Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's 11:46 p.m.

I'm still awake at a quarter-to-twelve at night, even though I know my kids aren't really the best sleepers and I don't have any help tonight. Trevor is in Chicago for a long wedding weekend, and I'm alone with the kids. Which is fine, but my house is currently a disaster and my run lasted all of a half-mile before Marta lost it for the stroller. Although I do feel a little more like a better mom when I'm left alone -- I'm more creative in our play, I have more patience around 4 p.m. (the witching hour) and I don't have such a messy kitchen because I simply don't make dinner -- I'm sort of at the end of my rope today. Tonight. Yet I'm in that computer zone where I can't shut it off, and I'm also hoping Trevor checks the blog before he hits bed tonight and falls asleep thinking about what a good mom I am. :) 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recent Pics

Notice how in these photos Berit is always by the front door. Her new trick is opening it and leaving the house (with Mosey in tow). So I'm obsessively checking the door all day to make sure it's locked, so we don't lose a child and/or dog.

Is Marta holding the hairbrush ironic, or just silly? I like the one of her and Trevor on our front porch. She looks a little shocked and confused, and he's hoping the picture is proof that she looks just like him. :)

Berit holding the lunchbox is a pretty good representation of her lately -- my mom bought her a Disney princesses lunchbox (she doesn't even watch the movies, but she's drawn to the princesses like they were made of chocolate) and she takes it everywhere.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sleep, and the Lack Thereof

Once again I face the morning with precious little sleep behind me. It's the same story: Marta wakes up for a feeding, then just as she's going to sleep, Berit starts screaming. I watch her for a few minutes on the monitor, then wake Trevor to go to her (just in case Marta wakes up again and I'm needed there), then wait for him to come back so I can turn the monitor on again, since he always forgets. Oftentimes, Berit's screaming wakes Marta, and the whole cycle is never-ending. Berit has really started to dream, and it seems as though so many of them are unpleasant. She's constantly crying out in her sleep. Last night it was, "No Annie, stop pulling it!" (Her cousins were here yesterday for a playdate.) And she had a few issues with her diaper, which requires taking off her pjs and dipe, having some sort of light on, and putting her back to sleep. 

Marta's yelling now; have to run. Yawn.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Mom That I Am

Marta spent the majority of Saturday minorly fussing, and I kept switching the hip on which I was holding her, standing her up, sitting her down, telling her to chill, etc., only to discover at the end of the night that she had a huge splinter in her little foot. This must have happened at the birthday party we went to for one of Berit's buds Saturday morning. What I did not do for her was check her body, clothes and dipe, like all the parenting books tell you to do when your child fusses for no apparent reason.

Another reason I might win Parent of the Year: It's 11:18 p.m., and Berit is still awake. She's in bed, but she's singing, not at all tired, probably because she had donuts after church, cookies on our walk at the neighbor's house, and a purple slush after mini golf today. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Garage Sale = Ice Cream

'Tis that time of year again, when I lose my mind entirely and host a garage sale. Which is why I just polished off a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream -- three moms, three two-year-olds, three babies, one garage sale, and we thought, "It'll be a piece of cake with all of us there." Nope. Long day; I hope it was worth it. (Too... tired... to... count... riches...) We saw Aunt Andrea this evening, staying ironically in a "cottage" Trev built on Walloon Lake, and Berit is on Cloud Nine. Marta has never laughed so much, and is crashed in her crib after all the excitement. Aunt Andrea is definitely my girls' most special person.

Off to bed after paying the bills, because during my garage sale a friendly man came up and handed me a very past-due cable bill, warning me that my TV and Internet would be shut off if I didn't pony up the dough. Whoops! So tonight I scrambled to be sure I paid everything else on time (I did), and went ahead and did next month's bills to make myself feel a little better about today's slip-up. 

No blogging shall happen in the next 24 hours I'm sure, until the garage sale is past-tense and our celebratory barbecue is over. But probably lots more ice cream.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Full Moon? Full Belly?

