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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nearly Wordless Rolls

This is Liam's latest trick.... every time I put him down on his play mat, he immediately rolls over, from back to belly (all while drooling madly, which I'm pretty sure means teething is imminent, but that's another story). Both of our girls were on the late side for rolling, but this still puts him a little over two months ahead of them both for this milestone. Yep, apparently it's true about boys developing faster physically....

Anyway, for today's captioning, any suggestions about what Liam is thinking as he rolls?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Addiction

As I posted last week, I want my kids to grow up loving reading. Of course, I can't imagine how anyone could possibly not love to read. For me, it's like an addiction, a craving. Almost unhealthy sometimes, if such a thing can be.

I remember back in elementary school, when our class would take trips to the public library once every other week. The check-out limit was four books. I don't remember if there was a requirement about whether or not you had to check out anything or not; such was not my concern. I know that most of my classmates viewed those trips to the library as a time to get out of class and a time to sit around socializing, maybe checking out the first book their hand fell on in an effort to appease the teacher, but definitely not to read. But I loved those trips. I would lose myself in the shelves of books, agonizing over which ones to get, how to narrow it down to just four. I always had all four read well before they were due two weeks later.

In fact, those class trips to the library usually resulted in me pestering my dad to take me to the library again over the weekend, when I would come home with the mountains of books that I hadn't been allowed to check out during the class trip. And I read them all. Often more than once.

My dad hated it when the book order forms came home--not because he didn't want me to read, but because he didn't want me to send him into debt while doing it. I remember poring over those things, circling virtually every title that wasn't about sports as part of my "wish list." I think I could have personally kept Scholastic in business if my parents hadn't reined me in.

On those long, lazy days of summer growing up, I didn't want to do anything except read. When we went on vacations, I would pack an entire bag full of books, 20 or 30 or more, then read them all. When we went to the pool, I sat in the shade and read (reading in the sun often gave me a headache). When my mother feared that I was going to turn into a big old shapeless blob if I didn't get off the couch and get some exercise, I'd sneak a book into the waistband of my shorts, then compliantly go out for a bike ride..... only far enough to find an out-of-the-way spot to sit and read for a while before returning home after my "ride." (Sorry you had to find out about it this way, Mom. But see, I made to to reasonably healthy adulthood anyway.) In high school, I'd zoom through 500-page novels in a day...... the same novels that now take me weeks to reread.

These days, with three small children in the house and a myriad of responsibilities to suck up my time, I don't get to spend nearly as much time reading as I'd like. But often, once I get started on a book, I can't put it down. This can be dangerous with little kids around. I find myself saying, "Mommy will play with you at the end of this chapter, honey" or looking dazedly around when Ben comes home from working and saying, "Ohmygosh, I'm so sorry, I completely forgot to start dinner!"

Case and point. My book club is reading Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin this month. I put it on hold at the library a month ago, but whoever had it before me kept it past the due date, and eventually I just had to go out and get it at Half Price Books in order to ensure that I'd be able to read it before our Thursday meeting. As it was, I was going to have to do some intense speed-reading to finish. Which on some levels was okay, as I found myself kind of annoyed with it from the very beginning. (Apologies here to any book club gals reading this, I'll try not to say too much here.) It was not a book that I would have typically picked for myself, which is a good thing, because isn't that what being in a book club is all about? But I pretty much hated every character in it and didn't find any of them sympathetic, and although all the reviews on the front and back covers seemed to be telling me that I should be rooting for the main character from start to finish, I thought she was pretty pathetic.

All of that being said, I absolutely could not put the book down. I stayed up late to finish it last night and then--big mistake--read the excerpts from her follow-up novel that were published in the back of this one. That, of course, led me to check out Something Blue while at the library today. And I might just "have to" read it before Thursday too. You know, just in case anyone in my group wants to know what happens in the sequel.

Like I said, I am seriously addicted to reading. In fact, I think I have to cut off this blog post to go read some more now. It's like once I get started, I can't control myself. The rational adult part of my brain says, "There is laundry to be folded. There are dishes to be done. You have a to do list a mile long. You cannot start another novel right now." The kid in me wants to stick a paperback in my purse and claim that I need to run to the grocery store, then actually go park the car somewhere and read instead. :) Good grief. Before I know it, I'll likely be taking a flashlight to bed with me to hide my habits from Ben and the kids....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boys Do Dinner

Tonight we got to go out to dinner with our good friends Derek and Chris, who (due to busy schedules), we had not seen since the birth of Liam. We had a great time getting caught up, and they both thought Liam was quite adorable.... which, of course, we do too. :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Six Years

Six years ago today, I married my best friend.

Tonight, we went out to dinner to celebrate while some (very nice) friends watched our three sweet kiddos.
Here's to another great year! (and the another and another and another.....)

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Green" Detergent Recipes

About a month ago, I attended a women's event at my church. Amidst tons of other fun things that evening, I picked up recipes for "green" laundry and dish detergents. We also got to bring home samples of these items, and they worked so well that I decided to try making them. All the ingredients were easy to find (and pretty cheap), and making them was so easy that I'm now hooked. So many people have asked me for the recipes since then that I've been emailing them out like crazy and I figured it might just be faster to post them here. Enjoy! :)

Dishwasher Detergent
Mix equal parts of:
20 Mule Team Borax
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Place 2 Tbsp in your dishwasher detergent compartment.

Also, you can add vinegar to the "jet dry" dispenser to help remove mineral build-up.


Super Gentle Homemade Laundry Soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 bar Kirks Castile Soap
1/2 cup Oxiclean Powder (or generic equivalent)

Slice soap into strips and run through food processor to make "soap beads," or shred soap with a cheese grater. Combine soap beads, Oxiclean, Borax, and Washing Soda.

