Friday, July 28, 2006

"SO Big"

Today I went up to school, which I do about twice a week, to work on things for Freshman Kick-Off and Student Council. While there I got to see a ton of kids that I adore--some were meeting with me for various activities and some were there for show choir camp. All of them followed the standard operating procedure for greeting a woman with a cute baby:

STEP ONE: Exclaim over Bryn.
STEP TWO: Get down on knees as to be eye-level with Bryn in her stroller.
STEP THREE: Engage in baby talk with Bryn.
STEP FOUR: "Oh, hi to you too, Amy. Bryn is so cute!"

Today, this typical interaction was followed by a lot of STEP FIVE: "Bryn is getting so big!!!" (Also, for about 5 of them, the optional STEP SIX: "Wow, Amy, your hair is getting really long.") At any rate, I was really surprised by, well, how surprised they seemed at Bryn's size. When I got home, I started looking at pictures and realized that sure enough, that kid just keeps growing.

Here I've posted pictures of Bryn when she was born, Bryn at the end of the school year, and Bryn now. I understand that she's (obviously) a lot bigger than when she was born, but does she really look that much older than the end of the school year? I'm just not seeing it, but then, I do spend every day with her. One thing is for certain: she's awfully darn cute.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Muffin's New Terrain

As I checked my email this morning, Brynie played contentedly on the floor next to me. At one point, she rolled onto her belly. So I figure, "Hey, great, tummy time. How developmentally appropriate." Okay, maybe that wasn't exactly what I thought, but close. So I continued to let her play. The Muffin isn't crawling yet (I fear that we've managed to stunt her development by cuddling her so much), but she is sort of scooting. The scooting motion takes her backwards. The other day, I got down on the floor with her to demonstrate how to crawl (this was quite an image), and after laughing at me, she scooted backwards about 3 feet. Anyway, I digress. So this morning, she again started scooting and babbling to herself, so I continued my email checkage, attempting to get caught up on everything that piled up while we were on vacation. Before I know it, Brynie is 3/4 of the way under the bed, with just her arms and face sticking out. My panic mode kicked in and informed me that I was a terrible mother and that if I had waited 2 minutes longer, I probably would have turned around and thought, "Where's my child?" while she was exploring the dusty regions under the bed. As things stood, however, she was having a grand time and was very proud of her accomplishments and was more than a little angry at me when I pulled her out of her newly conquered terrain. I'm thinking it is just a matter of days (or perhaps minutes) before we will have to contend with a very mobile Muffin.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Toys All Around

So I left Bryn alone for approximately two minutes while I went to the bathroom. When I returned, I discovered that she had managed to scoot to our one unpacked suitcase from vacation, remove a box full of disposable diaper bags, and empty the box. She was lying on the floor, happily playing with the approximiately 100 bags that were now surrounding her. Our course, the first thing that ran through my head was, "CHOKING HAZARD!" The second instinct was to run for the camera because she was just so darn cute. An interesting choice of toys, but the bags did seem to make her happier than anything else has ever since she came down with this cold.

Other news on the Meyaard-Pfanschmidt front: Life post-vacation thus far has included intensifying the job search for me, and last night I did an interview for a job I would really love to get. I won't say any more on that for now, for fear that I'll manage to curse myself with bad luck. Today we are spending almost the whole day at the CP Morgan New Home Showroom to make our final selections for our new house. Before we started this process, I had no idea how many choices went into something like this - I mean, it's just difficult to feel passionately about what kind of toilet paper dispenser I will have. That being said, there are many other choices that are a lot more fun than that, such as whether or not to get the gigantic Whirlpool tub in the master bathroom (a definite "yes"). See, Mom and Dad get new toys too--definitely more fun than the cutie muffin's plastic bags! I'm hoping that Brynie keeps the fussing to a minimum during this 4-hour appointment--a lot to ask from a snoggley baby!

Oh, and one other note on yesterday. Ben and I spent approximately 5 hours trying to handle some house transactions through our bank and discovered incompetance at 3 different local bank branches, as well as at their 800 number. This has led us to decide that as soon as the dust settles on this whole house process, we will definitely be changing banks. So for anyone seeking financial advice, I highly recommend avoiding the evils of Chase Bank!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our Little Snoggle-Demon

Ever since we got back from vacation, Bryn has been getting progressively sicker with a bad cold. Call it karma if you will, perhaps fate's revenge for her law-breaking ways, but in any case, she's miserable, which thereby makes me and Ben miserable as well. She can't sleep lying down because she's so stuffed up, so yesterday's prime feature was a 2-hour nap on my lap while I held very, very still. Ben gets up with her in the night and often ends up having to cuddle her to sleep in the big bed. This morning she was up at the crack of dawn and then fell asleep nursing, which again necessitated me sitting very, very still for a long period of time. Once she finally woke up, I thought a walk in the fresh air might help, but by the time we got into the stroller, she was screaming bloody murder and her eyes were all puffed up, due to what I believe was a repulsive mixture of snot and baby sunscreen. She is currently sitting next to me, chewing on and tearing apart our copy of "Sign With Your Baby," but as long as she's happy momentarily, I'm willing to sacrifice the $15 book. Meanwhile, I have not showered in well over 24 hours, which is enough to offend my overgrown need for cleanliness under any circumstances, but particularly when my entire body is covered in the snot that she has been wiping on me for the last day and a half. But she screams whenever I leave her side, so I guess we'll just both be dirty until she starts to feel healthy again. I'm thinking we may need to break out the big guns--that's right, I predict show choir videos in our future.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Baby's First Brush with the Law

I like to think of myself as a good, law-abiding citizen. All of that was called into question, though, on our next-to-last day on vacation, when our entire family, as well as some family friends, were pulled over by the Boat Police. That's right, we're criminals. And worst of all, my 8-month-old daughter is now a criminal too.

It all seemed innocent enough. One of my father's friends offered to take us all out on the lake in a boat that he had borrowed from one of his old college buddies. We thought it would be great--a nice relaxing afternoon, tubing for Kristin and Ben, and Brynie's first boat ride. We had only been out for about 10 minutes, though, when a boat sped toward us, equipped with flashing red and blue lights.

We had apparently committed several violations. First of all, there were 10 of us on the boat, but only 7 life jackets. Secondly, apparently the boat had an expired registration. And third, worst of all, apparently all children under the age of 6 are required to wear little baby lifejackets at all time, not just have them present on board like the grownups. That's right, Brynie got her very own citation.

So this smear on her record has probably ruined her chances at future world domination. Even worse, she seems to have developed a taste for danger, as she has now started filching things from public places. The day after her first run-in with the law, we got her all the way up to our room before we realized that she was protectively clutching another small child's toy, which she had picked up in the pool. Yesterday, as we loaded her back into her carseat after a dinner stop on our way home, we saw that she had stolen a piece of silverware from the restaurant. Sure, these things might seem small, but we worry that they are a slipperly slope to thievery. Probably now no one will want to have us over for play dates, since she will clearly be a bad influence on other children, what with her criminal record and all. Do you think she still stands a chance at growing into an upstanding citizen if we enroll her in extensive therapy now? :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Portage, Part Two

Too many cute pictures of vacation, and not enough space to post them all! One of my favorites is of Bryn's first time on a swingset. We took her town to the beach so she could watch the boats, birds, and water, but all she was really interested in was the group of kids playing on the swingset. She continued to stare fixedly at it even after the kids left, so we decided to give it a try. She was a little uncertain at first but then decided that swinging was big fun! You can see the inn in the background behind her.

It seems that Bryn's actual favorite part of vacation is swimming in the pool. We think she views it as just a "big bathtub," one that is large enough for all her admirers to jump in as well. She loves her little raft, and of course looks very cute in her bikinis. She's pictured here with me and her Aunt Lindsay, while Ben, my dad, and Kristin played a vigorous game of Keep Away in the rest of the pool.

As far as Ben and I are concerned, the absolute best part of the pool is that swimming really seems to knock Bryn out. We take her swimming twice a day, and we have noticed that these trips to the pool are almost always immediately followed by nice long naps for Bryn. Last night, though, she was crying too much from her teething to be able to fall asleep, so we had a very fussy baby on our hands. We eventually gave up on naptime, and Ben applied some Baby Orajel to her gums before giving her a pre-dinner bath. Once the Orajel relief kicked in, she was so tired that she fell asleep in the approximately 10 steps from the bathroom to our room. She was so deeply asleep that she didn't even stir when our entire family crowded into the room to take pictures of her, asleep in her towel on the bed! We moved our dinner reservation to later and let her sleep. The only down side was that she had on no diaper, so we found some "dampness" on the bed when she finally woke up!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Portage, Part One

We left home on Friday afternoon with a car so full that we had to alternate sitting in the backseat with Bryn. On the way out of town, Ben stopped at the ATM at the bank to get some cash for our trip. As he waited behind another car in front of the bank window, the teller saw our overstuffed car, laughed, and held up a note that said, "Traveling with kids? I have 4." Ben wrote back, "We only have 1, but it's for a whole week." They both laughed, and we were on the road.

We stopped for the night with Ben's grandma and sister near Grand Rapids. Thus Bryn started the process of being cuddled and spoiled before we ever got to the inn!

Once we got here, Grandpa Dave decided that it was high time for him to teach Bryn the valuable lesson of how to drink out of a sippy cup. He sat down and explained it to her very logically, and after listening carefully, she reached out and grabbed the handle of the cup. That's about as far as she got, though, as she seems more inclined to chew on it than to drink from it.

The next day, we "treated" Brynie to her first trip to the beach. Unfortunately, she did not seem to think this was as much fun as we did. She cried every time we let her little feet touch either the sand or the water. In order to avoid these offensive items, we set her up in her little sun tent, where she sat with a very put-out expression on her face while her Daddy swam in the lake with her Aunt Kristin. Eventually we gave up on the beach and took her swimming in the indoor pool, which she seems to regard as a very large bathtub that just happens to contain many people to play with her. Since we always bathe her right before bed, being in the pool knocked her out for a good nap as soon as we got out. Now just throw in a nap for me too, and that's what vacation is all about.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mentions of Friends and Family

After Bryn woke me up freakishly early this morning, I decided that I needed to post some explanations and elaborations related to my last post....

When Derek Brought Us Buffy
At the end of my last post, I mentioned our guiltly pleasure of watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." For all of you who have not yet been indoctrinated, for the record, I would just like to say...... It's all Derek's fault. Now, don't get me wrong; we love Derek. We will soon be moving in with him, and he has been my friend since high school. But for many years, I've thought that his obsession with Buffy was a little strange. Fast forward to our early days of parenthood, when I was nursing Bryn for about 8 hours every day and sleeping far less than that. Derek felt, and rightly so, that we needed something to do during all of those long hours, so he loaned us season one of Buffy. Ben and I laughed a little about "those people" who are so obsessed with the show and put it on a shelf. Late one sleepless night, though, we needed something to focus on besides the sound of newborn Bryn's wails, so we popped in the DVD, and two hours later, we were hooked. Now we are "those people," and the very worst kind of them too...... the kind that takes Buffy trivia quizzes online, watches other TV shows and movies simply because one or more of the actors from Buffy is in it, and is equally obsessed with "Angel," Buffy's counterpart series, which Ben swears is even better than Buffy. We are sick.

A Monkey for Melissa
Speaking of somewhat alarming obsessions, please consult for my friend Melissa's perilous story of how she will be spending a year observing monkeys on a remote Nicaraguan volcanic island in the middle of shark-infested waters. This is actually why Ben is (hopefully) selling my brother Brian his car--because Melissa's car will be coming to live with us for the year that she is gone. At any rate, as a nod to Melissa's love of monkeys, and also as a tidbit that only a new mother could find newsworthly, I would like to mention that Bryn has expanded upon her love for Jarafe the Giraffe and now also adores Zephyr the Monkey.

24 Hours and Counting
Lastly, I mentioned my frantic packing in my last post. Ben, Bryn, and I will be departing this afternoon to travel to Michigan to spend a week relaxing with my dad, my sister Kristin, my stepmom Diane, and my stepsister Lindsay, all pictured here last year (when I was in all my pregnant glory). I absolutely cannot wait!! I did have a moment of panic when I considered being away from the new daily joy of my life, blogging, but never fear, we have learned that the inn has WiFi in the lobby. :)

Brother and "Sister"

Bryn with "Aunt" Jill
Thursday was a busy day for Baby B! We spent the afternoon visiting with my "sister" Jill. Actually no relation, but she was my big sis in the music service sorority we were members of in college. We had lunch at my favorite Puccini's and then hung out at Jill's NEW apartment. While at lunch, Bryn ate an amazing amount of baby food, thus preventing me from eating until she was done. As usual, she especially gobbled the prunes (ew) and then gummed a zwieback (how do you pronounce that word??) cracker into a much before dropping most of it on the floor for the poor servers to pick up (double ew).

Bryn with Uncle Brian
Bryn and I then spent a full afternoon packing for vacation and ended the evening with my brother Brian coming over for dinner. We ate what can only be described as an excessive amount... brats on the grill, Velveeta shells and cheese, and some serious salads. Brian and Ben then retired to the driveway to discuss the sale of Ben's car, and I settled down to feed Bryn in front of an episode of "Buffy."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Farewell to Cats

For those of you that have been following the saga of our pets, I think we have (almost) achieved a solution. Tela has gone to live with Ben's co-worker Ji. She tells us that Tela is continuing to turn white at a rapid rate, which makes me actually feel a little better about Tela's lifestyle as a whole, as I was afraid that she was only turning white based on the stress of living with a new baby. We dropped Dagny off with Chuck and Crissy on Monday, and Crissy tells me that Dagny is now getting along fairly well with their Oscar and Macy, so I feel good about that. This leaves the cats....

We posted fliers everywhere we could think of, proclaiming "Cats Free to a Good Home!" We got no responses. Then we sent Jag and Dashel to live with our friends Rob and Andrea, but their cat Lacey was less than happy with the arrangement, as evidenced by the deep wounds on Rob's legs. So eventually, given no other options, we paid $160 to put them in the "guaranteed placement program" at the Humane Society. It turns out that this program is somewhat mis-named, as our $160 only guaranteed that the Humane Society would keep them on the floor for 10 business days. At the conclusion of those days, Monday, they called and told us that our cats had not been placed, so we got the option of 1) giving them another $160 for another 10 days, 2) taking them back, or 3) allowing the Humane Society to do "the best they could" to place them before euthanizing them. We debated this for hours on Monday night and decided to cough up the $160 (again) and then appeal to some friends to try to place them (again).

The story ends happily, though. Ben waited until a half hour before the Humane Society closed on Tuesday to give them our money (he claims he was trying to squeeze a free day out of them; I think he may have just been procrastinating). When he called to discuss arrangements with them, they said, "Good news! Your cats have just been placed, both with the same new owner." So Jag and Dashel are now off to a new permanent home, and we are feeling extremely relieved. Bryn does appear a little worried though...... first Tela left, then the cats, then Dagny, so who does that leave as next??? :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who We Are and How We Got Here

Last night, we went to Champaign to drop our dog Dagny off at her "summer home" and went out to dinner with our friends Melissa, Chuck, and Crissy. While getting caught up, the conversation took a turn that sounded something like this:

Melissa: So I think I'm going to start a blog while I'm in Nicaragua to let everybody know how I'm doing.
Amy: You know, my friend Caroline just sent me a link to her blog. It looks pretty neat.
Crissy: Actually, I have a blog too.
Chuck: Me too.
Ben: Me too.
Amy (to Ben): You do??
Bryn (banging spoon on table): A la la la la!

So apparently everyone I know has a blog, and I've somehow managed to miss out on this craze. Which I guess isn't all that surprising, once you think about it, when you consider that I've spent the last 8 months in a haze of Bryn-induced sleeplessness and the 9 before that being sick and sleeping as much as possible.

In the car on the way home, after Bryn fell asleep, I quizzed Ben about this supposed blog, which I learned can be found at and is updated about once a year. After hearing the discussion by all my blogger friends at dinner, it seemed to me that this would be an excellent way to keep family and friends updated on the daily (and often insignificant) happenings of our lives, not to mention a great venue to show off pictures of our little cutie muffin Bryn.

So here we are..... As I discussed with my friends last night, I think the hardest thing about a blog, as with all writing projects, is coming up with a interesting beginning, instead of just, "So I decided to start a blog today." So I guess my intro will include a brief update/introduction on each of three of us.

AMY: Someone asked me the other day what my hobbies were, and I had a hard time answering that question, as raising a baby and working a minimum of 70 hours a week leaves little time for fun. But I left my job as the high school Activities Director at the end of the school year (largely due to the high amount of hours and low amount of pay), so suddenly I seem to have a surplus of time on my hands and far less social interaction than I was used to, which I guess are perfect reasons to start a blog. As for interests..... Reading is my favorite hobby, although my tastes are pretty lowbrow for a former English teacher. I love science fantasy, particularly anything by Terry Brooks or Raymond Feist, and anything involving knights and adventure. I also take guilty pleasure in rereading books from my childhood, which largely tend to be cheesy teen novels. I also have a penchant for cheesy teen movies, although my all-time favorite is, embarrassingly, "The Sound of Music." I like to knit, scrapbook, and bead, although I don't do any as often as I'd like (as evidenced by the large amount of "projects" I have piled up). I feel passionately about food, although I admit my tastes are rather lowbrow here as well. Current favorites include: cheese pizza, yellow cake batter flavored ice cream, Qdoba ground beef nachos, virtually anything but especially the mac and cheese from Noodles and Company, and Puccini's. I love country music, but ever since Bryn came along, my radio dial has been permantly set to the local Christian station. I love hanging out with and mentoring teenagers and desperately miss the daily interaction I had with them during my five years of working at the high school. I love to travel, and my favorite adventures were the 6 months that I spent studying abroad in Ireland and the 3 months that Ben and I spent doing a cross-country road trip all across the USA. My dream is to spend a month every summer at various locations in Europe. You won't find me vacationing in Florida though; I don't like hot weather, so the beach in Michigan in the summer is great for me (less than a week until vacation!). I love my daughter Bryn more than anything in the world, and I may be considered insane in some circles because more than anything else out of life, I want to have 11 more.

BEN: He insisted that he be a part of this blog, even though he has one of his own, so here's a list of his likes, from my perspective, at least.... Ben changes hobbies with regularity every 3-6 months. Past hobbies include golf, hackysack, frisbee golf, Playstation, bass guitar, podcasts, downloading concerts, Fight Club, and gardening. He does retain interest in all of these things now, but none are the current ruling passion of his life. The big interest right now is gaming. He started with a penchant for Magic: The Gathering, then moved to Battlestations, then into sculpting his own terrain. All of this has led to our new family business venture: Perilous Adventure Games, our very own game company which we are launching with our friend Bryce. Although Ben may not say so himself, I personally think that he also likes Excel spreadsheets, making messes, eating out, and cuddling our dogs. His favorite thing, though, is how Bryn's face lights up when he gets home after work.

BRYN: Spending the first seven months of her life as the unofficial assistant Performing Arts Center Director gave this child an insatiable taste for applause, most particularly when it is directed toward her. Spending so much time at the high school also led to her love of show choir.... singing and dancing at the same time, plus sparkly costumes, what's not to love? She also seems to get a kick out of watching our dogs fight.... She loves bananas, prunes, and apple juice; her mama's milk; keys, spoons, and other metal objects; all forms of TV but especially HBO Classical Baby; petting our dogs and cats; teenagers (who were clearly created for her own personal amusement); dancing; cell phones; and baby talk. Her most common nicknames are Cutie Muffin (because she's too little to be a Cutie Pie!) and the BEMP (from her initials), and according to Ben, she's my "BFF."

Our lives right now are largely in a state of transition. Ben started a new job in February, and I am currently trying to figure out what my new job/career will be. We're adjusting to life as parents, as well as life without pets, as all of our animals have gone to "summer homes." This is because we are selling our current house and building a new one over, but will shortly be moving to spend the interim in an apartment with a friend. So that's who we are and how we got here, and thus the beginning of our blog.