Monday, December 31, 2012

Quotable Kids (December Edition)

My kids continue to crack me up.....

Bryn: "I don't think I'm going to be friends with her anymore."
Me: "Why?"
Bryn: "Because she keeps saying that reading is boring.  I think that's weird.  I LOVE to read!"

Note to Santa:
"Dear Santa, Will you please, oh please, bring me a nicer sister?"
(Not sure if she's asking Santa to make Shay nicer, or if she's just planning on turning her in for a newer model....)


Shay: "Mommy, today was the best day of school EVER!  You know why?  Because every single kid was there!"

Shay, preparing to go to the Girl Scout Mr. and Me Dance with Ben: "Mommy, I need to borrow some of your makeup."

One morning while I was in the shower, Shay cracked open the bathroom door and called in:
Shay: Are you Ben?
Me: Um, no, I'm Amy...
Shay: Oh, I'm looking for a man named Ben. (leaves)

Sometimes when Ben and I are watching a movie and Shay wants to come in, we caution her that it might be "too scary" for her.  Today, she put on "Barbie Fairytopia" and said, "Mommy, would you like to watch with me?  It's scary... like your grown-up movies... so you'd probably like it."

In her Sunday school class, Shay made a craft of a door with Jesus behind it, centering on the verse from Revelations 3:20 ("Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.")  After we got home from church, she told me very seriously, "Don't worry if someone comes to our door, Mom.  If you hear knocking, you should answer it, because it will probably be Jesus."


Liam has been really excited about camp songs and skits this month.... but he chooses some awkward times to show off his skills.  One night while we were out at dinner with friends, he recited the entire "Captain, Captain, Captain" skit at the table.  ("Captain, the ship is STINKING!" *laughs hysterically*)  Another night, he launched into the song "60s Beach Party" at full repeat-after-me volume in the middle of a crowded room.  To double the awkwardness, that song starts with a very loud "hey everybody!".... so of course everyone in the room turned to look at him.

Ben and I got semi-dressed up (meaning more than my usual jeans and t-shirt) to go to the camp staff Christmas party.  When we got home, Liam was in bed but still awake, so I went in to say goodnight.  He looked at me, then reached up his little hand and started stroking my hair and my earrings.  Then he asked, in a very skeptical voice, "What this about?"  Apparently Mommy doesn't go out much....

One day when I was taking a nap, Liam wanted to get something out of my room.  Apparently Ben told him that he had to "be sneaky" (meaning quiet) when he came in.  I woke up to the door banging open and Liam running in, loudly announcing, "I be sneaky!!"
(To be fair, Ben claims that there was no door banging and that Liam actually made that pronoucement rather softly--but it all seemed louder to me due to my sleepy state.)

Liam: "Daddy,  hold up your hands."
(Ben obeys)
Liam: "Now put up one finger."
(Ben obeys)
Liam: "Now two fingers.... now three.... now four... now them all."
(so Ben is now holding his hands in the air, with all fingers spread up)
Ben: "So you want me to 'hold my hands in the air and wave 'em around like I just don't care'?"
Liam: "Um... yes."

Liam really likes to give the "thumbs up" sign.... except that when he does it, he uses his pointer finger instead of his thumb.

Liam's favorite phrase this month is "I don't know."

He has also learned one of his sisters' phrases and uses it frequently when looking for things around the house: "You need to help me!  I have looked EVERYWHERE!"

This month, Liam is very proud to have learned to spell his own name.  "L-I-A-M spells Liam!!"

Unfortunately, he has also learned the word "hate" from his big sisters.  When I tell him "no" about anything, he looks at me sorrowfully and accuses, "You hate me."  Which is actually preferable to when he's having a tantrum and defiantly announces, "I hate you, Mommy!"  (I thought we would at least make it a few more years before the kids started yelling that!)

I'm also less than thrilled with Liam's fascination with poop jokes.  He'll sing a song and substitute in the word "poo" for the actual lyrics.  Or if I ask him what he wants to eat, he'll say, "A poopy diaper!"  All while laughing hysterically, of course.

On a funnier (to me) note, this conversation occured while we were visiting Ben's family for the holidays.  Ben was asleep on an air mattress and Liam was trying to get him up.
Liam: "Daddy, what this bed called?"
Ben: "A mattress."
Liam: "Oh.... Daddy, you need to get out of mattress!"


Still no words out of Aiden.... although he's getting much more vocal, so I imagine it won't be long before he's contributing some quotables of his own!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the MeyPfans!
L to R: Shay, Liam, Bryn, and Aiden

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sick, Party of Six

If it has seemed a bit quiet on our end lately, here's why.....

Sunday, December 9 - Bryn crawls into "Mommy and Daddy's big bed" and lays there shivering.  "I'm so cold," she whimpers.  Eventually she falls into a deep sleep, but I am woken up repeatedly by the feeling of her convulsing with chills next to me.

Monday, December 10 - Bryn wakes up with a fever of about 101.  Back to bed for her.  I spend the day pushing fluids and trying to keep her separated from the other kids.  She's lethargic and takes a long nap, but the fever breaks by afternoon, so I'm hopeful that she's feeling better.  I assume that she'll be headed to school the next day.

Tuesday, December 11 - Bryn's fever re-surges in the night.  No school for her again today.  I'm off to Kokomo for a doctor's appointment, but Ben holds the fort with the kids.  He gives Bryn some Tylenol, which she immediately throws up.  She takes a 5-hour nap.  At bedtime, Shay starts complaining of being cold.

Wednesday, December 12 - Bryn's fever is still high.  Shay is burning up.  Two girls called in sick to school.  Ben off to Indianapolis for a conference for the day.  Both girls glassy-eyed and staring into space for most of the day.  Naps all around.  Try to keep girls and boys separated.  By afternoon, I'm feeling feverish and dizzy.  Then I get a killer headache.  By the time Ben makes it back from Indy (7:30 pm), all kids are watching a movie and I'm laying on the couch with a cold washcloth on my forehead, burning up with fever.

Thursday, December 13 - Bryn is feverless, so Ben gets her off to school.  Shay and I lay in bed, fevered.  I got a runny nose and sore throat.  Shay started coughing.  Bryn made it through the day at school, but then came home and lay semi-conscious on the couch for the rest of the evening.  She started with a deep hacking cough too.  Shay's fever broke by mid-morning though, and she begged to be allowed to participate in her preschool's Christmas pagaent the next day (she was playing Mary).

Friday, December 14 - Miraculously, Shay made it through the night and morning with no fever, so she was permitted to go to school.  She played Mary in the pageant, and Aiden was Baby Jesus.  Ben's mom made the trip down to see the show.  Several people commented that Shay "wasn't quite herself" and Ben noticed her zone out several times during the show.  Meanwhile, Bryn's cough worsened, and she stayed home again.  Liam woke up with a fever of 101, crying pitifully.  He crawled into "Mommy and Daddy's big bed" and remained there for the rest of the day--except when I had to move him to the couch so I could change the sheets after he threw up on them (twice).  My fever continued.  Regretfully, Ben made the decision that we would have to bow out of our weekend plans to celebrate Christmas with his family at a hotel water park.  Kids cried miserably when informed of this decision.  After preschool, Shay crawled back into bed for a long nap.  By afternoon, her cough had worsened.  By bedtime, her fever had returned.

Saturday, December 15 - Fevers continue for me, Liam, and Shay.  Bryn is fever-free but still coughing.  Shay, Liam, and I are all now coughing as well.  Ben tries to sanitize the house and keep Aiden away from the rest of us.  Liam lays in bed, crying pitifully, "I be healthy... I be healthy, please..."

