Sunday, December 30, 2007

No Room in the Inn

Our local friends have often joked that we should name our house "Ben and Amy's Bed and Breakfast" because we have houseguests so often. We've played host to family for seven of the last nine weekends. What with celebrating Bryn's birthday, my birthday, Shay's birth, and Christmas, November and December have been a whirlwind of activity and visits. In fact, the only two weekends we've had in recent memory without houseguests were the two immediately before Shay was born and, let's face it, I wasn't exactly a barrel of fun during those, considering that all I wanted to do was 1) sleep and 2) go into labor, and who would have wanted to stay with us then anyway? :)

This weekend, we apparently decided to outdo ourselves for the grand finale of family visits by adding the designation of "Kennel" to our "Bed and Breakfast" as well. We had two sets of our good friends go out of town for the weekend, and we agreed to watch their dogs for them. Let it be said that when we agreed to do this, we did not actually realize that it was all going to fall on the same weekend, but once we figured that out, we still thought it would be no problem. Thus this weekend held a visit from my mom Tina and my sister Kristin, plus furry four-legged guests Fina and Ravage.

I have to say that taking care of two little girls plus four dogs all at once is not an easy feat, although it did prove to be pretty fun. Luckily, Shay demonstrated her amazing unconsciousness abilities by sleeping through all the barking, and Bryn thought that playing with the dogs was about the best thing to ever happen to her. She chased the four of them around the house, screaming with laughter, and Ben and I decided that her fondest wish was to just be "part of the pack." She fell completely in love with Ravage (who weighs less than 10 pounds but totally held his own with the big dogs). She calls him "Ravi" and insisted that he sit on her lap every time she sat on the couch. She calls Fina "Fin" and loves to pet her as well. So that little girl was absolutely in heaven with four dogs, an aunt, and her grammy to play with all weekend, not to mention her fourth round of opening Christmas presents. As for Ben and I, we enjoyed cuddling the four dogs in bed all night--a little warm, but definitely nice.

As we head into the new year, it seems that our bed, breakfast, and kennel business will be slowing for a while, thus giving us a chance to start to adjust to whatever "normal" life as a family of four is like. We look forward to the next couple of weeks being pretty quiet, and then in the middle of January, I start up with 2 1/2 weeks of nightly rehearsals for the annual Mr. Zionsville pageant, which I am helping to direct again this year. So quiet weekends will the definitely be highly prized as a time to catch up with Ben after only seeing each other to pass of the girls all week. We're looking forward to the adventures and adjustments that the next month will bring!

Updated pictures of Shay to follow, once I manage to catch my breath long enough to get them loaded to the computer....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Presents and Parties

I'm sure that the simple fact that I now spend my days chasing around a 2-year-old while feeding and diapering a 3-week-old is enough to explain my 2-week absence from the blog, but there are actually other reasons. :) We have been keeping quite busy here in chilly Indianapolis.

While the excessive snow in Peoria two weekends ago prevented my dad and stepmom from coming over for a visit, my college sister braved the weather and came anyway. Kristin arrived last Saturday and settled in for a good visit. She was infinitely helpful, getting up in the night with Shaylee so that Ben and I could sleep and watching the girls for me during the day so that I could run some much-needed errands.

One of Kristin's lifelong friends, Dani, drove over from Champaign on Sunday afternoon so that they could visit with another high school friend, Katie, who now lives here in Indy. Kristin and Dani spent one night here and one at Katie's, and perhaps more importantly, kept me conscious and amused during late-night Shay feedings. When Dani departed for Peoria on Tuesday, Kristin stayed here, and Dad and Diane came over on Wednesday to make up for their cancelled visit.

We had an excellent visit with all of them, including an ample meal of what we hear is "Indy's best Chinese food" and an early Christmas celebration. This was Dad and Diane's first time to meet the baby, and we had a hard time prying Shay out of Grandma's arms so they could head home on Thursday afternoon! Kristin departed with them, and we were left with a short break with no houseguests.

On Friday night, we attended Bryn's friend Christopher's second birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It was a little challenging to keep an eye on Bryn as she ran excitedly from game to game while also attending to Shay, who wanted nothing but to sleep in her carseat, but we luckily had many friends present who were willing to help. It was great to get caught up with friends, and Bryn had a fabulous time on all the rides, as well as reveling in pizza and cake.

Later that night, Ben's mom, dad, sister, and grandma arrived to spend the weekend. We celebrated and opened Christmas presents on Saturday morning. Bryn was absolutely enthralled with every gift she received, and it was hard to convince her to stop playing for long enough to open the rest of her gifts! Shaylee slept through most of the proceedings in her great-grandma's arms. After naps, we went out to Sears to have portraits done of the girls and their grandparents. Then dinner out, then home to put the girls to bed. Ben and Jill stayed up late playing with Jill's Wii, and Ben and I were able to receive our second night of good sleep in a row, due to the noctural habits of Nurse Jill, who took over Shay duty for the night.

Sunday held church, then the departure of Ben's family. We spent the afternoon next door, celebrating our neighbor Leleia's third birthday. Definitely a few busy weeks, full of visitors, presents, and parties for Bryn. I think she's going to be pretty bored with me once the new year arrives and all the excitement ends!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Baby and The Bean

As the days pass, Bryn continues to love her little sister. We're not certain that Bryn actually understands that the baby has a name; she always just refers to her as "Baby." First thing in the morning, whenever Bryn wakes up, she says questioningly, "Baby?" So as soon as we've changed her diaper, we go into the nursery and wake up Shaylee for her morning feeding and diaper change. On Friday, Shaylee happened to wake up before Bryn, so I took her into Bryn's room when she woke up, and Bryn got a big kick out of Baby coming to get her up.

Several times a day, Bryn will stop in the middle of playing and ask "Baby?" and then scurry off to locate her sister (who is nearly always napping). She is even very particular about where we let Shaylee nap; she always wants her to be in a chair nearby so she can see her. The only "issue" we've had is that seeing Shaylee with a pacifier seems to have reminded Bryn that she used to like those a lot; she actually went up to Shay and took a pacifier out of her mouth the other morning in order to pop it into her own. Lucky that we've got a few spares!

Shortly before Shay was born, Bryn also learned to say her own name--kind of. She referred to herself as "Bin," which is kind of funny, since she is fully capable of saying the "r" sound but just can't seem to get it in that word. Anyway, her pronounciation has recently morphed into something that sounds far more like "Bean." She uses it all the time when asking for things, such as "Bean juice?" It's awfully cute. So I have taken to calling her The Bean, which is probably horrible because it reinforces her mispronounciation, but it's just so darn cute when she says it!

On a separate note, here's a photo of last night's milestone experience of Shaylee's First Bath. Or I guess really second bath, since they do bathe the babies at the hospital right after they're born. Anyway, Ben bathed her in her little pink tub in the kitchen sink while I played paparazzi. She was none too happy about the bathing, although she didn't cry at all. She kind of just scowled at us, probably because the bath forced her to be awake and bottle-less for more than five minutes at a stretch. :)

Today was a big day, with "rehearsal" (all of 15 minutes) for the church Christmas pageant for Bryn, a photo shoot (including changes of outfits) for both girls with our friend Kathy (see her photography blog in the sidebar), and a visit from Nana and Papa Meyaard, who have just left for their return trip to Elkhart. It's all of 7:30 now, and we're pretty much wiped out from all the excitement. Okay--maybe it's just me that is wiped out. Recovering from childbirth takes a lot out of you! Ben is anxious to return to the basement to work on his new foam cutter project, Bryn is running around with a (hopefully clean) burp cloth on her head, and Shaylee is just waking up from her most recent nap, demanding a diaper change and a bottle. Hope you're all having good weekends too!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life at Home

Shaylee is now 8 days old, and we're adjusting nicely to life at home. Here are some of the "cuteness highlights" from the past few days:

Bryn loves getting into Shay's crib with her, partially because she is obsessed with the baby, and partially because she likes to wind up her animal mobile and listen to the music and watch the animals go in a circle while shouting out their names. Here you can see Bryn engaging in one of her other favorite baby activities, which is giving Shaylee a pacifier whether she wants it or not.

Here's Big Sister Bryn with one of her countless baby dolls, which she very much enjoys carrying around these days. I was feeding Shay, so Bryn dragged in a chair from her room, pulled it up next to me, and cuddled her "baby." As you can tell by the photo, though, she eventually decided that it would be easier if I was just in charge of both babies!

Bryn likes to get in on the feeding action herself. She discovered two days ago how much fun it is to give her baby sister a bottle, and how she loves holding the bottle while the baby is on my lap or, better yet, holding the baby herself while giving her a bottle. The only problem with this is that she tends to lose interest rather suddenly, depositing the baby on the couch and running off to play with something else. It's cute while it lasts though!!

And here's a sign that Bryn may be regressing herself..... last night, she stole Shaylee's pacifier and bottle and crawled under her high chair to enjoy both simulatenously. Got to go; naptime's over!