Wednesday, November 29, 2006


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.