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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!!

Drywall and Bricks

We went to visit the new house again this weekend and were pleasantly surprised at the progress. Right now the builders are estimating that we'll be in by the middle of November. Here are a couple of pictures to give you the general idea....

Here's the outside of the house. They've got most of the brick put on the front, and the windows show up a bit better here as well. The front door will eventually be painted navy blue. Here you're looking at the front porch area, which will have a white railing in front of it.


This shot is pretty similar to the one I put up last time of the view out into the house from the kitchen. You can now see the breakfast bar a bit better, as well as the room divisions. The area right off the kitchen (front right of picture) is the living room, and on the other side of the stairs is the great room. It's actually starting to look like a real house!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Adventurous Babies

Bryn has actually gotten in some visits with other babies this week, partially so that Mama gets some socialization too, and partially because we're worried that strangers keep saying to us, "Your baby is so serious!" On Tuesday Brynie and I went for a walk with Caroline and Elaina, featuring the girls in their matching pink Jeep strollers. The weather was gorgeous--82 degrees in October--and I was actually sweating by the time we were done. Caroline was wowed by the "upgrades" on Bryn's stroller, such as the hooks for hanging a diaper bag and the mesh bag on the back, whereas I was impressed that Elaina's sun umbrella was still intact, as ours met an untimely end very shortly after we purchased the stroller. Bryn was very alert and active and kept reaching over to poke Elaina, but I was largely jealous of the fact that Elaina sleeps most of night AND eight hours during the day. I'm lucky if Bryn takes an hour nap!!

Then last night, Rob and Andrea came over with their baby Hannah. Bryn and Hannah look like they're off to go adventuring with their dads in this picture. The evening worked out very nicely, with Andrea and I having some girl time with the babies before the boys arrived from their jobs, then Chinese food and the Buffy musical for all, followed by all 4 girls retiring for nursing and sleep while the boys stayed up way too late playing Hordes. Andrea and I still are hoping that little girls who look just like their dads can still grow up to be beautiful women, as both of our daughters bear uncanny resemblances to their fathers!

Other baby socialization highlights of the week include Bryn's first and second trips to the nursery at church. We've visited a church in Brownsburg for the last 2 weeks instead of attending our usual ZPC. While the drive from Brownsburg to Zionsville wouldn't be unreasonable to make for church every week, we're hoping to meet some people in our new area. Ben almost fell over this past Sunday when I suggested putting Bryn in the nursery at church, as I have been pretty resistant to this idea in the past, but I'm SO tired of hearing strangers tell me how serious Bryn is all the time. (Side note - when she was going to work with me last year and was surrounded by teenagers, she was smiley and outgoing all the time. Clearly staying at home with Mama all day long has stunted her social development and she needs to get out there and meet other babies!!) Our first attempt at the nursery was only mildy successful, as Bryn spent the entire hour cuddled up on the teacher's lap and ignoring the other babies. On Wednesday, I went to a Mom to Mom group at the Brownsburg church and put Bryn in the nursery again. When I went to pick her up, she was playing happily on the floor with a little boy about her age, so I guess that's a sign that we're improving. We'll see what this week holds!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wild Life

(I'm behind in my posting, so I'm attempting to get caught up.)
Last Friday, we had a gorgeous sunny but cool day, and Bryn and I decided to take advantage of our free time by going to the zoo. We went once every week or two over the summer, and it was never all that enjoyable because the Muffin (and her mom) do not like hot weather. Plus it's a half-hour drive to the zoo, and Bryn usually gets impatient with looking around because she wants to eat, so when it's all said and done, we usually end up spending as much time driving as we do looking at animals. This time was great though. It was nice and cool out, so Bryn didn't get tired out nearly as fast. We went in the afternoon instead of the morning, so she'd already had her meals and her nap and could last much longer without a break. Plus with school in session, the zoo basically looked like a ghost town compared to the summer crowds, so she could see everything much better. All in all, a highly successful trip. Ben was even able to come and join us when he got off work. Bryn particularly enjoyed the meerkats, the dolphins, and the giraffes. In the picture, she is watching the trainers give a session on how to feed the walruses.

Okay, no animals in this one, but it's just so cute that I had to post it. We took this on the afternoon that Ben, Bryn, Tela, and I went to the dog park. Tela was exhausted by the end from chasing all the other dogs back and forth, and Bryn was highly amused by watching the dogfights. However, it was COLD out there and required bundling up for the first time this season. Bryn is not adjusting so well to winter-wear. The goofy hat is Daddy's favorite style. Bryn's not a fan, but then, she's not a fan of any kind of hat. At least she hasn't figured out how to take this one off yet! Her coat isn't on in this picture, which is just as well, since it basically makes her look like a big puffy pink marshmallow. This morning she was wearing her coat when I took her out on errands, and at all three stores we went to, people commented, "Wow, that baby doesn't look very happy!"

Speaking of "not very happy," here's a shot of Bryn the first time we had her model her Halloween costume. She will be going as a monkey in honor of her Aunt Melissa's Nicaraguan adventure. Bryn hates the costume because there's so much padding around the middle to make that cute stomach that she can't crawl in it. And yes, that's a banana sticking out of the back "pocket." She's the cutest sad little monkey I've ever seen! Hopefully she'll like it a bit better before Halloween.... or maybe the "sad" act will score even more candy for Mama and Daddy to share!