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Monday, June 29, 2009

Everybody Loves Free Stuff

I've recently discovered this really great site that posts many freebies, so I thought I'd pass it along:
Freebies For Moms (freebies4moms.blogspot.com)

Favorite freebies include free points for both Huggies and Pampers sweepstakes, free chocolate on Fridays, links to great coupons, and these adorable paper dolls.

I'm always up for a good bargain, so if anyone else has favorites, feel free to pass them on!

Sunday Song: Love

I've mentioned before how much I love the Christian artist Chris Tomlin. As I think about what I want to post for my "Sunday song," I always come back to him, and most recently, to his "Hello Love" cd. I know I've mentioned the song "Love" before, but I just love it so much (no pun intended) that it's worth mentioning again. This song is guaranteed to put me in a good mood!

"Love" by Chris Tomlin and the Watoto Children's Choir
(listen to it on YouTube here)

There is love. There is love.
There is love. There is love.

When our hope is hard to find
And our faith is in decline
We need a cause to stand behind.... love.

We all want the way it feels
Time it comes and time it steals
What remains, what is real.... love.

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without
There is love, there is love

It heals the sick, comforts the weak
Breaks the proud, raises the meek
In this life, no guarantees, but there is love

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without

Love is the answer
Love will find a way
When we love one another
It's a brighter day

When life is cold there is a promise
We will never go without

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without

Oh, there is love
Hello, love

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photo Question

So recently I've been scanning old photos into the computer. You can check out some of my finer moments of the summer of 2001 here....



This leads me to my question: can any of you recommend good digital or online scrapbooking systems? I want one that will let me:

1. Have a digital scrapbook that I can look through and save

2. Eventually let me print out the scrapbook

3. Not be too cost prohibitive for either of these things

4. A bonus would be if I could add other things (programs, notes, etc.) to the printed out version.



Suggestions??

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Busy with Summer Fun

Our summer has shaped up to be full of so much fun that I haven't had much time to post lately. The past week has included trips to the zoo, the Children's Museum, the park, and the library. The girls have attended library classes, and Bryn did a kids' painting class at the Children's Museum. Ben and I took our last two foster parenting training classes and are now ready to move forward in that process. I raised some intensely nasty blisters on my feet while walking in the mornings and rollerblading in the evenings. All in all, we're having a great summer so far! Here are some pictures of this week's fun:





















Sunday, June 14, 2009

In Her Own Sweet Time

I'm going to forego both the Sunday Song and the Sunday Funny this week in order to spend a little time writing about my sweet Bryn.

She is a child after her mommy's own heart. She is incredibly stubborn. She likes to do things in her own sweet time--there's no rushing her. She is a perfectionist, and I have always thought that she just doesn't like to try to do new things until she knows that she's able. I relate to all of this, because I am the same way.

When she was a baby, Bryn refused to roll over. At most, she would roll to her side and stop there, considering that good enough for an alternate view of the room. As a new parent, I was worried about this, but after examining her, the doctor said that she seemed to be fully physically capable of doing it and just chose not to. This was my first sign of my little girl's stubborn streak.

When all the other kids her age started walking, Bryn remained an obstinate crawler. She did not walk until she was 17 months old. But when she started, it seemed that she already knew how to do it. Within a span of 24 hours, she went from all crawling to all walking, and she never looked back. Within 48 hours of her first steps, she was running around our house.

I first tried to potty train Bryn when she was 2 1/2. I probably should have tried sooner than that, but Shay arrived when Bryn had just turned 2, and all the parenting books said not to make too many changes in a child's life at once, so I waited. During that first potty training attempt, Bryn cried hysterically. She wet through six pairs of underwear in three hours. And she did not go a single drop in the potty. And did I mention the nonstop hysterical crying? We abandoned the attempt.

Since then, we have made many other fairly halfhearted attempts, all abandoned within a couple of days, when she continued to steadfastly pee in her underwear and remained unfazed by it. She started nursery school in August, and when the teachers said that they didn't usually take kids in diapers, I assured them that she was well on her way to learning. In November, Bryn's third birthday came and went, with her still wearing diapers. In May, Bryn lifted her dress over her head during the end of the year nursery school program, revealing to the entire audience that yes, she still wore diapers.

Last week, though, we had VBX at our church. I was scheduled to work in the 3 year old classroom, which was kind of fun to be with Bryn and all her classmates. On the first day of class, when the other teachers took the other kids for potty breaks, I quickly realized that Bryn was the only child in the 3 year old class who still wore diapers. I had actually long suspected this, since Ben and I work in the 3 year old Sunday school class once a month, and I've never had to change a diaper other than Bryn's in there.

By the end of the week of VBX, Bryn had also realized that she was the only one in the class wearing diapers. I asked her if she wanted to wear big kid underpants like the other kids, and she said yes. This was a major breakthrough, as she has always responded to this question in the past with a hearty "no," often accompanied by tears. But this time, she agreed placidly.

On Friday, I reminded her several times that she had agreed and told her that she could start wearing big girl underpants on Saturday (didn't want to deal with it during VBX). When she woke up on Saturday morning, I reminded her again, and she picked out which underpants she wanted to wear. Now, every other time we have had her wear underpants, it has taken bribery, and sometimes wrestling, to get her into them. But on Saturday morning, she just put them on as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

By 11:00, she had successfully peed on the potty six times. When we went out on errands, we put her in a Pull-Up just in case, but she kept it dry. She successfully peed in two public restrooms without blinking an eye. By naptime, she was no longer even asking for stickers or M&Ms as a reward; she was just doing it. When she woke up from her nap, she immediately asked to go to the potty. When we went out for dinner, she refused to suffer the indignity of wearing a Pull-Up. She wore her underpants, and while I quaked in fear that she would soak her carseat, apparently my fears were in vain. She went to the bathroom four times during dinner, but by this point, it was her asking, not us telling her that it was time to go. She woke us up in the night by yelling, "Mommy! Daddy! I need a go potty!" She asked for the potty again first thing in the morning. All day today, she has told us when she needs to go. She laughed at me when I asked if she wanted a diaper this afternoon, saying, "No Mommy, I a big girl. I wear underpants."

And all of this without one single accident.

When I think about the misery and stress of those failed potty training attempts, I just want to kick myself. I shouldn't have tried to force it, at least with this kid. I know my daughter. And I knew that she would do it when she was good and ready. It was just that I was afraid that she would be well into elementary school by the time she was "good and ready!" Ben had often mentioned that wearing diapers in high school, while expensive, would at least be a deterrant to her dating life. But it seems that this is not to be the case. Because my big girl is apparently potty trained. It seems that she was just waiting until she knew she could do it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Fill-In

Look at me--I've blogged every day this week! :)

1. I grew up thinking that my grandparents were some of the greatest people who ever lived. As a grownup, I still think that.

2. Google Reader was the last website I was at before coming here. That's how I keep track of all your blogs!

3. Why don't you stop crying? As I type this, I hear Shay crying in the next room, in spite of the fact that both Daddy Ben and Bryn are playing with her.

4. Naptime helps me relax. By that I mean either taking a nap myself while the girls are asleep, or getting some of my own stuff done while they sleep.

5. Thanks for the pizza, I feel much better after eating.

6. My head of school was very off-putting.

7. As for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to the water park with all the other VBX volunteers and their families (in spite of the fact that it's about 65 degrees out), tomorrow my plans include going to the library and then going out to dinner and visiting with Dad and Diane, and Sunday, I want to curl up with a good book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: Yay for Summer!

