Monday, December 21, 2009

4-Year-Old Theology

Not to be outdone by her little sister, Bryn recently shared a humorous theological interaction with me as well. At church, one of the elders gave a prayer thanking God for sending us Jesus and allowing us to have Him live in our hearts. I realized that while Bryn and I pray together every day and talk about God, I had never actually used the phrase "Jesus living in our hearts" with her before. So I tried to talk to her about it. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Bryn, does Jesus live in your heart?
Bryn (horrified): No, Mommy!
Me: Why not, sweetie?
Bryn: There are already two babies in my belly! I do not want Jesus in my heart. I would be too, too full.
Me (laughing): Oh, honey, when we say that Jesus lives in our hearts, that doesn't mean there is a person inside of us. It just means that we love Jesus. Do you understand?
Bryn: Yes, Mommy.
Me: So do you love Jesus?
Bryn: Oh yes.
Me: So that means that he lives in your heart, right?
Bryn: No! He does not live in my heart.
Me (confused): So then where does He live?
Bryn (with a look that can only be described as "duh"): In my Bible!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Newborn's Conversation with God

One of my friends sent me this as a forward, and I thought that so many of you would enjoy it that I'm posting it here:

A Newborn's Conversation with God

A baby asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there, being so small and helpless?"

God said, "Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you."

The child further inquired, "But tell me, here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy."

God said, "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel's love and be very happy."

Again the small child asked, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?"

God said, "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak."

"And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?"

God said, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray."

"Who will protect me?"

God said, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life."

"But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore."

God said, "Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you."

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, "God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel's name."

God said, You will simply call her, "Mom."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2-Year-Old Theology

Last week, Shay and I were playing with her Little People. She and Bryn got the Little People nativity set for Christmas last year and love to play with it. On this particular day last week, she was on the hunt for Baby Jesus. We eventually located him, as well as Mary and Joseph. Then I told Shay, "Okay, now you can put him in his house." She clutched him in her little hand, stood very still, and looked back and forth between her various Little People sets. "Right there, sweetie," I said, pointing at the stable. But she seemed to have made up her mind and, ignoring me, went and placed him in a position of prominence in her castle.

This really got me thinking about how when Jesus was born, the religious people of the time expected him to be born in a castle, a member of the royalty, the King of Kings. But instead He came in a lowly manger, accessible to all people.

I tried to explain this to Shay, but maybe adult theology was lost on my 2-year-old. :) Still, a very cool lesson for both Mommy and daughter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brynie's Babies, Part 2

For those who have not yet read the saga of the babies that Bryn believes are growing in her belly, you can get caught up here.

I really thought that she was starting to get over her obsession with her "two babies." She was talking about it far less for several weeks. But in the past two weeks, Bryn has again become obsessed with her babies (Clark and Lois Lane) and talks about them all the time.

She also complains about how the inconvenience her more than any actual pregnant woman I have ever met. For example, whenever we ask her to pick up her toys, she sighs and says, "But I can't bend over....because of the babies in my belly."

The babies are apparently also responsible for any misfortune that befalls her. Last week, she had the flu for two days. But she simply would not believe that she was sick. Rather, she said that it was the babies in her belly that were causing her to throw up. Now, I understand that she's only 4, and probably the only time she has ever seen anyone else throw up was during my first trimester of this pregnancy. But still.

She still insists that her babies are real. She has now learned what the word "pretend" means, and this is a category into which her babies emphatically do NOT fall.

I have continued trying to reason with her on this subject, but her powers of persuasion are starting to wear me down. The other night, I very logically explained to her that four-year-olds do not have babies. Only grown-ups have babies. She listend respectfully, then explained, "Mommy, I know that MOST four-year-olds do not have babies. But God knows that I will be a good mommy, so He put these babies in my belly."

I was completely floored by that and had no idea what to say. When I repeated the story to my friend Christianne, though, she replied, "Well, that's probably what Mary had to say to her mother too. You know, 'Mom, I know that MOST virgins don't have babies, but God put this one in my stomach....'"

Ben was apparently disturbed by this analysis, as later that night, he asked me, "Seriously, honey, what would we do if our four-year-old gave birth to twins on Christmas?"

Clearly we are all getting a bit worn down by this.

Our pediatrician, though, says not to worry--that lots of kids go through things like this when their mommies are pregnant (although Bryn does seem to have given it more thought than many) and that she will likely get over it when my baby comes and she is distracted by helping to take care of him.

This does seem to be the most successful approach we've tried yet, as when I explained to Bryn that her babies couldn't come for a good long while (like until she's at least 25) because she will need to help me with her baby brother, she considered it carefully and then said, "Okay, Mommy, I will keep my babies in my belly until after Baby Liam comes." So at least we've got that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What a Trip!

I've been remiss in my blogging (again) since returning from our family trip to Florida. My dad rented a house just outside Tampa and gave us a vacation as our Christmas present (last year--nothing like waiting for a good thing!), so during Thanksgiving week, Ben and I packed up the girls and all their supplies in his parents' van (which they very nicely let us borrow) and made the two-day sojourn to the Sunshine State. We were joined there by my dad, stepmom, stepsister, sister, and her boyfriend, all of whom flew (and therefore missed the delightful 30+ hours of Dora videos that we got to view on the trip there and back).

The house we stayed in was very nice, and Ben and the girls and I got the bottom floor (2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a sitting room) all to ourselves, so we didn't bother the upstairs folk when Bryn got up ridiculously early in the mornings. We kept ourselves quite busy with lots of swimming (usually 2 times a day in the indoor pool), a trip to the beach, a visit to Ben's grandma and her husband in Bradenton, celebrating Shay's 2nd birthday, and a day trip to Orlando to meet Mickey. Below are pictures of a few of our trip highlights:

Bryn meets her favorite princess, Cinderella--soooo worth the 45 minutes in line!

