them.

Snow - After hearing the horror Stories of Snow from friends and family in Peoria, I was prepared for the worst, but our version of the big Snow Storm invovled us getting about 1/4 of an inch. This was apparently enough to cause chaos though, as it took Ben 3 times as long as usual to do his morning commute. By the time Bryn and I went out at 9:00 though, everything was under control.

Spine - On Thursday, I had my Second appointment with the chiropractor. My x-rays from the initial appointment revealed by my Spine, especially in the area of the L-4 for those of you who know about such things, is hopelessly out of alignment, this accounting for the Serious Soreness I have been experiencing Since the birth of Bryn. I had a treament involving Something that Sounded like a Staple gun and then some Sticky Sensors Sending electricity into my lower back. Scary.

Stupid Server - The reason that none of you have heard from me this week is because our Stupid internet Service provider has been down almost all week. They blame it on the Storm earlier this week, which worries me, considering that the Storm netted 1/4 inch of Snow and I'm Sure there will be worse coming as the winter progresses. Today, thankfully, our Service was restored.

So that's my week thus far. This weekend includes many hours of retail work, another Spine adjustment, and a Mexican fiesta meal and Snowman cake at game night. I encourage you all to leave comments for me on this post, and I challenge you to use as many S words as you can too! :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Play Group Games

Last night we resumed our Sunday night gaming sessions, although on this particular night, it was unclear who was enjoying themselves more, the parents or the kids. It seems that a new feature of our grown-up board game nights is a play group for all the kids! Here you can see Elena as the center of attention while she plays with Bryn's Intellitainer. Elena's big brother Elias split his time between the kids (Bryn was the next oldest after him) and joining in with the adults on Apples to Apples (where Ben unfairly appealled to the 4-year-old and won two rounds with "Batman" and "fireman," in spite of the fact that they had nothing to do with the word in question). Also pictured here you can see our new little buddy Christopher (more shots of him on Cathy and Eric's blog, link below), and even a glimpse of Ravage (behind Bryn) as he plays with the "other kids." Bryn was a little uncertain about sharing her toys at first, and she had a bit of a meltdown toward the end of the night because she's getting some new teeth in, but overall, she was a delightful little hostess. Later in the night, this group was joined by both Hannah (more shots on Rob and Andrea's blog, link below) and Elaina (more shots on AJ and Caroline's blog, link below).
As for the adults, well, it's good that we have this new big house, because I don't think we would have fit in the old house! We had quite the assortment of guests: Derek, Eric, Cathy, Mandy, Jennifer, Adarryl, Rob, Andrea, Caroline, AJ, Ryan, and Kathy. Our feast included beef roast, cheesy hashbrown casserole, green bean casserole, homemade white bread, cranberry cream pie, and chocolate cream pie. I for one was stuffed by the end of the evening. In addition to "Apples to Apples," we also played "No Thanks" and some pirate game (sorry, don't know much, I wasn't in on that one). During "No Thanks," Caroline and I lost every time due to our vendettas against each other, following the first round where I lost because Bryn threw some of my chips on the floor and I didn't know they were there. Yes, I admit that I'm a sore loser!
Overall, a good time was had by all. This week includes some trips out to ZCHS for me to start the planning for the Mr. Zionsville pageant. I also have my usual Tuesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule of work at JoAnn's, and of course the neverending unpacking of boxes, as well as shots for Bryn. Yikes!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cut and Shots

Last night was pretty notable for all of the MeyPfan girls. First off, we took Brynie to get her very first haircut. We went to Cookie Cutters, where they put her in a little car in place of a regular seat and let her watch her beloved Baby Einstein while the cutting commenced. Once again, people commented on her "serious baby" face, and we had to engage in some big-time antics to get her to smile for the camera at the end, but overall, the only thing that actually upset her about the haircut was when the stylist accidentally got in the way and blocked her view of the TV.

I would say that most of the "styling" consisted of getting rid of our much-loved Grandpa Dave combover, which was getting way too long and unruly and kept falling in her eyes. The stylist convinced us (actually, convinced me; Ben didn't care one way or the other) that little kids should have bangs because otherwise you have to always pull their hair back with a clip or a headband. I was anti-bang at first because hey, it's not the 1980s anymore, and also because I remember what a hideous time I had growing my bangs out in college, where I only succeeded due to daily email affirmations from my dear friend David B. This being Bryn's first cut and all though, I figured we would have ample time to grow the bangage out if we didn't like it. In the end, though, I really like the haircut, even though it makes me a little quesy to realize how grown-up she looks. I didn't notice that much difference last night, probably because the huge plastic barrette the stylist put in her hair threw me off, but when I went in to get her out of bed this morning, I was just overcome with how much like a little person she looks now.