As I write this entry, I'm clicking the "video" function on my monitor continuously because something strange happened in Marta's bed-going tonight, and I'm curious as to how it's going to pan out. She went to sleep without nursing. Not nursing to sleep, but not nursing at all. I nursed her a few hours ago -- nothing big, just five or 10 minutes and she was done. Then she was really fussy, like she was hungry, so I put her in her high chair where she gobbled down a quarter of a peach and half a jar of apples/blueberries baby food, and drank a lot of water. Took her into "her" room for bed and started our routine, blankie, rain sounds, nurse -- but no nurse. She wasn't interested. I put her into her crib, thinking, "She'll be out in five minutes, starving." Nope. She's asleep. Berit also went down without any fuss tonight, so I just asked Trevor to make sure our carbon monoxide detectors are working...

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Girls

A few fun shots of the family...

Trevor and Berit before church, Berit on the swing (shocking), me, in a photo I made Trevor take this morning because I realized that we don't have one single recent photo of me ANYWHERE 

Marta very smiley and eating (shocking), when I caught Berit sitting in her chair watching TV with her "blankas" covering her head, Marta playing this morning in her bouncer, happy at roughly 6 a.m., and when I told B to put her shoes on, went to get dressed and came out to find her hiding in this box. Cute!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sidewalk Chalk, Visitors and the Guitar

I was thinking about what to write in this post the entire time I did the dishes, which took forever, since we hate our dishwasher soap and end up washing everything by hand (and re-washing anything we had put in the dishwasher). If anyone knows of a great safe-for-kids dishwasher soap that's NOT Seventh Generation, I'd love to have a recommendation. Lucky us, we bought Seventh Generation in bulk, after a completely random few wonderful cycles, and now we have it until we're 80. But we're willing to buy something else now, to save our dishwater hands.

Anyway, I would write all I had been thinking, but I can't, because Trevor is sitting in the chair five feet away playing his guitar, and I'm unable to think while he does it. I'm not one of those smarties who listened to music while they did their homework, that's for sure. While I typically really enjoy his guitar sessions, tonight my brain is like a game of Pong, with very few clever thoughts bouncing around, and I can't think past the next verse of his song. So I'm just going to do a highlight reel of our day....

Lunch downtown with Trevor and the girls, and then off to the craft store so Berit could pick out paintbrushes and sidewalk chalk. (Green brushes, green tub of chalk.) While heading back to the car, three sets of men complimented me on Berit's outfit. Ah, the hallmark of good parenting: Cute kids' clothes. Spirits lifted, I made up a fun race game to get Berit moving, worn out and to our car in time for her to fall fast asleep on the way home. No dice. Instead, she did my most hated thing she does in the car: "I HAVE A STICK! I HAVE A STICK!" While thrashing around in her carseat, red-faced, exhausted. She claims to have a stick poking her lower back in her carseat, but no such stick exists, and I know, because several times I've pulled the car over and checked. I'm done pulling off to the side of the road, standing my toddler on the curb or small strip of grass next to the car, and rubbing both her back, butt and carseat in a number of different directions to find out of anything stands up, pokes or rears when brushed. So she yelped the whole way home, and I yelled "Put your hand over it!" the whole ride home, and no surprise that Marta also screamed the whole ride home. Once home, no nap yet again, but she was funny and smart and I let her get away with it. 

She was very patient, so when Marta fell asleep we stripped her clothes off (didn't want to mar the suddenly trendy outfit she had on) and headed out for sidewalk chalk. It was her first time with it, and she was delighted so much so that I kept thinking, "Don't forget this day, don't forget this day," until I got out the camera and started taking pictures. She was shocked that we could color anywhere on our driveway and walkway. "Here! Here!" she said. We drew our family, of course, and peanuts, a bird, and an egg, among other things of her choosing. I have to admit that I was fairly impressed with my own sidewalk chalk abilities. 

Then I got out the icing on the cake for Berit: Paint. She was introduced to paint last year, but she doesn't remember it, so today was like her first time. She was very serious about it, and wouldn't even look up for a picture, saying, "No Mom, I'm busy painting." She was precise and knew exactly what she wanted and where it should go, and by which brush it should be delivered. I sat there with a dumb smile watching her until she said, "Come on Mom, you gotta paint too."

Later, we took Marta out to do sidewalk chalk with us, and Marta was so thrilled to have her bare feet on our sidewalk that she let out a series of happy screeches and kept turning around to flash me her my-cheeks-can't-get-any-bigger smile.

So now Trevor and I are sitting here waiting for his friend Kevin, Kevin's girlfriend, and Kevin's girlfriend's dog to arrive, as they're spending the weekend with us, hopefully not drowning in rain. Chicagoans that they are, I feel they'll want to have more action than we usually provide in these parts, so it'd be good if we could get out to music in the park and the lake. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sleep, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Last night I had the pleasure of being awake every time the clock hit a :15. As in, 11:15, 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, all the way up to 6:15, when I woke Trevor to hang with Marta until 7:15. You read that right, it was Marta, not sleep-stealing Berit. No belly-ache, no teething, just happy to be up so I should be, too. Once an hour. Was it the one cup of decaf coffee I dared to drink yesterday morning? Was it her 20-minutes-earlier-than-usual bedtime? Was it the lack of sugar in her bloodstream (day two of no sweets, going strong) making her alert and not groggy? Who knows. I do know, however, that I'll now have the pleasure of doing without coffee of any sort for at least the next six months, and managing my day entirely around her evening nap schedule so that she gets to bed exactly at 8:30 p.m.

Today we went to Pond Hill Farm with my friends Kelly and Lori, Berit's friends Emma and Annie, and Marta's friends Andrew and Maggie. As usual, B was terrified of all animals nearby, and I looked like a bad mother when I didn't pick her up as she clung to my leg yelling, "Ow! Ow!" because the baby lamb walked toward her. Kelly took pity on her and scooped her up several times, so now she likes Kelly better. (This isn't true. She always likes Kelly better, not just today. In fact, if I want her to try a new food, I just say that Kelly made it and she eats it without hesitation.) (So would you if you tried Kelly's cooking.)

We got a ton of cute pics that I'll post soon, and pushed our six kids down and back an ankle-deep sand trail to the trout pond for a picnic lunch. I hope Berit is at the age where she will remember days like today, because it was fun and dirty and very kid friendly.

After naps, I needed to run a salad out to a friend's house for Habitat for Humanity. To coax Berit back into the car, I told her we'd get a "special treat." Of course I forgot the treat, so when we were pulling into the driveway, she said, "Oh Mommy, where's my treat?" And I whipped out a sucker from my diaper bag and said, "Look at this! Hooray!" She was pacified, thankfully. However, for the rest of the evening, whenever I said, "What fun things did we do today?" Or when Trevor said, "Berit, tell me about your day," or when I asked, "What was the funnest thing we did today?" thinking about the farm and friends, she said to everything, "I got a sucker." 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nice Big Weekend

We came back to Petoskey today after a long weekend spent at my parents' new house in Greenville. It was wonderful driving home first thing in the morning -- there was no rushing to be sure we didn't disrupt nighttime sleep schedules, no worrying that we'd still be driving (and stopping and driving and stopping) at 2 a.m. We just took our time, stopped at various parks and fast food restaurants, and chatted while the kids napped. 

It was a nice weekend back in Greenville. The house is fantastic and Berit (and technically Marta, but she's still too little to know) has her own room, which is painted yellow with lots of butterflies, flowers, dragonflies and ladybugs adorably flying around on the walls. The attached bathroom (talk about fancy) is green, which could not be better for our Green Machine. When I first saw the room, decorated of course to the hilt by my mother, I truly wanted to cry because it would make Berit so happy. Nothing like teaching my 2-year-old nice and early to be materialistic. :)  (Kidding, kidding, kidding. I wanted to cry because of all the thought, love and care that had been put into the room for my girls. They certainly don't get anything like that at home.) (Kidding.)

Poor Marta has officially grown out of the mini crib my mom bought when Berit was born. Berit never did use it, because of her hatred of all things sleep-related, but Marta did when she was smaller. This weekend, however, I found her with her arms stuck in the slats above her head, and her feet stuck in the opposing slats, face blotchy and eyes confused. It was so funny and sad, and she spent naptimes and nighttimes genuinely trying to sleep on a mattress with blankets rolled up under the sheet in a make-shift nest. Hopefully she'll feel grateful to be in her crib tonight and sleep all night long.

So now I'm sitting on the couch eating dried fruit, because I've sworn off sweets after all of the mini cupcakes eaten while there. Dried fruit, while sugared, is still fruit and therefore not a sweet.

Trevor joined, well, everybody in my family but me in Detroit for a Tigers game, which he loved. The girls and I spent the morning with cousins and afternoon at the park and eating ice cream for dinner. (And mini cupcakes.)

We have a busy week ahead, but it's good to be home in our beds and back to our schedule. Neither girl put up a big fuss going to sleep tonight, which I think means they're happy too. Or maybe I slipped a little cough syrup into their cups at dinner.... either way, we're all off to a good week. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pictures From the Park

Mosey went to daycare today, which means we could spend all morning and early afternoon at the waterfront park. Berit was desperate for some swing action, but when we arrived kids were already on the swings. As her complaints didn't guilt the parents into forcing their kids off the swings, we had to find something else to do until my stink eye did the trick and B could swing to her heart's content. Luckily the huge "big kids" play area was calling to Berit to climb on but not actually utilize any of the equipment (except, as you can see, to swing on). She's terrified of slides, and all of the other play stuff on it is way too advanced for a 2-year-old, so she pretty much walked back and forth on the top of it for a half hour. I followed below, dutifully waving when she looked down, and being impressed by her hanging over the slide skills. 

Poor Marta -- I'll take pictures of her once she's not in a front pack all day. She sported a sunscreen-laden mohawk and pajamas. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My House Smells Like Poop

My house smells like poop, and I can't find where it's coming from. I keep checking the girls' dipes and it's definitely not coming from them, which is unsettling and driving me crazy. I really hope it's just on my t-shirt and not embedded in our carpet somewhere. Upon looking into the kitchen, I realized it could very well be just old food smell, since there's a pile of tupperware full of leftovers sitting in the sink that I pulled out of the fridge early yesterday (two days ago?) and haven't done anything about. We've been sort of trapped in the house since Monday morning due to extreme humidity outside, and I'm in one of those "I'm stuck in my house and am avoiding cleaning it" moods, as opposed to a much preferred "We're constantly on-the-go so I have to quickly clean the house" mood. This may be contributing to the poop smell.

Monday, July 7, 2008


This weekend we're headed down to my parents' house for a visit, which means this week I'll be writing little reminders on various pieces of mail, receipts and other scraps of paper about what to pack to be sure: a) my children don't miss a single comfort item, which would send them into the kind of hysterics my parents don't believe actually happen with my perfect angels, or b) we forget something that will make my own life easier, like a monitor or both warm and cold weather pjs, or food that my kids might eat if all that is made for them is rejected, etc. I will also need to pack everything that my kids are using and wearing in an adorable way, in case Trevor and I reference it and my parents need to see it in action. 

Lucky me, everyone is leaving early Saturday morning to travel to Detroit, where they'll attend a Tigers game, leaving me in Grand Rapids with my kids. Alone. Which is a lot like being at my house alone with my kids, except without all of their creature comforts (save those that I'll be packing, of course), friends and schedule. It will, however, give me the chance to visit friends in the GR area who we always miss seeing, because our trips there are so busy with my family. 

I'm attaching a video of Berit singing You Are My Sunshine, which we just taped and uploaded, to distract her from her tough job of pooping. We are also currently watching an Elmo video for the same reason, and it seems to be working, as she is stinky but happy and a little hungry. She's decided we should call Mosey Chuckie Sue, after Telly's hamster. Ah, if only he really were a hamster.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Fourth worthy of fireworks. Not that we saw any...

This Fourth of July week/weekend was the kind you see in movies -- sunshine, beach, parades (two in one day!), cookies, ice cream AND gelato, lots of walking down quaint Main Streets, and all family, all the time. In a good way. No fireworks, because the girls are still too young to really enjoy them, and would probably just be scared silly and way overtired (over-sugared, over-spoiled, over-sunned, etc.). I remember last year, when Berit was 1 (and even more so the year before, when she was a few months old), our neighbors lit fireworks in their driveways, as normal American families do on the Fourth of July. I was furious, and shouted out the windows and called my friends on our block to be sure it wasn't them, in fear they'd wake my sleeping child. This year we barely noticed it. Ah, the magic of the second baby.

Trevor's brother Jason, sister-in-law Stephanie, and their children Annie, 3 1/2, and Jemma, 18 months, were here all week, much to Berit's delight. Trevor was also thrilled to continue the vacation with his brother, which started last week in Belgium, and Stephanie and I enjoy hanging out and chatting about books, kids, writing, the family and other non-stressful things as we wrangle the kids and nag the boys to help us out just a little. Good dads that they are, they always do. Annie and Berit were especially cute this year, as they actually played together, singing and marching and running and dancing, and also yelling, jumping, climbing and occasionally arguing. Jason said this week would probably go down as the favorite holiday for a long time, and I think he was right. I can't wait until my girls can also stay at Trevor's parents' house when Annie and Jemma are there, and the fun can be amplified by sleepovers and fun breakfasts. They'd all just wake each other up now. Maybe next year. Wonder who'll be pregnant then? :)

The entire family is currently sleeping, Mosey included, though Marta is stirring and should be up any minute now. I think she's teething, or has a belly ache, because she was up all night and has been the past couple of nights. Berit was also awake last night, shockingly, screaming in an out-of-control manner because she didn't want to be asleep. After a few hours of first examining to be sure she was OK, then lovingly asking her to go back to sleep, then telling her to go to sleep or else, I whipped her out of bed and put her in the bathtub, giving her the option of crying there or going to sleep in her bed. She chose bed. It worked, hallelujah, though I'm not looking forward to whatever issues I've created for bathtime. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marta Marta Marta

If I had known Marta before I delivered her, I would have named her Joy. She is happy so much of her day -- in fact, the only time she's not happy is when she's furious. Which is when she's not being held or entertained. (Marta doesn't subscribe to the theory that second babies are content.) She's all of 6 months old, is sitting, rolling and generally being cute and wiggly. She is a BIG baby, and is already wearing Berit's 18-months clothes. She loves Berit like crazy and wants nothing more than to play with her, laugh with her and watch her do funny things. She also loves finding Mosey and going for walks. She tires of being inside easily and screeches loudly in both happiness and frustration. She's desperate to be a big kid and crawl, run and play. Also, eat.

A very serious post about Berit. Seriously.

Here's a big post about my girl Berit, mostly for her benefit but it might be comforting for other moms to see and know that they aren't alone in the Terrible Twos: Girl Edition.

Berit is nearly 2 1/2 years old, and is proud to tell you this information while holding up two fingers and beaming. She loves being two, and is very curious about her friends' ages. I think this comes with becoming a big sister -- she's the Big Girl now, and can do things that babies can't. 

Berit has given herself a number of nicknames, which I'll spell phonetically, for obvious reasons: Beebee-o, Bee-bo, B, Beboly-bobily, Beep, and the lovely B-O. We also call her Lovebug and Honeybee. 

She's a sensitive child, which is a nice way to say she's moody and quick to find fault with any given situation. Just this afternoon at the park, I opened the bag holding her PB+J, and she had a full-on meltdown because she didn't want it open. Not because SHE wanted to open it. Not because she didn't want to eat the sandwich (she did want to eat it). She just didn't want the bag open, and especially not by me. If she wakes in the middle of the night (which she does quite often), there's no whimpering and then drifting back to sleep. It's a full-on, wake everyone up, check for a fever, need a new cup of water, are there pins in the bed poking her? kind of wakefulness. 

But she's also a very kind, sweet, smart girl. I know all moms say this about their children, but in Berit's case, each one of these qualities is well thought-out by her and deliberate. She quietly observes friends playing before deciding what she'd like to do, and very rarely tries to get involved in play (common for this age, I think). (Though with her cousins she does actively participate, which is strange, because she sees them less frequently than her friends. Cute for us adults to watch, and extra happy get-togethers for all.)

She makes sure everyone has what they need and takes very good care of her toys. She's the kind of kid for whom a dollhouse, baby buggy and cradle and kitchen are great toys. She never mixes her toys up -- in other words, we rarely find a kitchen toy mixed in with her dollhouse toys, or an upstairs toy downstairs (except babies, which go anywhere and everywhere). She loves to sing and knows probably 100 songs or so. We counted one time and got pretty close to 100, and she's since learned a few more. She is teaching herself letters, because she knows a few and words that start with them, and I haven't done a thing regarding this. (Brag: The other day she said, "Donut. Donut is D, like Daddy and dog.") (She loves donuts in a big way.)

She's all girl and loves to play dolls, dress-up and read. She also loves anything athletic, especially extreme sports with Daddy. 

She has a "blanka," which is one of my old t-shirts that she carries everywhere if possible, and even tucks into the neck-hole of her shirts if she's too busy to carry it with her hands. She also has an elephant that's very, very special, and her favorite color is green. In fact, she tries to be dressed in green whenever possible, and any choice she has will be a green one, if it's an option. We don't know how this happened, but it's been Green Machine for a very long time now, with no end in sight.

She hates sleeping, and sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night furious that she has fallen asleep and refuses to go back to sleep. This is fun for the whole family, since her wails are never in a nice inside voice, and wake up Marta, who actually likes to sleep but if she's awakened during the night, thinks she needs to be up for a full two hours before going back down. 

B also hates having her hair brushed, the getting clean part of baths, sunscreen and bug spray, when we do anything for her that she could possibly do for herself, pooping, getting messy and any rushing to do anything.

She loves strict order (all of her jibbitz must be turned the proper way on her crocs, her buckles must be just so, toys need to be arranged perfectly, etc.), rules that make things nice for everyone involved (taking turns with toys, for example), swings, swings, swings, chapstick, water and make-believe.

We call her serious, because she is. Ever since she was a baby she's been more thoughtful than anything else. Even when she was born she didn't cry, didn't fuss, just looked around and took everything in. We play a game where we say, "Get serious. Get serious!" while we make serious faces until we all crack up.

She pretends she's stoic but needs cuddles forced upon her. She wants total freedom but craves structure. She is desperate to do everything herself but needs adults to step in at exactly the right time to avoid a meltdown that could ruin her day entirely. If she's not learning , she asks for it. She makes up adorable names for people, animals and toys (examples: One doll is named CeCe Bingo. A dog is named Cooking.).

She is fun, fun, fun, and I often wish I had the time to just focus on her happiness for days on end, because I would love to see her just blossom under the attention. She gets mad at me for splitting my focus between her and her sister, and for days will avoid me or be grumpy with me, until she finally crumbles in my lap with hugs and won't let me hold Marta. 

I'm so happy she was my first baby, and she'll always have a really special, lovely place in my mind because of it. Not that my other child(ren) won't be special and I don't love her more, etc. etc. But she has taught me so much, and I think we figured out this parenting thing together, more than my learning to do it on my own. 

Trevor just reminded me that the other day she said, "What a mess. Holy cow." This is significant because she's so order-minded. While we were at his parents' house, she went over to the rugs where everyone's shoes were, and lined them all up. She then went to her cousin Annie's crocs and lined up all of her jibbitz, just like she lines up her own. Hmm... will I be writing a post about this in the future, possibly looking for a therapist?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chocolate, waffles and beer

Will all my posts start with food? Trevor has returned from Belgium, laden with sweets for the girls but I got to them first. I did manage to save some for B, though. He had a great time with Erwin and Jason, but felt like something was missing, I think, without the girls and me there. Which is nice. 

Cousins are here for the Fourth of July week, and the day could not be more beautiful. Started out at the park and I took M for a long, long walk while B and Trev played with Annie and Jemma. We met up at the concert in the park and shared a lunch and gelato, and swung Berit by her hands while we walked. We fed Marta gelato -- surprise! she loves it.