Entering the Magic Kingdom--I actually have a picture just like this of my family visiting when I was about 6, and another from when I was about 14, as well as one of Ben and I when we went during our summer roadtrip the year that we were engaged.

Shay enjoyed digging on the beach, while Bryn's highlight was searching for crabs with Daddy and Grandpa.

One of our many swims in the delightfully warm indoor pool.

Happy 2nd birthday, my sweet Shay!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Announcement: On the Edge of Your Seat

For starters, a disclaimer: I have not actually been trying to make you all crazy with anticipation for this post. Local friends keep asking me if we're telling the sex of this baby (we are) or if we're keeping it a secret (we're not). When I reply, they then get agitated with me and ask why on earth I haven't posted a blog on this subject yet. I've also received Facebook messages, emails, and texts from many of you, demanding that I hurry up and deliver the news.

I really haven't meant to wait so long to fill everyone in. As some faithful readers might recall, I actually drove back to Indy from Peoria last month to get my ultrasound, and then Ben and the girls and I all returned to Peoria to be with my family while my grandpa was in the hospital. That was The Big Ultrasound, and I truly meant to fill everyone in right away, but we didn't reach Peoria until very late that night, and then my grandpa passed away the next day, and things were nothing short of crazy after that. After all the stress and driving associated with the funeral were over, I then had Bryn's blowout birthday party to contend with, and, well, you get the idea. Stuff has just been busy. So there's my (somewhat) lame excuse for not posting sooner.

Anyway, I digress. At The Big Ultrasound appointment, we learned that, most importantly, we're growing a healthy baby. Secondly, we learned that this baby is VERY active--no surprise to me, who is now getting rather used to being buffeted from the inside. Thirdly, we learned that this baby is..... a BOY. Ben about fell out of his chair with excitement. I now feel comfortable admitting that I was actually pretty sure of that for the entire pregnancy--not sure why, maybe just mother's intuition kicking in early. At any rate, we are extremely excited about coming addition, and Bryn and Shay proudly tell everyone what good sisters they will be to their little brother.

This ultrasound picture is from this month (I had to have another one because he wasn't cooperating and letting the tech get all the photos she needed last month). I thought it was really cool, since I'd never had anything except the traditional one before. As you can see, it seems that this little guy is a bit camera shy already!
So, friends, I'm sorry to have kept you in suspense for so long. You may now officially all start shopping for blue things on our behalf, as our house is rather heavy on the pink right now. :) In addition to Ben's excitement that he will finally have another male to help him break up the all-female party at our house, we're also excited to finally be able to use the baby name that we decided on before we even got married. So, come early March 2010, you can all join us in welcoming Baby Liam to the family.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now that the Birthday Haze Has Cleared....

As always, November has been a bit of a "birthday haze" for us here at the MeyPfan house. Bryn's birthday kicks off the month on the 3rd, followed by mine on the 11th, followed by Shay's on the 27th. So Ben is kept quite busy providing goodies for all his girls! Of course, each of these birthday celebrations actually morphs into 3 or 4 once you account for family celebrations, parties with friends, and out of town relatives. Here are the highlights of Bryn's 4th birthday bash:

We kicked off the festivities with our annual trip to Chuck E. Cheese. To see how Bryn has grown since previous years, check out this link from last year. This year, we got smart and ate dinner at home beforehand, since trying to keep the kids in the booth with all the lights and noise is definitely a losing task. Both Bryn and Shay loved the rides and games, and Ben and I were kept quite busy chasing them around all night!

Here's one of our big girl opening her mound of gifts. These were the presents from me and Ben, with a few from Grandpa Dave and Grandma Diane mixed in. She had a whole separate gift-opening spree with gifts from Nana Helen, Papa Tom, and Grammy Tina. She even got to open her presents from Aunt Jill and Uncle Jim this past weekend, and we're hoping to meet up with Uncle Brian soon for some delayed celebration. So she has certainly been a busy girl! Most of the gifts from us were books, although she also received a Strawberry Shortcake DVD, a "big girl" belt (which she had been asking for), some new shirts, and a purse shaped like Minnie Mouse's head, which she adores.

Here are the birthday girl and her mama following her party at preschool. As you can see, she is holding up 4 fingers to advertise her age. :) She decided that she wanted an "animal party" at school, so we got animal cups and plates for snacks, which were frosted animal crackers, and made gift bags with all kinds of animal-themed snacks (Goldfish, Teddy Grahams, animal-shaped fruit snacks) and games (coloring book, craft) in them.

As a side note, can you believe her outfit? Way too trendy for me! She is obsessed with those boots and wants to wear them every day. Such a little fashion diva!

And another side note - yes, I know that I'm getting big. More baby news to follow....

Bryn's big birthday bash was the Saturday following her birthday. Let me tell you, this party wore me out. I worked on getting it ready literally every day for a month beforehand. Yes, I am THAT mom, who goes totally over the top. But hey, our next-door neighbors had a bounce house in their backyard when their little girl turned 4! I can't shell out that kind of money, but I can get crafty, so that's what we did. Bryn wanted a Strawberry Shortcake party (she actually says she loves Strawberry Shortcake more than princesses these days--whoa!), so I got creative and set up all kinds of games, crafts, food, gift bags, decorations, etc. that went with that. It took a LOT longer to pull together when doing it all from scratch, and Ben swears that I need to write an instruction manual of everything I did and sell it online. Meanwhile, I'm already wondering how I'll have time to plan two separate parties next year, since Shay will get her first official birthday party next year as well (Bryn's was also when she turned 3). What can I say? I've always had somewhat of a desire to become an event planner, so maybe I'm just practicing. :) At any rate, here's the birthday girl in her strawberry shirt and Strawberry Shortcake hat before the party began.