The less-happy event of the evening followed the haircut. We had to take both dogs in for their vaccinations. This proved to be quite an acrobatic feat to transport 2 adults, 2 dogs, and a baby in a carseat in the Jeep. Luckily Bryn was greatly amused by the fact that they kept jumping over her to get from window to window and laughed and babbled at them for the entire car ride. On the short leg of our journey (from the haircut to the vet), Tela decided that she really wanted to be the navigator, and she wedged herself onto my lap in the front seat. I did NOT handle this as well as my daughter did. At any rate, the girls were very good for their shots, although it was definitely a balancing act for me to hold the second dog and the baby while Ben helped the vet hold the dog who was getting shot. Our biggest surprise of the evening was that Tela actually weighs more than Dagny does now, so for all of those of you who were around when we laughed about our fat dog (Derek, remember how she "broke the flowerpot"?), those days are no more.

Today is supposed to hold 2 inches of snow here in central Indiana, which I thought was ridiculously impossible since it was 64 degrees and sunny earlier this week. Sure enough, though, I awakened to the sound of howling wind this morning, and the dogs freaked out a minute ago because a neighbor's plastic deck chair went flying past our window. If this persists, we won't get sod in our yard until spring, meaning we can't put our fence up yet, and I do NOT look foward to continuing walking the dogs each multiple times a day all winter. Okay, my cute-banged toddler is out of juice and hungry for bananas, so I'm off.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Comments

Okay everyone--many of you out there keep telling me that you read my blog, but no one ever leaves comments, which makes me sad. So I've changed my settings so that it now allows for anonymous comments, which should mean that all of you can now leave me fun notes. Just make sure you tell me who it's from--I like knowing who I'm managing to stay connected with through the blog! Happy Holidays, everyone!

Daddy's Little Helper

Let the home improvement projects begin! Last night while I was at work, Ben embarked on the large task of installing 5 more wire shelves in Bryn's closet. When he began, she was happily playing in the playroom at the top of the stairs. He says that he told her, "Brynie, if you want to help me, you just come on in." Apparently she tried to follow through on this and did not quite make it before sleep claimed her.

Tonight's project will include putting up the Christmas tree, which hopefully Bryn will manage to stay awake for. As for the house as a whole, the family room, the kitchen, our bedroom, and the nursery are starting to look pretty good, but the rest of the house is still covered with boxes. So I have plenty to keep me busy!! It looks like the new year will also be bringing some excitement for me, as I will be embarking on three big projects in January: helping to direct the Mr. Zionsville pageant again, serving on the girls' Awakening team, and starting 2-3 classes toward my master's in education at IUPUI. So I guess I'll have to get the house beaten into shape before then!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Morning

So it's Monday morning at 8:45, and Bryn is miraculously still asleep. This hasn't happened for months, and I'm loving the time to myself. I'm happy to report that we are all healthy again, with the exception of the fact that I think Bryn is teething again, since she keeps fussing and chewing on her own hand. We had a great, albeit short, trip to Grand Rapids for Thanksgiving. We left on Wednesday night when Ben got off work and returned here on Friday afternoon, in time for Ben to pick up the dogs at the kennel and me to make it to work for the post-Thanksgiving retail frenzy.

We spent Thanksgiving itself with Ben's extended-extended family, meaning his family plus his uncle's wife's in-laws on the other side, if that makes sense at all. It was a big enough crowd that we did it at a room in Ben's aunt and uncle's church, and the spread was enormous. Bryn did not seem to be a very big fan of the turkey, in spite of the fact that she really likes it in its lunchmeat form. She did, however, nibble on a little squash and some sweet potatoes, but her favorites were the bread roll, the marshmallow fluff, and the pumpkin pie. The fluff and the pie were really big treats for her, as the only sweet she has ever had before was her birthday cupcake! The girls--me, Bryn, Ben's sister Jill, Ben's mom, and Ben's grandma--spent Thanksgiving night eating leftovers and relaxing in front of the TV, while the boys--Ben, his dad, his uncle Dan, and his cousin David--bundled up and went out for some night fishing on a Michigan pier. I think I know who got the good end of that deal!! :)

The rest of the weekend included excessive hours at JoAnn's for me and various home improvement projects for Ben. We both worked really hard and were exhausted at the end. I am amazed at how many people feel the need to stand in ridiculously long lines to buy vast arrays of fake flowers during the post-Thanksgiving sale, but then, I can't really judge, since I did some shopping of my own after my shift ended. Ben did some serious heavy lifting in an effort to get some of our many boxes where they need to be, and as a result, our house is starting to look more put-together, or at least on the first floor. The basement, on the other hand, is starting to look crowded!!

