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Sunday, January 31, 2010

January in Review - Shay

And here's Shay's calendar for January:

1 - Happy 2010! Quiet family day at home.

2 - Seems to be mostly recovered from cold

3 - Promoted out of nursery and into Turtles' class at church

4 - Consistently asks for "Bible story" before bed (both at night and at naptime)

5 - Evening Kindermusik class with Mommy--loves to rock animals, play triangle, and dance in circles around Mommy

6 - Nana visits--has dinner with us and spends the night

7 - Goes to Kindermusik with Nana, then special lunch at McDonald's

8 - Snow day! Stay warm inside all day.

9 - Lunch with Ben W before he leaves for Vienna. Dinner with Grammy and Uncle Brian.

10 - Moves into big girl room! Wakes up often crying in the night.

11 - Kindermusik make-up class, then library playdate with Lauren and Parker--colors about 30 snowman pictures!

12 - Loves to look at kitties and other animals at Petsmart

13 - Fussy often; frequently demands candy, cookies, and fruit snacks

14 - Loves her "special" white kitty that she got for Christmas and wants to take it everywhere with her

15 - Repeatedly declares that Shay is "Daddy's girl"

16 - "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" is her favorite book and she wants to read it over and over again

17 - Learns "Father Abraham" at church and sings it all afternoon

18 - Goes through tons of paper while coloring and using stickers--some of her current favorite passtimes

19 - Daddy goes out of town on a business trip to Texas, and Shay cries repeatedly for him all day

20 - After a playdate with the Elstros, Shay wakes up in the night crying for Hannah--guess she had fun!

21 - Won't sleep--up crying until at least 12:30, keeping Mommy and Bryn awake as well

22 - Thrilled to have Daddy home from Texas! Doesn't want to leave his side.

23 - Gets foot stuck in between crib slats and naptime--cries and cries. :( Mommy needs Daddy's help to pry Shay out.

24 - Initially a little scared, but then loves planetarium show with Elmo and Big Bird at the Children's Museum

25 - Loves Sesame Street characters, especially Ernie, and insists on seeing which ones are on her diaper before we put it on

26 - Loves to respond to questions witha loud and enthusiastic "YETH!" (yes)

27 - Tells Bryn that "Shay wants to be a daddy!" when she grows up

28 - Throws up in the morning and at naptime, but has decent energy level in between

29 - Very sick in the morning; glazed-over, lethargic, and cuddly all day. Naps in Mommy's big bed. Perks up in the evening with Pedialyte.

30 - Loves to listen to "music class" (Kindermusik cd) and dance to it

31 - Starting to get good at puzzles (the kind of holes for each piece)

January in Review - Bryn

As some of you may remember from last year (when I was better about posting blogs), I keep (or try to keep) daily calendars of what my girls are doing. Here's Bryn's January in Review:

1 - Happy 2010! Quiet family day at home.

2 - Loves to write her own name on every available surface (include walls and closet doors)

3 - Sick with cough and cold - can't sleep

4 - Knows how to spell "Mommy" - both aloud and on paper

5 - Learns about seasons and winter weather at school

6 - Nana visits - has dinner with us and spends the night

7 - Learns about snow and snowmen at school

8 - Snow day! Stay warm inside all day

9 - Lunch with Ben W before he leaves for Vienna. Dinner with Grammy and Uncle Brian.

10 - Favorite toy is "Horsier," the huge pink unicorn, which she loves to both ride and sleep with.

11 - Gets to go to Shay's music class (loves it!), then plays on the library computer..... very good at figure out how to do games

12 - Painted and worked on large muscle skills (jumping, hopping) at school

13 - First Wednesday at school--big girl! Focus on the letter E (elephant).

14 - Learns about the circus (especially monkeys) at school

15 - MOPS Breakfast Club at our house--Bryn really likes playing with Kendyl R.

16 - Takes her "work" (usually coloring or stickers) very seriously--won't be distracted and insists "I need to do my work!"

17 - Still loves 13-year-old Brendan and is incredibly happy when he helps in her Sunday School class

18 - loves "Smaller Than Most" book about pandas and declares it is her favorite

19 - At school, learns about lions and practices fine motor skills (tracing lines)

20 - Trip to Denny's with the Elstro girls, then played "mermaid" in bathtub with Hannah afterwards

21 - Shay cries until 12:30 and won't sleep--and Bryn won't sleep either, because she's worried about Shay

22 - Can write out alphabet A-K all by herself

23 - Loves to watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "Dora the Explorer" DVDs

24 - Loves Barbie exhibit at Children's Museum, especially playing "dress up"

25 - Gets hair cut to shoulders (at her own request) and looks SO grown up!

26 - Learns about adresses at school--could already recite most of her own address (just sometimes leaves numbers out of house number)

27 - Learns about the letter D at school--and celebrates with breakfast and Dunkin Donuts with Daddy

28 - Gets great report at preschool conference--teachers (and Mommy and Daddy!) are thrilled at how much Bryn loves to learn

29 - Can barely be pried away from computer games at NickJr.com--particularly likes those featuring Dora and Diego

30 - Sick with the flu--very cuddly and sad all day, refuses to leave Mommy's side

31 - Knows her right from her left

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One Up, One Down

This will be a short one, as I'm typing it on my BlackBerry. It's 8:00 on a Saturday night, and I've already been tucked into bed for a half hour. Bryn is fast asleep next to me and I am trying not to wake her.

Shay woke up fully recovered this morning, aside from a lingering cold, and has been terribly two all day, as if to really prove that she's back in full force.

Bryn actually slept for a while at naptime, which is an extremely rare occurrence these days. We thought this was a good thing, until she woke up vomiting. She's now thrown up 9 times in the last 4 hours. She also got explosively sick out the other end twice before passing out from sheer exhaustion. I think she's running a fever, as she's very hot to the touch but shivering like crazy, but I haven't been able to take her temperature yet.