Sunday, December 16 - Liam's fever is better.  My fever is gone, but my head is so stuffed up that my equilibrium is off and I feel incredibly dizzy all day.  Shay and Liam's coughs get worse.  Bryn's gets better.  Aiden develops a deep, juicy cough.  At bedtime, Shay's fever kicks up again, rising to nearly 102.

Monday, December 17 - After a full week of illness, Bryn is recovered and goes to school.  Shay is fevered, her coughing is intense, and she throws up.  Liam's fever is lower and he's coughing too.  Aiden is also coughing.  My fever is gone, but I've singlehandledly used up three boxes of Kleenex and show no signs of improving in that area.  I call the doctor and learn that the best they can do for us scheduling-wise is to fit in the three kids for appointments (not me) with two separate doctors, two hours apart, during naptime.  I am desperate and agree.  Shay, Liam, Aiden, and I spend four hours at the doctor's office.  They hold up like champs, with minimal whining, though lots of laying on me and whimpering "I don't feel good."  Aiden starts with the fever, which is confirmed by the doctor.  She says his lungs are filled with gunk and prescribes a steroid, which she hopes will clear his lungs and lower the fever.  Liam and Shay see another doctor, who diagnoses with both with bronchitis and prescribes an antibiotic.  Liam's fever rises to 102.5 while at the office.

Tuesday, December 18 - It's currently 9:45 am.  I continue to blow through boxes of Kleenex but am fever-free.  Bryn is at school.  Shay and Liam are both still in bed, as both were up coughing frequently in the night.  Aiden's fever is low and the coughing doesn't seem to be any worse.  Ben, however, woke up dizzy, crawled back in bed, and moaned, "I think I'm sick."

Hoping to all be well by Christmas....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giving Thanks 12/9

December 3 - I am thankful for our entire Camp Tecumseh family!  We are so blessed to live and work at such an amazing place.  I am honored to know the staff here.  The work that they do every day makes the world a better place by changing kids' lives through awesome experiences.

December 4 - I am thankful for a day of just getting stuff done--because I need one of those to catch up every now and then!  I am also thankful for an unexpected free evening with my sweet family and a fun dinner with the Langs.

December 5 - I am thankful for my husband Ben.

December 6 - I am thankful for cuddles from my kids.

December 7 - I am thankful for an unexpected dinner with Mel and Christa.  It was exactly what I needed.  I'm so thankful to have been able to spend some time just laughing and talking with Christa before her upcoming move!  And I'm thankful that Mel is such a good friend that she can tell me (with love) to "snap out of it" and I can actually take that advice to heart.

December 8 - I am thankful that Ben is such an awesome dad and was able to spend some daddy/daughter time with Bryn and Shay at the Girl Scout dance tonight.  I'm also thankful for the mommy/son time that allowed me to have with Liam and Aiden.

December 9 - I'm thankful for how much fun my kids have playing with the other "camp kids"... even if some of those other kids are all grown up!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Quotable Kids (November Edition)

Bryn: Where is it that Dad went?  Comexico?  Cowabunga?
Me: Colorado.

This month, Bryn is very proud to have memorized her Girl Scout Promise.


Me (praying with the girls): ... and keep Papa Tom safe on his trip to the Netherlands...
Shay:  WHAT?!  Papa went to where Peter Pan lives?!

This month, Shay is very proud to have memorized both her Girl Scout Promise AND her preschool's Scissor Pledge (which basically states that she will be safe when using scissors).

Shay, on her birthday: Today is the best day ever!
Me: I'm so glad you liked it!
Shay: From now on, for the rest of my life, EVERY day is going to be the best day ever!

After spending the evening of Shay's birthday at Chuck E Cheese, we wrangled all the kids out to the car and Ben put Aiden's bucket carseat in its base. A moment later, Shay climbed in, looked at Aiden, and did a double take. "Has Aiden been in the car this whole time?" she asked. I guess she was too busy playing games inside to notice him!

Bryn was trying to play a word game with Shay, getting her to guess various words based on their sounds.
Bryn: It starts with the "th" sound....
Shay: Um... thug?


Liam has now started to use "I" properly instead of using the baby-talk version "me."  He also says his own name properly now... no more "Leemum."  That may be a nickname that sticks though!

Whenever he gets hurt, Liam cries and asks me to kiss his owie.  This month, he has started crying whenever someone hurts his feelings (usually one of his sisters telling him "no") and comes to me sobbing, "There's an owie!  You kiss it!"  Apparently these owies are on the inside...

Sometimes when Bryn gets really mad or upset, she tells us, "I want to be alone!" and then slams herself into her room.  Liam has seen her do this, and now when he gets upset, he sometimes declares, "I be alone!!"  Then he runs into his room and climbs up into his rocking chair.... where he sits, looking around and likely thinking, "This is no fun at all... why does Bryn do this??"

(I realize I'm making it sounds like Liam tantrums all the time by relating all these anecdotes, but they're all just so cute..... So one more!)
When he feels that his sisters are not being fair to him (which generally encompasses doing anything other than exactly what he wants), Liam will run through the house to find me, then lay his head against me and say "I want my mommy!"  He knows who's got his back....

He can also be rather possessive.  If he's come to me crying and one of the girls then comes and tries to explain what happened, he'll cling to me and yell, "Just MY Mommy!" 

Liam (asking to watch a movie): I watch Gumbo?
Ben: No, buddy, it's "Dumbo."  Say it with me.... duh.... duh.... Dumbo.
Liam:  Duh.... Duh.... Gumbo!

When Liam woke up one morning, he told us that he wasn't going to "let his grouchies out." Then his big sister got up, and after observing her, he informed us that his "grumpies jumped into Bryn." True story; she did seem to have a double dose of bad mood that morning.

Liam is very proud to have learned to spell his first word.... "B-O-O spells boo!"

His current favorite song is the camp hit, "Little Red Wagon."  He sings it over and over again, expecting full repeat-after-me participation from anyone in earshot.

At the end of Shay's birthday outing to Chuck E Cheese, Liam refused to leave on his own, so I picked him up.
Me: If I put you down, are you going to run?
Liam (struggling): I run away!!
Me: Okay, then I'm going to have to hold you.
Liam: No! Holding is a bad choice!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Giving Thanks 12/2

November may be over, but I'm still thankful....

November 26 - I am thankful for our friends Melanie and Mike, who love our kids and have been so willing to help us out with childcare.

November 27 - I am thankful for my sweet and spunky Shaylee Grace, who came into the world 5 years ago today.

November 28 - I am thankful for Shay's preschool (Ready Set Go), her wonderful teachers, and all the friends she has made there.

November 29 - I am thankful for our local library.  The staff is just wonderful.  They know all my kids by name and know their preferences well enough to be able to recommend books for each kid, completely unprompted.  Liam looks forward to library storytime every week, and the girls are always thrilled to see what I bring home from our weekly trip.  I'm also thankful for my friend Leah, who I always enjoy seeing during library storytime--and swapping book recommendations with!

November 30 - I am thankful for living at Camp Tecumseh and having the opportunity to pick up some hours working there.  Yesterday and today I got to work with the Quilt Camp at the Leadership Center and had a great time assisting with set-up and visiting with the ladies there.  I am thankful for Ben's flexibility in scheduling to make it possible for me to do things like this.  I am also thankful for my friend Christine, who spoils me.

December 1 - I am thankful for Mike, Mel, and Jamie, who gave up their Saturday afternoons to lead songs and skits at Shay's birthday party and showed all the kids a great time.  I am thankful for Andrea, Rob, Carrie, and Steve, our friends from Indy who made the drive up here to celebrate with us.  I am also thankful for all the local friends we've made in the last year and were able to come out to celebrate with us.

December 2 - I am thankful for the laughter and enthusiasm that come with facilitating a great group at the Leadership Center, and for the fun friends (Drew, Sarah, Grace, Neal, and Christine) that I got to do it with.  I am also thankful for a long nap after a busy week!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giving Thanks 11/25

Blessings abound....

November 19 - I'm thankful for... chaos?  It's been a crazy day, jumping right from one activity to the next. Really, I'm thankful for Ben, my partner and helpmate in all this craziness.

November 20 - I'm thankful for all the awesome parents of the girls in my Girl Scout troop.  They're so supportive and awesome about jumping in to help with activities.

November 21 - I'm thankful for fog--or at least, the fact that fog allowed my kids to have a day off school today!  That enabled us to get packed up and on the road to visit family sooner.  I'm thankful for safe travels and for being welcomed by family when we arrived.

November 22 - I am thankful to have (finally!) woken up this morning with a clean bandage on my foot--no more blood!  I'm thankful that this spot (removed by the dermatologist almost 2 weeks ago) looks like it's finally healing.  I am also thankful for a relaxing day spent with family, and also for getting to talk on the phone to my mom, dad, and sister.  Also a thankful shout-out to my friends Andrea and Carrie and the wonders of technology that allow us to be together even when we're hundreds of miles apart.  :)

November 23 - I'm thankful for family.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and visit today with Ben's side of the family.  It was great to be able to spend some relaxing time all together.  I especially loved getting to see the cousins play together, particularly how Shay dotes on Elizabeth!

November 24 - I'm thankful for a nice morning with Ben's parents before we all had to pack up and go our separate ways.  I'm thankful for safe travels (us on the drive back to Delphi, and Ben's dad on his flight to the Netherlands).  I'm also thankful for the fact that our kids slept on the ride home, so Ben and I actually got some uninterrupted conversation time--definitely a rarity with 4 young kids!

November 25 - Silly though it may sound, I'm thankful for my bed.  The mattress is just the right firmness, and it's wonderful to be able to burrow down in the sheets on a cold day, to rest, or to have some cuddle time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving Thanks 11/18

A continued list of the blessings in my life....

November 12-  I am thankful for safe travels--Ben arrived safely in Colorado for a YMCA fundraising conference.  I am also thankful for my sweet friend Mel, who is spending this whole week with me and the kids to help us out while Ben is gone.  She's incredible!

November 13- I am thankful for a birthday that just keeps on going (!!) and for family and friends that know me so well.  I am thankful for new books from my SIL Jill (can't wait to read them!) and DVDs from my mom.  Perfect gifts for a week when I happen to be home alone with the kids and need some relaxation!

November 14- I am thankful for the fact that both of my daughers love school and love to learn.

November 15- I am thankful for all the wonderful women of Camp Tecumseh who I got to visit with at Christa's shower tonight!  Tonight, I am particularly thankful for the chance to talk and get caught up with Jamie, Shannon, and Sara.  I am also thankful for the wonderful Mike, who watched my boys while the girls and I attended the shower!

Novmber 16- I am thankful for Friday!  It has been a long week around here--Ben has been gone, the kids have been cranky, and I have been struggling to walk after having a mole removed from the bottom of my foot last week (and then the wound not healing).  I am thankful that we've all made it through the week unscathed.  I am thankful for all of the amazing help that Mel has given me during the week, and for the chances we've had to talk and laugh.

November 17-  I am thankful for Ben's safe return.  I am thankful for how our kids' faces light up when they see him.  I am thankful for rest and for healing.

November 18- I am thankful for an evening out with my oldest daughter Bryn.  She's been in a mood lately (acting like a surly teenager already!), and I'm so glad that I got an evening with just the two of us to laugh and talk.  Feeling like I've got my sweet little girl back.  :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quotable Kids (October Edition)

I compiled these quotes in a post throughout the month of October, then mean to post it about two weeks ago.... oops!  Enjoy my kids' funnies:


Bryn: "I don't have time to get in trouble at school.  I'm too busy learning!"

Bryn, reading aloud and then explaining in her best teacher voice: "'Hooray!' That's what it says in the illustration.  Now on to the text...."

Bryn, in her anxious voice: "My teacher says I worry too much."


Shay: "Mommy, that's a brill-i-ant idea!"

And the drama continues.... after Shay spent much of last month dramatically declaring, "You ruined my life!", I explained to her that a life is a long time and that she was exaggerating.  Shortly after that discussion, she was mad that I wouldn't pull the car over while driving to retrieve a toy for her.
Shay: "You just ruined my life!"
Me: "Shay...."
Shay, sniffs: "Oh."  Then, just as dramatically, "You ruined my car ride!!"

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Shay consistently answers, "A mermaid!"


After hearing of Shay's career aspirations as a mermaid, Liam has decided that he wants to grow up to be..... a duck.

However, he also spent three full weeks insisting that he wanted to dress as a "dungeon" for Halloween.  When I tried to get him to explain what he meant, the only information that he could offer was that "dungeons are red."

Liam uses "me" in place of "I"--as in "me do that!" or "me like that!"

Liam hates to be called a "big boy."  He always insists, "no, me little!"

One day while reading, we counted a spider's eight legs in an illustration.  Then I asked him how many legs he has, and we counted two.  He then turned to Molly and said excitedly, "Molly, me has two legs!!"

One night Liam came in to my room just as I was finishing up pumping milk for Aiden.  He looked at me seriously, then patted me on the chest and said, "Good job pumpin', Mommy!"

After scribbling on a piece of paper, Liam showed it to me proudly and said, "Me an awesome artist!"  No problems with self-confidence here!

As a continuation of that....
While playing dress-up with the girls, Liam ended up wearing a crown and a beaded necklace.
Me: "What are you dressed as?"
Liam: "Me handsome!"
Me (laughing): "Yes, you sure are."
Liam: "Yes, me look awesome."

I love the adorable little phrases that develop at 2 years of age, either because kids think so logically or because they mis-hear things.  For example:
Liam calls his bedroom his "living room."  After all, he lives there, right?
And his toy chest, which we let him play with any time he wants, he calls.... "my toilet box."

While the kids were playing superheroes:
Me: "I love you, Super-Liam!"
Liam: "Me love you too, Mommy Super."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Giving Thanks 11/11

Over the last week, I've seen many friends posting daily Facebook updates with what they're thankful for that day.  I love this idea, but I don't think it needs to just be limited to the month of Thanksgiving.  So my plan is to post my "thanks" here every Sunday.  So for November so far....

November 1 - I am thankful for our wonderful local library, especially Miss Marsha, who makes Liam so excited about attending storytime every week.

November 2- I am thankful for Bryn's teachers, who are so fun and creative and gave her a great birthday celebration in class today.

November 3- I am thankful for my sweet Bryn Elizabeth, who is 7 years old today.  I am thankful for my wonderful husband Ben, who shares this parenting journey with me.  I am thankful for fun times that our family spends together.  And I am thankful for our friends Andrea and Rob and their kids Hannah and Hailey, who made the drive up from Indy to celebrate Bryn's birthday with us!

November 4- I am thankful for spending time with dear friends, including Andrea, Rob, Cathy, Kathleen, Leah, Kevin, and Katrina, all of whom brought their kids to celebrate Bryn's birthday with us at camp today.  I am also especially thankful for Mel, Mike, Meg, and Alex, camp counselors extraordinaire, who selflessly donate their afternoons to leading songs and skits at Bryn's birthday party.  Love you all!

November 5- I am thankful for good books and the time that I get to spend reading.

November 6- I am thankful for the right to vote.  I am thankful for my healthy baby boy Aiden, who had a great check-up today, and my husband Ben, who took him to it so I could watch the other kids.  I am also thankful for sweet little Molly (who I babysit), who is 1 year old today!

November 7- I am thankful for the 11 girls (and 3 sisters) who are in my Girl Scout troop.  They are all so sweet and so much fun to work with!

November 8- I am thankful for my wonderful husband, who watched the kids all day today so that I could take a day "off" to drive down to Indy and play with friends all day.  I am thankful for my friend Jill and her beautiful little girl Josie.  I am thankful for my friends Andrea and Carrie, for Chinese takeout, and for girl time (including watching "Glee"!).  I am thankful for Derek and Chris, for pollo a la crema and chips and queso, and for great conversations and laughter.  I am thankful for Book Club, for Amy, Cathy, Kristin, and Nicole, and for being able to pick up right where I left off with these friends.

November 9- I am thankful for Ben, who took care of the kids while I went to the dermatologist today.  I am so, so thankful that the doctor no longer thinks that the spot on my face is cause of concern.  I am thankful for our friends Jeff and Christine, and being able to share a delicious dinner and a night of great conversation with them.  And I am thankful for Ben (again!), who cleaned and bandaged my mole-removal wounds so that I wouldn't have to look at them.

November 10- I am thankful for a night out with my husband Ben, for actually having time to talk uninterrupted.  I am thankful for our camp family (Tom and Katrina, Luke and Jamie, Ben and Amie, Mary Anne, Keith, Drew, Scott, Ivan and Tara, and Joel and Renee), all of whom played with our kids tonight to enable Ben and I to have a night out.

November 11- I am thankful for my dad and my mom, who brought me into this world 34 years ago.  I am thankful for my sweet husband Ben, who gave me a wonderful birthday weekend, and our four amazing children, especially Shay, who has been showering me with love and attention all day long.  I am thankful for the many, many friends who have sent me birthday wishes today and made me feel so loved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

What's fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch?  We went this weekend and had a great time!



Friday, October 19, 2012

Working Girl

Last night, Ben had a Board meeting for camp, so I was alone with the kids.  We also had Shay's preschool Open House, and as we were driving, I was explaining to the kids that Ben couldn't come because he had to work.  This led to a discussion on the topic of "what is Mommy's job?"

Bryn astutely stated that Mommy's job is "taking care of our family."  When I asked her how often I do that, she laughed and said, "Every day!"

We then discussed how Mommy also babysits our friend Molly during the day, usually 4 or 5 days a week.

Plus Mommy has worked with Retreats groups at camp every Saturday and Sunday this fall.

And for the last couple of weeks, Mommy has also been earning some additional income by grading SAT essays online, so every "spare" minute has been spent in front of the computer.

"Wow," said Bryn. "Mommy, you work a LOT."

Then, from the back seat, Shay piped up: "Mommy, you have another job that you didn't say!"

And what would that be, Shay?

"You are always making milk for Aiden!"

True story, little girl.  That alone is pretty much a full-time gig.

I couldn't stop laughing.  Good to know I'm appreciated!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Twos-Day: Grandpa's Boys

This past weekend, we were thrilled to get a visit (albeit brief) from my dad and stepmom.  They were just here for the afternoon and dinner on Friday, but it was so good to see them and get a chance to catch up face-to-face.
As usual, Diane had her camera in hand and ended up with some adorable shots.  When looking at this picture, I was really struck by how much the boys look alike:
I love this picture of Aiden and my dad from Friday's visit....

And it inspired me to dig back and find this one, of my dad and Liam at 3 months (Aiden's age now):

Yeah, I'd say there's a resemblance.  :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The "Have Done" List

This morning I sat at my kitchen table, reading over my "to do" list for the week and sighing in frustration.  This week's list contains many of the same items that remained undone last week.... and the week before.  I sat there thinking, "Why can't I ever get anything done?  None of these things are very hard or would take very much time.  Why don't I ever seem to have time to do them?"  You feel me, SAHMs?

Then I started thinking about all the things I had already done this morning--things that I do every day, and things that just crop up and need to be done but never make it onto The List.  So today, I decided, instead of focusing on my To Do List, I'm going to create a Have Done List--writing down all the things I've actually accomplished.  I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised by my accomplishments at the end of the day.  :)

So here's the list, which I updated as the day went on (before posting):
* 6:00--good morning!
* pump milk for Aiden
* shower, get dressed and ready
* get Bryn on the bus
* sort through baby clothes in garage to give some to my friend Jill
* feed Aiden
* empty dishwasher and put away dishes
* reload dishwasher
* tidy living room
* Molly arrives; feed her breakfast
* close out our family's September budget
* update checkbook
* update family calendar for October and November
* yet more dishes
* get Shay up, dressed, and breakfast-ed
* talk on the phone to my friend Jamie; plan playdate for next week
* get Liam up, dressed, and breakfast-ed
* start load of laundry
* pump more milk for Aiden
* check and respond to a few emails
* start this blog post
* get Aiden changed and dressed (including cleaning him up from a poopy blowout--ew)
* pack diaper bag of food and diapers; load 4 kids (Shay, Liam, Molly, Aiden) into car
* drive kids to Lafayette to meet Jill for lunch; commence with singing of children's songs, answering of endless "why?" questions, and taming of tantrums while in the car
* while catching up with friend, feed lunch to myself and 4 kids (real food for me, Shay, and Liam, baby food for Molly, and bottles for Aiden)
* change 3 diapers and supervise Shay pottying, all in public restroom
* drive cranky, overtired kids home, complete with song-and-dance routine to keep them from falling asleep in the car
* put Molly and Liam down for naps
* feed Aiden another bottle
* attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to put Shay and Aiden down for naps
* pump more milk for Aiden
* quick email check; catch up on my friend Bobby's blog
* Molly cries and wakes up; feed her a bottle and put her back down
* Shay declares she's "not tired" and gets up to play = goodbye to any personal time for the day
* make bed and tidy master bedroom
* do a sweep of the house for rogue dirty dishes (and be grossed out by how many I find)
* empty trash cans
* empty dishwasher (again)
* reload dishwasher (again)
* get kids up from naps
* load littles into the car to go and get Bryn from the bus stop
* after-school snacks for all
* go through Bryn's school papers with her; supervise homework
* feed Aiden
* clean boys' room
* put away 2 loads of laundry
* cook and serve dinner
* clean up from dinner (yes, that means more dishes)
* tidy the living room
* put away 2 more loads of laundry
* start a new load of laundry in the washer
* clean up Liam's toy cars for at least the 5th time today
* pump more milk for Aiden
* check email; catch up on reading Amy, Sarah, Rachel, Suellen, Cathy, and Melissa's blogs; update this blog

What's still ahead: soothing more tantrums (2/4 are tantruming right now), reading stories, and getting the kids to bed.

And this list mostly only includes the "chores" or "things I got done" today.... I didn't make note of reading a chapter in my book, playing cars with Liam, cuddling the kids, having a princess music jam with Shay, watching a movie with the kids, getting to hear about Jill's soon-to-be-born little girl, chatting with Christine and Jeff, laughing at Ben's jokes, or most of the other fun, enjoyable things that peppered my day.

So yeah, looking back over The List, it seems that I actually did do a lot of stuff today.  And you know what the kicker is?  Only two of the things on this "Have Done" list were on my "To Do" list.  No wonder I never get to cross anything off!!

Friends, if like me, you're feeling discouraged with your lack of "getting things done," I encourage you to make your own "Have Done" list.  It sure made me realize how much I cram into every day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quotable Shay

Lately Shay has come out with some definite gems.  These should be good for some laughs:

Shay: "Can we watch 'Dumbo'?"
Liam: "Gumbo the scary elephant?"
Shay: "No... Dumbo is a WONDERFUL elephant!"

Shay: "Is XX* old?"
Me: "Um, I don't think so.... But how old to you think someone has to be to be 'old'?"
Shay: "Fifteen."
Me: "Uh, yeah, then pretty much everyone you know is 'old'!"
* name omitted to protect the feelings of the young!

Shay (singing): "Oh Show-Anna, don't you cry for me!  Cuz I'm going to Pajama with my Band-Aid on my knee!"

Me: "Shay, it's time for naps."
Shay: "NO!  I don't want to sleep!  You just RUINED my LIFE!"
(runs into bedroom and slams door)

One night while the girls were laying in bed with me, I got frustrated because they kept talking and no one was going to sleep.  I threatened, "The next person to talk is going to sleep in her own bed!"  A moment passed, and then Shay started singing....  Drats, outwitted again!

Speaking of being outwitted....
Me: "You need to obey and be a good example for your little brother."
Shay: "But Liam already knows how to obey!"
Me: "Oh really?  And where did he learn that?"
Shay: "From Bryn!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Keeping Busy

So.  Hi there.  How ya doin'?  Long time, no see.  My fault.  I've been pretty remiss with the family updates, partiallly because I've been posting so much over at Blatant Bibliophilia, but mostly just because we've been so stinking busy lately.  Here's the highlight reel:

Soccer - Both Bryn and Shay are on soccer teams this fall.  They practice every Monday night and have games every Saturday.  We got super-lucky in that both of their teams are being coached by the same guy (who just happens to be the dad of Bryn's best school friend), so they get to practice together.  Bryn actually seems to be somewhat getting the hang of it.  Shay begged to play this year (Bryn played 2 years ago in Indy, when Shay was too little, and apparently Shay hasn't forgotten that), but games are just as likely to include drive-by huggings as actual connections with the ball.  Both girls are having a great time though!
 Reading - and lots of it!  In addition to my personal goal of a book a week, we've been doing lots of reading with the kids.  Bryn has just taken off with her reading this fall, and I'm constantly surprised by her skills.  She easily pronounces words that I can't remember her ever having seen before, and she reads aloud with actual feeling and excitement, infusing emotion into the words.  That's my girl!!  Bryn has reading homework every night from her class, so Shay and Liam love listening to Bryn read to them when she gets home afternoon.

 Growing - It's hard to believe that our baby Aiden is 3 months old!  He's continuing to grow at an alarming rate.  As our last kid, he's supposed to stay little for a long time, right?!  A couple of weeks ago, we had to take him entirely out of 0-3 month clothes and move him into 3-6 month.  In the picture above, he's actually wearing some of Liam's 2T pajamas.... obviously still to big on him, but when sleep-deprived Daddy realized that he had dressed the baby in the wrong boy's clothes, we were still kind of shocked at how not-way-too-big they were.

Visits to Indianapolis - Two weekends ago, our family went down to Indy for the weekend.  We stayed with some good friends (Andrea, Rob, and kids) and got to have a Game Night to visit with many other friends (Carrie, Steve, Mike, Kathleen, Alicia, Suellen, and kids).  I also got to attend a baby shower for my friend Jill and see many other friends there.  As if all that wasn't enough, Ben and I took the kids to the Children's Museum that Sunday.  It was so fun to see Liam actually exploring the exhibits--he was just a baby in a bucket seat the last time he was there!  Then I headed back to Indy a mere two days later for a doctor's appointment (leaving the kids at home with a sitter), and added some fun to the trip by having lunch with my friends Cathy and Amy.

School - Both Bryn and Shay are full-steam-ahead with school.  After a bit of a rocky start to the year, Bryn is loving her class and her teacher.  Shay is in her second year at Ready Set Go preschool and simply loves it.  I'm volunteering twice a month at Shay's school and am on the PTO at Bryn's school, and it's very neat to be able to see all the cool things happening both places.  Above, you can see Shay and some of her classmates on "yellow day."

Cleaning - In addition to the daily messes created by the 5 kids in my house (my own 4 plus Molly, who I babysit), we've done some epic cleaning in our garage.  We hosted a four-family garage sale here last weekend.  We sold a TON of stuff, including (sniff sniff!) all the clothes that are too small for our reason to hang on to them anymore, since Aiden is our last.  Now I need to get out there and sort through the remains--I dropped a bunch off at Goodwill last night, but I still have other things to sort out for various friends.

Hope things are going well with all of you too!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

All About Shay

Shay's homework for preschool this week was completing an "All About Me" worksheet (with my help, of course).  Her answers were so cute that I thought I'd share!  Prompt is bold, her answers are regular, and my color commentary is italicized.  :)

1. My favorite color is.... purple.

2. My favorite book is.... Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?
(She has the entire thing memorized.)

3. My favorite television program is.... Backyardigans.
(Which she has never seen on acutal television.  She is basing this on DVDs she has checked out at the library.  I'm great by that.)

4. My favorite sport is.... soccer.
(She is playing on a 4-5 year old team this fall, and oh my goodness, it's so cute!)

5. When I grow up, I want to be.... a mermaid.
(Good luck, sweetie.)

6. I'm special because.... I'm Mommy's sunshine.

7. The place I'd most like to visit is.... the library.
(Clearly, she is my child!  Although this answer might have been inspired by the fact that we're going there in about an hour for a storytime.)

8. My favorite food is.... chicken.
(Although only in the format of Tyson Chicken Fries.  She turns her nose up at anything less processed.  Ugh.)

9. One thing I really want to learn is.... everything!
(That's my girl!)

10. The best thing about me is.... that I like to cuddle Mommy at night.
(Daddy may disagree with this being her best trait.... He has a hard time finding a spot in his own bed after Shay spreads out all her stuffed animals and blankies!)

11. The people in my family are.... Mommy, Bryn, me, Daddy, Liam, and Aiden.

12. My best friend is.... Parker.
(Who she has not seen since March.  Clearly I need to get on this!)

13. The person I most admire is.... my big sister Bryn.
(But only when I'm not screaming at her or hitting her...)

14. My favorite part of school is.... dot paint.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Twos-Day: Sleepy Baby Boys

Apparently there's a real "sleepy" theme to my Twos-Days lately..... perhaps because I'm awfully tired myself, what with getting up in the night with Aiden and then getting up early in the morning to send Bryn off to school.  Here are pictures of my two sweet sleepy boys, each around 1 month old:



My boys look a bit alike, yes?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Of Two Minds

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my intention to start writing more.  Since then, I’ve been thinking more deliberately about what I’m putting out there on the blog.  Over the past year, I’ve started writing and sharing book reviews.  As a former English teacher and future librarian, reading is obviously a huge passion of mine.

But when I started this blog back in 2006, my intent was to share news about our growing family and our daily lives with friends and family, near and far.  And the more that I think about it from a writer’s point of view, the more I think that this blog has become “of two minds.”  Those of you who read it for the book reviews may not care about my day-to-day family life, and those of you who come seeking pictures of my kids may not care about young adult literature.

During our conversation about writing, my BFF Melissa told me that she thought my blog was the perfect way to break into “The Biz,” meaning the world of novels, writing, and literary talk.  When I pointed out that no one in The Biz would care to read about my kids (it would be kind of creepy if they did!), she said that she thought that I’d eventually naturally progress to a point where I would split the blog into two separate sites.  Melissa is a very smart lady, so I’ve decided that’s what I need to do.

So, if you’re interested in reading updates on my personal life and sweet kiddos, as well as other random ramblings, stay right here at Neither Here Nor There.  If you’re a booklover that wants to get ideas for your next read, head on over to Blatant Bibliophilia.  I’ve reposted all of my reviews there and will continue to post new ones as I read.  If you are interested in both, then stop by and see me often at both sites.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: Summer Memories

The summer of 2012 has certainly been one to remember!  In no particular order, here are 13 Things to Never Forget:

1. June 18--the birth of Aiden Thomas.  Our sweet, perfect little boy, evening the odds in our family, bringing the boys' total up to match the girls'.  He certainly put me through the ringer while he was still inside me--inspiring migraines, varicose veins, and bedrest--before arriving and weighing in at 9 pounds 1 ounce.  Big siblings Bryn, Shay, and Liam were incredibly excited for him to arrive and have doted on him ever since Day 1.

 2. Mrs. Rosy--our own personal Mary Poppins.  I simply could not have made it through the final weeks of my pregnancy or the early weeks of having 4 kids if it were not for the wonderful Larinda.  She came over every day to babysit my kids.  She brought boxes of toys from her house for them play with, did art projects, changed a million diapers, and made it all look easy.  I stand in awe of her.

3. July 7--the wedding of Kristin and Brian.  My sweet sister got married this July, and Bryn, Shay, Liam, and I were all in the ceremony.  We spent a wonderful four days in Peoria celebrating with my extended family.  We simply could not be happier for Kristin and Brian!

4. Bryn's acting career continued this summer.  She was in her third play, "James and the Giant Peach," playing the multiple roles of a seagull, a cloud fairy, and a little girl.  She absolutely loved the entire experience!

 5. Visits from friends.  We were fortunate enough to have several good friends make the trek up to visit us this summer.  We got to see both the Graunkes and the Willlmans, and our kids had a blast playing together.  The prizewinners, though, are the Elstros--who came and stayed with us for an entire week!  Bryn and Hannah are BFF, as are Shay and Hailey, and all the kids had so much fun playing all week.  I had a great time "playing" with Andrea as well, as we got caught up on all of those things that we never have time to talk about on the phone.  :)  Andrea even took nighttime baby duty for the week, so in spite of having a house full of 6 kids for the week, I was better rested at the end than the beginning!

6. On a similar note, Bryn's week at Day Camp also makes the list.   Hannah went to Day Camp with her this year (thus the Elstros' week-long visit), and they both had so much fun that they came home utterly exhausted every day.  Bryn adored their counselors and is already talking about how she can't wait for next summer.

7. Kata Monster.  Kata (her last name) was a counselor at Camp Tecumseh this summer, as she has been for several years.  This summer, she started playing "monster" with Liam.  This just happens to be his favorite game, and he requested her pretty much constantly.  He would get up in the morning and tell me, "I go to camp.  I see my Kata Monster.  She get me!!"  And then he would proceed to run for the front door, squealing in delight and anticipation of seeing his playmate.

8. Dave's last summer at camp.  Dave has worked at Tecumseh for 40 summers, and he's been the Executive Director since before I was even a camper here.  For so many people, he is the "face" of Camp T.  He has helped to create camp as it is today, and he is responsible for hiring Ben and bringing our family "home."  We can never even begin to repay him for all he has done for our family and for camp.

9. Bryn and Shay's visit to Nana's house.  Our girls went up to Michigan and spent five days with Ben's parents.  This marked the first time since Bryn was born that I've been outnumbered by the boys in my household!  They loved their visit.  Highlights included swimming in the lake all day, playing with her dog, and getting all-around spoiled.  :)

10. Liam and his friend Alex.  Alex has been a counselor at Tecumseh for 3 summers now.  When he and Liam met last summer, they immediately became fast friends.  In fact, when Liam first learned the word "friend" last summer, he used it as synonymous with "Alex."  Alex came and visited Liam whenever he was in the area this year.  This summer, whenever we went to camp, Liam would request: "I go to dining hall.  I see Alex!"  We are so blessed to have so many wonderful counselors around to love on our kids!

11. July 31--the arrival of baby Hattie.  My adorable little niece, Harriet Lakshmi Pfanschmidt, was born at the end of July to my brother Brian and my sister-in-law Lakshmi.  While I have not yet met her in person (I can't wait!), I am thrilled to be an aunt and show off her picture frequently.

12. In other family news, my stepsister Lindsay departed to spend a full year working as a nanny for a family in New Zealand.  I am incredibly jealous of  all the breathtaking views and exciting adventures that she's getting to experience!  I love reading her blog to hear about all that she's doing.

13. Library programs.  (The librarian in me just couldn't leave this off the list!)  The kids and I spent the majority of our summer "playing" at the library.  Bryn, Shay, and Liam all enjoyed the weekly story hour, and Bryn participated in an American Girl club and some other special events as well.  All 3 of the kids were incredibly determined to earn all 6 prizes offered in the summer reading program, and we diligently marked off their reading logs every day.  In the end, they succeeded, finishing the highest challenge offered.  Way to go, my little bookworms!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day Sweetness

Today marked the first day of the school year for us.  Every year on this day, I wake up with that scene from "Finding Nemo" in mind--"First day of school! First day of school!"  For the last three years, the start of school has been a little bittersweet for me, sending the kids off but not heading back to teach.  My girls were both incredibly excited for school to start this year--must get that from me!  ;)

Here's big girl Bryn, ready to head off to first grade:

And here's sweet Shay, ready for her last year of preschool:

And a sweet sister moment:

Because our district has an early childhood center for kindergarten, Bryn actually started a new school this morning for first grade (the regular elementary school).  Shay, on the other hand, is at the same preschool (in the same classroom and with the same kids) as last year--which is a relief for me, as it is the third preschool she has attended.

Last night, I did the math on this whole "new school" thing.  Since kids in our district move to new schools in kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade, and ninth grade..... and since I have four kids..... each two years apart...... we will have at least one child starting at a new (to them) school every year for FOURTEEN YEARS.  Wowsers.  Apparently we'll be old pros at those "first day jitters" by the time that process is done!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Twos-Day: Sleepy Daddy

It's been a long time since I've done a Twos-Day photo comparison, but I'm really trying to get better about blogging, so here goes!

My sweet husband is an incredibly deep sleeper.  He can snooze through pretty much anything (including both full-on conversations and taking a shower).  I am wildly envious of this skill.  Over our years of parenthood, he has had some good naps with our kids.  Here he is with our oldest and youngest:
First-time Dad experiencing sleep deprivation; passes out in our bed with baby Bryn in his arms.

Fourth-time Daddy, still exhausted, catches a snooze on the couch with baby Aiden.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Thursday Thirteen: Mishaps

It's been a while since I've done a Thursday Thirteen, but I thought I'd get back in the game this week...

Okay, so have you ever had one of those days where everything just seems to go slightly wrong?  I had one of those yesterday.  Everything turned out just a little differently than I had planned.  A series of mishaps, if you will.  Some were funny and some were frustrating; all are listed here for your perusal:

1. Shay and I started the morning with an appointment at her preschool.  Her teacher wants to meet with each of the kids before the school year starts, to review where they stand with basic skills and to explain to them what will be different than last year.  Shay did excellently with reviewing her numbers, letters, shapes, and colors.  But when Miss Denise asked her what her last name was, Shay just looked at her blankly.  Prompting her, Miss Denise said, "So your name is Shay....."  Hesitantly, she responded, "Lee?"  (Because her full first name is Shaylee.)  We laughed a little, and I said, "No, your name is Shaylee What?"  Her eyes lit up and she responded "Grace!" (her middle name).  Hmm, apparently we need to work on this....

2. This week at camp, I have been honored with the title of Buffalo Queen.  This means that the lodge of the oldest boys (Buffalo Lodge, home to 4 cabins of 14-15 year old boys) has named me their queen for the week (they pick a different one every week).  It's definitely a high honor, and I've been showering my subjects with treats.  On Tuesday night, I baked 5 dozen cupcakes.  The kids and I took them to camp for lunch on Wednesday.  I figured that I would frost them all in the dining hall to avoid mess while transporting them.  What I did not count on was that Bryn, Shay, and Liam ALL insisted on helping me frost them.  By the time the campers arrived in the dining hall, all 3 kids were COVERED in chocolate icing.

3. Wednesday was also our last day this summer with our wonderful babysitter, Miss Rosy.  I had been planning to use the day to run errands and get done a long list of things.  Due to the preschool appointment and my duties as Buffalo Queen, though, I didn't actually make it out the door on errands until 2:00.  So much for a good, productive day!

4. My first stop was the post office.  Unfortunately, the town of Delphi is currently having a carnival--which is set up on the town square.  So I had to park and hoof it over to the post office, precariously balancing all 100+ of Aiden's birth announcements and several packages.  I'm sure I looked ridiculous trying to juggle all that, but thankfully, I managed to get it all there without dropping anything.

5. Next stop: the dry cleaner's, to drop off the outfits that my entire family wore to my sister's wedding (now over a month ago... so I'm a little behind on getting stuff done!).  The only person in there was a teenage girl, who told me that she didn't know how much it would cost and didn't know when I could expect my stuff back, because she was just filling in for her mom.  She took my number and told me that someone would call to let me know those things.  It's now been over a day and I haven't heard anything.  I really hope we manage to get our clothes back!

6. Then I drove the half hour into Lafayette to do errands.  While driving, my gas light came on.  My sweet sister gave me a gift card for Shell gas as a gift for being in her wedding, and while there is no Shell in Delphi, I figured that filling up in Lafayette would be a good chance to use it.  However, after much needless driving around (as directed by my iPhone), I learned that of the two Shell stations in Lafayette, one has recently closed and the other was sold to another chain.  So I couldn't use my gift card, and by the time I struck out at the second station, I was pretty much running on fumes.  Thus an expensive fill-up at a non-Shell station.

7. I then proceeded to Once Upon a Child in an effort to sell the five huge boxes of baby stuff that I've sorted out of our stash.  After lugging them all into the store, though, I learned that their wait time was going to be 3 hours.... wayyyy too long for me to stay in town.  So then I got to lug it all back out to the car and return home, defeated.

8. As a result of #6 and #7, my plan to sit at the Lafayette library and catch up on computer work also never materialized.  So I returned home around 5:00, disgruntled at having achieved so little on my last free day.

9. So I started in on making 3 batches of puppy chow for Thursday's treat for the Buffalo Brothers.... only to discover that we only had about 2 spoonfuls of powdered sugar.  This necessitated a trip back into Delphi to hit the grocery store.

10.  Due to all of this, our family was late for dinner at camp, and thus had to scarf our tacos at top speed... resulting in nasty stomachache later.

11. So then I headed over to the pool to swim laps (as part of my attempt at getting back in shape after my months of bedrest).  I had just gotten changed into my swimsuit and entered the pool area.... when 8 cabins of kids showed up to use the pool.  Defeated, I headed back to my car without getting in the pool.

12. But it seemed that I would have struck out at the pool anyway, because as I was driving home, one of our directors got on the camp radio and told everyone to get out of the pool because there was lighting and thunder.

13. Finally home, finished up chores, and ready for bed.  First Bryn pitched a massive fit about wanted to be with Mommy, so she ended up sleeping with me.  Right after I finally fell asleep, Shay came in and started crying and said she was scared to sleep in their room alone.  So I got two bunkmates last night.  (This probably worked out better for me than Ben, who decided that he didn't want risk their hysterics if he moved them, so he slept alone in their room all night.)

All in all, a long day!  Now just two days left of summer camp.... where has this summer gone?!?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday: "The Kill Order"

I recently discovered a new blog, Breaking the Spine, that hosts a weekly event called "Waiting on" Wednesday.  Hundreds of book-lovers chime in about what upcoming releases they can't wait to get their hands on.  The librarian in me LOVES seeing so many people get excited about books, and my bibliophile tendencies have me eagerly perusing and scribbling down lists of future reads.  I've got a contribution this week, so I thought I'd start playing along.

This week I am awaiting the release of James Dashner's The Kill Order.  It's the prequel to his Maze Runner trilogy, which I read last year.  I have less than a week to wait, as it will be released on August 14.

Here's the Goodreads summary of what we have to look forward to:

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

Personally, I'm looking forward to it because the trilogy left me with SO MANY unanswered questions.  So many, in fact, that I came away from The Death Cure (the third book in the trilogy) feeling incredibly frustrated.  So I've been looking forward to the publication of this prequel, in hopes that it will answer some of those many lingering questions.  However, the Maze Runner trilogy focused on characters Thomas and Teresa and their friends, so after reading this review, I'm not sure if I'm ready to enter the world of the yet-unknown Mark and Trina.  I'm not sure if a story about other characters can answer my most nagging questions, namely: "Did Thomas ever truly believe in the cause of WICKED?" and "How were these kids selected for the Maze?  Did they know what was going to happen to them?"  I'm hoping that at the bare minimum, The Kill Order will explain what on exactly the Creators were looking for in terms of the "patterns" that they frequently referenced but never actually explained in the other books.

So after thinking about all of this, I read this Kirkus Review from the blogger who brings us Bookshelves of Doom.  And I have to say that the review was exactly in line with my frustrations regarding the Maze Runner trilogy, including the spell-it-out but don't-inspire-any-emotion nature of James Dashner's prose.  So now I'm not quite as excited to pick up The Kill Order, as both the summary and the review indicate that it will continue with many of the frustrations I had with the rest of the trilogy, without answering many of my lingering questions.  That being said, I'll still be rushing to the library next week to pick it up, as I seem to be physically unable to leave a series unfinished.  :)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Baby Mammoths at Play

I've got an awful lot of catching up to do as far as posting pictures goes.  Two weeks ago, Bryn got to be a camper at Tecumseh Day Camp.  She had been anxiously waiting for that week for the entire summer, and the experience did not disappoint.  She was incredibly excited to be able to share her favorite week of the summer with her BFF Hannah, who came up from Indy for the week.  We had a full house, with my friend Andrea sleeping on our couch all week, while Hannah and little sister Hailey bunked with our girls.  Having our friends here for the entire week was wonderfully, fantastically fun.  Shay didn't even complain about not being old enough to go to Day Camp because she was so excited to spend an entire week with Hailey!  (more photos on that in another post)

Here, let me share some of the cuteness from Bryn and Hannah's week at DC.  The theme for the week was "Tecumsehsaurus," and their trail group was named the "Baby Mammoths."

Here are Bryn and Hannah at drop-off on the first day:

Here they are showing off their muscles at the Parent Night on Thursday.  Clearly, the week of activity has made them very buff.

This picture cracks me up!  No idea what they were trying to do here:

Here's Bryn with their counselor Kaela:

And with their other counselor Jules:

Friends, as soon as your kids turn 5 years old, I highly recommend sending them to Tecumseh Day Camp.  Even though we live at camp and do most of the activities year-round, Bryn says that Day Camp is her very favorite week of every summer.  She talked about last summer's counselors for the entire year, and she adored this summer's as well.  The programming is excellent, and I can attest to the high quality of the staff.  Plus, if you send your kids, it's a good chance to visit us!  :)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Girls' Day Out

Yesterday, I had a neurologist appointment in Indianapolis, so I decided to take Bryn and Shay down with me and make a day of it.  After the appointment, we headed out to the Childrens Museum for an afternoon of fun.  It was great to be able to spend some time with just my "big kids," especially with school starting soon.  After the Museum, we met up with some friends for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.  All told, my girls were completely wiped by the time we got home and fell asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow.  Love my sweet girls!

 Here's Bryn and Shay enjoying a ride on the carousal, which was the first thing they wanted to do upon arriving.

 Lately Liam has been a big fan of crocodiles, and he loves to yell, "Eek! Crocodile eat me!"  So when the girls and I came across this guy in the Egypt exhibit, we just had to take a picture to show Liam when we got home.

We'd only done the Egypt exhibit once before, because the kids were too little to appreciate it when we lived in Indy.  But the girls absolutely loved it this time, and I must admit that it had me itching to grab my passport, hop a plane, and see the world! 

Here's Shay, enjoying the new Hot Wheels exhibit. 

And here's Bryn, being an archaeologist in the Treasures of the Earth exhibit.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Book #36 of 2012: "Send Me Down A Miracle" by Han Nolan

Back in January, I read Han Nolan's Pregnant Pause and gave it a rave review.  It was the first book I'd read by her, and I've been meaning to read more by her ever since.  I just finished her Send Me Down A Miracle, which was named a National Book Award Finalist.  However, I came away disappointed.

Fourteen-year-old Charity Pittman is the daughter of a fiery Southern preacher in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else's business.  She seems destined to follow in his footsteps until eccentric artist Adrienne Dabney comes to town.  Adrienne locks herself in her old, boarded-up house for an entire month, apparently subsisting solely on fruit juice, as a "sensory deprivation project," which she believes will help her in the creation of her art.  Adrienne describes herself as "not a God person," but during the course of that month, she has three visions--all of Jesus sitting in a chair in her living room.

When she emerges from her sensory deprivation and tells the townspeople about her visions, the entire town just goes nuts.  Everyone wants to sit and worship at her "Jesus chair."  The townspeople are convinced that it can solve all their problems.  Charity's father, the reverand, explodes with anger and preaches endless fire-and-brimstone sermons about how the townspeople have gone astray in choosing to worship a "graven image."  Meanwhile, Charity is torn between her duty to her father, her fascination with Adrienne, and trying to make sense of her faith.

Several reviewers described this book as "humorous," and while the characters were definitely quirky, I didn't find it to be funny.  Charity's father was incredibly angry for the entire book, and I didn't really care for Charity's voice.  (That being said, kudos to Han Nolan for her talent in developing her narrator's voices--this one was quite different from Elly in Pregnant Pause, and both were very well-done.)  The "quirky" townspeople just made me sad--like Mad Joe, whose twin daughters were dying of sickle cell anemia, or Charity's friend Sharalee, whose mother's obsession with losing weight is causing Sharalee to starve herself (or foray into bulimia, which the book is rather unclear on).  Then there's Boo, a little boy who has some unnamed disease that causes him to remain completely hairless and cold even in the heat of the Southern summer.  And absent from the story is Charity's mother, who departed for a trip to "visit family" before the novel began--but the reader can assume that she has actually abandoned her children in an effort to get away from her incredibly overbearing and angry husband.  The characters put their faith in the "Jesus chair" to help them with all of these problems, and the novel progresses to a tragic end.

The takeaway from the book is supposed to be Charity's contemplations of faith--does God live in the Bible, in a chair, or in the human heart?  While I did enjoy her consideration and conclusions, I found both her father and the townspeople to be such misguided caricatures that I couldn't really enjoy either. 

In short, I was still impressed with Han Nolan's writing, but I didn't enjoy this story.  Before finishing it, though, I did check out another of her books from my local library, so I'll give her another try and let you know what I think.  Happy reading, everyone!

* For a review that I enjoyed of Send Me Down a Miracle, you can check out Bookshelves of Doom here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I was 11 when I first came to Camp Tecumseh.  My only previous camp experience was a few days of Girl Scout camp the previous summer.  At Girl Scout camp, we slept on raised wooden platforms covered by tent flaps.  There were daddy-long-legs everywhere.  On our first night there, another girl in my cabin wet her bed and then woke me up to ask if she could sleep with me.  It was ridiculously hot and there was a burn ban, so we couldn't even have a campfire.  I didn't like the food, so I survived solely on peanut butter for the duration of our stay.  I came away from that experience thinking that camp was awful.

So the next year, when my parents decided to send me for a week at Camp Tecumseh on our neighbors' recommendation, I was prepared for the worst.  But what I found at Tecumseh changed my life forever.

While rustic-looking, the cabins were downright luxurious compared to those tent-covered raised wooden platforms.  I was still a picky eater, but I never went hungry.  The campfires on Sunday and Friday night were amazing--full of goofy songs and hilarious skits, then rounded out by slower songs about faith and friendship.  And the counselors--they were nothing short of amazing.  They were energetic and silly, able to bring even the shyest child (me) out of her shell.  They were so confident and full of life.  They were wise and kind, and excellent listeners.  The devotions and chapels that they led laid the basis for me to develop my own faith.  Their example taught me about accepting and loving myself.  In short, they were everything that I wanted to be.

Here's my brother and me during my second summer at camp, when I was 12.  I kept going to Camp Tecumseh until I was 15.  Some of my most significant memories growing up were made at camp.  I learned more about myself at camp than anywhere else--not just about who I was, but about who I wanted to be.  In the years that followed, I never forgot those lessons.  I waited anxiously for a time when I could return to camp.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I got a job working at a YMCA daycare in Peoria.  I hoped that having worked for the Y would make me more marketable when I applied to be a counselor at Camp Tecumseh the next summer.  Then, during my sophomore year of college, I got to go back to camp on a retreat.

My music service sorority (Tau Beta Sigma) and our brother fraternity (Kappa Kappa Psi) did a weekend retreat at the Camp Tecumseh Leadership Center.  After all our scheduled activities were done, I walked down the dark, winding road into main camp with my friend Jill.  It had been four years since I'd been at camp, but I remembered it like it was yesterday.  She was understandably nervous to wander around in the woods on a cold, dark November night, but I told her that camp was home to me, and I could never be lost there.

After that, I applied to work as a counselor that summer.  During my interview, I told the summer camp director that being a camper at Tecumseh had been the most significant experience of my life, and I wanted to be able to give other kids what my counselors had given me.

1999 was my first summer on staff, and I grew that summer in all the ways that I had hoped, and in others that I would never have been able to predict.  I became, in many ways, the best version of myself.  I never wanted to leave camp.  Never in my life had I felt so at home, so at peace.  I toyed with the idea of leaving college to work year-round at camp, but ultimately decided to continue on my college path.

Back then, I thought that 1999 would be my one summer of glory.  I studied abroad in the spring of 2000 and didn't return to the States until camp was already in session.  But the summer camp director called me up and asked me to return for part of the summer to fill in for another woman who couldn't finish the summer.  (Ben and I watched the staff video from the summer of 2000 last night, which is what brought on some of these reflections.)  After that, I knew I couldn't stay away.  I was back again in 2001 and 2002, and even after Ben and I were engaged and embarking on our epic summer road trip in 2003, we returned to camp to volunteer for a week before setting out.

In the following years, I returned to camp every chance I got.  We came back to visit at Friday night campfires.  I worked some weekends and volunteered on others.  I brought my students on retreats to the Tecumseh Leadership Center.  Bryn spent her first night at camp when she was 9 months old, as part of a retreat that I was chaperoning.  We brought the kids for Family Camp.  Shay rode her first horse when she was 2, and Liam attended his first campfire at 2 months old.

And then Ben was offered a full-time job at camp.  So now, the home of my heart is my physical home too.

And you know what?  Remember how I felt about the counselors when I was a camper--that they were energetic, inspiring, wise, kind, full of life, faith-full, and accepting.  I still think all of those things about this generation of counselors.  As I look back on my journey from camper to counselor to staff family, I am filled with admiration for the counselors that I have known over the years.  They keep going strong even when it's 110 degrees every day.  They are always smiling, laughing, singing.  The inspire the campers, each other, and even me to grow in confidence and faith.  They give every single kid the best week of their lives.

I am so, so proud to call this place home and to know that I have been part of its history.  Truly, it provides experiences that last a lifetime.