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Sunday, August 26, 2007

One Down

One week down, five to go. I have now officially completed my first five days back at ZCHS, and I have to say that it went really well--at least from my perspective. :) I was excessively nervous on the first day, almost as nervous as I was on my actual first day teaching. I woke up early (even earlier than my 5:00 alarm), and then fretted all through getting ready and driving there. When I actually got to the parking lot, though, I had to laugh out loud at myself, since I had realized that I had neglected to figure out where faculty parking is located this year. I took a guess, turned out to be right, walked in with an old friend, and went from there. It turns out that finding the correct parking area was the biggest difficulty I faced all day.

As I told Ben when I got home on Monday night, the weirdest thing about going back to ZCHS was how utterly not weird it was. I felt like I was just picking up right where I had left off, a regular old teacher coming back from the summer. It didn't seem at all like it has been two years since I've taught and one year since I've worked at all. I saw many familiar faces of both staff and students, and it was great to get caught up with everyone. As my dad said, teaching came back to me just like riding a bike. Meaning, even though I haven't ridden a bike in many years, I have no doubt that I still have the ability to do it. :)

The rest of the week went well too, with my sophomores beginning to read "Antigone" and my juniors staring joint English-history projects about the American Dream. My biggest challenges this week have been learning all the kids' names (especially hard in the classes where we are doing group projects and they are never in their assigned seats) and getting enough sleep. I've been absolutely wiped out tired, and Cathy was good enough to keep Bryn late two evenings so that I could do some power napping.

As for Bryn, according to all reports, she's doing well. She had a tantrum one day for Cathy and several evenings for us, but still less than I would have expected. She loves playing with Christopher (and all his toys!), and Cathy took her on plenty of fun outings, such as playdates and a trip to the Children's Museum. Bryn has been rather clingy with Ben and me in the evenings and wants to be the center of our attention during the somewhat brief time that we are all together, and we are more than happy to oblige after being deprived of our Muffin all day.

This weekend has held some catching up on sleep for all of us, as well as tons of projects and a visit from Ben's parents. They arrived on Friday night just in time to kiss the baby goodnight and have a little visit with us before bedtime. Ben's softball tournament got rained out yesterday morning, but we still managed to pack the day so incredibly full that Bryn didn't even get a nap. We went stroller shopping and on various other errands, and Ben and his dad disassembled Ryan and Kathy's swingset and moved it to our house (with R & K's full permission, by the way). Bryn thinks that her Nana is about the best playmate ever and has been busy showing off all her talents and toys. Especially because I got absolutely nothing done around the house this week, what with going back to work and all, it has been really nice to have two extra pairs of willing hands to lighten the load this weekend.

We're off to church now, to be followed by a delectable Le Peep brunch, a re-assembling of the swingset in our yard, and perhaps some various painting projects before my moms' group picnic tonight. Then back to work in the morning!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Get Back

Is anybody familiar with the Beatles' song "Get Back"? I don't really know any of the song, which tells you to "Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged." That chorus has pretty much been running on instant repeat in my head for the past few days. Why? Because the time has come for me to "get back" to my old life, "old" equating to "pre-Bryn."

Through a somewhat complicated series of events, I have been hired to work for the next 6 weeks at my old job, teaching English at Zionsville High School. Basically, another teacher is going to be on medical leave until the beginning of October and they needed someone (preferably someone who had a clue) to fill in. Enter me.

This job is really a huge blessing and has come at exactly the right time. We were looking for a way to make some extra money before the baby arrives, and this will allow me to do that, without causing my overworked husband to add to his already existing load of 3+ jobs. Secondly, the experience will hopefully help me to figure out my Long-Term Plan. I have gone back and forth for the past 3 years about whether I want to go back to teaching or not.... okay, those of you who knew me my first year at ZCHS know that I've really been wavering ever since then. Now that I've had a year off and have achieved some perspective, hopefully getting back to teaching for a short amount of time will allow me to discern whether teaching long-term is something that I want to pursue for the future, either at ZCHS or elsewhere. And thirdly, since our wonderful friend Cathy has agreed to Brynie-sit for the duration, it allows Bryn the chance to get used to not being the center of my attention before the baby comes. So all in all, this has worked out perfectly.

Today was my first day, and I actually really enjoyed it. I did miss Bryn desperately all day, and I'm struggling already to keep up on household and personal stuff (and I don't even have any grading yet!), but I really liked the part where I was actually at school. If this makes sense, the weirdest part was that it wasn't weird at all. I loved getting back to see the kids, and I feel like I just picked up where I left off with the faculty. It was so good to see them all again, and while I was initially worried that I'd be out of practice in the classroom, teaching today just felt like second nature.

The major down side to all of this is that I am absolutely exhausted. Our last remaining GenCon guest didn't leave until this morning, so we were up pretty late with him last night.... well, maybe not late for GenCon, but late for wussy me. :) Then we had the most gigantic storm ever last night. I was awake for almost two hours in the night, listened to the sound of golf ball sized hail pound against our house and watching actual sheets of water (as opposed to simple raindrops) sweep across the empty lot behind our house. This storm was so bad that most of Brownsburg lost power and Bburg schools were closed for the day. So once all the noise from that started, between the pounding and the crying Bryn (who was also awakened by the storm) and the dogs suffocating me (they are very afraid of thunderstorms and try to cuddle very close, while whimpering, whenever one occurs), I was awake for a good long while, worrying about today (I am very good at worrying). Then Ben's alarm went off at 3:00 so he could get up to do his online Wizo work. Then, finally, my alarm went off at 5:00, 3+ hours before the unemployed mommy usually gets up. So all of those factors combined with the small human in my stomach who is leeching all my energy led to me be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day. In fact, I think I'm going to sleep as soon as I post this!! :)

At any rate, in summary, teaching today was really good, and I very much enjoyed being back at ZCHS (which, by the way, is now under the leadership of a new principal). I'm sure the next 6 weeks will be a little rough, but I think they'll be really good for us in the long run. I was told several times today that I've got it backwards--that women usually LEAVE jobs when they are pregnant, not start new ones. But this gig ends at the beginning of October, and the baby isn't due until the end of November, so we should be fine. So wish me luck over the next few weeks!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Let the Games Begin

The past few days have held big fun for most of the members of our family. Wednesday began the GenCon invasion. Ben used his lunch hour to pick up Todd, of Ninja Magic fame, from the airport, and after some flight delays, we also picked up Jason and Jeff, aka creators of Battlestations, on Wednesday night. This group was joined by our local friend Ryan, and after sorting out problems with badges at the Convention Center, we decided to go for a much-needed refueling at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Unfortunately, it seems that several thousand other people attending the convention had the same idea, and we ended up waiting an hour and a half for a table. By the time we were finally seated, we had been joined by our friend Bryce from Fort Wayne and his friend Kirby, and Bryn was getting rather impatient for some dinner, since it was already past her bedtime.

By the time our dinner marathon was over and we returned to the house, we were joined by Bryce's wife Mars and their friend Amanda, and our full house was able to settle in for the night. We've got people sleeping in all 3 of our spare bedrooms, as well as the playroom upstairs and the craft room downstairs. There are sleeping bags and gaming paraphenalia everywhere!

After crashing on Wednesday night, everyone was up by 8:00 on Thursday to shower and head down to the Convention Center for the first day of GenCon. All of them were working booths, so they all needed to get in and get set up before the general public was admitted at 10:00.

As for Bryn and I, we spent the day with Nana Helen, who drove down from Elkhart with a van full of toys rescued from the church dumpster. Apparently Ben's parents' church was cleaning out their preschool rooms and decided to dispose of many large items which were in perfectly fine condition, so Helen snapped them up for us. Here's a picture of Bryn in her overwhelmingly toy-filled paradise. I don't know how she'll ever play with all of them (or how we'll ever find reasonable spaces for all of them).

My day did not hold any of the fever-pitch excitement that Ben and Bryn both experienced over their new toys and games, but Helen did treat us to lunch at Steak 'n' Shake, and Derek came over to visit last night and brought me a cookie, so I can't complain. :)

I am told that the gaming went on until all hours in our kitchen last night, but I personally was asleep upstairs with a fan on and missed most of the hoopla. Everyone was off early for the Con again this morning and all seem to be having a great time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cars

The past few days have included much travel and many adventures, all involving, well, cars. To begin the tale, I should remind the faithful reader that Ben has spent the last year driving Iris, the beloved Honda Insight which was on loan to us from our friend Melissa while she lived on a remote tropical island in Nicaragua to study monkeys in order to complete her anthropology dissertation. If that's too confusing for you, you may want to consult the post from last August entitled "Melissa, Iris, and Nicablogua." Otherwise, on with the story.

So Melissa and her husband Rob returned to the United States this weekend. They are re-settling in Champaign, Illinois, and bravely closed on a new house today after less than 48 hours back in this hemisphere. As a result, they also needed to get their car back. This meant that Ben and I needed to get a new car for him. Fortunately for us, my father was looking to sell one of his company cars (a white 2004 Malibu), so we were able to put in a bid on that.

Now, the difficulty comes when you consider that I needed to return Melissa's car to Champaign and then pick up the Malibu in Peoria. Champaign and Peoria are roughly 100 miles part, although thankfully all part of the Route 74 journey. This was further complicated by a timeline which necessitated that we do all of this at the beginning of this week. And when I say "we," I mean Bryn and I, since Ben will be spending this Thursday and Friday at GenCon and could not take any more time off to drive to Illinois for the Great Car Exchange.

Luckily, my mother was in Indianapolis this past weekend for a wedding. The plan was that we would meet up with her for lunch on Sunday, and then she would follow me to Champaign to drop off Melissa's car, and then Bryn and I would hitch a ride back to Peoria with her. Plans changed slightly when we learned that my brother would also be in town this weekend and would be able to join us for lunch. So he and my mother went to pick up sandwiches for all of us for lunch, and this is where all our carefully laid plans were destroyed.

While my mom and Brian were ordering take-out sandwiches at Penn Station, some evil thug in the parking lot smashed in the window of my mom's van with a sledgehammer, stole her suitcase, and made a run for it. My understandably hysterical mother and thankfully levelheaded brother then had to wait around for nearly two hours to fill out a police report before making their way to our house. Then Brian and Ben had to smash in the rest of the window to get the jagged glass out, use the ShopVac to clean up all the glass, and use Ben's amazing handyman skills to rig up a plastic tarp contraption (all classily held in place with duct tape) to cover the window for the journey to Peoria. When all was said and done, it was quite a few hours later than expected and we were all WAY more emotionally worn out than we had anticipated by the time we departed for Illinois.

We did eventually make it to Champaign, where we dropped of Iris with one of Melissa's friends, since Melissa and Rob were still currently somewhere en route from Nicaragua to Illinois. Bryn and I left the beloved hybrid and boarded up in my mom's now ghetto-style minivan. We drove onward to Bloomington-Normal, where we picked up my sister and went out for a delicious, albeit quite late, dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. Then, finally, onward to Peoria. Because we were running so much later than expected, I was worried about making it over to my dad's to pick up the car, so he helpfully moved it over to my mom's house so I could have it first thing in the morning. By the time we FINALLY got to Peoria, it was after 10:00 their time (11:00 our time), and Brynie was one tired little girl. Unfortunately, she was also a filthy little girl due to a rather major diaper blowout in the car, so it was another half an hour before I got her cleaned up and settled enough to go to bed.

On Monday morning, after what felt like a very short night of sleep, I loaded Bryn into the Malibu, which was the third car of this now-epic journey. We drove to my dad's office, where we had a very short visit and gained possession of the car's title, thus making it officially ours. Then onward to Indiana. This was a LOT of time to spend in the car in a 24-hour span, both for a not-quite-2-year-old and for a pregnant woman. We were quite excited to see our own house and celebrated by promptly falling into bed for late-afternoon naps.

In the end, Ben and I are now the proud owners of a Malibu, and he even made it to the BMV today to handle the title and get new license plates. We are hopeful that insurance will cover many of my mom's van repairs and the items which were stolen with her suitcase. It has been an eventful few days, and as there is no rest for the weary, we are about to embark on our next adventure: playing host to 7 gaming afficienados for the next 5 days so they can enjoy all the wonders of GenCon. If you are unfamiliar with this event, think "gamers' mecca." Ben is bouncing around the house in excitement and anticipation of the coming days, and I'm wondering if we have enough clean sheets. Details to follow...

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Paintings

I've just got a few moments here, but I thought I'd post some updates to my painting project. Here's Lumiere--his eyes need some work from my small-detail specialist husband, but otherwise I think he's looking quite snazzy.

And here's the footstool / dog, which was my least favorite piece before but we decided to include because Bryn loves dogs. Now that it's painted, though, I think it might be my favorite! I just really like how the colors turned out.
And here's the whole thing, a work in progress. I'm hoping to finish it up today or tomorrow. It may be a while before I start filling in the Cinderella mural on the opposite wall, though, because we have several other projects to take care of in the next week--not the least of which is housing 7 of Ben's gaming friends for the 5-day festival of GenCon!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You Asked For It

"You" being Libby and "it" being more postings. I've actually meant to start posting more frequently, since I am wowed and amazed by the sheer volume of you who seem to read this site, but the past week has kept me busy with one problem and one project (thus my topics here).

The problem has been Bryn's health. Last Friday and Saturday, she was very hot to the touch, basically radiating heat, but did not register any fever when I took her temperature with her handy ear thermometer (thanks Derek). What was odd, though, is that while she usually loves having her temperature taken (we have been known to actually hide the thermometer from her to avoid the endless cycle of repeatedly taking the temperatures of her, ourselves, her stuffed animals, etc.), she cried hysterically every time I did this at the end of last week. Hmm... On Sunday, she slept until 11:00, which is a full 2 1/2 hours later than usual. When she finally woke up, she just laid there. No talking, playing, sitting up, nothing. Just laid there staring. We managed to get her up and took her to church, where she fussed and sat on my lap in the nursery for the entire service. Then home again, where she promptly went down for a 2 1/2 hour nap--again, longer than usual. The afternoon was spent with her thrashing on the floor and screaming hysterically. Now, I have seen some tantrums out of Bryn and know what they sound like, and this was not one. She was crying in pain and eventually started batting Ben and I away any time we tried to get near her. We called the help desk for our doctor's office, described her symptoms to the nurse, and were told to go to the ER.

We held out for about 2 hours after that before the screaming was making us so frustrated and anxious that we finally gave in. At the local pediatric ER, we were seen by several very nice nurses, who listened carefully to us and then brought her toys to placate her. Then we were seen by two different doctors. The first looked in her ears and said she was fine. The second looked in her ears and said that one had a little bit of fluid in it but there was no infection. They then questioned us on a litany of other items and concluded that because Bryn had not pooped that day, we should do an x-ray of her stomach to see if she was constipated. This is where I lost all faith in the ER doctors. For one, they felt her stomach and said it was nice and soft, which would not indicate constipation. For two, she'd had a huge poop the day before (sorry if this is too much information for the public domain). For three, even though she hadn't pooped that day, she also hadn't eaten much of anything, given her incessant sleeping and then screaming. For four, I spent the vast majority of my vacation in Michigan with a constipated child, and this is not what the screams sound like. And for five, come on, if she's constipated, I'll go home and give her some prunes, I don't need an x-ray! So we packed up our screaming, thrashing child and went home.


In the morning, we took her to Dr. Z, where it took about two seconds to look in her ears and confirm that, yes, she has an infection in both ears. So, needless to say (Mrs. Applen), we are rather ticked that we spent all that time and money on the ER when they did absolutely nothing for us. Dr. Z prescribed some meds, which we promptly picked up at the pharmacy, and Bryn has been improving ever since. She sucks her antibiotic down greedily (sometimes it worries me how much our daughter likes to take medicine), and she refers to the eardrops as "bubbles." She has still been very fussy and very cuddly and very needy, thus keeping me from getting much done, but I believe we're on the road to recovery.


As for my new project, that story is much shorter. I'm still engaged in a heroic effort to get our house decorated / unpacked / "done" before the new baby comes. A big part of this involves moving Bryn into her "big girl" room, thus leaving the nursery usable for the baby. Since the main features of this room are a toddler bed with princess sheets (thanks Jennie) and a $10 Walmart folding table to match, and I am categorigally opposed to painting the walls pink, I got the bright idea to paint princesses on the walls instead. Not princesses all decked out in their finery, mind you, as that is what is printed all over the bed and the table, but princesses pre-royalty in regular clothes and with their friends.


Let it be said that I possess neither the interior design savvy of Caroline (see Everyday Elegance Design link in the sidebar) or the artistic prowess of Jen (see Jen Jordan Murals link in the sidebar), but I do develop grandiose dreams and then seek cheap ways to see them through. So I looked up coloring book images of Belle and Cinderella on the internet, and Ben borrowed a projector from work. We hooked it up to the laptop, projected the pictures onto the walls, and spent Saturday night (woo-hoo) tracing the images onto the walls. The wall by her closet door features Belle reading to Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and whatever the dog / footstool is called. The wall by the door into her room has Cinderella trying on the glass slipper surrounded by Jaq (that's how the internet tells me it's spelled?), Gus-Gus, the faithful dog Bruno, and many birds. I have spent every spare minute this week (which have mostly occurred while fussy Bryn has been asleep) starting to paint in these images. If I do say so myself, they are looking shockingly good for projects created by someone with no artistic talent whatsoever. Ben says I should keep up posting photos of my progress with this project, so here's my starting attempts:

This is Cogsworth, the first image I painted, along with the pencil outlines of the rest of the project (sorry, it's pretty faint).

Here's my completed Cogsworth.

And here's how it looked when I went to bed last night: Cogsworth and the chair Belle is sitting in. With the chair done, you can get a better feel for what the rest of the picture holds.

Today I painted Lumiere and am hoping to do one of the other characters tonight after Bryn goes to bed. Pretty cute, huh?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Popular (#100)

Wow. So it seems that I had no idea how many people read my blog. I AM POPULAR. This has left me inspired to blog more often and rather nervous about letting you all down. I am particularly interested in all of those of you who leave anonymous comments. Do I actually know you, or are you just internet stalkers? And what about you lurkers, who read yet never post? I learned today that my long-lost friend Anna (actually, my friend Anna who I have not talked to in about 5 years, but apparently knew where I was anyway, in spite of my many unsuccessful attempts to locate her) has actually been reading the blog for the last year (hi Anna).

At any rate, since the number of comments on my last post is rapidly nearing 40 and I've also received many emails from those of you who read but can't figure out how to post, I think it's time to post again. Although I did consider seeing how many posts I could get before moving on.... At any rate, if you have burning comments regarding names, feel free to post them with this one. :)

I must say, first off, that you have all convinced me to take Madeline off the list for the time being, and Brooke off the list possibly forever. That being said, Shay remains a frontrunner. My top two choices are 1) Shaylin Grace and 2) Shay Alexandra. After reading all the posts, Ben informed me last night that he is "75% sold on Shaylin Grace." When I asked him how his other 25% was divided, he just shrugged and said "undecided." I think he's subconsciously convinced, though, because this morning, as he lay in a half-conscious stupor, I put his hand on my stomach and he felt her kick for the first time. After saying, "That was a kick? Your whole stomach just moved!!" he then smiled and said, "Hi Shay." before rolling over and attempting to go back to sleep.

So here's notes to all my adoring fans.... okay, or at least those of you who posted....

(I think this is where I left off before)

Kathy - Hi! I never figured out which anonymous comment was you, but if you're the one who said you didn't care for Shay, I hope you don't feel TOO strongly about that and we can still hang out if we progress in that direction.... lol...

Helen - I really do like Kaitryn.... kind of a combination of Caitlin and Katrina, both of which are names I like.

Melissa - While I love you, I don't think we will be naming this baby after either your car (much as we have enjoyed it) or any of the people you have encountered in Nicaragua. :)

Pamela - Enthusiasm... hmm... a viable choice for a middle name.... Sadly, I think we are voted down on this one. :) So funny story, Ben actually just read a magazine article about some famous person (sorry, don't remember who) who named his daughter Shea after the stadium but didn't tell his wife that was his reasoning.... luckily, when it came out, she still liked the name, since the baby was already born!

Caroline - Mia and Molly = both names I like. Ben nixed Mia though, and I have some negative associations with Molly. We might end up with daughters with matching middle names though!!

Jill - One of my good friends just had a baby named Lily, so I won't be stealing that name, at least for this round. :) What's funny is that her second choice name was Ava. Actually, my primary argument against Ava is that it starts with an A, and we have found that the two Bs are WAY more confusing than we were counting on. Anyway, I will endeavor to not name the baby after the dog!!

Andrea - If only we were having a boy!! I wouldn't go just Shay Grace; the two one syllables sound funny. Thanks for the name meanings. :)

Kelly - Hi!! I'm so glad to hear from you! And great name suggestion--you may just end up being the winner (sorry, no prizes provided).

Andrea (again) - It seems you're not the only one....

Anonymous (Shea + family name) - Is this Tom? Ben and I are guessing it is!

Trisha - Do you hate this baby before she even arrives? :) I can just see all of you serenading little Loooola....

Anonymous (Amelia) - I don't really have a guess on who left this one.... But I will say that I have a few too many friends (Pam!) who call me Amela to keep this from being confusing.

Angie - I am in favor of both votes! And Ava Grace sounds like something Kara would have used, doesn't it? Can't wait to see you on Friday!

Anonymous (3 pieces of advice) - I also don't have a guess on who this one is... I think we pretty much threw away our chances of our kids finding stuff with their names on it when we named the first one Bryn..... But I definitely agree on keeping the nickname part of the original name, since I was confused by many students over the years who did NOT follow this simple rule!

Alicia - I will not be naming my baby after any ferrets, thanks. I am a fan of Parker for you, but if Suellen feels she needs more choices, refer her to this page.... there are plenty of good ones here that I won't be able to use! And I didn't know you had a blog!

Mike - I really like that. Part of the great appeal of Shay is that it is Irish (Bryn is Welsh, and the two boys names we have picked out for future use - Liam and Aiden - are also Celtic). However, Ben made a face and cut Moira upon going through the baby names book a couple months ago. :(

Katie - Where have you been all my life (or all summer)? We need to get together!

Angie (again) - A good way to combine two suggestions, and an adorable movie! I'm still with you on the top 2 votes though.

Crissy - I agree 100%! Besides, the poor kid will have a hard enough time spelling the last names for people....

Okay, I think that's all the comments--unless more of you have gotten motivated and commented while I've been typing this. :)

By the way, this is post #100 for me, so thanks for putting up with my ramblings all this time!