So she's asleep in our bed and I'm tucked in next to her where I can keep an eye on her all night and grab the puke bucket when necessary. While exhausted from this pregnancy, I'm still not tired enough (or maybe I'm just too anxious about my sweet little sickies) to go to sleep yet, so I'm reading and playing with my phone while I hover over her. I'm thinking that it will be really bad if I catch this nasty bug this late in my pregnancy, but I've clearly already been plenty exposed, what with the girls wanting nothing but Mommy cuddles while they are sick, so what will be will be. At this point, I'm just hoping for a hasty recovery for Bryn and good health for Ben!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sleepy Sickie

Shay has been sick for the past two days with some kind of nastiness, which surfaces primarily when she sleeps. Thursday found her waking up in the morning and at naptime covered in vomit, but this morning was the worst by far. Let's just say that it came out the other end and was all over EVERYTHING. I had to put her in the bath to get her clean, which pretty much destroyed my varicose veins for the day, so I've been hugely ouchie all day. The grossness was so pervasive that I have spent the entire day doing laundry, washing every sheet, changing sheet, blanket, doll, etc that was anywhere near her crib. Most of these items have been washed multiple times, as the stink is so pervasive that one washing simply does not get the job done. Her room was so nasty that I had to open a window and close the door to air it out. Once Ben arrived home from work, he attacked it with Lysol, Clorox wipes, our steam cleaner, and various other tools, yet it still smells a little funky. Because her room was still an absolutely stinky wreck at naptime, I put Shay down in our big bed and cuddled her to sleep. The theory behind this was that then I could hover over her for the duration of naptime and swoop in to the rescue if there was any sign of output from either end. As you can see, she cuddled Baby Bear and pretty much passed out, and thankfully, our sheets are no worse for the wear.


I was pretty worried about her earlier today because she hadn't had an actual wet diaper since Wednesday and she was looking very glazed-over and lethargic. We tried giving her Gatorade yesterday, but she would have none of it. Ben got some Pedialyte on his way home (and rearranged his schedule so that he could come home several hours early and take care of sick Shay and achey Mommy--our hero!!!), and that seemed to work magic on her. She drank a whole cup right away, and between that and the nap, she was perked up enough to run around and play with Bryn tonight, as well as eat some dinner. We're keeping our fingers crossed that she's now on the road to recovery!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heard Around the House

A random compliation of cute things my kids have said lately......

After Shay correctly identified the name of our subdivision and the name of our street, I praised her for being so smart. I then praised Bryn for being smart and helping to teach Shay these things. Bryn responded with, "Yes, we are both smart. (thoughtful pause) Mommy, are you smart too?"

*****

Bryn: Shay, when I grow up, I want to be an artist. Do you want to be an artist with me?
Shay: No Shay artist!
Bryn: That makes me sad. (pause) I am also going to be a mommy. Do you want to be a mommy?
Shay: No!
Bryn: What do you want to be when you grow up, Shay?
Shay: Shay be Daddy!!

*****

Bryn: I want to be a mommy when I get big!
Me: That's what you said. And how many kids did you want to have?
Bryn: Four or five. (pause to think) No, I think I want ten!

*****

As we headed out the door to Bryn's preschool conference this morning, she grabbed a blank piece of paper and a pen. She then turned to Ben and said seriously, "I am going to make a list of all the things you need to do, just like Mommy does."

*****

Yesterday Shay was being very willful, headstrong, and well, two years old. She was not obeying me at all. I sent Bryn out of the room so that I could talk to Shay and discipline her. Bryn returned a few minutes later, holding a piece of paper that she had written all over. She said very sternly, "Mommy, I made this for you. It is a new law." I managed to keep a straight face and asked her what it said, and she responded, "You have to be nice to Shay, even when she does not obey."

*****

We brought a tote full of baby stuff up from the basement. We started sorting through 0-3 month clothes to determine if the girls had any "neutral" things (aka not pink) that would work for a boy. The tote also contained a box full of baby toys, mostly rattles and finger puppets and things. Shay sorted through that entire box, exclaiming over each individual item, "Oh, this for Baby Liam! Doggy for Baby Liam! Rattle for Baby Liam! Paci for Baby Liam!" Etc.

*****

Bryn is such a logical, linear thinker that for her whole life, logic has worked better with her than punishments. Even when she was very little, when she misbehaved, we could say to her, "Bryn, if you do that, you will have a time out. Do you want a time out?" And she would immediately say "no" and change her behavior. But Shay is a little firecracker. When we try that same method with her, she gives us her devilish little grin and refuses to let logic work. "Do you want a time out?" YES! "Do you want to go boom?" YES! "Do you want to be in trouble?" YES! Looks like it's back to the drawing board for us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who Can Guess...

Here's this week's Wordless Wednesday.... anybody have a suggested caption? I laugh at this picture because I'm pretty sure I know exactly what "look" Shay was trying to pull off. Can you identify it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Little Miss Short Hair

For the past two years, Bryn has taken great pride in her "long hair." She has especially relished the title of "longest hair in our family." But lately, she has been complaining that it is "too, too long," and telling us that she wants to cut it so she won't have so many tangles. She absolutely hates having her hair washed, hates brushing it after baths, and hates brushing it in the morning. It's that same baby-fine texture as most kids have, although hers may stay like that, since it's the texture that mine still is.


Anyway, I was due for a haircut myself, so I agreed to let Bryn get one too. When I asked her at home how much she wanted to get it cut, she indicated about an inch with her fingers. Well, it was high time for at least that, since she hadn't had a trim since shortly before Jill and Jim's wedding in August. So off we went.

When we got there, I told her that since it's her hair, she was allowed to pick how she wanted it cut. And when the stylist asked her how she wanted it, Bryn indicated her shoulders. This was clearly NOT what we had agreed upon, but I told her that she wasn't allowed to cry if she didn't like it and then let her go for it. I about died during the first few snips, but it turned out absolutely adorable. She has been admiring herself in mirrors for the last 36 hours, and Ben and I can't believe how old she looks--definitely older than 4 years old! Plus--bonus--there is no more crying about washing or brushing hair!

Doesn't she look so big?!?! I think we may have called her "Little Miss Short Hair" a few too many times, because now she has taken to looking in the mirror and saying, "Look, Mommy, I'm Little Miss Short Hair!" LOL


I like her cut so much that I'm considering growing mine out to match. I was actually thinking that I was going to grow my hair out anyway, which is why I waited 6 weeks instead of my usual 4 for a haircut. My hair is just such a pain; since it's incredibly thick but still has that baby-fine texture, it won't do a darn thing by lay there and fall in my eyes. Thus why I keep cutting it off. At any rate, I gave in and got it cut again after contemplating that it's probably not a great idea to embark on any hair adventures at the same time as having a baby. Plus, while I'm not always happy with how it looks, I AM happy with the fact that it takes me about 5 seconds to wash my hair and 2 seconds to "style" it each day right now. So we'll continue with the short hair until the baby arrives and settles into some kind of schedule, and then we'll see
Oh, and Shay is now excited to be the bearer of the "longest hair in the family" title. I took this picture at the Children's Museum over the weekend, and if you can work past the hideous bright green boa that she tried on at the new Barbie exhibit, you can appreciate how long her hair is. And blond. And no more bangs. Such a big girl! Good thing I'm having another baby to keep me company with two such big kids around. :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Little Genius

A combination today of "Magic Marker Monday" and "Makes My Monday." Actually, it made my Friday, since that's when this incident occurred, but I didn't manage to get to posting it until today. :)

This past Friday, I had my MOPS meeting. Bryn had been up for the majority of the night before (due to Shay's crying and Daddy's being gone), so she was uber-cranky. She refused to go to the childcare area and wanted nothing except to be with Mommy, so I took her into the meeting with me. She was actually very good and helped to hand out materials to all the moms before settling in quietly at my side and coloring.

I gave her a piece of scrap paper, thinking that it would keep her amused for about 2 seconds, but she bent over that paper with her pen and focused very hard. A scan is below. First, she wrote her own name, which you can see toward the top.

Then, she wrote "Mommy," which kind of looks like "MY" (new line) "MOW". Trust me, it was a lot more clear at the time, before she filled in around it.

So I'm chatting with the ladies at my table, when the woman next to me says with surprise, "Can Bryn write the whole alphabet?" "Oh, no," I responded, "Just a few letters." The woman then silently pointed to Bryn's paper, where she has written out the alphabet A-K in the correct order. WOW. I had no idea she could do that! I then got so excited about it that she got all distracted and stopped writing. I wonder how much further she could have gone if I'd left her alone??


You will also notice that she wrote "123" (with the 2 and the 3 backwards) and drew a stick figure.... which pretty much brings her up to the same level of artistic ability as me. :)
This morning, she was coloring again, and after bringing me some of her papers, she said, "Mom, you know what? I want to be an artist when I grow up."
When I was about her age, or a little older, I also desperately wanted to be an artist, and I even had a building picked out in my original hometown of Chillicothe that I planned to turn into my studio. I told her this, leaving out the part where I later discovered that I had no artistic talent whatsoever.
Her little brow furrowed as she thought, and then she said, "But you did not become an artist. You are a mommy."
"That's right," I said, "And I love being your mommy."
Bryn: "I want to be a mommy too. Can I be an artist AND a mommy?"
Me: "Of course you can. You can be whatever you want."
Bryn: "Good. I will do that then."
Me: "So when you are a mommy, how many children do you want to have?"

Bryn: "Oh, maybe four. Or five. I like kids."
Yep, I'd say she's a chip off the old block. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Song: Follow You

I had never heard this song before we sang it at church last night, but I really liked it and am excited to share it with all of you!



"Follow You" by Leeland

You lived among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away

All my needs You have supplied
When I was dead You gave me life
How could I not give it away so freely?

Chorus:
And I'll follow You into the homes that are broken
Follow You into the world
Meet the needs of the poor and the needy, God
Follow You into the world

Use my hands, use my feet
To make Your kingdom come
Through the corners of the earth
Until Your work is done
'Cause faith without works is dead
And on the cross Your blood was shed
So how could I not give it away so freely?

Repeat chorus x2

I give all myself
I give all myself
I give all myself..... to You

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mermaids

As I said yesterday, my wonderful friend Andrea came over on Wednesday and bathed my kids for me. Bryn and Hannah had a fabulous time playing "mermaids" in my big tub. They have so much fun together and are so sweet! Here's my favorite shots.... I particularly like the second one where Hannah is looking at Bryn's hair like, "what the heck is all that?" LOL






Andrea - Thanks again for all your help! And I hope you aren't mad that I posted nakie pictures of your daughter on the internet. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sigh of Relief

Ben has been out of town for work for this entire week. He, his boss, and one of his co-workers went to Texas to work with another plant owned by their business. I was worried about this trip for a lot of reasons, the primary one being the hugely pregnant me being left alone with the girls all week.


We were fine during the day--we're used to that. But I was worried about the evenings, especially with Shay being such a Daddy's girl. I was worried about our house becoming a filthy pit of toys with me unable to bend over and clean up because I'd be too sore from chasing the girls all day. I was worried because I can't give the girls baths anymore, what with my bulging stomach preventing me from getting close to the tub, and my vulvar varicosis and sciatic preventing me from any kind of squatting or getting down low. I was worried about something unexpected happening with the pregnancy. I was worried about Ben traveling. What can I say? I'm just a worrier.


But, largely thanks to some amazing friends, we have no officially survived the week. On Tuesday night, Cathy brought her boys Chris and Sam over to distract my kiddos, and then her husband Eric came over for dinner and helped me fix my car's review mirror. On Wednesday, Andrea and I met up for a Denny's dinner reminiscent of the college years (except that we had four little girls in tow this time), and then she came over and bathed my girls for me (what an angel!). Last night, the girls and I did dinner with our friend Mike and his oldest daughter Emily for dinner, which his wife Kathleen was nice enough let him do while she stayed home with a sick baby. These outings and playdates really helped to break up the week!

The worst thing that happened while Ben was gone was last night, when Shay utterly refused to go to sleep. Then Bryn kept hearing her cry, so Bryn kept telling me that I needed to help Shay, and then Bryn wouldn't sleep, so then I couldn't sleep...... It was a LONG night, starting with 8:30 bedtime, before I eventually shut the dogs in the basement, tucked Bryn into the big bed with me, and turned the volume off our video monitor at 12:30. Then I stayed awake staring at the monitor until Shay fell asleep, and Bryn zonked out in about 2 seconds in my bed once she was free of the sound of Shay. Today all three of us have been Girls on the Edge thanks to our lack of sleep, but thankfully, Ben just arrived home and we have a nice empty weekend ahead of us so we can all recover and spend some quality time together.

Here's a picture of the girls welcoming their Daddy back home:

One final note--the last time Ben was out of town was when I found out that I was pregnant this time around. I am now quite thankful to report that we did NOT bookend the pregnancy with his trips out of town!!! LOL

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Long Day

It's been a long day. A long several days, actually. But I sure do love my sweet girls!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Puppy Love

Here's my Wordless Wednesday.... that's my dog Tela on the main couch and my sister's dog Sadie on top of the cushion. Suggested captions?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

33 Weeks

I haven't posted too much here about this pregnancy, but as my due dates looms ever closer, I figured more regular updates might be in order.

I am currently 33 weeks along. All things considered, I'm doing pretty well. My sciatic nerve has been giving me all kinds of problems ever since way back in October, but oddly enough, the further I progress, the less it seems to bother me. This is the opposite of how things went with the girls, where the nerve got worse and worse right up until delivery. Apparently this little guy has decided to rearrange himself to be in a more mommy-friendly position. Let's hope he keeps that up for the next 7 weeks!

My big struggle currently is vulvar varicosis, which is about the most painful thing ever. Without getting too far into the gory details, I have had to start wearing this thing called a V2 supporter, which is basically a jock strap for women. It does ease some of the pressure and pain, but it is about the most uncomfortable thing ever created. An added problem is that it seems to create some kind of odd friction with my jeans, which prevents them from staying up. So I've been experimenting with various ensembles featuring stretch pants and leggings in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, this week I discovered that some of the varicose veins have spread to the top of my legs, and as far as I know, there's no supporter that can help with that position. For the time being, I've just got my fingers crossed that 1) the varicose veins don't spread any further and 2) they go away when this baby arrives (although my OB does tell me that they will come back early in any subsequent pregnancies, which makes me a little nervous).

If the reactions of strangers are any indication, I must look huge these days. When I'm out running errands, people constantly ask me when I'm due, and they don't seem to believe me when I tell them that it will be 7 more weeks. What can I say? I'm all of 5'2", and a large part of the reason that I'm so short is that my torso is very short, so where else is this baby supposed to go besides out? I've gained less than 25 pounds during the whole pregnancy (which is far better than I did with Bryn and Shay), and I actually lost 2 pounds this past month.

A more true measure of how I'm progressing, though, is the stomach measurement that my OB takes at each appointment. By this stage of the pregnancy, my bulging belly should be about 1 centimeter for each week along that I am. Up until this past week, I was measuring right on. Two appointments ago, for example, I was at 31 centimeters and 31 weeks (a fact which gave me great comfort when random strangers commented on my large size). At my appointment yesterday, though, I was 35 centimeters at 33 weeks, which means that I somehow grew 4 centimeters in 2 weeks without gaining any weight..... I'm hoping there's a miscalculation in there somewhere!

All in all, though, the baby is healthy, which is obviously the most important thing. His heartbeat is strong, and the doctor is estimating that he's about 4 1/2 pounds right now. His head is facing down right now, although there's obviously still plenty of time for him to wiggle around and rearrange several times before he arrives.

As with my pregnancies with Bryn and Shay, the general public keeps telling me that I'm so big that of course I'll deliver early. My OB, however, says no such thing. In my book, that makes her far smarter than the doctors in my previous practice, who swore up and down that both of my girls would come early. In actuality, both of them had to be induced AFTER their due dates. I'm hoping to avoid a third induction, but if experience is any indicator, it seems that my body may just not know how to go into labor on its own. For example, with Shay, I walked around 5 centimeters dialated and 70% effaced for nearly 2 weeks, and she STILL had to be induced. She was quite ready to come, though, as evidenced by the fact that she arrived less than 2 hours after I checked into the hospital for my induction. Hopefully this one doesn't come any faster than that, or I may not have time to make it to the hospital!! I guess the one perk of induction is that it allows you to plan your timing. We'll see though--I'm still crossing my fingers for this little guy to arrive in his own sweet time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Makes My Monday

Here's a sampling of this week's art. So why does it Make My Monday? Because Bryn made it herself, absolutely unprompted, and surprised me with it. For those not yet indoctrinated in the way of reading toddler handwriting, it says "Mommy." Yes, I know that the Ms are mostly upside down at this point. But she knows how to spell "Mommy" on her own, and how to make the letters (mostly), and she did it unprompted as a surprise for me. That gets my vote for Super Cute and Super Smart.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Did You Know....?

My church showed this video last weekend as an intro to our year-long "Beyond" series. I was really blown away by some of this information. Check it out below....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Opposites

Tonight while we were in the car, I was working with Bryn on opposites. She gets most of them, but on some, I can practically see the wheels turning in her head. She often surprises me with the logic behind her answers.

For example, when I asked her the opposite of "up," I expected her to say "down," but instead, she answered "asleep," which does make sense. After all, when you "get up" in the morning, you are done being "asleep."

My favorite, though, was when I asked her the opposite of "fast." She answered "a camel!" I had to laugh out loud before replying, "Well, yes, sweetie, camels are SLOW."

Four-year-olds.... utterly priceless!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bryn's Imaginary Friend

I really can't believe that I haven't posted about this yet, so if I've already put it somewhere and forgotten about, chalk it up to pregnancy brain and forgive me. :)

About two months ago, Bryn developed her first imaginary friend. She knows that other people can't see him, so she calls him her "ghost friend." His name is David, and she says that he is a kid like her. He is with us most of the time, but sometimes he has to leave us for a while.

When I was trying to figure out how vividly she imagines him, I asked her what he looks like. She gave me this "duh" look and said, "He looks like a shepherd."

A shepherd? Huh? And then it dawned on me.... Bryn's imaginary friend is KING David. Like from the Bible.

I confirmed this with Bryn, who assured me that yes, her friend David would be a king when he grew up. Nice to have friends in high places. Bryn has even mentioned the possibility of her becoming David's queen.

When David is not with us sometimes, that's because he had to go take care of his sheep. After all, future kings can't shirk their responsibilities.

All in all, I'd say we're pretty pleased with the addition of David to our family. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night of Freebies

So today was a long day in a long week. My pregnancy aches and pains have been getting me down lately, as has Shay's case of the "terrible twos" and Bryn's 4-year-old lack of listening skills. Overall, I have been in desperate need of some rejuvenation.

I started out my afternoon with a bad headache and no nap (probably related to each other). I was rushing around to get out of the house. Ben came home from work an hour early to relieve me so that I could be on time for this survey panel thing. I was scheduled to participate in a market research study about lotion. Two hours of discussion = $125. Definitely a good deal, but I was also definitely running on empty and not in the mood for, well, anything.

I arrived at the market research facility and got a Coke and some Goldfish crackers--not the classiest snacks ever, but nice to be able to sit quietly and have snack without anyone begging me for a bite. Then one of the employees came in and said that they had scheduled too many people for the study, and four of us would get to go home. And I was one of the lucky four! Suddenly a whole evening of free time spread out in front of me.

But wait, it gets better. Because I had actually qualified for the study and showed up on time and jumped through all the other hoops appropriately, I still got paid! On the spot. So I sat there and enjoyed my Coke while they cut me a check for $125. SCORE!

I also got two sample-size bottles of lotion from the study. And the extra good news is that I am still eligible to do a market research study as soon as there's another one that I qualify for, rather than having to wait 6 months to even attempt to qualify for another, which is the typical policy after participating in one.

* Side note--if any Indy people want to be referred to do market research studies, let me know, and I'll get yet another bonus for referring you. Let's try to push tonight's good luck as far as possible! :)

And after that, my night got even better. My friend Cathy had left me a message earlier that said that she had a flier that she wasn't going to use that was good for a free pizza from a new place opening in town. So after I left the survey place, I went to her house and got the flier and came home bearing a free pizza for dinner. Yum. Food is always better when 1) I don't have to cook it myself and 2) I don't have to pay for it either!

To crown off the night, I stopped at a local Redbox location and used a free code I'd gotten on the internet (DVDONME, for anybody else who wants to cash in) to get a free chick flick for the night. So I spent my evening sitting on the couch, watching a free movie and eating free pizza, reveling in the extra free money that had just found its way into our bank account. What a great night!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Christmas Castle

This week's Wordless Wednesday.... any suggestions for captions?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas Twosday

Ben recently picked up this picture and said, "Wait--which girl is that?" Can you tell?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Magic Marker Monday

Bryn has already devoted much of 2010 to creating artistic masterpieces. This is one of her latest creations, which she drew for her Nana. You can see the large cross at the top, which, as she says, means that "God is with us." She has also taken to writing her name all by herself. This skill came virtually out of nowhere--one day, she wasn't writing any letters at all, and the next, she was labelling every piece of paper in the house with her name. She colored over and inside of some of her letters here, but you can see at least the "BR" of one rendition of her name and the "RYN" of another.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Song: Yours

We were listening to this song the other day, and Ben commented on how much he liked it. I really love it too, especially the last verse, which Steven Curtis Chapman added after the sudden death of his daughter.

You can find audio and video of this song here.

"Yours" by Steven Curtis Chapman

I walk the streets of London
I notice in the faces passing by
Something that makes me stop and listen
My heart grows heavy with the crime

Where is the hope of London
You whisper and my heart begins to soar
As I'm reminded
Every street in London is Yours

I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope like the sun is fading
They're waiting for a cure no one can find

I hear children's voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I am reminded
That every child in Africa is Yours

Refrain:
And it's all Yours, God
Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars of the sky
To the depths of the ocean's roar
And it's all Yours, God
Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You're the Maker and Keeper, Father and Ruler of everything
It's all Yours

I walk the sidewalks of Nashville
Like Singapore, Manila, and Shanghai
Brush fire and beggar's hand
And the wealth of man
And I everywhere I look I realize

That just like the streets of London
For every man and woman, boy and girl
All of creation
This is our Father's world

Refrain

I walked the valley of death's shadow
So deep and dark that I can barely breathe
I had to let go of more than I can bear
And I've questioned everything I believe
Yet even here, in this great darkness
A comfort and a hope can bring you through
As I can say, in life or death,
God, we belong to You

Refrain

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bottle Boot Camp

I forgot to mention this in previous posts, but it's actually a pretty big deal around here. As many of you know, my 2-year-old, Shay, has had a lifelong addiction to the bottle.

Even when she was just 3 weeks old, she constantly wanted to have a bottle in her mouth, and she sucked those things down so fast that we couldn't believe it. We joked that she was a bottomless pit, and we spent a fortune on formula.

As she got older, her love of bottles grew. "Doddle" was one of her first words. They eventually became receptacles for both the beloved formula as well as an apple juice/water mix. She had to have one to fall asleep, and she could be found clutching one during pretty much all of her waking hours as well. The bottle became her pacifier (which she never actually took on its own), as well as her sustinance.

Tantrum? Soothe it with a bottle. Ouchie? Bottle makes it all better. Ben and I nervously began to joke that she'd better outgrow this before the college years.

When she turned 1 and switched to whole milk, we tried to switch her to a sippy cup. Unsuccessfully. Over and over again. She would impatiently throw the sippy aside, then toddle into the kitchen and point and the cabinet where the bottles were kept, saying "doddle, doddle" over and over again, in an increasingly hysterical voice, until one of us would finally give in.

We had a pretty good run a few months back, where I almost had her broken of the bottle (largely due to the purchase of a Dora the Explorer cup, which she loved). She was definitely not happy about this, and there was much screaming and gnashing of teeth, but we were working on it. But then we took her to her first dentist appointment and learned that her 2-year molars were coming in, and we felt like we were being cruel to deprive her of the soothing sucking motion that she was so used to during a time when she hurt so much anyway.

I was so anxious about all of this that I spoke to our doctor about it several times, and in typical good humor, he told me not to worry about it. "Nobody goes to high school still drinking from a bottle," he said. "She'll give it up when she's good and ready."

The thing was, I was getting anxious that she was NEVER going to be "good and ready."

When I would go to church or MOPS and put her in the nursery, she was the only kid in the toddler crowd toting a bottle. She's so happy and well-adjusted in all other areas, but this one thing was really starting to eat at me.

So I consulted our doctor again. "Go cold turkey," he said. "It'll take you about three days of non-stop screaming, but then you'll be done."

As unappealing as that sounded, we decided to go for it anyway. We picked New Year's weekend. We figured this would be a good "resolution" for Shay. Plus, selfishly, I just didn't think that I could face 3 days of a screaming, thrashing toddler by myself in my current condition, so we picked a time when Ben would be home so we could provide each other relief if it got too bad.

Then Ben got sick right before New Year's and needed to stay home from work, so we ended up having 5 days to work on Shay instead of 3. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

Ben packed up and hid all of our bottles. Shay cried when she saw the empty cabinet. We started relentlessly giving her sippy cups. She kept throwing them and tantruming.

It was ugly. There was crying. A lot of it. On the second day, when we repeated our mantra of "Shay is a big girl" while denying her a bottle, she looked us straight in the eye, stuck her lower lip out as far as it would go, and said, "Shay not a big girl. Shay is a baby. Shay needs doddle."

Honey, if you're old enough to tell us that, it means you're too old for a bottle.

In the end, though, we succeeded. She is 99% broken of her bottle habit. The only exception is that we will still give her a half a bottle of water to go to sleep with (which is actually awesome, because now she can't wait to go to bed. Score for sleepy Mommy!). We've been showing her off to friends and family members, asking, "Does Shay drink bottles?" To which she replies, with a self-satisfied little grin on her face, "No, Shay big girl. Shay drink cups." Success!

Friday, January 08, 2010

That Makes It All Better

This day just did not go as I planned. I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could get up and get ready for my MOPS meeting. But then all the local schools called 2 hour delays, so my meeting got cancelled. I therefore started my morning thinking about how different my life is right now than in previous years, when Teacher Amy would have been throwing a party over a 2 hour delay.

I then thought to myself about how since I no longer had anything scheduled for the day, I could knock a lot of items off my "to do" list--most notably, working on Shay's big girl room. But the kids just did not cooperate. They spent the morning in positive but clingy moods, wanting to be at my side every second, so I scrapped my plans and we had a fun morning of playing.

Bryn didn't nap today (even though she'd spent all morning telling me how tired she was), and Shay woke up screaming. I've had two fusspots on my hands all afternoon, so again, nothing got done. Shay tantrumed about something new about every 5 minutes, and I was just about to lose it.

The crowning glory of my day came when Bryn informed me that she had go potty. Even though she goes by herself at church, at school, and in public, she always wants me to help her at home. I told her to go sit on the potty and I would come help as soon as I got Shay to stop crying. Apparently that conversation took too long, though, because Bryn peed all over the floor, about 2 inches away from the toilet (and was both properly apologetic and embarrassed). So I got my pregnant self down on the floor and started mopping it all up (not an easy feat). But then Shay decided she was interested in the toilet and tried to stick her hands in, which caused Bryn to yell at her, which caused Shay to launch into another tantrum, all while I scrubbed up pee.

I got the floor, myself, and Shay cleaned up, and then I tried to comfort Shay so she would stop screaming. At some point during this process, Bryn disappeared. When I finally got Shay calmed down, I went on a hunt for Bryn. And this is where my day got immediately better.

I found her in our office, sitting all by herself on a little chair in the dark, with her hands folded, talking earnestly to God, asking Him to help her little sister to be good and to be happy.

I melted on the spot.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

13 Things To Do

For my first Thursday Thirteen of the year, I thought I'd make my list of things I want to do this year. Kind of a la New Year's resolutions. So here we go:

1. Read the Bible.
I always seem to fall off the "Bible in one year" plans in February or so, but I'm really excited by the one I'm doing this year. I'm reading the Bible chronologically. Okay, so I actually thought that Bible was published chronologically, or at least the Old Testament, for the most part. But after about 11 chapters of Genesis, my plan switched me to Job, which apparently occurs before Abraham and Lot. So I'm interested to see what else is out of the order that I've traditionally known.

2. Read at least one pleasure reading book per month.
This sounds like nothing compared to my father's 100, yes, 100 books of 2009, but I figure it's best to keep the goals modest with a small time-sucker (aka baby) on the way.


3. Join some kind of musical group (a band or choir) and perform with them.
Music was a huge part of my life in high school and college (hey, I even met my husband in marching band!), and I've really missed it in adulthood. For Christmas, my mom got my old clarinet cleaned and tuned, and I'm hoping to join up with a local community band (well, after practicing enough to get back in the swing of things!). I've also always wanted to be part of a choir of some sort. In spite of the fact that I've never learned to sing in tune, I'm sort of hoping that joining church choir would teach me to do that. Or maybe I've just been watching too much "Glee." At any rate, I want to get back into music in some way, but that won't be happening until after the baby comes, as right now, I barely have enough breath to get by on a daily basis, much less play an instrument. :)

4. Blog daily (at least a picture).
Been doing pretty good so far, huh?

5. Get back down to (at least) my pre-pregnancy weight.
Obviously, can't start on that one until at least March. I achieved this with Bryn a mere 6 weeks post-partum but NEVER managed to achieve it with Shay. Something about breast-feeding one and not the other...


6. Get involved with some kind of theatre group and help out with at least one production.
I'm not talking about doing anything crazy like acting here, but I really miss my days in the working with theatre groups and directing student productions at the Zville PAC. I'm thinking along the lines of volunteering to be a stage hand or something. Again, the hammering, painting, and whatnot will have to wait until after this baby comes.


7. Teach Bryn to read.
She knows all her letters and delights in working on them. She's also going to be starting a third day of preschool (at least some weeks). In the past, she's been happy to sit and look at the pictures in books, but now she keeps saying to me sorrowfully, "But I can't read yet." So while she may be a little young, she's showing all the signs of readiness. And this former English teacher is up for the challenge!

8. Potty-train Shay.
I'm thinking that this won't actually happen until summertime, as we've got some big changes coming in the next few months (moving into her big girl room, baby brother on the way). But even if we waited until summer, she's still be trained a year before Bryn was!

9. Finish up some of my murals.
As you faithful blog readers might recall, I started a Cars mural ages ago and haven't finished it. I also have several others sketched out on canvas that need painting. Our front room is just waiting for them.

10. Frame our portraits.
They've been sitting around for months.... okay, actually years in some cases. Get the frames and get them on the walls already!

11. Paint the kids' bathroom.
I have a cute yellow and blue combo in mind, to match the duck decorations. And hey, I even have the paint on hand, left over from the painting of the yellow room (our new guest room, formerly my sister's room) and the blue room (soon to be Shay's room). It's just a matter of doing it.

12. Get Shay into her big girl room.
It seems like getting her moved has morphed into this endless process that we just can't seem to finish up. But it needs to happen before March, or we won't have anywhere to put the baby! In order to get her moved in, I need to: finish painting and assembling her table and chairs, sew the fleeces for her bed, clean all the office supplies out of her closet, and move in her things (clothing, stuffed animals, etc.).

13. Breastfeed this baby.
I breastfed Bryn for a whole year, but it simply did not work with Shay. Possibly because she had the grip of a barracuda and drew blood every time she ate, so that only lasted about two weeks. For both health and financial reasons, I'd really like to breastfeed this baby. If nothing else, maybe I can pump and give him bottles of breastmilk.

So that's my year--looks like I'll be busy!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

First Wordless this Year

Getting back into the swing of things with Wordless Wednesday.... anybody have suggested captions for this cutie?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Merry Christmas Two You

I haven't written much here about Christmas, and I honestly, I probably won't get around to it now that all the festivities are over. After all, there's so much current cuteness to enjoy! But on this Twos-day, I did want to take just a moment to post a picture of our cute Christmas girls by our tree. Two cute!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Snowmen 1, 2, and 3

Since blogging got pushed aside in the holiday flurry, I do have some catching up to do on all our winter fun. Several weeks ago, we got our first snow. It wasn't much, but it was just right for packing. Bryn desperately wanted to go out and play in it, so we bundled her up in her light-up princess snow boots and winter coat, and Ben took her out to play. He figured they'd be back indoors within 15 minutes.... but he hadn't accounted for Bryn's persistant nature.

Our next-door neighbor saw them outside playing in the snow and said, "Oh, are you making a snowman?" Bryn's eyes lit up, and she attacked her new mission with gusto. She and Ben had to walk around the house several times to gather enough snow to make a snowman, but she persisted. Meanwhile, Shay and I watched from the comfort of the house and snapped some pictures out the side window. Here's Bryn's first snowman in progress:


In spite of being a pregnant lady with no winter coat, I braved the cold myself for a few minutes in order to snap some shots of the finished product:

But Bryn refused to be satisfied by just one snowman. After all, wouldn't he want a friend? So around and around the house they went again, until this fellow appeared on our front lawn:
Then she was distressed that the two snowmen weren't near each other. Ben, being an absolute sucker for his little girl, attempted to move the first snowman to the front of the house, but it met with an untimely death on the way. So around and around they went again (this time dipping into our neighbors' lawns), until Snowman #3 took up residence on our front lawn as a friend for Snowman #2.


You will notice, by the way, that Bryn insisted on building them facing our house, so that we could all look at each other through the windows.
A few days later, as we were driving, Bryn pointed out the window at another house whose front yard sported a snowman. "Look, Mommy," she said, "They have one two. But theirs is only two balls, and mine are three. And they only have one snowman, but I have two." It seems that her competitive nature extends even to Frosty.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Broken-Hearted

My 4-year-old has found true love.

No, there are no new little boys in her life. I wish it was that simple.

She has discovered the computer. And not just the computer, but the internet.

Previously, she was vaguely intrigued by the computer when she saw Ben and I using it. She liked to sit on my lap and look at our archives of pictures, and she would occassionally get a big kick out of having me open a blank Word document and letting her type gibberish.

But now, in some way that I'm not terribly clear about (but it wasn't me!), she has discovered the Nick Jr. website. And there is no turning back.

She would spend all day navigating that site and playing games if we let her. I've actually been pretty wowed by her technological skills in figuring out how to play new games without actually being able to read the instructions. Diego is her favorite, but in a pinch, she'll play anything on the site.

This morning, she played online for two hours before agreeing to take a break to eat breakfast and go to the bathroom. And then it was right back to the computer. When Ben told her that she had to get off the computer to get ready for church, she climbed down from the chair and walked stoop-shouldered out of the room.

"Where is she going?" I asked Ben.
" I don't know. To the bathroom?" he responded.

A few minutes later, we found her sitting in the corner of the downstairs bathroom in the dark, curled up in complete misery. Laughing, I asked Ben, "Did you break her?"

When we finally coaxed her out of the bathroom, she climbed up on my lap and informed me sorrowfully, "Daddy broke my heart."

Yes, folks, that's right. Ben broke Bryn's heart.... all by only allowing her 2 hours of computer time in a morning. It's a rough life.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Post-Christmas Blechs

Let me say up front that our family had a really good Christmas this year.... or rather, five really good Christmases. We opened presents at our own house on the 22nd, then with my mom on Christmas morning, then with my mom's extended family on Christmas night, then with my dad and family on the 26th, then with Ben's family on the 27th. Bryn actually cried on December 29, when she asked when we were going to have Christmas again and we told her "not until next year." It was really wonderful to get to see all our families and spend the special time with them.

However, our Christmas tour did leave us with some less-than-pleasant remnants. These things were not due to our families in any way, but rather due to the weather and my own stupidity. On December 23, my OB informed me that I really shouldn't be traveling, as riding in the car was likely to lead to some complications. I thought, "That's nice, but I'm not canceling on our families at this point. I'm sure I'll be fine. I'll just get out and stretch often." But then there were massive snowstorms, which nearly doubled the length of time we were in the car, and also prevented me from getting out to stretch. Several legs of our journey saw me as a sobbing mess, literally in more pain than I was when I delivered Shay (although I do have to say that she was a pretty easy delivery, as pushing out a human goes).

On top of all of that, we managed to pick up some diseases while traveling. Maybe it was being in so many new places and being around so many people in such a short amount of time; I don't know. But as a result, our family has spent the week following our Christmas travels as a bunch of invalids. Here's the run-down:

Shay
The first to get sick. She developed a runny nose while we were with Ben's family, which then morphed into a really nasty cold that she's still struggling with a week later. Her tongue also turned all gray and nasty, thus sending me running straight to the doctor when we returned to Indy. He diagnosed her with "geographic tongue," which basically means that her tongue will do funky things as an indicator when she's sick with something else. And what's the something else? A double ear infection. Luckily, she got on medication our first day back and seems to be fully recovered now, aside from the runny nose.

Bryn
The healthiest one of us all. She has a tiny little cold but is otherwise fine. Of course, she frequently and pathetically tells us that she "doesn't feel good" as so to fit in with the rest of us, but really, she's fine. (Good thing too, since she had the flu before Christmas, which landed her on the couch as a pitiful mess for three days then.)

Ben
Made it to work on our first day back, then complained of "feeling achey" that night. By midnight, "achey" had commenced into puking, and he was down for the next day and a half with the flu. He's also struggled with the same cold that we all have, but that hasn't slowed him down too much.

Amy
As is my talent for acquiring strange diseases, I ended up in pretty bad shape. On our first day back, I went to the OB to figure out what on earth was causing me so much pain, and I learned that I have both a bacterial infection (which medication seems to have cleared up just fine) and vulval varicosis (aka varicose veins), which hurt like hell. The varicosis is a result of having sat too long in the car and will not go away for the rest of this pregnancy. It will also definitely come back if I should become pregnant again after this. I guess this shouldn't be so much of a shocker, since my mom had really bad varicose veins in her legs as a result of pregnancy, but OUCH, am I ever in a lot of pain. No remedy, of course, so I just try to sit and elevate my legs as much as possible. As if this wasn't enough, on the day after Ben came down with the flu, I managed to get the nastiest cough/cold of all time. It started out like Shay's, then moved rapidly into my lungs, which has had me hacking like an 80-year-old smoker all week. Ben says that I am truly disgusting. Thankfully, our wonderful family doctor put me on a Z-pac yesterday, and I'm already starting to feel more human. All these meds, however, do bring me up to a grand total of 9 prescription bills a day, not including Tylenol and Sudafed for my various ailments. I'm pretty sure that's more drugs than most old people take (although, to be fair, 3 of the daily pills are for my thyroid, which I will have to take for the rest of my life). So I am anxiously awaiting 1) the end of these infections and 2) the end of this pregnancy so that I can stop feeling vaguely like a drug addict. :)


In light of all of our post-Christmas illnesses, we pretty much haven't left the house since returning to Indy. Ben goes back to work on Monday, and the girls and I hope to be back in the swing of things shortly after that as well. But we're taking all of our ailments, as well as the difficulty we had traveling with the 2 girls and all our presents, not to mention the impending arrival of Baby #3, as conclusive proof that we should spend next Christmas at our own house!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome to 2010

As 2009 draws to a close, let's take a look at how I did with last year's resolutions. You can find them in full here. But here's a summary of my progress:

1. Get my thyroid under control.
Somewhat done. My endocrinologist (who I saw for the first time last January) is wonderful, and she has been monitoring my progress very tightly. Obviously, with pregnancy, my levels are subject to change, but overall, I'm feeling MUCH better than a year ago at this time.

2. Lose some weight.
I actually did achieve this during the first half of the year, but with this pregnancy, my weight has soared to new heights. I'm blaming the baby. :)

3. No miscarriages in 2009.
Thank God, this one was a full success.

4. Expand our family.
We did take all our initial foster parenting classes, but we did not complete our license, as we discovered that I was pregnant (hooray!). We'd still like to become foster parents at some point though. While our family has not officially expanded yet, that will be happening soon, in March of 2010. Again, hooray!

5. Blog.
I hit a dry spot in the middle of the year, and posting has been spotty at best over the last couple of months. I guess this one needs to go on the resolution list again. :)

6. Read.
Not bad, but not good either. I did really well over the summer, until that whole pregnancy thing came along to make me feel sick all the time. Always room for improvement here!

I haven't actually come up with resolutions for this year yet, although looking back over it, this seems like a pretty good list. We'll see what I come up with this afternoon as far as resolutions for 2010!