Use 1-2 Tbsp for small loads and 3-4 Tbsp for large loads.
Use 1-2 Tbsp in HE washers.

Also, you can add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the softener dispenser because vinegar is a natural softener.

May in Review - Liam

1 - Meets Great-Grandma N; Nana, Papa, and Grammy also visit

2 - infant dedication at Connection Pointe Christian Church. Liam is perfectly behaved.

3 - First trip to Fair Oaks Farms

4 - Really focusing on people's faces

5 - two-month immunizations. Weighs 12 pounds, 12 ounces. Is 23 3/4 inches long. Head is 16 1/2 inches around. Liam is in the 75th percentile for every measurement.

6 - Sleepy, but doesn't seem to be in any pain from shots.

7 - Such a great smile!

8 - Very alert and looks right into people's faces

9 - Good cuddler with Mommy for Mother's Day

10 - Grasping at toys and people's fingers

11 - Looks expectantly at swing mobile to hear music

12 - Bryn loves to hold Liam and give him bottles

13 - Meets Great-Grandma and Al B, who visit en route from Florida to Michigan

14 - Successfully transitions to drinking out of a normal bottle (instead of the Haberman)!

15 - Rides with Daddy in the Baby Bjorn while the family mini-golfs

16 - First time in the church nursery; no problems at all adjusting

17 - Bats at toys hanging above him on play mat

18 - Sleeps on Mommy in Baby Bjorn during Bryn's dance class

19 - Likes it when Bryn plays with his T Rex stuffed animal with him

20 - Rotates himself 180 degrees on his play mat (pivoting around his stationary head)

21 - Usually only up once in the night

22 - Very well-behaved during busy day of MOPS barbeque, Lyla's 1st birthday party, and Bryn's dance recital

23 - cries are loud and strong

24 - Spits up tons of milk all over Mommy and Daddy's bed

25 - Reaches up and grabs toys above play mat

26 - Starts rocking and trying to roll any time he is put down on a flat surface

27 - A master of scooting around his play mat

28 - Smacks lips to let us know when he's hungry

29 - Baby's first trip to Camp Tecumseh (for Family Camp)

30 - Sleeps most of the day to recover from adventures at camp

31 - First trip to neighborhood pool (and sleeps through it)

May in Review - Shay

1 - Grammy, Nana, Papa, and Great-Grandma N visit. Nana gives the girls a big Dora storybook, which Shay loves.

2 - Liam's infant dedication at Connection Pointe. Papa gives Shay a set of 5 "nesting" dolls from Russia.

3 - Trip to Fair Oaks Farms. Shay loves having Hannah ride there and back in the car with us.

4 - Loves to collect rocks in every parking lot and on every playground.

5 - 28.4 pounds

6 - "I love baby Jesus. He my friend."

7 - Likes to carry around her "clip box" (full of barrettes) and name all the colors

8 - Likes to have books in her crib to "read" at naptime and at night

9 - Loves to shout "Happy Mother's Day!"

10 - Gets hair trimmed and does very well sitting still in the big chair

11 - Loves to "drive" the car shopping carts at Kroger

12 - Doesn't like Pete in "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse"--she thinks he's scary

13 - Great-Grandma and Al visit. Shay loves to cuddle Great-Grandma!

14 - MOPS childcare workers comment on how fearless Shay is on the playground with the bigger kids

15 - "I like mini-golf. It not scary!"

16 - Wants to cuddle with in big bed with Mommy before going to sleep in her own crib every night

17 - Says "no swiping!" (like Dora) when she doesn't want someone to take something

18 - Loves to play with old Fisher Price dollhouse

19 - Dentist appointment. Does very well for hygienist but doesn't want Dr. S to look in her mouth

20 - In the habit of saying "BAH!" to people (like we do to the dogs) when she is mad at them

21 - Loves playing with sand table on the front porch

22 - Likes playing with tea set and balloons at Lyla's first birthday party

23 - Hannah's 4th birthday party; Shay likes playibng with the PlayDoh set Hannah received.

24 - Shay has on six Band-Aids.... and loves them!

25 - needs to have a talk with Mommy about the importance of telling the truth

26 - loves to play with Little People, organizing them into groups all over the downstairs

27 - Loves to watch "Dora" and "Diego" movies; would do it nonstop if we let her!

28 - Loves to play "Ring Around the Rosy"

29 - Tecumseh Family Camp: loves Black Hole, Fort Discovery, hoppers, campfire, singing grace at meals (especially "Johnny Appleseed"), and riding brown pony Flicka

30 - has tons of fun playing in backyard sprinkler

31 - first trip of the season to neighborhood pool; finds a frog in the kids' pool

May in Review - Bryn

I just realized that I never posted these for last month. Also, while looking over the past month's posts to see if they were hiding anywhere in there, I also discovered that recent posts have had a higher-than-average amount of typos. Is it too late for me amend my previous statement about not suffering any side effects from the Topomax? Anyway, here are last month's kid calendars, starting with Bryn....

1 - Grammy, Nana, Papa, and Great-Grandma visit. Nana gives the girls a big Dora storybook.

2 - Liam's infant dedication at Connection Pointe. Papa gives Bryn a set of 10 "nesting" dolls from Russia.

3 - Trip to Fair Oaks Farms. First time on the bus tour, which Bryn really enjoys.

4 - Works on Mother's Day surprise (a clay handprint) at school.

5 - 39.4 pounds

6 - Loves to write letters and numbers and frequently asks how to spell words.

7 - Loves soccer Coach Doug; thinks he's "silly."

8 - Likes to watch "Ni-Hao Kai-Lan" on Nick Jr. website

9 - Draws Mommy some beautiful pictures for Mother's Day.

10 - Gets hair cut in a short reverse bob - looks SO grown up!

11 - Plays at "indoor park" at school (all climbing toys set up in big open room)

12 - Likes to do the hula dance

13 - Great-Grandma and Al visit. Bryn thinks Al is really funny.

14 - Getting really good at dribbling soccer ball in and out of cones.

15 - Loves her first time playing mini-golf; hits with the very front of the club.

16 - Loves to help Daddy with outdoor projects, especially planting seeds.

17 - Loves to eat blackberries.

18 - Last dance class; preview dance for parents. Song is "Music Tickles My Toes" for tap dance.

19 - Loves to help Daddy work on laying bricks for front yard landscaping.

20 - End of the year program at St. Andrew's. Does great with all the words and motions!

21 - Dress rehearsal for dance recital. Gets to wear makeup!

22 - SO excited to receive four pink roses at the end of dance recital.

23 - Hannah's 4th birthday party. Bryn gets all muddy playing in the sprinkler.

24 - Bryn loves putting Band-Aides on every owie she and Shay get.

25 - Loves to do pages in the preschool activity book Mommy bought for summer "study."

26 - Loves using child scissors to cut out shapes; very precise with lines.

27 - Keeps busy daily with her "work" during naptime.

28 - Loves to build forts by stretching blankets over tables, chairs, shelves, etc.

29 - Tecumseh Family Camp: Bryn loves Black Hold, trail ride on white horse Minnie, hoppers, ringing the meal bell, riding on the tractor, walking on the suspension bridge, and much more!

30 - Has tons of fun playing in backyard sprinkler.

31 - First trip of the season to neighborhood pool; finds a frog in the kids' pool!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Joys of Reading (and Free Stuff)

During my years of teaching, I met hundreds of kids who told me that they "didn't like reading." I have simply never understood how that's possible. How can anyone just "not like" reading? I can see not liking nonfiction, or not liking mysteries, or not liking romances, not liking science fiction, or not liking newspapers, or whatever, but not liking READING? That's like not liking breathing.

Or at least it is for me. But I was very lucky to have parents who read to me from a very young age. I can't remember a time when books weren't a huge part of my life. Probably because a time like that never existed for me.

And a time like that will never exist for my kids either. Ben and I are raising our kids to be readers, not because we sat down one day and decided to make this a priority, but because it's as natural to us as, well, breathing.

Our kids get stories at naptime every day and bedtime every night. That's just part of the routine. We read other stories for fun and "special treats" throughout the day. Each of my children (including 3-month-old Liam) has a bookshelf in their room. We have bookshelves in both the upstairs and downstairs playrooms. (And don't even get me started on the many, many books in boxes in the basement.) Books are part of the daily routine and the daily landscape of our lives.

Bryn and Shay take books everywhere with them. When I pack our diaper bag with things to keep them occupied at the doctor's office, in the car, or when we go out to eat, I pack books. When they climb into bed at night, they want to take in books. Sometimes it's hard to find a soft spot to lay two-year-old Shay in her crib amidst all the thick hardback storybooks that she insists on having with her to look at before she falls asleep and when she wakes up in the morning. Ben and I love that at 2 and 4, our kids are already going to bed with flashlights to read under the covers.

During the summer, I sign the girls up for every summer reading progam I can find and really hype up how awesome it is that they can be rewarded for doing something they love so much anyway. Just this week, they've already scored free books three times. On Tuesday, they turned in their first round of "bingo" cards for the summer reading program at our local library. They each got a small toy and a free book for this. They barely even glanced at the toys because they were so excited about picking out matching Strawberry Shortcake books.

We then proceeded onward to our local Lunch Bunch program, where the town and various groups partner to offer free healthy sack lunches and free gently used books once a week. Bryn picked out a Berenstein Bears book and Shay got a Beauty and the Beast book, and both girls were blissed out for the rest of the day. They've also both earned two rounds of prizes from the summer reading program in the next town over, but we haven't made it over there to pick those up yet.

Today we went to the local Half Price Books to turn in their reading logs for the week. This is an awesome program. If you've got one near you, you've got to do this program with your kids. You log the time your kids (ages 14 and under) spend reading. If they read for at least 15 minutes a day for 5 days a week, they get a gift card for $3 to Half Price Books. They can do this every week until the end of July. My girls LOVE getting the card each week and then getting to pick out any book they want to buy. Today they each got a Blue's Clues book, which I was less than thrilled about, but hey, they were both happy, and I've got kids who love reading, so I'm happy too. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Liam

Suggested captions?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Migraine Update

I am currently up in the middle of the night with a bad storm. We have severe thunderstorm warnings and watches, as well as flash flood warnings and watches. I actually don't know what the difference between a "warning" and a "watch" is, but according to weather.com, we have both anyway. Our power has gone out twice, and our schitzy dogs are absolutely freaking out. I'm waiting for one or more kids to wake up and do the same.

I, however, do NOT have a migraine.

Since I did not manage to get in my blog for yesterday yet, this seemed like as good of a time as any to sit down and give an update on my migraine situation. As I talked about before, and also here, my migraines seem to have been largely weather-related since the birth of Liam. I had an appointment with a neurologist earlier this month, and although I meant to post about it, I never quite seemed to get around to that.

He was very helpful. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the appointment was that he was surprised to hear that in all of my other doctor's appointments, no one had ever explained to me before that migraines are very clearly linked to thyroid problems. Much like EVERY OTHER MEDICAL PROBLEM I HAVE EVER HAD. Excessive exhaustion? It's the thyroid. Depression issues? It's the thyroid levels changing. Migraines? Thyroid again. Miscarry a baby? Hey, that pesky thyroid. I truly, truly hate my thyroid.

