Monday, October 29, 2007

Zoo Boo and Miscellaneous Moo

This year for Halloween, Bryn is going dressed as a cow. This was a pretty easy decision since 1) cows are by far her favorite animals and 2) a woman at Ben's work gave us her child's old cow costume for free. I was a little nervous that Bryn might not like the cow costume, since she cried hysterically every time we so much as showed her the monkey costume last year. Apparently she has grown in maturity and dress-up skills since then, because she was absolutely thrilled the first time I took the costume out of her closet last Thursday. She immediately wanted me to put it on her, and then she ran into our bathroom to look at herself in the full-length mirror. She spent the rest of the morning (okay, the next three days) running around the house in her costume shouting "moo!".

The first wearing of the costume was for the annual Zoo Boo at the Indianapolis Zoo, which Bryn and I attended on Thursday with Cathy and Christopher and our friends Kathleen and Emily. Chris was also sporting a free costume--more specificially, Bryn's monkey ensemble from last year. I'm glad at least one child got some joy out of it! Here you can see the kids all decked out and ready for zoo adventures:

Monkey Christopher, Dog Emily, and Cow Bryn
The kids had a really fabulous time. All of the animals seemed extra-friendly, possibly because I would imagine they don't get all that many visitors in late October. We witnessed seals having an argument (much barking, and then one pushed another off a rock), a walrus standing up, a lion pacing by its fence, hyperactive baboons, and two dolphins that wanted to get up close and personal with Bryn.
My little cow, checking out her surroundings.
We had such a good time, in fact, that pregnant lady here overdid it, and I basically ended up limping out to the Jeep while leaning heavily on Bryn's stroller. Apparently walking all over the zoo while carrying my 29-pound "calf" was not a good idea when 8 months pregnant! If only I could have climbed in and had her push me like she tried to do to Christopher!
Bryn pushes Christopher in her stroller.
On Friday, Ben and I took Bryn for an afternoon tour of the Trader's Point Organic Creamery, where she got to see cows being milked. She loved being up close and personal with the "moos" and definitely did not want to leave, in spite of the fact that we were getting rained on. When we got home, she insisted on putting on her own cow costume and running around the house in it. We had Alicia and Suellen over that night, and they thought she was the cutest thing ever. Ben and Alicia stayed up way too late having a 4+ hour "War of the Ring" gaming marathon, and Suellen and I mostly sat around and then fell asleep. :)
On Saturday night, Ben, Bryn, and I got dressed up and attended our friend Stacy's Halloween festivities. ONe of the cutest parts of the whole night actually occurred before we even left the house, when we put Bryn in her costume right after dinner. We'd had chicken strips for dinner (which Bryn actually ate voraciously, in spite of her usual vegetarian tendencies), and she was still nibbling on one as we got her dressed. She ran around the house shouting "moo!" while chomping on her chicken strip. We think Chick-Fil-A should pay us some royalties and use these adorable pictures in their advertising campaign:
"Eat Mor Chiken!"
Since Bryn was obviously attending the party as a cow, Ben and I decided to attend as cowboys. My costume never did end up being complete, though, as Bryn stole my hat immediately and wore it for the rest of the night. She spent most of the actual party sitting on the couch, nibbling on broccoli and watching "Shrek," but Ben and I had a great time getting caught up with friends.
Cow and cowpoke
Other miscellaneous events of the past week:
* Bryn had a successful 2-year check-up. She's still in the 50th percentile for weight, totalling about 29 pounds. She's 33 inches tall, which puts her a little above the 25th percentile for height--finally, one of my genes manages to shine through! Never fear, though, she's still Daddy's girl through and through: her head is still in the 95th percentile for size. I'm dreading what I'll feel like a few weeks from now if her baby sister shares this feature....
* Ben started his NEW JOB at Ingersoll-Rand today. Very exciting! So far he's really enjoying it, liking his boss, meeting nice people, and feeling challenged by new projects.
* Bryn attended my homebound tutoring gig with me today, so then she got to visit with the family's horses afterwards. Several of the horses got right down by Bryn's little face at the fence to inspect her, which alternately thrilled and terrified her. What can I say? My girl loves farm animals!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Further Pine Tar Adventures

And the pine tar adventures continue..... On the second day that I used the soap, I decided that I wasn't getting enough lather on my washcloth to really make the "wonder" properties fully effective. I mean, after all, the only other people that I can figure use this stuff are burly men and pioneers, and I'm guessing none of them use washclothes. So I began applying the soap directly to my skin. I quickly discovered that the reason I wasn't getting much lather on my washcloth was because, well, the stuff doesn't really lather. It mostly just leaves kind of a muddy residue on the skin. When rinsing, it basically looks like mud is running off your body.

Also on the second day of using the soap, it took me both hands and considerable strength to pry the bar of soap off the shelf. Apparently it had somewhat congealed there during the night. I guess this makes sense, considering that both pine and tar are quite sticky substances. As the days have gone by, though, its adhesiveness has decreased as the bar has shrunk due to excessive use. That's a good thing, right?

The soap also leaves a black/brown residue on every surface that it touches--black where the actual bar of soap has rested, and brown where the remnants of rinsing have landed. This results in a rather dingy and somewhat scary-looking shower.

It was actually the third day of pine tar goodness before Ben got the joys of experiencing its scent. He had already left for work on the first morning that I used it, and he was out of town at a gaming thing on the second day. On the third day, however, he entered the shower, only to quickly exit it again, and inform me that my soap smelled like "burning tires." I think that means he doesn't like it.

In spite of all of these complaints, however, it was been fulfilling its purpose. After the first day of use, the PUPPPs itched less. After the second day, the rash had retreated back to just my stomach. Since then, I find myself rather itchy by morning, as if the rash is gearing up to spread, and another pine tar washing provides me with nearly itch-free comfort for the rest of the day. While I do have small red dots remaining on a few parts of my body, they have never become the angry red welts that I acquired the first time around, and the itching is no worse than a few mosquito bites, which is far preferable to the claw-your-own-skin-off sensation of the first time.

I believe that the soap works so well because one use dries your skin out completely--by the time I get out of the shower, my skin is so dry and tight that I feel the need to bathe in a vat of anti-stretch mark lotion. This is not a good-smelling substance either, but it's way better than tar scent. At any rate, it seems that if I keep up this regime, I will manage to keep the PUPPPs rash to a minimum for the duration of pregnancy, so aside from the time that I actually spend in the shower with my pine tar wonder product, I have a far more cheerful outlook on life than the last time I wrote. Only a month to go....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Itchy Pine Tar Freak

When I was in my final month of prengnacy with Bryn, I developed this truly awful disease known as PUPPPs. This is apparently a rather rare disease, as evidenced by the fact that I have never known anyone else to have it. No one really knows what causes it, but it only occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is not harmful to the mother or the baby in any way, but there is no cure other than childbirth. Some theorize that it is caused by the extreme stretching of the skin over the stomach at the end of pregnancy. This makes a certain amount of sense, since usually people only get it if they are carrying multiples. Those who are not carrying mulitples are usually carrying boys. So basically, I was a big old freak to get it in the first place when carrying a girl.

At this point, you may be asking, "So what is this PUPPPs thing?" Basically, it is the worst rash you can dream of. Think chicken pox, then multiply by a factor of 10. Or maybe a factor of 100. Anyway, it's bad. You basically want to claw your own skin off. The rash starts on the stomach and then spreads to the rest of the body, until you have angry red welts that itch like the devil covering every available inch of skin. And did I mention that there's no cure? So whenever you develop it, the misery continues for the duration of pregnancy, which makes you VERY anxious to have the child. When I was pregnant with Bryn, I tried a plethora of home remedies, including frequent oatmeal baths and smearing vast amounts of hydrocortisone cream across my entire body, all to no avail. The one silver lining to this itchy cloud is that I was told that there was no chance I could develop it again, as it is a disease limited to first pregnancies.

Anyone who recalls my first pregnancy will remember that it was bad. I basically developed every kind of freakish medical problem that I could: 4 straight months of throwing up everything I put in my body (including water), followed by intense migraines, followed by my pelvis dislocating itself in 3 places, followed by PUPPPs, with a few other minor things thrown in there. This pregnancy, on the other hand, has been blessedly uneventful in the way of strange illnesses. This is perhaps why I was shocked to find small red bumps covering my stomach when I got in the shower on Wednesday morning.

I had just had an OB appointment on Tuesday, when I was completely free of small red bumps, so I tried to convince myself that I was perhaps just having a mild reaction to the ultrasound goop or something like that. As Wednesday went on, though, it was hard to deny that my rather large stomach was becoming itchier and itchier. I kept telling myself, "Thank goodness this is just some silly little rash and I can't get PUPPPs again."

When Ben got home, I showed him the rash. He took one look at it and said, "Honey, that's PUPPPs." I forced a laugh and told him that it was not physically possible for me to get again. He kind of just rolled his eyes at me. I spent most of that night awake, as the itching spread across the rest of my body. No red dots appeared anywhere else, but along about 2:00, I resigned myself to the fact that spots would, in fact, be appearing in a few days.

Thursday's shower revealed that while the rash had not yet spread, the rash on my stomach had gotten bigger and redder.... and itchier. I had to admit that this was looking and feeling a great deal like the beginning of PUPPPs. So following my shower, I hopped on the internet to do a little research. Sure enough, all the "rash during pregnancy" articles indicated that I did, in fact, have PUPPPs. A second search revealed websites by several other angry (and itchy) women who had, against all odds, developed PUPPPs during both their first AND second pregnancies. So apparently there's me and like four other freaks in the world who have managed to achieve this feat (and blogged about it).

Further internet searches revealed that no magical cure for PUPPPs has been found in the past two years. Darn. I did find a website, though, where several women swore by the effectiveness of a product called Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap. They claimed that while all the oatmeal baths, hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, and moisturization in the world had not helped, this magical soap had cleared up the rash in a matter of days, much to their OB's shock and amazement. I decided this was worth trying out and searched for a website that might sell this wonder product.

When I located a vendor, the website included a review from a man who praised the "manly odor" that the soap gave him. I gulped and attempted to ignore this. At that point, Bryn woke up screaming, and I was off to Mommy duty. About an hour later, while I was in the car, I called Ben and asked him to order the soap for me. He did one better--he tracked down some "organic products" store near his work and called to reserve the one bar of Grandpa's soap they had in stock.

He brought the soap home that night, and I put it aside for use in the morning. While I was working on the computer last night, though, I noticed an odd stench in the room. Something had surely gone bad. I searched for the offending object to no avail. What was that scent anyway? Wait.... it was tar. I hunted down the box of soap, and sure enough, the offending smell was issuing from the sealed box. Great.

When I hesitantly opened Grandpa's "wonder product" (it actually says this on the box) this morning, my bathroom was immediately filled with the scent of tar, tempered by a bit of pine scent, which I believe was just thrown in to (ineffectively) mask the tar odor. I guess that's how Grandpa came up with the original name of Pine Tar Soap. The box boldly proclaims that the soap "lathers white!" I had been curious about this label, as most soaps do that anyway. Upon opening the box, though, I understood why the label was necessary..... the soap is jet black and looks like, well, a big lump of tar. I should add that the box also proclaims that the soap is made of vegetables and has been in use since the 1800s. All I could think as I stood there with this soap in my hand is that if this is the kind of soap the pioneers used, I no longer judge them for only bathing once a week or so--it's probably all they could take.

In spite of all of this, the itchiness got the better of me, and I climbed in the shower and lathered up with Grandpa's special recipe. The "manly odor" of old campfire filled the shower. I also learned that Grandpa's claim that the soap "lathers white" is not entirely true--it is more of a light mud, khaki sort of color, which I guess is as close to white as you can get out of a bar of black tar soap.

Anyway, after all of these adventures, I carried the "manly odor" with me for the rest of the day, in spite of intense moisturizing after getting out of the shower. The moisturization was necessary, as the "wonder product" works by sloughing off dead skin and my entire body was dried out after using it. But after all of these complaints, I do have to admit that the rash has not yet spread anywhere other than my stomach and that the itching there has been kept to a minimum all day. So I guess it really does work.

So there you have it: I am an itchy pine tar freak. I'm willing to try about anything, though, to keep from itching out of my own skin for the next 5+ weeks. Wish me luck--and don't stand downwind of me unless you like the smell of tar!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beautiful Baby Bryn

Our friends Ryan and Kathy came over for dinner last week (yes, I'm behind on posting--again), and while they were here, Kathy practiced her photographic talents by capturing several adorable poses of Bryn. I'm posting my favorites here. You can also see more of Kathy's work by taking the link to their blog in my sidebar. I keep telling her that she's going to be our official baby photographer!!

This one is just a candid shot. Even though she's not smiling, I think it's absolutely adorable!

Here's Bryn enjoying the baby swing that we purchased to go with the swingset we acquired from Ryan and Kathy. She could happily do this for hours on end!

Tela's most bizarre habit involves the constant licking of human feet. Me, Ben, guests, it doesn't matter; she goes straight for the foot bath. Bryn has picked up on this and now offers her feet to Tela. I'm glad someone enjoys the dog's weird habit!!
Here's Bryn on her indoor playset. It looks like she's doing a modeling pose, but she's actually showing off her smarts by pointing to her ear upon Daddy's request.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bryn's Newest Friend

This past Saturday, while I was off proctoring the SAT, Ben took Bryn over to his friend Steve's house for a morning of fun. The dads got to hang out, chat, and watch TV while the kids played happily in the living room. Steve's son Caleb is about a year older than Bryn, and since Bryn is far more interested in older kids than ones her own age, she was obviously thrilled with this set-up. Ben says that they played very well with each other. I actually have yet to meet Steve, his wife, and Caleb, but Ben says the boys are working on correcting that situation. Meanwhile, if these pictures are any indication, it seems that Caleb might be the cutest little boy in the world--look out Christopher, I think you have competition for the position of "Bryn's first boyfriend!"
Bryn explores all of Caleb's toys.... apparently he's better at sharing than she is!

Bryn's newest friend, Caleb--very cute!!

Speaking of Christopher, Bryn did not see The Friend for a whole four days, but she held up admirably and only whined for him once. When she woke up today, though, I told her that we were going to see "friend Chris," and she got so excited that she didn't even eat her breakfast. So I took her over to Cathy's, and Cathy babysat her while I did my homebound tutoring gig in Zionsville. Then we split up for lunch and naps, and in the afternoon, I assisted Cathy with dropping off her car to get new tires, and then we took the babies shopping for winter wardrobes at the new Kohl's in town while her car was being worked on. It's funny to be buying winter clothes when it's 93 degrees out in October, but with a 50% off grand opening sale, you really can't go wrong.
The rest of this week holds big plans for running errands, more tutoring, library class for Bryn, catching up on household projects, and going up to Michigan this weekend to visit Ben's extended family. We're keeping busy trying to fit everything in before the new baby arrives!
On a separate note, what's up with the lack of comments? I remember the "name that baby" post that got 32 comments! And I also know that there are many of you out there who read regularly and have never, ever commented..... I know this because on the rare occassions that I see you and start to tell you stories about what's going on with us, you say, "Oh, I know, I read that on the blog." It's great that you're all keeping updated on me this way, but leave me some comments so I can keep updated on you too!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Coming Up For Air

Ahhh. You readers should interpret that noise as a deep sigh of relief. I am now officially finished with my 32-day stint as an English teacher and am back to being a stay-at-home mom (at least for the time being). All of my students kept asking me if I would miss them, and I said, yes, on Monday I will, but today and tomorrow will just feel like a much-deserved long weekend! Thus far I have been right.

Monday and Tuesday of this week were half days for the students and staff development for us grown-ups. Thankfully, my principal excused me from the staff development stuff, leaving me free to grade papers, photocopy materials, and generally just prepare for my exit. On Wednesday, three out of my six classes threw me going-away parties. Now, I am realistic enough to know that I was just the excuse and that the parties were really designed to allow them to consume large amounts of junk food and avoid classwork, but I was okay with that. When all was said and done, I managed to get all my possessions packed up and loaded into my car (with the help of the students). The down side to all of this is that I still have roughly 40 poetry analysis papers to grade (for no pay) before I am officially "done" with my stint at ZCHS, but the ability to sleep in might actually make that worth it. Last night Ben surprised me with a celebratory "retirement" dinner at Ruby Tuesday's with Alicia and Suellen, so my time off definitely started enjoyably.

Bryn and I slept in this morning, and she has been in a great mood for me all day. We played and began to catch up on chores this morning, and then we went down for naps this afternoon. I have a much-needed chiropractor's visit in about an hour, and then we'll get to hang out with Ben tonight. It's very nice to actually be able to spend time with my family!! My OB visit on Monday revealed that I am severely anemic (as in, they put my on prescription medicine for it--and this medicine is currently NOT agreeing with my stomach), which I guess explains my extreme exhaustion as of late (and here I thought it was just due to being 7 months pregnant and working full time), so I have been glad for today's extra rest.

Tomorrow night holds working in the concession stand for the final game of the season, and then I'll be back at ZCHS bright and early on Saturday morning to proctor the SAT (I'm hoping to use my "sitting silently" time of proctoring to grade the rest of those pesky poetry papers). Then I start into my "new job," which is actually a sweet gig of scoring the SAT from home. I just log onto Pearson's website during whatever hours I am available to score tests, and I get paid $17 an hour for it. Plus I am going to be homebound tutoring one of my former students for two hours a week while she recovers from a surgery. It seems that I am not quite "retired" after all, but this schedule is excellent because I can spend time with Brynie and make money while sitting around in my pajamas!! :)