13 things that I love about it officially being summer:
1. no more grading!
2. no more 5:30 alarm clock (although this week has been 6:30 for VBX, it's still better)
3. naptime
4. greatly decresed stress level
5. fun evening outings with Ben and the girls
6. finding time to blog (and to read all of your blogs)
7. reading for fun (I've just started Eat, Pray, Love, and while I'm not loving it as much as everyone told me I would, I do love reading for pleasure)
8. eating meals at the table instead of in my car or at my desk
9. being able to sit down and play with my girls
10. making a teensy tiny dent in my huge "to do" list
11. sitting in the rocking chair on my front porch and watching the girls play in the yard
12. being able to stay up past 10:00
13. getting caught up with friends

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

DISCLAIMER: This shiner was acquired as the result of normal childhood play.

Suggested captions for this photo?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Twos-Day: Bejeweled Babies

For this week's Twos-Day, I have to share Shay's new love with all of you. I was hoping that she would be my little tomboy, since Bryn has been a girlie girl since babyhood. Here's Bryn at 15 months, enjoying her bling:

Although Shay occassionally stole a necklace or a bracelet from my closet, she had never really gotten into "costume" jewelry--possibly because Bryn kept hogging it all. But this weekend, she got into necklaces (and bracelets and crowns) in a big way:

So here are my two gorgeous girlie princesses--guess Mommy will just have to adjust! Makes me feel like I should bedeck myself in jewels as well, instead of my customary jeans and t-shirt ensemble. :)



Monday, June 08, 2009

Makes My Monday

And in this return edition of "Makes My Monday," the topic should be rather obvious...
* it's summer
* I'm done with school
* I get to spend time with my precious girls

I actually started out summer by jumping into activities. This week is VBX at our church. Yes, we're hip and trendy, and we have a Vacation Bible Xperience, not Vacation Bible School, because that would sound far too boring to kids. Anyway.... I am volunteering with the 3 year olds, so I'm actually one of Bryn's teachers this year. Shay is in the nursery as well. This means that my alarm will be going off at 6:30 all week long, which isn't the most festive start to summer, but hey, it's still sleeping in an hour later than I was while teaching, so I can't complain TOO much. :) In short, summer thus far is both busy and good.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Song: "Take My Hand"

As long as I'm getting back to regular blogging, I figured I should also get back to the daily posting schedule I set for myself. That makes today time for a "Sunday Song." While this is a bit of an oldie (I first heard it when I was in high school), I really found a lot of comfort in it over the last month. I remember listening to this song (on a cassette tape) during the early days of my freshman year of college as well, praying that God would comfort me and reassure me that I was where He wanted me to be. A good one for anyone struggling with their direction in life:

"Take My Hand" by The Kry
(linked to audio version on YouTube)

I know there are times
your dreams turn to dust
you wonder as you cry
why it has to hurt so much
give Me all your sadness
someday you will know the reason why
with a child-like heart
simply put your hopes in Me

take My hand and walk where I lead
keep your eyes on Me alone
don't you say why were the old days better
just because you're scared of the unknown
take My hand and walk

don't live in the past
'cause yesterday's gone
wishing memories would last
you're afraid to carry on
you don't know what's coming
but you know the one who holds tomorrow
I will be your guide
take you through the night
if you keep your eyes on Me

take My hand and walk where I lead
keep your eyes on me alone
don't you say why were the old days better
just because you're scared of the unknown
take my hand and walk where I lead
you will never be alone
faith is to be sure of what you hope for
and the evidence of things unseen
so take my hand and walk

just like a child
holding Daddy's hand
don't let go of Mine
you know you can't stand
on your own

so take My hand and walk where I lead
keep your eyes on Me alone
don't you say why were the old days better
just because you're scared of the unknown
take My hand and walk

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Teacher Has Left the Building....

It is now officially summer, and I am returning to the blogosphere!

Many, many changes afoot for the MeyPfan family. The primary one being this: I will not be returning to University High School in the fall. Now that the school year is over, I am officially unemployed.

It's a long story, and I have many complicated emotions surrounding this whole situation. But the short version is this: One Friday afternoon in April, my head of school asked me to meet with him. He told me that I'm an excellent teacher and have great rapport with the students, but in spite of those things, he would not be renewing my contract for the coming year. I was absolutely blindsided. When I asked why, he said it was because I displayed "poor judgment" during the hiring process (in March, I was on the committee to hire a new English teacher because our school is growing and the department is expanding). Basically, this boils down to the fact that I did not vote for the candidate that he wanted, and it seems that I also asked some questions that he did not like. Silly me--I thought he meant it when he said that he was just there to facilitate and that we, the faculty, were to ask the questions and make the decision for the best candidate. And because of that, I no longer have a job.

As I said, I was blindsided by this. I had long had the feeling that he did not like me very much. In our school of approximately 20 staff members, he had only taken the time to have maybe two conversations with me over the course of the year, which were mainly him talking and me listening. My formal evaluations were done by the assistant head of school, who gave me great reviews. Much like at colleges, the students fill out course evaluations at semester, and all of mine came back with great comments, with kids saying that they learned so much in my class, that I was their favorite teacher, that I had actually gotten them to like literature, etc. When I brought these things up to my head of school, though, he dismissed them, saying that the problem was not with me as a teacher. When I asked why there hadn't been any kind of warning or review process to let me know that there was a problem so I could work on it, he said it was "nothing I could have fixed." So, essentially, the problem was me as a person, not me as a teacher.

I'm sure you can all imagine how absolutely terrible this made me feel about myself and life in general. And even though I knew my contract wasn't being renewed, I still had to finish out this school year, roughly six week of sheer misery. It was so hard to see the kids every day, to hear them compliment me, and to know that it wouldn't make any difference. It was hard to summon up the motivation to grade papers and make lesson plans, when I knew that it wouldn't matter at all in the long run. It didn't matter if I was the best teacher in the world or let my kids have a study hall every day; I was still out of a job. But I'm still me, and I still believe that the kids should not suffer for the decisions of adults, so I kept on trucking and finished out the year as strong as I was able.

This past week was especially hard, saying goodbye to all the kids that I have come to love. I told them that I wasn't coming back, but I didn't tell them why. This was a decision that I really wrestled with. Part of me wanted them to get mad like I was, but I also didn't want to create drama for the school, especially because I knew it wouldn't do any good in the long run. So in the end, I just told them that I was leaving without giving them a reason, except that it didn't have anything to do with them. They then all asked where I would be teaching instead, and I had to tell them that I wouldn't be. So now most of them are under the impression that I left because I wanted to, because I didn't want to teach, because of some other personal reason--none of which is true. I had kids cry and tell me that I was their favorite teacher, and parents emailed me to ask me to reconsider my "decision" to leave. As you might imagine, it was incredibly hard not to say anything bitter during all of this.

So as excited as I am for it to be summer and to be away from the incredibly stressful past two months, I'm still feeling very bittersweet and rather at a loss. I will miss the kids a great deal, but I'm so glad to have the tension over with. I'm thrilled to be able to spend time with my own girls without all that grading and lesson planning hanging over my head. But now we're back to being a one-income family and, of course, the reason I went back to work in the first place was because we needed the money. So we're going to be very financially strapped in the coming months, as, I know, are plenty of people in this economy.

It will also mean some adjustments to the future of our family. We certainly cannot afford the expensive fertility treatments anymore, which leaves us wondering and worrying if we will ever be able to have another child. As those of you close to me know, having a big family has always been the desire of my heart, and it's very hard to face the reality that this might not be able to happen for us. My wonderful doctor has agreed to continue some of my prescriptions without nearly so many regular appointments. This is good, in that if I do manage to become pregnant, I will have a reduced risk of miscarriage. However, this risk is still far higher than when I was being monitored by the doctor.

All of these big changes yield smaller daily changes, and the next few months will certainly be an adjustment for us. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we navigate the path the Lord has in store for us!

Regular updates to come....