At any rate, thyroid bitterness aside, because of the frequency of both my migraines and my regular headaches, the neurologist put me on Topomax as a headache preventative. Since starting it, I have heard a lot of things, both good and bad, about this drug. On the good side, I've heard that it can be very effective. On the bad side, I've heard about crazy side effects. So far, I have experienced none. I have not become "stupid" (other people who have taken it will know what I mean), and although I do occassionally forget things, I'm thinking that may be more the result of the three small children in my life. Or maybe, hey, they thyroid.

The vast majority of people I know who have taken Topomax tell war stories about losing large amounts of weight while on it. My own sister was quite ill and lost 10 pounds, which reduced her to a rather skeletal state. I, frankly, could get on board with losing 10 pounds, as that would bring me to Level 2 of my long-term weight-loss goals, although of course I'd prefer to do it without the illness. I've even heard stories of people losing 50 or 60 pounds on Topomax, although no one has been very clear as to how that has happened, if there has been nasty head-spinning Exorcist-type illness involved or if the Topomax has just acted as an appetite suppressant (which it actually says in the side effects, but hasn't happened for me at all yet).

In any case, the Topomax as worked beautifully for its intended purpose so far. My headaches have virtually disappeared. A couple of times when we've had storms, I've gotten what I would call "a regular headache," one that one dose of Advil has cleared right up. Beautiful. Once and only once, I got a migraine, and that was so early on in the process that the Topomax might not have kicked in yet. That one time, it came on in the middle of the night and in my sleepy headache stupor, I stupidly reached for my ineffective old pills, rather than trying out the strong new Imitrex that the neurologist also prescribed me. So I haven't gotten a chance to try that yet, which is certainly not a problem.

The neurologist also commented on the fact that I take an awful lot of prescriptions for a young person, then reviewed my thyroid history and was like, "Oh, that explains it," and then added the Topomax as a daily prescription. And if you want to get technical, since the migraines can be traced back to the thyroid, that can also be chalked up to the same source. I find all of this to be pretty ironic, since even back in the college days, I didn't drink because I didn't like the idea of a foreign substance acting on my body. Not that I'd be able to drink today even if I wanted to, as alcohol would interact with way too many of those prescriptions. I really wish I could just be healthy. My endocrinologist says that my thyroid is slowly dying inside me; I wish it would just hurry up and finish that process.

But really, I'm only 31 years old. Shouldn't I just have a doctor and a dentist? But no, I have a neurologist, an endocrinologist, a reproductive specialist, and a dermatologist specializing in Mohs surgery. Recent years have also seen a chiropractor and a physical therapist thanks to pregnancy problems. Geez, I'm a mess.

But, on the up side, I do NOT have a migraine right now. And tonight's storm has passed, my dogs have calmed down, and I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Evening

All of our kiddos dressed in very appropriate shirts today....

Bryn: Daddy's Little Princess
Shay: Daddy's Little Sunsine
And Liam, proclaiming that His Dad Has Super Powers
All in all who think their daddy is the greatest--and they're right!

Father's Day Morning

Shay and Liam slept in this morning, but Bryn and I made Ben a delectable Father's Day breakfast in bed, in spite of Dagny and Tela's many efforts to foil our plans. Bryn also got breakfast in the big bed, as a special treat for being Mommy's big helper this morning.

Happy Father's Day to a wonderful, wonderful super-dad!!!




Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Day at the Pool(s)

We started out this morning with swim lessons. Bryn's started last week, so she was an old pro by her second one today. Bryn's are just the kids in the water with the teacher, and in addition to learning swim basics, they get to play on some cool splash toys.


Shay's swim lessons started this morning. In her class, the parents get in the water with the kids. I got in with her this week, and next week Ben will get in with her while I keep an eye on Liam and applaud Bryn's class. This week was "assessment week," so mostly we did our own thing, although the teacher did say that there would be an actual "lesson" next week.
The girls both had such a good time at swim lessons that they didn't want to get out of the water at the end. It was a gorgeous day, so we decided just to keep on their suits and proceed straight to our neighborhood pool. We were the first ones to get there, actually waiting for them to open the gates right at 11:00, so we had the whole pool to ourselves for a little bit. Ben's parents were down visiting, and the girls absolutely loved having more than enough willing arms to hold them in the pool.


In spite of plenty of sunscreen, blondie Shay was a little lobster by the end of a few hours and didn't even want to eat lunch before falling, exhausted, into bed for a nap. She was up and going at it hard again a few hours later, though, as we went to a baby shower for our friends Kristen and Dan to celebrate the impending arrival of their first. All in all, both a full and fun day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quotables

Back by popular demand, a few more quotables by Bryn and Shay:

Bryn, showing the influence of Strawberry Shortcake:
"I have an idea! How about if we work TOGETHER!"

Shay, commencing to chase Bryn around the house:
"You're a mermaid. I'm a mean octopus. ROAR!!"

Bryn, saying something that I was hoping wouldn't show up around here until the teenage years:
"Mom!! Shay is RUINING my LIFE!!"

Shay, crying on command, any time I so much look at her when she misbehaves,
"I not bad!"

Bryn, speaking to the chef at the Japanese grill we went to with Dad and Diane on Saturday night:
"Excuse me, excuse me.... You are a very good rice cooker."

Shay, on our way to the zoo yesterday,
"I love sharks! They my friends. I pet them. But I not like dolphins. They scary!"