And here's a picture of the actual festivities, Bryn with her "pin the strawberry on Strawberry" game. You might also notice the Froot Loop necklace, a remnant of another game. She had 9 friends over (she made the guest list herself--so big!!), plus their parents and siblings, plus Nana Helen, Papa Tom, Grammy Tina, Aunt Kristin and her boyfriend Brian. So we had quite the full house! I know I had a great time though (with the exception of my aching legs, which is pretty par for the course for when this pregnant lady overdoes it), and Bryn was over the top with excitement. Thanks to all who shared in the special day!
My own birthday was also mostly a good one. I say "mostly" because we started out the day with dental appointments for the whole family (do I know how to party or what?!?!), which were met by varying degrees of whimpering from all of us. The day definitely improved from there, though, featuring lunch out with my friend Jill, a nice nap, and dinner at Puccini's with Ben and the girls. I also received literally hundreds of birthday wishes via phone, email, and Facebook, so I felt quite loved. While 31 isn't nearly the fun of turning 4, it was still a good day.
Coming soon (tomorrow?)..... announcements and updates about the baby.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Remembering Parky

My grandfather, John C. Parkhurst, was exceptional in every way. He was a noted community leader, pivotal in Illinois legislature, devoted to service, and a respected attorney. His works helped to create the Peoria we know today, not to mention impacting the entire state of Illinois. These are some of the articles that have appeared in the Peoria Journal Star since his death two weeks ago:

John Carlton Parkhurst remembered for service, song

Who's next in line to put their stamp on Peoria?

The link to his obituary is no longer active, but it was written by his six children and was a beautiful tribute to his life.

But as accomplished as he was, I remember the grandpa, not the statesman. I was the first of his twelve grandchildren, his "Famous Amos." I remember playing at his great old house growing up. A creek ran through his backyard, and he and my grandma Hattie used to bring out wicker baskets into the backyard, take us down into the creek, and play Moses in the Bullrushes with us. Parky was always the loudest voice singing the hymns at church, booming out from the balcony. He taught Sunday school, and when I got into high school and college, I became his teaching partner for the fourth and fifth graders. Parky talked to God like He was a friend, and his great faith was evident in everything he did.

I used to spend the night at Hattie and Parky's house when my parents were out of town. It was a great old house, full of interesting things. I remember how patient and loving he was with me. When I was little and refused to eat vegetables, he recited a poem to me about "peas with honey," then smeared a butter knife with honey and painstakingly lined up peas in the honey for me to eat. He played with me on the staircase, helping me find the halfway point, then read me A.A. Milne's poem about sitting on the stairs and being "halfway up and halfway down." I remember going out for breakfast with him, and Parky making me write down my order before I could eat, so that I could practice my spelling. He sat in bed with me at night, reading endless bedtime stories, not just the words on the page, but discussing the illustrations and what I thought about the stories. Parky loved with written word. He read constantly himself, and it was the eloquent letters that he wrote home to my grandmother during World War II that caused her to fall in love with him. He loved playing with words to find just the right combination, and every birthday and family occassion growing up was accompanied by an original Parky Poem. When I grew up to become an English teacher, it was due in no small part to the love he instilled in me for reading and writing at an early age. As I began work as adult, Parky always asked me what my classes were doing, and he constantly told me that he wished that I "had been his teacher."

Parky loved music of all kinds. One of my earliest memories is of sitting at the piano with him, listening to him sing and play "Ball and Chain." Photos show him also doing this with each of his six children, as well as his 12 grandchildren. He sang in the church choir, and he performed in Corn Stock, a very cool local theatre group. All six of his children caught his love for music and passed it on to their kids. My uncles still sing in church choirs, and most of the siblings have performed in various bands over the years. My uncle, as well as his wife and kids, are still deeply involved in Corn Stock. As for us cousins, nearly all grew up to play the piano to some degree, and most of us also sing or play various instruments. None of us have quite the same booming voice as Parky, though--no one does.

That voice was famous while I was growing up. He was on speech team in high school and never outgrew his love for oration. He delivered messages at church and spoke at numerous community events, in addition to his full load as an attorney. He focused not on just word choice, but on projection, enunciation, and dramatic pauses. Every time I ever did any kind of reading or public speaking in front of him, his critique afterwards included exhortations to "enunciate" and "project."

Hattie and Parky's house was always open, to everyone. I think most of my childhood friends made it over there at least once over the years. They hosted at least one huge family gathering every month, often in the backyard on Parky's Patio. All our Thanksgivings and Christmases were there, and we have a series of great family photos in front of the fireplace, watching our family grow each year. Growing up, I was as much at home at their house as I was at my own. We kids ran wild across the big yard, playing in the creek, under the huge pine trees, in the sandbox. My mom and her siblings tell stories about the many parties and gatherings held in their house as they grew up. I remember Hattie and Parky taking us out to dinner all the time, in various locations across Peoria, most particularly Vonachan's, Lum's, and my personal favorite, Long John Silver's. Even though Hattie and Parky were famous in our community, they never acted like it. We went out for fast food with both of them wearing sweatsuits. They were completely unpretentious.

Still, though, there was no denying the fact that everyone knew them. Being the child of one of his two daughters, I didn't share his last name, so people didn't always realize that I was related to him. But there was always an odd little feeling of pride that came when the recognition would spark in adults' eyes and they would say, "OH, you're John and Harriet's granddaughter" and look at me with a new measure of respect. Everybody who met them loved Parky and Hattie, not just for their endless civic accomplishments and awards, but for the love and kindness that they showed everyone they met.

My grandmother Hattie lost her battle with cancer when I was a junior in high school. She was the love of Parky's life, and after her passing, he spent hours and hours every week sitting at her gravesite, telling her in detail about what all of their kids and grandkids were up to. He always talked about how he had been so blessed to have her in his life. When I graduated high school, his gift to me was the center diamong out of the engagement ring he had given her way back in the 1940s. That diamond is now the stone in my own engagement ring, a reminder not just of my commitment to Ben, but of the overwhelming love that my grandparents both shared and exuded, and an inspiration to live in the same way.

The past few years have been very rough on Parky. He has been living in a nursing home, moving around in a wheelchair, often assisted by oxygen. He was in and out of the hospital, and there were many close calls with his health. There were times when he needed to be reminded who the people around him were. But everyone at the nursing home loved him. Even if he was confused about who was who, he still treated everyone around him with respect, and would ask people, in that great booming voice, his tone making it clear that he genuinely cared about the response, "And how are YOU today?" When Bryn Elizabeth was born in 2005, he was already in the nursing home, and all of our pictures of them together show him in a wheelchair. But he was thrilled to meet her and told everyone, "When I was young, I had a Tin Lizzie. Now, I have a Bryn Lizzie!" He was so proud of his entire family.

I could go on and on about what an amazing man our Parky was. He exuded love, faith, and commitment to helping others in all that he did. They don't make many like him. He will be sorely missed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

An Update

My dear friends and loyal readers -

I just have a second, but I wanted to update you all on what's been happening in our lives. Last Tuesday night, my mom called me and let me know that her father, my grandfather Parky, my last remaining grandparent, was in the hospital in critical care. He had actually been in the hospital for nearly a week then, following what we think was a stroke, but his condition was worsening. I packed up and left Indy for Peoria on Wednesday, leaving the girls with Ben and an assist from our wonderful sitter Lauren during the day.

I was able to spend a great deal of time with my grandfather and the rest of my extended family at the hospital on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Thursday, the family met with the doctors, who told us that his condition would likely not improve. He had a living will and had made clear his wishes not to have his life sustained by artificial means, and after a difficult meeting, the family decided to withdraw any medical interventions that might cause him pain or discomfort. At that point, we knew it would only be a matter of time before he passed.

On Friday, I made the drive back to Indy for an OB appointment (more on that at some later, more cheerful time), and then Ben and the girls returned to Peoria with me--LOTS of driving! We are so grateful that we did it, though, because Parky passed on Saturday morning.

We had the final viewing for our family yesterday (he is being cremated), and now we are in a holding pattern to see what comes next. Ben returned to Indy with my sister Kristin on Sunday evening, but Bryn, Shay, and I are still in Peoria. We will have a family ceremony sometime this week to bury his ashes, and we're not sure yet when the actual funeral will occur, although that will hopefully be determined this afternoon. So for right now, the girls and I are just trying to be a help to my mom and the rest of the extended family, and waiting to hear when these ceremonies will take place. Depending on the dates that are chosen, we may just remain in Peoria for the duration, or we may return to Indy and come back another time.

Huge thanks go out to everyone in Indy that has helped with our dogs and rescheduling our lives over the past six days, as well as everyone in Peoria who has provided companionship and comfort for us. I know that many of you have been praying for us, and we certainly appreciate that outpouring of love and faith. Thank you, all, for your friendship. I'll keep you all updated as we find out more.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brynie's Babies

We've got a bit of situation on our hands. It seems that I am not the only one in this household who is with child. Bryn tells us that she is pregnant with twins and will be delivering them any day now.

This actually started back in July, when we traveled to Peoria for a friend's wedding. While we were there, Bryn announced to Grandma and Grandpa that she had a baby in her belly. We weren't sure where she got the idea at that time, since we hadn't told her that I was pregnant yet. We kind of assumed that she was just playing pretend and that the idea would pass soon enough.


In the weeks following the wedding, Bryn continued to talk about her baby. She decided that it was a boy, and she named him Clark. (Those remembering her Superman obsession will get this reference.)

I eventually decided to use "her" baby as a jumping-off point to discuss the one that I will be having. I was trying to explain to her that we don't always know if a baby is going to be a boy or a girl before it comes, and I asked her, "What if your baby is a girl?" She thought about this very seriously for a few minutes, and then announced, "Then I will name her Lois Lane." I laughed and told her that was just fine. But after this discussion, she apparently decided that she wanted both a boy baby AND a girl baby, and now she tells everyone that she has two babies in her belly, and their names are Clark and Lois Lane.

Cute, right? Yes, but it's getting out of hand.

When Bryn saw me taking my prenatal vitamins, she asked what they were, and I explained that they were medicine to help my baby grow big and strong. She then demanded that she be allowed to take medicine for HER babies. This was okay, as we'd been trying to get her started on vitamins anyway. What is not okay is that every single morning now, she announces, "I need my medicine for my babies!"

When she saw me getting out of the shower one day, she asked me why my stomach was growing. I told her it was because the baby was growing inside there. I went to get dressed, and when I came back to the bathroom, I found that she had stripped down and was examining her own belly in front of the full-length mirror. "Look, Mommy, my babies are making my belly grow too!"

When her preschool class did a lesson on families, they made these really cute little tree crafts with a leaf for each member of the family. At the end of class, though, her teacher pulled me aside and asked me if I was having twins. I said no, and she asked why, then, Bryn had wanted to put leaves on her tree for two babies. *Sigh.*

I tried to have a reasonable discussion with her about this a few weeks back, asking her who she thought was going to take care of her babies when they came. We talked about all the things that babies need, and after thinking about it, she said, "That is a lot of work. You will need to take care of my babies for me, Mom." (Please, please, please do not let her repeat this statement during her teen years!!!)

Now that she has had babies in her belly since July (after all, 3 months are a very long time when you're 3 1/2), she is getting very impatient for them to come out. She keeps telling me that they will come soon, and she is determined that hers will come before mine. Sometimes she even gets upset and cries and says that she wants them to hurry up and come out. And how will they be coming out? Through her belly button. Or at least that's what she tells me.

Recently she came and got me during naptime with a very panicked look on her face. Completely seriously, she said, "Mommy, I think my babies are about to come out!" I had no idea what to do with that, so I sent her back to bed. This incident was closely followed by a very serious pooping incident that I will avoid describing. Let it suffice to say that she seems to fully understand that babies make your belly feel pretty gross sometimes.

The other day, while eating breakfast, Bryn took a bite of cereal, chewed, swallowed, rubbed her belly, and said, "Yum-o! That is good to baby Clark!" Then she took another bite and said, "And that bite is to Lois Lane." So it seems that she does understand that babies live in their mommies' bellies and need their mommies' food to stay healthy. What she does NOT seem to understand is that she does not ACTUALLY have babies in HER belly.

While this was all super-cute at the beginning, and it actually has given me a springboard to discuss pregnancy with her, it's all getting rather out of hand. I sat her down and had a talk about how my baby is real and her baby is pretend. She agreed and went along with this for about two days, until I realized that she doesn't know what "pretend" means. I then told her that my baby is "real" and hers is "just for play," and she got very agitated with me, insisting that hers is real too.

Our contingency plan was to buy her some baby dolls when my baby comes and tell her that they were her babies. When I tried to talk to her about this, though, she got very upset and told me that hers would be real babies, that cry and need to be rocked and like to drink milk.

So, friends, short of running out and adopting two more babies (which I would love to do, by the way!), any ideas on how to resolve this? :)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Boy vs. Man

As I mentioned in a previous post, Shay's newest saying is "oh man!" This really cracks me up. She uses it all the time, and it's so incredibly cute the way she says it. Ben, Bryn, and I have all started saying it too because it's so adorable.

What I noticed the other day, though, is that when she gets excited about something, she says "oh boy!" instead. This led me, the English major, to a contemplation of how subtly different the words "boy" and "man" are, yet how differently they are used in this context. I mean, I'm sure that Shay could not identify the difference between a boy and a man in people (nor could Bryn). Yet when used as an expression, she's got it down.

Doughnuts for breakfast?
Oh boy!

Time to clean up our toys?
Oh man!

Want to play outside?
Oh boy!

Bryn doesn't want to watch the same movie as Shay?
Oh man!

Daddy just got home?
Oh boy!

Time to get up from naps?
Oh man!
(or at least that's how I feel! :))

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Bulldog Babies

This weekend was Butler's Homecoming, and Ben and I took the girls to campus to check out the festivities. We wandered around the mall and did all the fun free stuff, but we left before the football game began in order to get home for naps. Here are a few of my favorite shots:

After naps, we hosted a Butler band reunion / cookout at our house. We didn't realize how big this was going to get when we first offered to host! We had 22 adults and 15 kids at our house, and it was crazy fun! It was so good to get caught up with old friends and to meet some of their kids for the first time. Good times--Go Bulldogs!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quotable Conversations

We've heard some pretty funny stuff around our house lately. Unfortunately, it seems that I usually play the role of straight man. Here are some examples:

The girls and I spent the day at Fair Oaks Farms and got to see a baby cow being born. I viewed this as a somewhat traumatic experience, as the baby cow got stuck and needed to be pulled out. Bryn, however, apparently found it humorous.
Bryn (to her teacher): I saw a mommy have her baby!
Teacher: Really?
Me: She means a cow. We went to the farm yesterday.
Bryn: And the baby got stuck!!
Teacher: Oh my!
Bryn (laughing): Her feet were sticking out of her mommy's bottom!!


Shay's new favorite expression (repeated at least every 10 minutes): "Oh man!"


While watching "Glee" online with me, Ben had a somewhat bemused, somewhat disgusted look on his face.
Me: You know, you don't have to watch this if you think it's so dumb.
Ben: No, it's fine. I recognize the show for what it is.
Me: And what would that be, exactly?
Ben: Made for you.


After being asked to put on her shoes:
Bryn: You are making me crazy, Mom!

Yes, honey, and the feeling is mutual. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Catching Up: A Few More Things

As the end of tonight's turbo blogging, a few odds and ends that didn't fit in anywhere else....

Everybody loves the circus!

Our family after the circus
(while I'm short, I'm not THAT short--Ben is standing a step above me)

Bryn and Shay with their friends Emily and Chris during a multi-family outing to Chick Fil-A

Bejeweled Shay

And this is what happens with 3-year-olds are allowed to dress themselves...

Catching Up: Fall Festival

We attended Fall Fest in Zionsville last weekend to celebrate the end of my job and my return to stay-at-home motherhood. The girls had a fantastic time!!

Bryn with her new fireman's helmet and Nemo face (er, arm) painting

Baby's first tattoo

Choo choo!

Harley girls

Enjoying the petting zoo

Catching Up: Bryn's First Day of School

This is Bryn's second year at St. Andrew's Nursery School. She absolutely adores it and couldn't wait to get back this fall! We think the school is a huge godsend, as it has transformed her from the shy, clingy little girl of last fall to the chatterbox of the present day. I was pretty bummed this year because I wasn't able to attend her first day, since subs don't really get days off. But Ben had a great time taking her and getting to be part of the whole experience.

Ready to go
These are the only tears that Bryn shed on the first day. Why was she crying? Because they got to school too early and Daddy suggested going to get a doughnut instead of waiting in the parking lot. All Bryn wanted to do was go to her school!!

Enjoying the classroom toys next to her friend Chris

Pretending to call Mommy to tell me what a great day she was having!

Bryn and Chris with their incredibly fantastic teachers

Catching Up: Weekend at Camp Tecumseh

During the first weekend in September, our family headed up to Brookston to celebrate Camp Tecumseh's 85th year. This was a fantastic chance to get caught up on old friends from our camp days (5 years as a camper and 5 years as a counselor for me, and I even dragged Ben along for one summer as a counselor) and show our girls the place that we love so much. They quickly fell in love with it too and had a truly fantastic weekend. We all spent the day trying out various camp activities, such as the Black Hole slide, the Three House Treehouse playground, paddleboats on the lake, the new frisbee golf course (that one was just Ben), a trail ride for Bryn, new games, a picnic dinner, and a campfire full of favorite songs and skits. Ben and Shay headed home after the campfire, and Bryn and I spent the night at camp. In the morning, we had breakfast in the dining hall, went to outdoor chapel, and even fit in another trail ride before heading home. What a fantastic weekend!

Ben and the girls at the top of the Black Hole slide

Equestrian Bryn, ready for her first horse ride

Bryn petting her horse of choice--she had to have a white one!

Is she really big enough for this?!?! Bryn on "her" horse, Minnie.

Bryn with the chickens at the mini-farm--she couldn't get enough of this place!

Catching Up: Bryn's Dance Class

Here's the first of several photo posts tonight, my attempt to get caught up on sharing the cuteness of the past few weeks. Bryn has recently started dance classes at a local studio. The classes are a half hour a week and feature a combination of intro to ballet, tap, and tumbling. Bryn absolutely loves them!

With her friend Ella before class
Model student--can't wait to learn ballet!
Showing off her dance outfit at home

Dancing across the room

Trying out a backbend for the first time

Ups and Downs

It has been an odd sort of week. I have absolutely loved being home with the girls, getting to spend time with them and be part of their daily routines. I love getting back to my "real" life, starting back into activities that I have really missed over the last year. Here's a quick run-down of what my first week "off" entailed:

Friday night - We went to the Zionsville Fall Festival, which is basically a carnival. The kids had a fantastic time eating snowcones, playing overpriced games for cheap prizes, and riding every kiddie ride there. Based on the absolute glee on her face while riding, I think our Shay is going to grow up to be a thrill-seeker!

Saturday - Grammy Tina (my mom) visited, and she went to the circus with us. Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey were in town, and we sprang for far better seats than in previous years. This year we could actually see what was happening rather than feeling like we were going to fall off the edge of the world. :) The girls loved the circus (and the snacks that went with it!), but I think Grammy liked it best of all, not having been to one since her kids were little! Then home for late naps, and then out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (super yum!) with Grammy and Aunt Kristin.

Sunday - Grammy headed home, and we went to church. A nice, relatively quiet day to get caught up on things.

Monday - The girls were champs and accompanied me on errands all morning as I attempted to get caught up on the million things I have neglected over the last six weeks. We celebrated by going out to lunch at Steak 'n' Shake with Cathy, Christopher, and Samuel. At night, I actually cooked a big elaborate dinner--something that hasn't happened in a very long time! Between my nausea over the summer and the busyness of working this fall, our diet has not been the greatest. I cooked good stuff every night this week and am really excited about getting back into the routine. Ben keeps moaning and groaning that he's going to gain weight, but I know he secretly likes it. :)

Tuesday - I took Bryn to preschool, and then Shay and I ran some more errands, including a long-overdue trip to the bank to iron out some things with our mortgage and my retirement account. We then played at the playground for a nice long time, and I got a good long catch-up phonecall with my friend Melissa, who has recently become a mommy to baby Will. Tuesday evening held dance class for Bryn--trust me, you cannot wait to see the cute pictures of this!

Wednesday - The girls and I headed to my Mom to Mom group at church. I was part of this group for the two years that I stayed home before, and I really missed it last year. It was SO good to get back with all these wonderful ladies and meet some new ones who have joined over the past year.

Thursday - Preschool for Bryn again. She adores her school and begs to go even on the days that it doesn't meet. While she was in class this day, Shay and I drove across town to attend her first Kindermusik class. We had both girls in a Family Time class last fall, which is designed for families with kids of multiple ages. That was fun, but already I can see Shay getting so much more out of a class designed especially for her age group.

Friday - The girls were again angel babies while I dragged them on errands. After way too short naps, I yanked them out of deep sleeps to throw then in the car and drive to my OB's office, where Ben met us in the parking lot and took them to the park during my appointment. I am thrilled to report that the baby has a good strong heartbeat and all is going well!! When we got home, Rob, Andrea, Hannah, and Hailey joined us for an evening of dinner and games. Bryn and Hannah are so cute playing together!

Saturday - I got up early and headed out to a nearby church for the Start from the Heart parenting conference. I got soooo pumped up from this and learned so many great things! I'll have to do a separate post just about that. Following the conference, I ran some errands for crafting supplies for the many projects I have planned. In the evening, we went to church and then went had a scrumptious dinner with the Julius clan, Mike, Kathleen, Emily, Sarah, and Kristin.

Sunday - Ben and I worked in Bryn's class at church this morning. Since then, it's been a pretty quiet afternoon and evening of getting caught up on some things around the house. Our big project was moving the crib and toddler bed out of Bryn's room and then moving in a big bed (actually the double bed I used before we got married). Tonight will be her first night in that!

So those were all the "ups" of the week, and I have several photo posts to follow to illustrate all those great things. The "downs" of the week have largely been remember. This week marked both the three-year anniversary of my first miscarriage and the one-year anniversary of my third miscarriage. While we are in a really good place right now, with two beautiful girls and a healthy baby on the way, it was still very, very hard to remember those babies that didn't make it. It made for a very odd juxtaposition, being so happy about being home with the girls while still being so sad about the bad things that have come before. Thank you to the many, many friends who expressed such an outpouring of love and support this week--love you all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Information

Thank you so much for the deluge of well wishes that followed my last post! To attempt to answer some of the questions that you asked....

No, we do not know yet if it is a boy or a girl, but yes, we will be finding out. My new OB doesn't check until 20 weeks, so I've got a little less than 5 more to go before we can answer that burning question. :)

As for the "what are we hoping for," I'm not sure there's a good answer to that. Honestly, we'll just be thrilled to have a third baby. It wasn't that long ago (when I left University) that I was pretty sure there would be no more babies in our future (as I could no longer pay for fertility treatments), but God has a far better sense of timing than I do. We were very worried in the early days, but it looks like my number of "good" pregnancies will now be equal to my number of miscarriages. I know Ben would love a son, as so to add a little more male to our "house of women." As for me, I rooted for a boy with both Bryn and Shay, but in the end, I couldn't be happier with my two little princesses, so I'll take whatever I get!

Regarding the fertility treatments.... after six months of constant medication, shots, and bloodwork, not to mention immense medical bills, with no results, I lost my job at University and had to stop the treatments. Obviously we worried that without the treatments, I was a huge risk for another miscarriage, if I was even able to get pregnant again. But God is SO good, and I got pregnant during my first month off the fertility medicine. Of course, this was also my first month away from my uber-stressful job, so that may have had something to do with it as well....

But, yes, the fertility medication was out of my system, and yes, we are sure there's just one in there. I think that's pretty clear from the ultrasounds :), but there's also just one heartbeat.

And yes, Bryn and Shay seem to be really excited about being big sisters. Bryn tells everyone that "Mommy's baby is making her sick" (more on that in a second), and if you ask Shay where the baby is, she knows to point to Mommy's belly. Bryn seems to actually understand and keeps telling me that when the baby comes, she will help me rock it and give it milk. Shay's probably a little young for understanding (although about 4 months older than Bryn was when I was pregnant with her), but babies are one of her favorite things in the world, and she is constantly fawning over our friends' babies, so I think we're good there. :)

As for illness, I was pretty gross over the summer, which largely accounts for my lack of blogging during that time. Not as sick as I was with Bryn, for those who remember that nightmare, but definitely far sicker than I was with Shay. I have also had massive headaches nearly daily, and these have not lessened as I have entered the second trimester, although everything else seems to be feeling better. I am also insanely tired, but that may have something to do with the "working full time" and "raising a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old" in addition to the being pregnant. :)

Thankfully, my last day of work at Tri-West was this past Friday, and I am now officially a stay at home mom. While I really liked all the people I worked with, and it was nice to get back into a teaching job that didn't make me hate the world, I am quite happy to be done. It's wonderful to be home with the girls. And mid-day naps aren't bad either. :)

So, what do the next few months hold for us? No, I will not be looking for another job (not that I exactly looked for this last one either). I really do plan to stay at home at least the rest of this year, and hopefully beyond that as well, if finances permit. As her second birthday present this November, Shay will be moving out of the nursery and into her "big girl" room, which is the same thing that Bryn got for her second birthday. We haven't decided which of the two spare rooms to change into her room yet or how to decorate it, but once those decisions are made, I'm sure they will keep me very busy over the next two months! Many items, such as the crib and the toddler bed, will be moving out of Bryn's room and into Shay's, and Bryn will be getting the big bed out of the current guest room. Then the baby will be moving into the nursery, which is currently Shay's but was Bryn's before that. Meanwhile, I'm trying to finish up a million unfinished projects, such as completing (okay, starting) Shay's baby book and decorating the playroom, before this baby arrives.

Look for posts over the next few days over all the fun we've had in the past few weeks, including a trip to Camp Tecumseh, fun at the local fair, and the circus. Although I'm a "lady of leisure" these days, my girls are keeping plenty busy. Bryn has preschool two days a week, and she has also started taking dance lessons. Shay starts Kindermusik class this week. I'll also be rejoining my two local moms' groups. So all in all, we've still got something on the calendar for nearly every day, and we're having a great time!

As a side note, even when I don't have time to sit down and blog, I do try to keep my Twitter somewhat updated, and that shows up in my blog sidebar, so you can always check that if you're desperate to know how we're all doing. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On the Way


June 28

July 20

August 4

Estimated arrival date: March 7

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wonderful Wedding

We spent Thursday through Sunday of last week up in Grand Rapids, preparing for and celebrating the wedding of my wonderful sister-in-law Jill to an equally wonderful man, Jim. We had so much fun spending time with Ben's extended family and many of Jill's friends. Jill was easily the most organized bride I have ever seen, and she never seemed to get even the slightest bit nervous or overwhelmed. She even hosted family and friends for a cookout at her house on Thursday night! Bryn and Shay were the flower girls, and they absolutely loved getting dressed up to be part of Aunt Jill's big day, not to mention hanging out with the very fun bridesmaids. I have tons of wonderful stories and pictures, but here's just a sampling of my favorites:

Look at my big girl! Bryn got her hair done for the very first time. She was incredibly well-behaved, holding still better than most adults would have! She loved feeling so grown-up, and the resulting head of curls made her look so old!

And here's the finished product.... Flower Girl Bryn. Ignore for a second the fact that she has her eyes closed, and just look at how old she seems!

Luckily this one is still clearly a little girl.... Her hair was too short and fine to style, and while she did enjoy getting her nails painted like her big sister, she chewed on her hands so much that most of the polish was off by the end of the night! She also carried her bottle down the aisle with her during the actual wedding. But both girls did very well during the wedding, making it all the way down the aisle and actually scattering flowers as they went.

Lest I lead you to believe that the weekend was all about my kids (well, Bryn thinks it was, but the rest of us know better!), here's the happy couple, the new Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Jill King!

This is just one shot of the reception. I had a hard time keeping Bryn in her seat during dinner, because she couldn't wait to go dance. As soon as the official wedding party dances were over, she was on the dance floor and wouldn't leave! She danced the entire night away, sharing dances with Mommy, Daddy, Nana, Aunt Jill, Uncle Jim, and Shay. She also participated in a line dance, learning the moves as she went along. While the other kids danced with her at the beginning, they eventually got worn out, and for most of the night, she was the only kid on the floor with all of the adults! Wish I had that kind of moves... :) Here she is with her favorite dance partner, the ring bearer, who she is now desperately in love with.

All in all, such a great weekend! Congratulations again to Jill and Jim!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Busier than the Bears

Recently, Bryn's favorite books have been the Berenstein Bears. These were also some of my favorite books growing up, so it has been really fun to revisit them. One of the books we have is The Berenstein Bears and Too Much Pressure, which describes how the Bear family has overscheduled themselves to the extent of becoming the Busiest Creatures in Bear Country, leading to all kinds of stress, nightmares, and emotional breakdowns.

During the few moments that we have actually seen each other this week, though, Ben and I have decided that we are far busier than the Bears. Here are just a few of the things we've had on our plates this week:

* both of us working full-time (side note - I actually really like my job so far!)

* tracking schedules of multiple babysitters to make sure the girls are covered at all times (thankfully, our regular sitter is now back from vacation, so this will not be an issue in future weeks)

* me working on lesson planning and grading at night (with 6 classes of 30 kids each, this can get excessive)

* learning all the policies and procedures of a new school, while hitting the ground running with the first week of classes

* taking Bryn to the doctor for her physical (I only remembered that we had an appointment about 15 minutes after it was supposed to start--thankfully, they still worked us in)

* 3 houseguests for 5 days (all good guys that we only get to see about once a year)

* Ben working all night Thursday and Friday, then all weekend, at GenCon gaming convention (this is in addition to his regular office job)

* mountains of laundry, dishes, and grocery shopping (as one might expect with 3 extra people living here for the week)

* daily migraines for me :(

* packing up bedding, diapers, snacks, toys, etc for our kids so they can be babysat at a friend's house this coming week (the girls are very excited to chase Parker's cats and play with her toys this week!!)

* helping out some friends by feeding and letting out their dog while they attended an out-of-town wedding (again, the girls greatly enjoyed chasing Christopher's cat and playing with this toys during this process)

* helping out another friend with her 5-week-old twins for a morning (sooo cute--and Shay is obsessed with babies, so this was huge fun for her!)

* working in the church nursery during an exceptionally crazy week--2 adults to 30 3-year-olds, at least 5 of whom wouldn't stop crying

* attending our neighbor's 2-year-old's birthday party... the hard part on this was convincing our kids to come home at the end!

* transporting numerous out-of-town gaming friends to and from the airport, the convention, meals, etc.

* transporting all the gear, products, and exhibits for Higher Ground Games, Gorilla Games, and Ninja Magic to and from the convention center, then finding homes for it all in our basement

The list could go on and on, but frankly, I'd rather go to bed than continue typing. :) As you can see, most of these were actually really enjoyable activities (okay, maybe not the grading and the laundry.... but most of the rest!), but yikes, was it a lot to take on in one week! Here's hoping this coming week is calmer.... but all signs point to it being just as busy!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Back in the Saddle.... Again

When I left University in June, my plan was to revel in staying at home with my kids this year. And we had a really fantastic summer, full of all kinds of fun activities, and I was looking forward to more of the same in the fall. But apparently my plan was not God's plan.

Last weekend, one of my friends called to let me know about an English position open at her school, Tri West HS. One of their teachrs is having surgery, so it's just for about 6 weeks. I told her that I'd be interested in hearing more. The principal called me on Sunday to set up an interview for 10:00 on Monday. By 12:00 on Monday, I was leaving the building carrying textbooks to start planning my curriculum. In spite of my intense worries, babysitters fell into line more beautifully than I could have dreamed. This was definitely a God Thing (and, I'm hoping, also a Good Thing).

Let me take a second out here to point out that God is definitely teaching (or trying to teach) me to be flexible. I am about the world's most organized person ever. Our family calendar features entries in six different colors, each one indicating whose activity it is. I plan activities for my kids months in advance. I love to have everything in order. Surprises throw me for a loop. So consider the irony of the fact that for the last three years, when August has rolled around, this teacher has not been looking for a job. In fact, I have planned to stay home the last three years. But every August for the last three years, I have received a phone call from some school district, frantically asking me if I'd be willing to start teaching in two weeks or less. In 2007, it was my old stomping grounds of Zionsville, asking me to fill a medical leave for a teacher I had worked with previously. I was 6 months pregnant with Shay at the time, but I did it and really enjoyed it. Last year, University was looking to fill a full-time position. While I did have a lot of great experiences during the course of the school year, it was definitely chaos to get ready to start that quickly. And now there's Tri West. So off I go to work again.
(side note - the links provided there are from the posts I wrote when I first accepted those jobs)

The craziest part of all is that after my Monday interview and hiring, I started work on Thursday. Thursday and Friday were new staff training days. Monday and Tuesday will be faculty days, and the kids come on Wednesday. So I have definitely jumped in very quickly! But I really like all that I've seen of the school so far--the staff is very friendly and dedicated, and the school's vision for their students seems far more in line with my own beliefs than any other school I've been at before.

I'm sure the next few weeks will be rather crazy, but I'll keep you all updated on how things go. :) My job will be done by at least the end of September (if not sooner, depending on how fast the teacher heals from his surgery), and I'm looking forward to a relaxing fall with my kiddos after that!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Am...

During the school year, Alicia's student writing group led the student body in this exercise. Starting from the foundation of "I am...." each student created a poem about their identity. I have long been wanting to write one myself, but I haven't because everything in my life has been in such flux. Recently, though, I have realized that maybe, that is what "I am" after all. So here are my results.... It was a really interesting exercise, and I'd challege all of you to give it a try as well.

I am a mass of contradictions.
I am torn between two worlds: a working mother longing for home, and a homemaker wanting a life of my own.
I am an impulsive, energetic, enthusiastic camp counselor, beaten down by adult life.
I am a wishful world traveler, an adventurer stuck in the Midwest.
I am both a dreamer and a planner.
I am a mother to five children, two living, three dead.
I am a writer who never has time to pick up a pen and a reader with a library full of untouched books.
I love music and revel in its beauty, but I am tone deaf.
I am an introvert who gets energized when speaking in front of a group.
I am sincere, and I am sarcastic.
I believe in living simply, but my house is overflowing with excess.
I value my friendships above all, but I struggle with keeping in touch.
I take naps in the middle of the day, and I put myself to sleep with fantasies of having inexhaustible engery.
I am a mother, an adult, but every day, I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bathing Beauties

Yesterday I took the girls to our neighborhood pool for the first time this summer. We hung out at the kiddie pool and had a great time. It took Shay a while before she was willing to get in, but once she did, she absolutely loved it. We ended up spending the entire afternoon there, only getting out when the lifeguard closed down the pool on account of thunder. Here are a few shots of our afternoon of fun: