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Monday, July 28, 2008

Changes

I may have been somewhat silent on the blog lately, but that is certainly not because there hasn't been anything to say. In fact, just the opposite--so much has been happening that I haven't had time to sit down and write about it all!

We spent last week on vacation in Michigan and visiting with various family members. We left on Friday afternoon and were able to do visits with Ben's parents, grandmothers, sister, and aunt and uncle on the way up and the way back. We then arrived at Portage Point Inn in Onekama, Michigan, and spent several wonderful, relaxing days with my dad's side of the family.

In a completely unprecedented vacation manuever, Bryn actually slept well! This made the whole trip so much more enjoyable for us all, as we did not have to function under severe sleep deprivation. We sat on the beach every morning. Bryn loved playing in the sand this year, and her favorite passtime involved scooping up shovels full of sand and dumping them into the water of Portage Lake. She could do this for hours on end. Usually following lunch, we'd do lunch outside, then naps, then more time playing outside, then dinner, playing in the room, and bedtime. My family graciously volunteered to babysit the girls several times, so Ben and I were able to sneak in several beach walks and even a dinner by ourselves one night. The weather was gorgeous, in the 70s every day, sunny but cool enough that even I was willing to sit out on the beach, and I even managed to get a tiny bit of color.

We got back late Saturday night and barely had time to get unpacked before my sister Kristin arrived on Sunday (she had gone back to Peoria after vacation, then here the next day) with a carload of all her earthly possessions to move in with us. She is happily settled into her newly-painted yellow room upstairs as I write this. She will be living with us for some undefined amount of time while she looks for a marketing job in Indianapolis. It's wonderful to have her here, and the girls love having "Aunt Tiffin" (as Bryn calls her) around to be their constant playmate.

As for today, Monday's craziness has held Ben returning to work after a week off, and then flying off to Connecticut for a conference for work. Yes, that's right, back in the office for 8 hours, then jetting off to the East coast. He'll only be gone for about 24 hours though. We also took in Dagny for a much-overdue haircut today, and we got her hair shaved so short that you can actually see skin on her stomach and legs. She looks gorgeous, very sleek, and seems to be far happier outside. As for us, we are far happier that we don't have to vacuum up her incessant shedding 2 to 3 times a day.

Although all of that sounds like more than enough activity to keep our entire family reeling, I have not yet touched upon the biggest change of all. While this has been in the works for a few weeks now, I have avoided saying anything on the blog, as I didn't want to jinx myself. About three weeks ago, my friend Alicia called me up with the news that her school was going to have an English opening this year. The former teacher had just resigned due to her husband being transferred out of town. As most of you know, I have long struggled with the idea of whether to go back to work or not, but this job was simply too exciting to ignore. It is at University High School, which is this crazy private school--"crazy" being a positive thing in this case. :) There are only 200 kids at the school, with a staff of only 32 teachers (which is actually smaller than the size of the English department alone in my first job at Carmel HS).

While there are many, many very cool things about this school, my favorite is that every student is paired with a teacher who serves as their mentor throughout high school. They meet with this teacher for 45 minutes every other week. The school is all about nurturing the whole person and forming close relationships between staff and students. This is what I have always wanted to do as a teacher, what I tried to do at Zionsville HS, but is somewhat frowned upon in the world of public education.

University HS has only been open for 8 years, and I have been highly intrigued by it for that entire time. I actually interviewed there right out of college and was offered a position then, but I had already accepted the job at Zionsville by the time I got the callback. I have pretty much been kicking myself since then for not taking it, especially as I have heard all of Alicia's stories about how much she loves her job.

Anyway, to shorten this lengthy story, Alicia convinced me to send in a resume for this new opening, which I did, and I got an interview. I then spent the two weeks prior to the interview in deep agony over whether I really wanted to go back to work or not, what it would be like to not be with my beautiful girls all day every day, if teaching was still what I wanted to do. As I agonized, things slowly became clear. I love my girls. I love being with them. But I also love teaching. And teenagers. And having something of my own to invest in outside the home. The more I talked about teaching to others, the more excited I got, and the more I realized how much I have missed that part of myself.

At any rate, I interviewed on Friday and received a call a few short hours later offering me the job. We were actually in the car at the time, just having left for vacation. I accepted, and I am now officially the newest English teacher (there are only three of us total) at University High School in Carmel. I will be teaching three sections of freshmen, one Brit Lit class for seniors, and one senior AP class.

So immediately after getting a new job, and committing to returning to work full-time for the first time in two years, we headed off for a week-long vacation. Now that we are back, it's time for me to swing into high gear. I went up to school today, sort of learned my way around, and started to get the feel for the school. I will be going back several times this week to learn the computer system (all the teachers and students have laptops), figure out curriculum, and move my stuff into the classroom that I will be sharing with Alicia. Teacher days start on Monday (yes, six days from now), and students start the Monday after that. Unbelievable! Things are moving so fast that I can hardly keep my head on straight. I am incredibly blessed that my friend Amanda has volunteered to babysit my girls until I can find permanent full-time care for them, so at least that worry is not as pressing as it could be.

In summary, our lives are sheer chaos at this point, with many more changes ahead for our family. The coming month also holds GenCon for Ben (which also means many houseguests for us) and the start of preschool for Bryn. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as well all adjust!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Vacation

Not much time with the computer this week, but hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of how we've spent our vacation in Michigan (and why I haven't had any other posts!).




Thursday, July 17, 2008

BFF

Tonight Bryn said something that just made my heart melt.

We had actually driven up to Camp Tecumseh for the Annual Meeting. I considered this a good excuse to see old friends, show off baby Shay, and introduce Bryn to some camp songs (in a form me singing them in the car). Camp was wonderful, as always. Bryn was extremely shy at first and was trying to hide from all the people. I was talking to my old friend Tom, who I first met when we worked together way back in the summer of '99. Bryn got very concerned and rushed over to me, grabbing my legs protectively.

Bryn: MY mommy!!
Me: Honey, it's okay. Tom is Mommy's friend.
Bryn: No! Brynie Mommy's friend.
Me: Well, yes, honey, you are my friend. But Mommy has more than one friend.
Bryn: Oh. (thinking) Brynie Mommy's BEST friend!

And for the rest of the night, whenever I talked to a new person, Bryn informed them that she was my best friend, as if to establish the pecking order right away. It was too cute.

I told Ben this story on the phone on the way home. When we pulled into the driveway and she had finished greeting him excitedly, he asked her who her best friend was. She pointed at me and said, "Brynie best friend."
Ben: Is Daddy Brynie's best friend?
Bryn (condescendingly): Nooooo.
Ben: Is Shay Brynie's best friend?
Bryn (laughing): Noooo.
Ben: Is Mommy Brynie's best friend?
Bryn: YEAH! Mommy Brynie's best friend!!

So there you have it: we're BFF.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4 Years

In place of my Wordless Wednesday this week, I'm doing a different sort of a photo tribute. I'm still soliciting comments though!!

Ben and I actually celebrated our 4 year anniversary (and I use the word "celebrated" loosely! :)) when we were in Ohio for Origins gaming convention last month. Last week, we finally got around to going in to have our portraits taken. This is a tradition that we started on our 2-year anniversary, when Bryn was the same age that Shay is now. I thought it would be fun to go back and compare how our family has changed just over the past few years:

Here we are on our second anniversary with baby Bryn. It was a lot easier to just get one baby to look at the camera!


This is the three-year anniversary. I was four months pregnant with Shay at the time, thus the strategic placement of Bryn on my lap. :)


And here's this year. Bryn insisted on holding Shay, which would have been really cute, if only Shay hadn't looked so uncomforable!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Excuses

Many of you have heard me mention before that Bryn is incredibly clingy with me. She wants to be with Mommy all the time. I think this is beautifully demonstrated by the following conversation, which took place between Bryn and I when I was trying to get out the door to go tutor this afternoon:

Me: Brynie, Mommy is going to go teach the kids now.
Bryn: No! Mommy home!
Me: No, sweetie, I need to go teach now.
Bryn: No! Mommy sick.
Me: I'm sick?
Bryn: Okay. Mommy sick. Mommy home.
Me (trying to hide my laughter): No, sweetie, Mommy isn't sick.
Bryn: Oh. (pause, then enthusiastically) Brynie sick.
Me (now laughing out loud): No, honey, you're not sick either.
Bryn (sticking out lower lip, pathetically): Brynie sick.
Me: Oh really? How are you sick?
Bryn (after thinking): Brynie hurt.
Me: You think you're hurt?
Bryn: Okay. Brynie broken.
Me: What's broken?
Bryn: Brynie foot broken.

Considering that she was standing next to me and trying to burrow into my side during this entire conversation, I gathered that she was bluffing, and I left for tutoring a few minutes later. :)

Double Baby Shower

Over the weekend, we hosted a double baby shower for some of our good friends from college. Krysten and Adam are expecting baby girl Sadie at the end of August, and Alicia and Suellen are expecting baby girl "P" (name technically a secret, although there was much guessing at the shower) in early September. Throwing a joint shower provided an excellent excuse for many old friends to get together. The noise in our living room was deafening for at least the first hour we were all together! We did a co-ed shower, with babies welcome. Bryn's friends Chris, Emily, and Hannah were all in attendance, and they chased each other around the house while screaming with glee, which only added to the chaos. I know I had a really fantastic time, and stayed up way too late as a result. :) We really do need to all get together more often! Hmm, perhaps a reason to re-start our weekly Game Nights?

The boys escaped the chaos by volunteering to go socialize in the backyard while grilling dinner for all the hungry women and children.
Adam and Krysten opening gifts



Alicia and Suellen reading a heartfelt card from Krysten
I actually had to steal these pictures from Pam, since somehow I neglected to take very many of my own. As far as I can remember, though, I don't think that anyone took a picture of the two pregnant ladies together, nor did we get a full-group shot. :(

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday Fill-In #11

1. Oh, I can't wait until I have a plan for what's going on with my life.

2. Three desserts are the first thing I see when I open my refrigerator. To be fair, though, they are only there because I made them for Saturday's baby shower for Suellen, Alicia, Krysten, and Adam.

3. I never leave home without my keys. (This is actually a bit of a joke, as about 90% of the time that I'm going somewhere, I get everything loaded in the car and then have to come back in for my keys.)

4. If I were a condiment, I would be pickles because they're my favorites. Weak reasoning, I know.

5. People who say one thing and do another are really high up on my list of pet peeves.

6. The last thing I thought of before I went to bed was "I'm exhausted."

7. And as for the weekend, Friday I’m looking forward to cleaning my house, wrapping baby presents, and making a bunch of desserts, Saturday my plans include hosting a baby shower and getting caught up with many old college friends that I haven't seen in ages, and Sunday, I want to see my small group girls at Focus, work in Bryn's classroom at church, have lunch with college friends post-baby shower, and have my sister Kristin move in!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Running with the Big Dogs

Shortly after getting home from Peoria, we spent a day dogsitting for our friends Jason and Amanda. Their "baby" is named Sybian. He is a mix of Great Dane and English mastiff. He weighs 140 pounds and comes up to my shoulders when he is standing on all fours. He drools constantly and sheds hairs that are longer than mine.

He also cried like a baby when Jason left, and he let Bryn chase him around and pet him all day. If you look at his individual features, he's just a big puppy. Then it's like you zoom out and see this huge beast! All in all, though, he was very well behaved, and Bryn loved spending the day playing with "my Syb."

Quite clearly, he is taller than Bryn. He is also tall enough to take food off the kitchen counters without having to stretch at all.

Whenever I let him out, Bryn anxiously waited at the door for him to come back in and play. If you see the other black thing on Sybian's left, that's Dagny. Yes, my 80-pound fatty beast is dwarfed by him.
Bryn was very distraught when she woke up the next morning and Sybian was nowhere to be found. She kept asking, "Where big doggy?" Sorry, honey, no space for him here permanently!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Home Again (Again)

The girls and I rolled in safely from Peoria this afternoon. To my most fervent blog stalkers, I apologize for my lack of posts this past week; my mom doesn't have internet access at her house, so both blogging and emailing were out. More will follow as I get unpacked and rested up (as those of you who read regularly are aware of how well my children sleep when we are away from home!), but here's a quick summary. Since I didn't post last Thursday, I'll do it a la Thursday Thirteen style.

13 Things That Made My Trip to Peoria a Good One
(mostly listed in the order in which they occurred)

1. Seeing Bryn kick balls around the backyard with Diane, trim the bushes with Dad, do puzzles with Kristin, and play with Lindsay, all while Shay rolled around the floor and impressed everybody with her cuteness.

2. Going to the pool with Mom and Kristin. Shay drew the attention of many admirers, and Bryn had a great time playing in the baby pool.

3. Going over to Jarrod and Trisha's for a visit and seeing Bryn and Jay play together (mostly with Thomas the Train and Lightning McQueen cars--a lovely change from our usual princess paraphernalia).

4. Fourth of July / birthday cookout with Mom and Bill. Particularly the part where Bryn and Bill stood at the edge of Mom's hot tub and splashed each other while Bryn let out peals of gorgeous laughter.

5. Watching the DVD (newly converted from VHS) of my grandparents' 70th surprise birthday party (which took place in 1990) with Mom and rehashing some great family memories

6. Taking a walk through my old neighborhood with Mom and the girls, culminating in a visit with my aunt Jean (and her parakeet, who Bryn loved).

7. Church at Northwoods, including a sermon that got me thinking.

8. Daddy / daughter date night while Diane babysat the girls.

9. Visiting grandpa Parky at the nursing home and letting him see the girls.

10. Avanti's, Panera, Ponte Vecchio, Old Chicago, and Olive Garden

11. Getting to see Bob and Tom for the first time in four years (since my wedding). Meeting Bob's wife Stacie. Staying up until midnight (1:00 my time) getting caught up with them at Steak 'n' Shake while my girls slept peacefully at my mom's house.

12. Lunch with Melissa in Champaign on the way home. Hearing Bryn call her "Lissa" (like we all used to when we were in grade school). Having a chance to get caught up face-to-face.

13. Laughing, talking, staying up late, getting caught up with old friends, reminiscing about good times, planning future fun, and remembering what it feels like to be young.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #7

Thought I'd put up a picture of each girl this week, so make sure you include a caption for each in the "comments" section. :)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June in Review

As June comes to a close, here are our "memorable events" from the girls' lives:

Bryn
1 - loves Mater truck (from "Cars") and wants him to "play" with her Lightning McQueen car
2 - first day of VBX "Lost at Castaway Bay" at Connection Pointe
3 - very clingy with Mommy; doesn't want to be separated or let anyone else hold her
4 - huge rainstorm; lots of flooding
5 - somehow gets huge bruise on forehead during VBX
6 - gets to see fire truck and play in water at VBX
7 - Nana and Papa visit; failed attempt at potty training; Splash Island in Plainfield with Mommy and Daddy
8 - likes to help place items on checkout at grocery store
9 - likes Mommy to sing her "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman
10 - sees "Evan Almighty" at Avon movie theater; Daddy's first softball game of the season
11 - Elaina S (and her parents) visit from Oregon
12 - loves singing and reading about spiders in Mommy & Me class at Avon library
13 - Amanda D babysits all day
14 - likes to cuddle in big bed with Mommy, Daddy, Shay, and the dogs
15 - helps Mommy bake brownies for Daddy
16 - gorgeous weather; loves to be "pushed high" in swing
17 - "Bee Movie;" plays in the dirt at the ballfield with Tyler N during Daddy's game
18 - keeps crying and saying that "poopy hurts" all day before having a huge one at night
19 - when asked how old she is, replies "Brynie two half"
20 - learns to answer that Shay's age is "just half"
21 - plays with Chris and Emily at the Julius's house, but doesn't want to share toys
22 - loves to play with toy grocery cart
23 - loves to wear her "Memo" (Nemo) and "Ah-dow" (Ka-Chow, aka Lightning McQueen) shirts
24 - "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium;" spends the movie saying "Brynie want more corn!"
25 - "Shrek 3;" drive to Columbus, OH; up all night, but stays quiet watching silent tv
26 - loves chasing Krysten S's cats with Hannah (who she calls "Nana")
27 - Ohio gives Bryn allergies!; play at indoor park at Columbus mall
28 - loves playing with dice tower at Daddy's Origins booth
29 - drive home from Ohio; keeps telling Mommy "no sing!" (meaning no radio), so we have to drive in silence
30 - loves putting bouncy balls in counter for library summer reading program; first "friendly" dentist appointment--wants Mommy to hold her in the chair, but does pretty well

Shaylee
1 - sleeps consistently on back in crib (no longer sleeping in bouncy seat)
2 - eats bananas--and doesn't seem as excited about them as veggies!; first day of VBX at Connection Pointe
3 - drinks diluted apple juice from bottle
4 - very constipated; cries all day
5 - eats prunes; sits up in stroller (instead of riding in bucket seat)
6 - huge poop! all over self, clothes, bottle, carseat, carseat base, changing table, etc.
7 - Nana & Papa visit; Shay cuddles with Papa all evening
8 - rolls over consistently from back to stomach
9 - 6 month shots; 28 inches long; 15'8" without clothes; head is 17 1/4 cm circumference
10 - first movie in a theater ("Evan Almight")--Shay sleeps through it
11 - Elaina S (and her parents) visit from Oregon
12 - first night away from Mommy--C & AJ babysit until Daddy gets home from work
13 - Amanda D babysits all day while Mommy is in Peoria (Mommy back pm)
14 - likes to cuddle in big bed with Mommy, Daddy, Bryn, and dogs
15 - eats squash
16 - rolling all over the place--moving from room to room!
17 - sees "Bee Movie" and actually seems to watch it
18 - eats applesauce; go to Avon-Washington Township Park & playground
19 - still needs a bottle to put herself to sleep at night--but now conconsistently rolls to stomach to sleep
20 - "test subject" for Pampers market research study
21 - eats sweet potatoes
22 - rolling all over the place during diaper changes!
23 - play at library; then eat chicken fries with Chris (Shay really just has a bottle :))
24 - eats pears; sees "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"
25 - sees "Shrek 3;" drive to Columbus, OH
26 - gets two first teeth--bottom center; Columbus gives Shay allergies!
27 - 7 months old; rolls off the bed!; dinner with Krysten and Adam
28 - dinner with Gwyn and David
29 - drive home from Ohio; happy to be rolling around on our own floor
30 - eats peaches--doesn't seem sure if she likes them