Bryn, any time she gets mad,
"Oh boomer!"
(I think this is her own personal version of a swear word)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Watermelon

Suggested captions?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Boys

My three favorite boys in the whole wide world!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sniffles

It started on Saturday morning. Bryn woke up and told me that she had some "sniffles in her nose." Shay quickly repeated this statement, as she repeats basically everything Bryn says these days. I didn't think much of it, especially since they didn't seem to be affected at all during the day.

At bedtime, the girls again told me that they had "sniffles," but I thought it was just a stall tactic.

Until I woke up on Sunday morning with sniffles of my own. Enough that I blew my nose a few times and felt kind of icky, but I figured they'd clear as the morning went on, as they had for the girls they day before. I asked the girls, and they both assured me that they had sniffles again, but I could see no physical sign of them, so I assumed we'd all be fine.

But by Sunday afternoon, I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. All I wanted to do was sleep, rest on the couch, and sleep some more. Ideally accompanied by some Sudafed. By midnight, I had decided that I needed to upgrade to Benadryl.

By this morning, I had searched out our one remaining box of lotioned Kleenex. I have developed a hacking cough. I cannot breathe through my nose at all. I'm taking Sudafed every four hours (and wondering what this will do to my milk supply, although there has been no reduction thus far). I'm fantasizing about napping on the couch. Shay woke up with her hair crusted to her face from her runny nose. Bryn insists that she, too, is "sick," although I see no signs of it.

Perhaps most pathetic of all, though, is Liam. He has Baby's First Cold and he just doesn't know what to make of it. He keeps sneezing and then looking at me in wide-eyed astonishment like, "What was that??? I didn't like it!" I also have to keep giving his face a good wipe-down, since he obviously can't do that himself, but unlike the girls, he doesn't yell when I do that; he just sits there and takes it. True to his nature, he's still in a good mood, very little fussing, but I've kept him in either a swing or a seat all day, because whenever I try to lay him flat, he starts coughing and kind of gagging on snot. Ewww.

So all in all, I'm thinking that 1) we picked up some kind of bug last week at VBX (shocking, I know, considering to 700 children there) and 2) Ben is probably very glad to be at work this week instead of at home with all of us nasties. Bryn informed me today that since we are all sick (again, the jury is still out on whether or not she actually falls into this category or not), "the dogs will have to take care of us." I can just see them fetching us Kleenex and Gatorade.....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

VBX Pics

Here are just a few pictures of the fun we had at VBX this week.

Some of the cuties in my class:

Shay and her crush:

Me and my three sweeties:




Facelift

Yes, you're in the right place. After my previous post about how busy we'd been, how tired I was, and how many other things I still had to do, I was seized with an utterly inexpliciple need to give the blog a facelift. So what do you think?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This Week in Review

Phew. It has been quite the busy week. I feel like I have barely stopped to take a breath in days. And while it has been a good one, I must admit that I am rather disgruntled that it has put me behind on my goal of daily blogging, which even birthing a baby did not do. Here are a few of the things that have been keeping the MeyPfan family busy:

* VBX. As I mentioned earlier, our church does what I referred to as an "uber-VBS." By that I mean that we had roughly 700 children attend this week. Couple that with the roughly 300 volunteers, and attendance hovered just under 1000 each day, except Tuesday, when we cleared 1000 (no idea why that happened just on Tuesday). Chasing 4-year-old boys around all week proved to be quite exhausting. My little princess Bryn was not a big fan of being the only girl in her class, and Shay was distraught at being in the 2-year-old class because she knew that Bryn was in Mommy's class. The solution? Shay moved to the 4-year-old class halfway through the day on Tuesday. She was an absolute champ for the rest of the week, keeping up with the big kids in every way and even developing quite the crush on one of the 4-year-old boys. We kept busy all week long with tons of crafts, games, a bounce-house, the playground (including a water day), storytime, skits, songs, snacks, and silliness. All the nursery workers totally fell in love with Liam, who was such a good boy all week. He probably held up the best of all of us, as the girls and I continued to get more and more tired each day. One other funny side note is that after we all wore our matching VBX shirts on the first day, the girls then insisted on dressing like me every day for the rest of the week (which they have never done before), so I had two little clones in my class all week.

* Catching up with an old friend. Way back when I was a college student working summers as a camp counselor, I met a 13-year-old girl named Anne. We kept in touch over the years and always had so much fun together over the summers at camp. I saw her again every summer until she was 16, when I told her that I had been hired at her school (Zionsville HS) as an English teacher for that fall. At ZCHS, we stayed close, and she was my student aide during her junior and senior years. She came to my wedding. We kept in touch sporadically over her college years, but my departure from ZCHS and early years with kids were quite the distraction for me, as was college for her. But she got married about a year ago and is now back in Indy, and she and her husband are now expecting their first child. Through the wonders of Facebook :), we have reconnected. She and I had lunch together a few weeks back and had such a great time that we decided we needed to get our husbands together as well. She had known Ben pretty well during the camp and ZCHS days and was excited to see him again, and I was excited to get to meet her Clint. So they came over for dinner on Wednesday, and we had such a great time getting caught up, introducing them to our kids, and talking about their impending arrival. Their baby is due in a little over a month. so it will be very close in age to Liam. They have decided not to find out the gender, but we're now hoping that it will be a boy so he and Liam can be BFF. :)

* Water park fun. Our church rented out a local water park on Friday night for all the VBX volunteers and their families. Of course, we were all wiped by Friday, so all the adults looked a little glassy-eyed, but the kids seemed to have energy to spare! :) It rained in the afternoon and was chilly and overcast while we were there, but again, this didn't seem to slow the kids down at all. Ben was out of town (more on that in a second), so I was faced with the challenge of how to wrangle three small children at a water park where they must all be within arm's reach at all times. The solution involved the aide of several dear friends. I dropped Liam off with our friends Jason and Sarah, and he "played" with their little boy Kingston for the evening. Then my friend (and former student) Angie (who is now all grown up and looking for a teaching job of her own) came with me and the girls to the water park. Bryn loved this arrangement, as she thinks that Angie is about the coolest person who ever lived, so much so that she insisted on waiting at the front door for roughly a half an hour before Angie arrived. We had a great time swimming with the girls and only got out when their teeth were chattering so badly that they could no longer protest that they were "f-f-f-fine." The event ran from 7:00 to 9:00, and then we had a half hour drive home, and then we had to get Liam, and then get the girls ready for bed.... and all told, it was at least 10:30 by the time the girls got in bed after our very, very busy week, so everyone was definitely ready for a night of good sleep.

* Concert in Chicago. My wanna-be-hippie husband took a half-day at his job in corporate America on Friday to drive up to Chicago to attend the opening night of Phish's most recent concert tour. He went with yet another of my former students (seems to have been a big week for that), who has been a good friend of his ever since we lived down the street from each other in Zville. With the birth of Liam and Ben's adjustment to his new position at work, it had been a while since Ben and Tyler had been able to hang out, and I think they enjoyed the car ride to and from Chicago almost as much as they enjoyed the concert itself. It sounds like they had a really great time getting caught up. Plus they fit in a round of disc golf in Lafayette on the way there, and Ben has been raving about how great the set list at the concert was. Of course, Ben also had to take Advil as soon as he woke up this morning for all of his aches and pains and commented that he *might* be getting too old for the whole concert thing. But he and Tyler are looking forward to attending two more Phish shows locally in August.

* Swim lessons. Bryn started them this morning. She has done the parent/child classes before, but this summer, she's taking the ones where she's in the water with a teacher for the first time. Some of our friends did them through Indy Parks last summer and suggested that we sign up with them this summer, so we decided to go for it. A bonus was that the same location offers parent/child classes for younger kids at the same time, so we can take the whole family and Ben and I can alternate weeks with one of us watching Bryn in the water and Liam by the side while the other gets in the water with Shay. Shay's class doesn't start until next week, so I stayed home this morning to allow her to sleep in while Ben took Bryn for a little daddy/daughter QT. She had a great time, aside from when she "dipped" in the water (meaning accidentally went under.)

* A quick visit. Both of my parents have asked me recently if we might be visiting Peoria this summer. I initially said yes, as we have not been to visit any family at all since Liam's birth but would like to get him to see both sides of the family at some point this summer. But then I looked at our calendar and realized that while we had signed up for swim lessons under the premise that they "only last for six weeks," that does actually encompass most of the summer. So I suggested that they might want to look at dates to come here instead, and when my dad did so, he realized that he is actually booked most weekends as well. On about Thursday of this week, he realized that that if we wanted to see each other before August, it would actually have to be this weekend. So he and my stepmom Diane drove over for the day today. It was a quick visit, just a few hours of grandparents play time with the kids and then out to dinner with my sister, but really great to see them nonetheless.

* Dogsitting. Our friends Cathy and Eric have been off on a fun-filled vacation for the last week, so their dog Fina has been staying with us. She gets along well with Dagny and Tela, so there aren't any issues there. The only problem we've had is that she's on a bit of a different potty schedule than our dogs, so there have been some pooping incidents, but she's a very sweet and loving dog. I don't think we're really up for being a three-dog house full-time, but then, most days I'm not convinced that we're up for being a two-dog house (or even a one-dog house), so that's probably the least notable thing that's happened this week. :)

* Phone replacement. As I mentioned in a previous post, my phone bit the dust last week. It wsa pretty much a week-long battle to get a new one and get it working. It took four separate trips to two different Verizon stores, as well as reading my less-than-helpful User's Manual and spending hours searching for help on their website. Through all of that, the best tech support that I got actually came from my own wonderful husband. I also had to wait for five days for FedEx to deliver a new phone (because apparently, I can purchase a new phone when I walk in to any Verizon location, but they can't replace my broken phone with one of the ones they have on hand). These four trips to Verizon involved one instance of Ben watching them at home while I went to the store, one instance of Ben keeping them placated with a movie in the car while I went to the store, one instance of Ben watching them in the car while I talked the guys at the counter, and one instance of me attempting to control them in the store while talking to the guys at the counter (which was by far the worst). In its death, my phone also fried two phone batteries. The transition involved plugging three separate Blackberries into various chargers, outlets, and computers with tons of different cords, yet still resulted in the loss of umpteen contact numbers, as well as photos and music files. In the end, though, I now have a phone that works, and I am incredibly thrilled to again be "on the grid."

* Catching up. It's not just the blog that has been neglected in the past few days of busyness. I put away six loads of laundry before Dad and Diane arrived this morning, and there are two more in the washer and dryer right now. Not to mention the many stacks of stuff that I put away in an effort to tidy before their arrival and the dozens more that are still waiting for me. I've already told Ben that pretty much all I want out of tomorrow is to sit on my butt on the couch with the computer to attempt to make a dent in the massive amount of emails, photo uploading, budget updating, and other random tasks that I have been neglecting. If you haven't gotten a comment from me on your blog for a while, that's probably because I haven't been reading it.... it has been several weeks, if not a a full month, since I have found the time to read many of my friends' blogs, and I'm really hoping to remedy this soon.

With all of that, I've been feeling rather sleep deprived this week, so I am now off to remedy that....

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wordless Hair

Suggested captions?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tonight

Can't wait to see this tonight!!
(I hope that the migraine I've been battling with all day allows me to stay up to watch it!)

Monday, June 07, 2010

VBX Celebrity

Today was our first day of Vacation Bible Xperience (VBX), which is kind of like an uber-VBS. While enrollment technically starts for those heading into kindergarten, those who volunteer can send their kids younger, so my kids have gone since we started attending this church when we moved to Bburg 3 1/2 years ago. This year, I'm a teacher for one of the four 4 year olds, and Bryn is in my class. Shay is one of the 2 year old classes, and Liam is in one of the rooms of the nursery.

It was a fun but exhausting first day. If I ever again state that running around after my own brood of three is tiring, remind me of this week. My class consists of six high-energy 4-year-old boys and Bryn.... a very interesting combination!! It's 4 1/2 hours a day all week, and the timing necessitates that I take some time out in the middle of it for feeding Liam, so things get a bit tricky. Definitely fun, definitely a great experience, but wow, was I wiped tonight!!

At any rate, my funny experience of the day was actually tonight. I was still wearing my intensely bright yellow VBX shirt when I ran to Walmart for some groceries after dinner. While at the store, two different kids pointed me out to their parents, saying, "She works at my VBX!" Since they were older kids and I'm in with the little ones, it was clearly just the shirt that they recognized, but I still felt like a celebrity. I guess wearing sunglasses in public wouldn't have been much of a disguise for the shirt though....

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ben #2

Years ago, I made a dear friend in the form of a then- high school freshman boy named Ben. At the time, I was in my third year of teaching English at ZCHS. It was my first year of directing the Mr. Zionsville pageant, and he was on my stage crew. He was about the nicest, most helpful kid I had ever come across, and I liked him right away, but little did I know that two-week interaction would lead to a long-lasting friendship.

The next year, I left the classroom to become the Performing Arts Center manager, and Ben pretty much became a permanent fixture in my office. I knew next to nothing about the technical side of running a PAC, and he was one of a couple of students who willingly gave up his free time after school to come in and help me out. I have such great memories of many afternoons spent sitting and talking with him on the couch in my office. When Bryn arrived that November, they became instant BFF.

In spite of the fact that he was only a high school sophomore at the time (and a boy to boot), Ben carried Bryn around the school with him so much that he was actually asked, "Is that baby yours?" Ben assisted me in introducing Bryn to her early (and abiding) love of singing and dancing. Here's a picture of the two of them together at school, with Bryn around eight months old:


When I left ZCHS at the end of that year, we stayed close to Ben. He became our preferred babysitter. He was the only person that my clingy little mama's girl would willingly leave my arms to go to. He spent enough time with our family that he dubbed himself "Ben #2" to avoid confusion with my husband Ben. Our friendship continued through my family's move to Brownsburg, my return to ZCHS to direct a few shows, the birth of Shay, Ben's high school graduation and his enrollment at our alma mater, Butler University. Even during his incredibly busy college schedule of classes and tons of vocal performing ensembles, Ben has made time to come over and visit us and the girls. He has given them Christmas gifts a few years, but whether or not he comes bearing gifts, they are always excited to see him.
Ben studied abroad in Austria this past semester, and while we missed him, I also loved reliving my own college study abroad adventures through hearing about his. He just returned to the States and was anxious to meet Liam, so we were all excited to get together for dinner last night. Here he is with the newest member of the MeyPfan family:

So here's to many more years of great friendship--we love you, Ben #2!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Comes In Threes

They say that bad things come in threes. This certainly seems to have been the case around here over the last few days.

On Thursday night, I apparently tempted fate by having an evening of three good things, all sans children. First I had dinner with my friends Kara and Angie from back in the ZCHS days, then I went to a VBX prep meeting at church, and then I finished up the night by meeting with my book group at Starbucks. This was where the trouble started, although I didn't realize it until later.

Because I get so little time sitting with my hands free (meaning: without kids tugging on them), I use the opportunity to knit whenever I can, as I am several projects behind where I would like to be. So when heading in to book club, I just stuck my book and my wallet in my knitting bag and left my purse in the car. My knitting bag is just a cheap canvas tote without any kind of closures on it, and apparently my wallet fell out of it and got lost in the depths of the very comfy chair that I was lounging in. I, however, was lost in the joys of good conversation and adult companionship, and did not notice.

Until Friday mid-morning. I suspected that I knew exactly where the wallet was, as I knew that I had used it at Starbucks to purchase a delectable hot chocolate, and as it was no longer in my knitting bag, my purse, or the car, that was the only logical location for it. But I couldn't call the store to track it down, because my phone had broken--thus Bad Thing #2.

I was down in the basement, digging through a tote full of baby clothes, when I noticed that my leg was kind of sore underneath where I keep my cell phone in my pocket. I figured that I had probably banged my leg on something while moving the totes and stuck my hand in my pocket to rearrange the phone. This was when I realized that it hurt because MY PHONE WAS BURNING ME. I pulled it out and deposited it on the counter. It didn't get any cooler; if anything, it continued heating up. I turned it off to give it a chance to cool down. About an hour later, it had reached a normal temperature, but then it wouldn't turn back on. It was completely fried. We have no home phone, so I was basicallly incommunicado until Ben got home.

When he got home, I did call Starbucks and learn that they did, in fact, have my wallet. We went there and picked it up, with everything intact. I even got to talk to the employee who found it, who said that she picked it up almost as soon as I walked out. Phew. We then headed over to Verizon to attempt to get my phone fixed, but we arrived about five minutes after they closed. Grr.

This morning, we went back to Verizon. They replaced the phone battery, which got my phone to turn back on. It immediately began to heat up again, and about five minutes later, scalded the hand of the store employee, who told me that I would have to go back to the store where I purchased it (barely a month ago) and have them get me a new one under the warranty. Again, grr. Bryn and I then set off on some errands while Ben took the other kids home. This led to Bad Thing #3, the death of the van.

I blame this on Dora the Explorer. Shay cried and begged to watch Dora on the portable DVD player in the car while driving home from Verizon, and her nice daddy gave in. When arriving home, he let her continue to sit in the van and watch it while he got various household projects done. After watching all four episodes on the disc, she came inside. An hour after that, Ben says he happened past the garage door and heard Dora's theme music, realized that the DVD player was still on, and went out to shut it off.

Fast-forward to four hours later, after naps, when we had all three kids loaded in the car, ready to head out for haircuts. The car would not start. Not even give a sputter. Apparently Dora had drained the engine good. So good that even with jumper cables hooked up to the Jeep, it took a full hour and a half before the van acquired enough of a charge for the engine to come back to life. No haircuts were gotten, but we did manage to make it to the other Verizon before it closed.... only to find out that they had none of my phone model available and would have to have one FedExed to me. It will not arrive until Wednesday, and all of that could have been achieved by phone. Again, grrr.

I guess I should just be grateful that two of our three potential crises worked out just fine, and the third hopefully will as well by midweek. In the meantime, call Ben instead of me if you want to talk to our family. :)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thug Family

The other night, I was trying out various hat/head covering styles to protect my Mohs scar from sunlight this summer. At the point that I was experimenting with a bandana, Bryn walked in and became enamored with my "funny hat." This is what it evolved into.


What up. :)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

May in Review - Amy

I have to admit that I'm less pleased with my resolution progress in May than in previous months. I could offer up the excuse that it was an exceptionally busy month with three active kids and end-of-the-year everythings, but I'm still kind of disappointed in my lack of progress in certain areas. Here's the review:

1. Read the Bible.
I'm in line with my chronological reading plan. This puts me in 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and assorted Psalms and Proverbs.

2. Read at least one pleasure reading book per month.I finished up Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, which I actually liked even better the second time around (which is really saying something, since I loved it the first time). I also read the young adult book Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, which I didn't like very much while reading but did enjoy thinking about afterwards.

3. Join some kind of musical group and perform with them.I've got some sheet music but haven't actually played it yet. At this rate, I'll be old and gray before I achieve this goal.

4. Blog daily.Still on track here.

5. Get back down to (at least) my pre-pregnancy weight.
I lost 3 pounds this month. This puts me at 39 pounds less than my top pregnancy weight, 16 pounds less than my weight during last school year, and 9 pounds less than I was after my weight-loss efforts last summer, immediately before finding out I was pregnant. Not to sound incredibly greedy, but I was hoping for more. Apparently my post-baby weight-loss phase is done and I'm going to have to start working a lot harder to lose more. According to my BMI chart, I still need to lose 10 more to be at an ideal weight for my height, so that's my basic goal.

6. Get involved in some kind of theatre group and help out with at least one production.Still no progress here.

7. Teach Bryn to read.I bought Bryn a preschool activity book, and we've been working through it. She absolutely loves it. She learned to read the word "up" the other day and was soooo proud of herself. We're working on having her read the letters of words aloud often, and I also have her practice writing by copying words that I write out for her.

8. Potty-train Shay.Apparently Shay thinks that "going potty" means just sitting on it..... as in, I sit her on the potty, nothing comes out, and she still thinks that she has accomplished something. Hmmm..... I took her to the store yesterday and let her pick out her own first package of big girl underwear. We have VBX (which other churches call VBS) next week, so we won't try anything until after that, but at least we're moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.

9. Frame our portraits.
Finished in March. I've got some other framing projects in mind, but knowing how this has gone historically, I might have to just make them resolutions for next year.....

10. Finish up some of my murals.The two that I started last month are actually birthday presents for Bryn and Shay's friend Hannah. They would be completely done, if it weren't for 1) running out of brown paint and having to haul all 3 kids to the store to get more and 2) Bryn insisting on "helping" me with some of the painting. They should be done soon though. I've really been enjoying working on them. It's a nice breather during naptime, and I look forward to starting more when these are done.

11. Paint the kids' bathroom.Nada.

12. Get Shay into her big girl room.Achieved in January.

13. Breastfeed Liam.He's still on 100% breastmilk, although he's really not nursing at all. I'm down to pumping only 4 or 5 times a day, which really doesn't seem like that much of an imposition on my daily life after the 8 or 9 that I started at. He's a champ with the bottle and is growing like a weed, and I've got 189 bags of milk (5-6 oz each) frozen, so we clearly have enough to keep him fed for a good long while. So while this has really not worked out like I had originally hoped or planned, I'm still going to call it a success.

Here's hoping to actually achieve something on #s 3, 6, and 11 next month, as I'm getting really discouraged by having to say "no progress yet" about them every month. I'd also really like to have more measurable progress on 7, 8, and 10, as well as holding steady with good progress on the rest. So wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wordless Bryn

Suggested captions? What look was Bryn going for here?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Welcome to Summer

Summer is officially here, and we are loving it.

The past week has included a whole lot of nothing for us. It has been really great to just relax after the busy pace of the end of the school year. It's funny: when it's just me, I feel rejuvenated by busyness and take energy from my activities, but when I'm hauling three kids to their activities, it just wears me out. Possibly because they have no concept of time yet, thus no concept of being somewhere on time, thus lots of me forcing them out of whatever fun thing they're doing and into the car.

But I digress. All of that is in the past for us right now. We had basically nothing on the calendar last week, so we mostly played at home. We relaxed, watched some movies, played outside, caught up on some projects, and relaxed some more. Very, very nice. Here are a few of the sweet moments from the week: