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:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This & That

Last week was jam-packed for the MeyPfan family, filled with a photo shoot; visits from friends; trips to th e zoo, the Children's Museum, and the library; a trip up north to celebrate various occassions with Ben's family; and all kinds of other things. I'm now taking a second to sit on the couch in my pajamas and attempt to catch you all up on a few of our adventures.

Every year, Ben and I go have a family portrait done for our anniversary. We wear the same basic outfits every year, and we really enjoy being able to chronicle our family's growth through the years. This year's photo shoot was delayed about a month, as Ben was out of town on our real anniversary and we got really busy after he returned. But we did finally make it in, and we were really happy with the results. The one posted here is our favorite.

This photo records Shay's big adventure of last week. We had been to the Children's Museum that morning, and we had all come home exhausted (or so I thought). I put the girls in their beds, then put myself in mine. I just completely passed out and had a nice, deep, dark nap. When I woke, I discovered that Bryn hadn't slept at all, which is actually becoming more and more typical for her ever since she started sleeping in her "big" (toddler) bed instead of her crib (this happened about about two weeks ago). She is apparently too tempted by all her books and toys to stay in bed when given the choice, so she hasn't been sleeping, but she's at least been pretty good about having "quiet time." Anyway, when I woke up that day, I looked at the video monitor and realized, to my horror, that Shay was not in her crib. When I turned up the volume, though, I could hear her babbling happily away to herself. Realizing what had happened, I dashed downstairs and grabbed the camera before entering her room. She was playing happily on the floor, looking at her books, but as soon as I came in, she jumped up, pointed to her crib, and started trying to tell me all about her adventure! She had climbed out of her crib once before this, but we thought that had only been possible because we left the side of her crib partway down. This time, though, the side was all the way up, so I hope this does not herald future performances!

As for our big girl Brynie, she is still a potty training champ. Those of you who have ever spent a day (or an hour) with us know that Bryn drinks far more than your average kid. She can easily polish off a 32-ounce Nalgene during a half hour car ride. Of course, this results in her needing to potty far more than your average kid as well. For example, last week Bryn and I made a quick run to Target and then went out to dinner with friends. By the time we returned home, I had taken her to the bathroom no less than eight times, two of those being emergency stops at gas stations and fast food restaurants along our route. This is really quite a problem, as finding an acceptable potty location, getting both girls out of the car, and making a frantic dash to the bathroom while Bryn cries is not a pleasant experience. Shay has also developed the disturbing habit of trying to stick her hand in the toilet while Bryn uses it. All of this led me to search for other solutions. Eventually I hit on the method of keeping Bryn's training potty in the back of the Jeep. Now, whenever she is struck by the need to go while we're on the road, I just have to pull over (a far easier method than locating a usable bathroom) and take her back there. She loves it, and it makes my life sooo much easier.
Time for us to get the kids in bed, so I'm off. More catching up to follow!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Glossary of Brynese

A guide to some of the cute (and some of the unintelligible) things said by my daughter Bryn.

"next day" and "last day"
As Ben has commented, these phrases actually make perfect sense to a linear thinker like Bryn. "Next day" means "tomorrow" or "some day in the near future," while "last day" means "yesterday" or "some day in the recent past."
As an example, when I suggested that she wear a certain dress, she looked at me scornfully and said, "No, Mommy, I wear that last day." Clearly she is also very concerned with her fashion sense.

Contrary to how it sounds, this does not refer to an angry bill collector. She's actually just missing the first syllable, meaning "policeman."
The other day, she was playing with her toy phone and apparently received a call from a hysterical Jasmine, who reported that Aladdin was missing. Bryn very sensibly advised Jasmine to find a leaseman for help.

Not a boat used for shipping. Instead, this refers to a "refrigerator."
"Mommy, I want more apple juice out of the freighter."

This is Bryn's word for "dress." We think that it developed when she watched Cinderella over and over again as a 1 year old, and "round" is actually a version of "gown," which she couldn't say at the time. Our other theory is that when she first started wearing dresses, she loved to spin 'round and 'round in them. In any case, she now knows what both "dresses" and "gowns" are and can say both words, but she still calls her own dresses "rounds."
Bryn likes to wear a round every single day.

This is Bryn's word for "to," even though she is fully capable of using "to" properly.
"Shay, you give that toy a me!"

"just joking"
This is what Bryn says whenever she realizes that she has done something that displeases Mommy and Daddy.
Mommy: "Bryn, I told you to put on your shoes!"
Bryn: "I was just joking, Mommy."

This word bears only a subtle difference in pronounciation from the word "mucus," but it is actually Bryn's backwards way of saying "music."
"Let's listen to my princess mucis!"

Again, a slightly backwards pronounciation. This is what Bryn calls one of her favorite Biblical characters, Joseph.
"Mary and Jofess took care of Baby Jesus."

"Tistin" and "Tistapher"
This is what Bryn calls two of her favorite people, her Aunt Kristin and her "boyfriend" Christapher.
"I love my Aunt Tistin!" or "I get married a my Tistapher!"

This one actually took me a long time to figure out, until I listened more closely to the context. It means "napkin."
"I all messy. I need a matkin."

A shortened form of "sandwich." I fear that Bryn will never learn the correct word for this, as Ben and I have started calling them "sammers" as well. She uses this to refer to anything from an actual sandwich to a cheeseburger ("meat sammer") to a cheese quesadilla ("cheese sammer").
"I want to eat a sammer for dinner!"

"Elibilis Fafit"
No, this is not some odd Elvish phrase. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but this is how she pronounces her middle name (Elizabeth) and her last name (Pfanschmidt). Although I have tried to explain it to her, she hasn't yet gotten that she actually has another middle name as well, Meyaard.
"I Bryn Elibilis Fafit!"

"when I was big"
Although this seems to indicate confusion with time, which is very odd for our little linear thinker, we think she's just using "was" for "get." This refers to "when I get big," which is a common enough phrase for little kids.
"When I was big, I drink your coffee."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Book of the Summer - Check

Well, I'm now a month and a half into my summer, and I have finally finished reading my first book. Yes, I know that I said that I was really excited about summer because I would have time to read--and let's face it, it's not like I'm been using my "free time" to blog. :) I mentioned last month that I had started reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and several of you expressed curiousity about my impressions of it, so now that I have finally finished it, I thought I'd give a bit of a review.

I guess I can pretty much sum up my impressions by again mentioning that it took me a month and a half to finish it, in spite of the fact that I wasn't reading anything else during that time. Now, the girls and I have kept ourselves awfully busy this summer, but even in that case, there's no excuse for me taking so long to read it. I'm the kind of reader that, when I pick up a book I enjoy, I develop a physical hunger for it. I can't stop thinking about the book. I lay awake at night contemplating it. I devote every free second to reading it, at the expense of sleeping, eating, and answering the phone. When I'm reading a good book, the reality of the story is far more vivid to me than the reality of my own home.

However, none of those statements applied to my experience with Eat, Pray, Love. It's only fair to point out that it is a very different sort of book from the kind I usually enjoy. It's Liz Gilbert's own story of her travels, impressions, and experiences, a nonfiction work, a memoir of sorts, a far cry from the novels or adventures I usually choose. So maybe it's not surprising that I didn't love it. But it came highly recommended from many sources, so I thought I'd give it a try, and I never give up on a book once I start it.

While none of the book really captured me, I did enjoy the story of her experiences in Italy. The descriptions of the various cities and landmarks brought back fond memories of my own trip through Italy back in 2000 with my dear friends Melissa and Krysten. Her descriptions of the food made me want to run out and hop a plan to Italy, then eat myself silly until I was too huge to get back on the plane. But all of this was intertwined with her vivid descriptions of her divorce, another failed romance, and her subsequent depression, none of which exactly left me wanting to come back for more.

Then I got into the second section of the book, which told about the four months she spent searching for God through Yoga at an Ashram in India. Let it suffice to say that her beliefs about God are radically different from my own, so this section was a huge turn-off for me. I admire her for seeking peace, but that's about as far as my connection goes.

Oddly enough, it was the final section about her four months in Indonesia, Bali specificially, that went the fastest for me. This was largely because Gilbert was in such an emotionally better place during this section that it was much easier to get through. I didn't get bogged down by descriptions of either her misery or her perspectives on God, so it went pretty quickly. However, I was a little disappointed in the ending, because I wanted to know, "and how did it all end up?," which, of course, is not an easy wrap-up when dealing with a real person's real life.

So, overall, not thrilled with it. There were parts that I really did enjoy, but it wouldn't make my list of recommendations. Next, I'm on to reading Eragon by Christopher Paoli. I'm hoping this one will move really quickly, as it's fantasy and aimed largely at the young adult audience, although I know many adults that I have loved it. We saw the movie version with the girls several weeks ago, and the movie left me with enough unanswered questions that I decided I'd need to consult to novel for the full story. :)

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wedding Weekend

I have a pitifully short amount of time to write this, as Bryn is upstairs begging for me to come sleep with her--and let's face it, bedtime sounds pretty good! :) I wanted to at least give a quick shout-out to all my dear friends from the Dunlap Clan, with whom we spent a wonderful weekend in Peoria. We were able to celebrate Maria's wedding to Jason, as well as have a baby shower for both Melissa and Ashley. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend of getting caught up with friends and family, and I couldn't have asked for a better reunion. Love to you all!

Clan and spouses at the wedding

Clan and spouses at the rehearsal dinner

Maria and Jason's very classy first dance
(thanks to Rob for the photo)

Ben and me out without kids :)
(thanks to Trisha? Rob? for the photo)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Toddler Girlfriends

We've had the opportunity to do several playdates with friends this summer, and it's so cute to watch Bryn and her little "girlfriends" playing together. Of course, at this stage in life, the parents are basically picking the friends for the kids, but they do seem to legitimately enjoy being around each other. Hannah is the daughter of our friends Rob and Andrea, and Emily is the daughter of our friends Mike and Kathleen. All three of us couples met in the Butler marching band, and all of us now have households full of daughters. Check out this cuteness from a daddy/daughter zoo trip last week--

Hannah, Bryn, and Emily share a seat on the train:

Hannah, Emily, and Bryn pause for a snack:

Hannah, Emily, and Bryn check out the lemurs:

Hannah, Emily, and Bryn snack with Ben, while Shay looks on, thinking, "Geez, I wish their sisters were old enough for me to play with already!"
(Hannah's sister Hailey was born in April, and Emily's twin sisters Kristin and Sarah were born two days ago)
All photos courtesy of Mike (by which I mean that I stole them from his Facebook page). :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tastes Like....

Here's just a quick little funny:

The other day, Bryn got very close to me, looked at me for a second, and then licked my face. She seemed to consider, then said, "Mommy, you taste like.... chicken."

I coulodn't stop laughing.

When I eventually got it under control, I asked her what she tasted like. She got very agitated and said, "No, Mommy! I not like food! I like Bryn Elibilis Pfafit!" (which would be how she pronounces her name)

So there you have it. I'm like chicken. She's like Bryn.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I have often resolved to grow my hair out, and sometimes I do a pretty decent job of it. In this particular case, I made it the whole school year without significant cuttage. But eventually I get annoyed by all that hair just hanging there and decide to chop it all off. I mean really, what's the point of having hair if I'm just going to pull it back every day? So here's the transformation...