Last night we put up Christmas lights on the outside of our house since it was so unseasonable warm (64 degrees in an Indiana November--wow). By "we put the lights up," I mean that I located them in our many basement boxes and then Ben actually strung them up. They look great, and if we could just manage to get some sod laid in our yard, I would think that the outside of our house is perfectly gorgeous. We then made a trip to Menards to do some research on various home-improvement projects that we'd like to do, and then we met Derek for dinner. Derek and I are ridiculously excited that a brand-new Monical's Pizza just opened in Avon, as just the smell of the place, not to mention the deliciousness of the Family Pleaser with Creamy Italian dressing, invokes all kinds of great memories of many Friday and Saturday nights out with the Clan in high school. I think that Ben thought our extreme love of Monical's was a little weird, but at the end of the meal, he signed up to be on their mailing list for upcoming deals and specials, so I guess that means we've managed to suck him in to the obsession.

Well, it's 9:00 and I'm hearing faint rustles from the nursery, so I guess my free time is almost at an end. Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Up and Running

Life is starting to settle in a bit. By that I mean that no one has the flu anymore and that we now have the internet at home, so I can spend less time cleaning up grossness and more time catching up with all of you. Ben and Bryn drove over to Champaign yesterday and picked up Dagny from Chuck and Crissy, so now the whole "family" is getting settled into the new house. What's funny is that Dagny has always been the "beta" to Tela's "alpha," but she apparently subdued all the other creatures and Chuck and Crissy's house, so now that she's back here, our two dogs are doing a lot of barking and growling when trying to establish who's going to be in charge of the new house. Looks like we're not quite settled yet!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Raining & Pouring

When it rains, it pours, right? We spent the weekend getting moved to our new house in Brownsburg, and 4 semi-truckfuls later, we were in. Unfortunately, we kicked off the moving process with Tela rolling in poo in our old backyard, thus stinking up Ben's mom's van and our new basement while we tried to neutralize her so we could get moved in. Then Bryn started throwing up while we were unloading the truck. Her Nana cuddled her and took good care of her, so we magaged to get all our junk at least dumped in the living room and the garage before calling it a night. On Sunday, Bryn's vomiting and diarrhea continued, and she graced our new neighbors with a show of severe projectile vomiting when they came over to greet us with a plate of cookies. Shortly after that, I got sick too, and continued to be sick every 15 minutes from 7:30 at night to 8:00 in the morning, when the illness mercifully slowed to episodes every 30 minutes. Bryn and I continued getting sick all day Monday, and our doctor eventually sent us over to the pediatric ER to get Brynie taken care of. She perked up toward evening, and I went to bed at 6:30 and slept until morning, when I felt a lot better. Yesterday she cried all day because she wasn't allowed back on solid foods until nighttime and kept wanting to eat. Today we both feel better, but Ben thinks he's coming down with it. All of this in the midst of attempting to unpack boxes, get settled in a new community, etc. The first day, we had to just put Bryn in a diaper after the barfing because we didn't even have a spare set of clothes unpacked. On the up side, I guess it didn't matter so much that we didn't find/unpack our food until yesterday, since none of us could really eat anyway. We won't have the internet hooked up at our house until this weekend, so I have ventured out to the public library to do a quick post for all of those of you who are wanting to know how the move went. More later; right now, it's time for all sickies to go home and nap.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bryn's Birthday: Extended Family

On Saturday, we celebrated Bryn's birthday with my extended family. Grammy Tina, Aunt Kristin, Grandpa Dave, Grandma Diane, and Aunt Lindsay all came over from Illinois to celebrate the big occassion. The first event was, of course, opening presents. Here's a shot of the birthday girl surrounded with all her bounty...

As far as the actual opening of the gifts was concerned, Brynie was a little slow. She did manage to rip off some paper once I got it started for her, but when she pulled off the first sizable chunk, we all applauded so enthusiastically for her that she stopped tearing to start clapping too. She spent the next few minutes looking around for more applause, thus greatly slowing the present opening. To quote Grandpa, "At this rate, we won't need to get her anything for Christmas, because she'll still be busy opening these!" The first present she opened (pictured here) was the 5-in-1 Adjustable Gym by Fisher-Price, which Aunt Kristin promptly assembled (backwards) for her. Bryn managed to open Kristin's gift, a plastic Sesame Street purse with all kinds of accessories, including a cell phone, keys, a change purse, and, to quote Grandma, "Mick Jagger lipstick." After that, Brynie got so distracted by playing with her first two gifts and Ben and I had open the rest of them for her. I even got to do a little present-opening for myself, as I got my birthday presents early since we'll be moving heavy boxes into our new house on my actual birthday (next weekend).

In my opinion, the most amusing part of the party was when we gave Bryn her birthday cupcake. She kept trying to grab the lit candle, resulting in Mama having to blow it out before the conclusion of the family's melodious rendition of "Happy Birthday." She then went to town on the cupcake, which was the first sweet that we've ever given her. Her face was a chocolately mess by the end, and we basically had to pry the last crumbs out of her hands to clean her up. I think this girl has a definite sweet tooth like her mama!

Following the basic birthday festivities, we all piled in the cars and drove out to Brownsburg to give everyone a tour of our new house, which was significantly easier than it was with Ben's parents a few nights ago, since we now have power in the house and therefore did not need to conduct another tour by flashlight! They all oohed and ahhed over how big it is, and then Grandpa Dave, Grandma Diane, and Aunt Lindsay all got back into the car for their trip back to Peoria. A very short trip over for them, but we were really glad that they could make it. Grammy Tina, Aunt Kristin, Daddy Ben, Baby Bryn, and I met Adopted Uncle Derek at the Bonefish Grill for dinner, and then Derek and Ben explored a new game store that has just opened. Today held a trip to the church that Ben and I have been checking out in Brownsburg, followed by a classy and delicious lunch at Steak 'n' Shake before Mom and Kristin got on the road. This left us just enough time for a short rest and some frantic tidying before Jill, Derek, Ravage, Chris, Ryan, and Kathy came over for Sunday Night Games--the last one in this house! All in all, it has been a very full weekend, and I'm thinking about heading for bed any minute now!

Bryn's Birthday: Mama and Daddy

Here's the Muffin on her actual birthday morning. She woke up relatively cranky, but her mood soon brightened when she got to "help" me assemble her birthday present, this neat car/walker. She currently seems to like it a lot more in "car" mode than "walker" mode, which is a little backwards for her age, since she can't actually make it move in car mode, but at least she seems to like it. We also gave her some crayons for her birthday, but when I tried to show her how to use them, she was really only interested in chewing on them. When I tried to demonstrate proper drawing technique, she just cried and reached for the Cheerios. So I guess we'll put the crayons aside for another month or so!

On Friday night, we took the birthday girl out to every kid's dream location, Chuck E. Cheese. She even got a balloon, a crown, and two free tokens in celebration of her birthday! None of those things, however, seemed to excited her as much as the "show" with the big mechanical animals and spotlights--must have reminded her of watching the ZCHS show choir perform! She danced to the music in her high chair and kept turning to us with a huge smile on her face, as if to make sure we were enjoying it too. It was almost impossible to even convince her to take her eyes off the stage long enough to eat. We fixed that problem, though, by giving her several bites of her very first pizza.

In spite of Grammy's fears that Bryn would be afraid of all the noise and excitement, she absolutely loved "The Mouse," as Derek calls him. She went on all the little kid rides but seemed to like this one the best, as it was the only one where she had Chuck E. as her copilot. She also enjoyed hitting the controls on the big kid games and actually won us several tickets in doing so. We cashed in the tickets at the end of the night for a valuable prize of 4 sheets of stickers, which I'm sure we will now find all over the walls of the new house, since she's paid such close attention to Mama and Daddy and construction manager Daniel decorating the walls with orange and green dots to indicate where repairs are needed before closing!

Bryn's Birthday: Portraits

As part of our celebration of Bryn's first birthday, I took her to Sears to get her 1-year portraits taken. All of them ended up being absolutley adorable, but I'm posting a few of my favorites here. The whole experience was a perfect representation of Bryn's personality: She fell asleep in the car on the way there, so she was super-shy and serious when we went in. The two photographers kept trying to play with her and get her to smile, and she just kept burying her face in my shoulder. Eventually we went into the photo studio part, and as soon as they got her in front of the camera, she was all smiles and cuteness. She is such a ham--put that girl in front of a camera and she just lights up!



Friday, November 03, 2006

Bryn's Birthday: Nana and Papaw

Last night, Ben's parents drove all the way down from Elkhart to take us out to dinner for Bryn's birthday, since they can't be here for the big celebration this weekend. We got to show them our new house by flashlight, since it was dark outside and our power isn't hooked up yet. Then we went to our current favorite Brownsburg restaurant (although we've only been to like 3 total), the Green Street Pub, where Bryn enjoys staring into the huge fishtanks. Our little Muffin got quite spoiled with all the great gifts from her Nana and Papaw. Here's a picture of her opening her first present--with some help from Mama, of course.

And here's what the package contained--a baby doll for Brynie. This is an absolutely perfect gift for her, since she's really gotten into the stage where she loves dolls and stuffed animals, but all of hers have been packed in boxes in Rob and Andrea's basement for about 5 months. Bryn wanted to cuddle her new doll immediately upon opening it. Nana and Papaw also gave Brynie two DVDs, Benji and VeggieTales--we know she loves doggies, and maybe this will inspire her to end her vegetable strike! :) She also received a savings bond, which is a tradition in Ben's family, and was much appreciated by Mama and Daddy. But Bryn's favorite was the baby doll, which she has not put down yet this morning. Good thing it's just a doll, though, because she keeps bending its arms at all sorts of improbable angles and poking it in the eye!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Trick or Treat

Bryn's first "trick" of Halloween was to master the staircase at our new house. While Ben and I were decorating the house with Daniel's dots, she crawled over to the staircase. I managed to catch up to her as she flawlessly crested the bottom step. Now, our current house does not have stairs, so Bryn has never been around them, unless you count when she sat at the bottom of Rob and Andrea's stairs and cried because she couldn't figure them out. So imagine our surprise when on her first attempt at scaling even a single stair, Bryn went up the entire staircase without even seeming to struggle. I guess it's just all in a day's work for Mobile Baby.

And here are my two favorite Halloween "treats," Ben and our Sad Monkey on our new front porch. After our quality check on the house, Bryn and I stayed to play for a little bit while Ben went back to work to finish up his day.

Then we all met up again at our nice neighbors' house, where we got the full tour and then forced Brynie into her monkey suit while Jen (our neighbor) got her two kids, Elias and Elana, dressed up in full Texas Tech football player and cheerleader regalia. We were joined by some of Jen's friends for trick or treating (we were wildly jealous of the friends' 1-year-old daughter Jenna, who was sporting the very giraffe costume that we had wanted for Bryn and had been unable to find) around our new neighborhood. We met lots of our new neighbors (although I'll never remember all their names), all of whom were incredibly friendly and excited about us moving into the neighborhood. We then returned to Jen's house and feasted on pizza with her husband Adarryl. Then they headed out for another round of trick-or-treating at a local church, and we returned to Zionsville to start frantically packing boxes for our impending move.

Day 32

On Tuesday (Halloween), we went to our house for the first quality check with the field construction manager, Daniel, who is also a magician with some pretty sweet card tricks. We decorated the house in little orange and green dots to indicate places where changes or repairs will need to be made before we take possession. The house looks AMAZING. I love our carpet, and in spite of the fact that I was worried that I wouldn't like our tile in the kitchen, it looks fantastic. At one point, Daniel actually walked into a room and caught me estatically hugging (squishing) Bryn and exclaiming over how much I love it. I love the bigness and whiteness and cleanness of the whole house.

However, it seems that I will soon have the opportunity to mess up that clean, bright, white atmosphere with all our dark, dog-hair-covered furniture. On Wednesday, November 8, we will officially take possession of the house. That's right folks, we are closing in less than a week! We're saving the official move for Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th (my birthday) so we can recruit friends to help carry heavy (okay, all) items. After waiting this long to move and spending five months with 2/3 of our stuff (and our pets!) in storage, it's finally here. Looks like I have some frantic packing to do!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Zoo Boo

This post is a little out of order, as all this fun happened on Saturday and my last entry was about Sunday..... This Saturday, after I got off work from my lucrative retail job, I met Ben and Bryn at the Indianapolis Zoo to attend the Zoo Boo. Little kids were running around everywhere in their costumes, and Bryn was the cutest little sad monkey around. For the first time, I was actually glad that Bryn's costume has so much padding, because it was COLD out! We tried to take a picture of Bryn with the real monkeys, but the Indianapolis Zoo, as I have noted to Melissa before, is sadly deficient in the way of monkeys, although I would say they're really good in basically all other areas. Anyway, the closest we could get was baboons, and even then, they were down on the ground and we couldn't get a shot of Bryn with them, so here's our best attempt: Bryn and Ben with a sign.

My favorite zoo animals have always been elephants--possibly due to the fact that my favorite stuffed animal and "security blanket" growing up was a stuffed elephant named Baber (not to be confused with the storybook elephant Babar; totally different origins). This is interesting to me, especially since Bryn's favorite zoo animals are the giraffes, and she sleeps every night with her little stuffed giraffe, Jarafe. For both of us, the stuffed animal came first, then the enjoyment of the real thing, whereas I think most kids would do it in the opposite order..... anyway.....

Back to the fact that my favorite animals are elephants..... I was especially excited that as part of the Zoo Boo, we got to see Tombi the elephant paint a picture using her trunk. The picture was then given away to an audience member, which was sadly not us. The best part of the day, though, was after Tombi's show, when the trainers let people come up and pet her. So I got to touch my first real live elephant, and so did Bryn. Even the sad monkey perked up at that.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Superdog, Sitting Cat, and Sad Monkey

This week's Sunday Night Games had a record attendance of 10 adults, 2 babies, and 3 dogs. A love connection was made between Derek's dog Ravage (8 pounds) and Jill's dog Tinkerbell (4 pounds), with our dog Tela (50 pounds) acting as chaperone. The grown-ups carved pumpkins (which took Rob a ridiculously long time); played Beytral at House on the Hill, Bang!, and Apples to Apples; watched the Colts achieve a last-minute victory; and feasted on slow-cooker turkey and stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin cheesecake. Quite a successful evening, and we hope to keep growing in new attendeees each week..... so it's a good thing that this coming week will be the last one in this house, and then we'll be moved to a much bigger venue (aka our gorgeous new home in Brownsburg)!

As a part of the festivities, we felt the need to dress all the "children" up in their Halloween costumes to snap a few pictures of their cuteness. You have no idea how hard it is to get two babies and a dog to all look at the camera at the same time.... this is the best we could do. Here's Ravage (aka Superdog), Hannah (aka Sitting Cat--sitting up on her own is her new trick), and Bryn (aka Sad Monkey, due to her intense hatred of her costume). (And yes, Elaina, that is your pilfered toy in the background.... you'd better watch out, because after playing with it, Hannah wants one too!) The picture above shows the three "kids" with their "parents," Derek, Andrea, and me. For Halloween itself, Ben and I have big plans of doing a quality check walk-through of our new house with the field construction manager and then taking Bryn trick-or-treating in Brownsburg, an excellent excuse to 1) meet all our new neighbors and 2) score some candy that of course we will eat for her. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day 28

A few days further into the house-building process, and yet more changes. Every time we go out to see the house, I'm amazed at how quickly it's going. The new estimate from the builders is that we can close on November 8. That's not set in stone, but it's close enough to be very exciting! Here's our typical kitchen-to-house shot. The plastic has come off the cabinets, and the blue countertops have been installed.

We had some very special visitors at our house walk-through today--Ben's grandparents. They were en route from Michigan to Florida for their annual winter pilgrimage to a warmer climate, so we got to meet up for lunch, show off the (sleepy, fussy) baby, and show them our new house. They especially like the dark red brick on the outside, which is one of our favorite features as well!

Here's the outside, where you can see that gorgeous brick. Today the builders were working on pouring the cement for our front porch. As you can see, it's starting to look like a real house! Looks like I may be getting move-in for my birthday. Maybe unpacking boxes isn't the best way to celebrate, but I'm sure it will be better than packing them! Besides, this way I can just pretend that I'm opening lots and lots of presents, right?

Butler Homecoming

This past Saturday, Brynie and I went to my 5-year reunion at Butler (Ben was in Grand Rapids for his grandparents 60th anniversary--wow!). We met up with my friend Jill and had a really great time seeing all our old favorite places and running into old friends.... and, of course, showing off the baby! Here's one of my favorite shots--me and Bryn with the bulldog statue in front of Atherton student union. Jill couldn't even get Bryn to look at the camera because she was so fascinated with the bulldog!

Here's Jill's favorite spot on campus, and probably mine as well--the carillon by Holcomb Gardens. Ben and I had tons of wedding pictures taken here (we also had one taken with the bulldog like the one of Bryn above), and this was a favorite spot for walks during the college years. Sisters of TBS, you know the other significance. :)

Last but not least, we just had to get a picture of Bryn with the humongous blow-up bulldog. They only break this out for special occassions, like Homecoming and the day that all the freshmen move in. It just cracked me up to see how tiny Bryn looked compared to this huge thing! All in all, we had a really fantastic day. It was great to get back to Butler, even though it made me really nostalgic and wishing that I was back in college again. :) I was able to reconnect with several friends that I had lost track of over the years, as well as check out the babies of many other friends. Bryn is the cutest of all of them, of course! :) Oh, and funny side note--one of my absolute favorite former students was one of the candidates for BU Homecoming queen. Does that make me old?? At any rate, I definitely think that we will be attending Homecoming every year from now on.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Friends and Fun

Here's a shot of Bryn that I have entitled "Leaving the Scene of the Crime." She has recently decided that it's really fun to come and "play" in the bathroom while I'm drying my hair in the morning, thus confirming my belief that "You cannot hide from Mobile Baby!" She has discovered the joys of unrolling the toilet paper, but interestingly enough, her favorite seems to be mine as well--the basket which contains all my crossword puzzle books. I knew my baby was a geniuns. :) I'm just thankful she hasn't decided to play in the trash can yet!

This one showcases Bryn's newest love, the mini piano/play station which she borrowed from her friend Elaina. (Thanks Caroline!) It's great because she can actually stand up to play with it, which definitely makes the dogs bowls seem like less fun, since they don't make noise. :) No matter which room of the house I put it in, she crawls around the house until she finds it! We're dreading the day we'll have to give it back..... good thing her birthday is coming up soon!

This last shot is of our friend Andrea and her daughter Hannah during our Sunday night games group. This weekend was Andrea's birthday, so we made her some yummy cupcakes that spelled out "Happy Birthday Andrea!" as well as a canoli cake (had to go with the Italian theme for the night's food). Sunday night games were a success this week as well, and we're really enjoying getting into a regular schedule of this time with friends.

Day 25

(WARNING: I will probably be posting several entries today because I am way behind!)
Our new house is coming along beautifully. Ben actually took these pictures last Wednesday (day 25), and it is now Tuesday of the next week, so we'll have to get out there soon and take some more! Here's the front of the house. We have brick across the bottom and "Cape Cod Grey" siding on the rest.

And here's the kitchen now that they're installing the cabinets. We got white cabinets with silver hardware. I realize that our kitchen kind of looks like a snowstorm right now since everything is white, but we're eventually hoping to do the kitchen in white and blue with little blue flowers, kind of a "country kitchen" feel. We really like the white cabinets, since the cabinets in our current 30-year-0ld home are dark wood and make the kitchen feel really closed in and dark.

And, of course, the ever-popular "shot from the kitchen looking out at the first floor." In addition to having cabinets, we now also have bannisters on the stairs.... which will make going up and down with Bryn in my arms much easier! We're really interested to see how the Muffin handles stairs, since she's never really been around them before. Andrea said that Bryn seemed very intrigued by their stairs when she was babysitting her the other day but that Bryn seemed pretty unsure about what to do with them. Hopefully we can keep it that way for a while! :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Strawberry Muffin

The past week has held a dramatic drop in temperature here in central Indiana. While I personally hate cold weather, it is almost worth it simply to see how cute Bryn is in her strawberry coat and hat. Okay, to be honest, this picture records the only actual wearing of the hat, as she always removes it and glares angrily at me right after I put it on her. As cute as our Muffin is, this coat makes her even cuter, and we got lots of compliments from strangers when we go out in public!

Day 22

Here's what our new house looked like on our most recent visit, which was day 21 of a 38-day process. So we're more than halfway there! Here is the ever-popular shot of the downstairs from the kitchen. The ceilings are all done, the drywall mess is cleaned up, the bricks are almost done on the front, and the garage is full of boxes that contain all our plumbing! We should be moving in the middle of November.

We actually did our own personal "Greater Brownsburg House Tour" on Saturday. First we went over to see the construction on our friend Derek's house--looks like we're pretty much deadlocked in a race to see whose will be done first! Then we went over to see the 2-year-old house of our friends Al(icia) and Suellen. We all celebrated the joys of home ownership by going out to dinner at a very odd Chinese restaurant that also featured a buffet including mac and cheese, mozzerella sticks, and hardboiled eggs. Hmm.... Anyway, here's a cute shot to demonstrate how much Bryn likes her new house.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Links

For all of you Camp Tecumseh folks out there, please check out Katrina's blog to check on the progress of Ben Hulin following his motorcycle accident. If any of you ever want to come to Indianapolis to visit him, don't hesitate to drop me an email (AmyPfan@yahoo.com) if you need a place to crash for the night. You can read about his accident and recovery at www.xanga.com/ben_hulin

On a lighter note, I would also encourage friends to check out Caroline's blog from yesterday to view the evidence of Bryn's WWF playdate. You can see it at www.xanga.com/thesiegmanns

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Last night I began my stint as a test evaluator for MacGraw-Hill. I'm working every night from 5:30 to 10:30 for the next month. This creates a few problems, such as the fact that Ben has to get up at the crack of dawn (technically, before dawn) to go to work early so he can get off early so he can be home in time to watch Bryn while I run out the door to get there.... phew. The second problem would be that I usually go to bed at 9:30 (I love my sleep!), so not even getting off work until 10:30 is not an enjoyable prospect for me, especially since Bryn still wakes up screaming about half the nights in each week. Ugh.

Anyway, last night was the first night. When I arrived, the parking lot was overflowing and there were several hundred people waiting in line to be checked in. Apparently this is a far more large-scale operation than what I realized. I finally got my assignment, which is 9th grade math. WHAT? I'm a licensed English teacher--one would think that it would make sense to have me evaluate English. But no, my portion of test-grading involves making sure that high school freshmen can take a list of numbers at put them in numerical order. Definitely brain-numbing work. Last night's schedule went something like this:

5:30 - arrive at the testing center and stand in a really long line
6:00 - boss-man goes over the rules
6:15 - put on headsets for specialized training; listed to clicks in white noise
6:30 - everyone finally has a password and can log in; begin "welcome speech" (with time lag, so since I'm sitting 3 seats away from the speaker, I get to hear it all twice)
6:45 - begin work on scoring 10 sample problems
6:47 - finish scoring 10 sample problems
7:00 - begin going over the correct answers for sample problems as a group
7:10 - after going over the first four answers, the computers go down and we are all told to hang on while they are fixed
8:00 - break time, during which I return a phone message from my dad (the most intellectually stimulating thing that has happened all night)
8:15 - break ends and we go back to sitting around (I should mention that we are not allowed food, phones, books, newspapers, etc. inside the testing center)
9:15 - boss realizes that the computers are not going to be fixed tonight and lets everyone go home

So at $10 an hour, I guess it wasn't that bad, although I did feel myself losing brain cells as I sat there. I repeat--ugh. Anyway, I'm off to take Bryn over to Caroline's house for a playdate with Elaina while I drive out to Avon to interview for some lucrative retail jobs to fill my evenings once my month of testing fun is over. If it wasn't for that whole "need money to survive thing," unemployment would be looking better and better....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Standing on Her Own Two Feet

Last week, Bryn's favorite trick was to crawl into the kitchen and start playing with Tela's food and water bowls. I was definitely not a fan of this game, since for starters--ew. And secondly, I did not appreciate her repeated attempts to drown the kitchen floor by flipping over the dog's water bowl. There was one day when she actually flipped over the water bowl three times in an hour and I was literally using every towel in the house to sop up the mess. (This was the point when I realized that it had not been wise to pack the vast majority of our towels away into storage in preparation for moving.) As if that was not enough, she then crawled her way back to the mess and laid on her stomach on the living room carpet with her little head and arms extended into the kitchen, splashing away happily in the lake formerly known as my kitchen. After much experiementation, I decided that the problem was that she really liked the dog's bowls because they were bright shiny silver metal. I bought myself some time by giving her pots and pans to play with and began the week-long search for a raised food and water bowl that were not made of metal. My strategy was that if they were off the ground, she wouldn't be able to reach them, and if they weren't metal, she wouldn't want to. Well, 1 week and $30 later, I achieved my goal, only to discover that Bryn's Trick of the Week is now to use the feeding station as a base from which to stand up. Foiled again.

Even though Bryn has spent the last month resisting us putting her into a standing position, she seems to feel quite differently about it when she achieves this position on her own. She uses any piece of furniture within her reach to push up and then stands there examining its surface. She has actually been known to attempt to push up (unsuccessfully) on Tela, and this morning I found her standing in her crib when I went in to get her up. I fear that walking will be her next trick, followed by running, and biking, and driving..... this whole "development" thing seems to have swung into hyperdrive as she approaches the 1 year mark. Hopefully we'll be able to keep her under control here until we get into the new house!!