Thursday, August 28, 2008

Marta Speaks

Marta's first word came a few weeks ago, when she started saying "HI!" every time she sees one of us, and especially when I get her up from sleeping. She has recently started saying Mama and Dada (discriminately, of course), and one morning after a particularly restful night of sleep said, "Hi Dada," when she saw Trevor. (OK, OK, this probably wasn't a real sentence, but was impressive nonetheless.) 

She has also said Num-Num when she eats for a few weeks now. But today she said her first non-typical, non-family word: Ga-gee. Of course, this means doggie, and she said it a hundred times when we were playing with our adopted dog, Suede. Then, when we went inside, I put her in her exersaucer, and she flipped the plastic frames past the baby pictures to the picture of Mosey, and hit it over and over saying, "Ga-gee! Ga-gee!" 

It was one of those movie moments that don't usually happen in real life, so I called everyone I know and no one answered. But Marta talks, and it's such a funny thing now to hear her calling me from her crib, as if she's this little cave-baby who has finally evolved into a person.

"Vail: Come Here If You Don't Have Children."

We are home from our long-awaited vacation to Vail, and we couldn't be happier. Trevor and I keep passing each other high-fives, Berit insists that everything is new ("Mom, come see our new sink! Look at our new oven!") and is so pleased to play with her toys that one week ago were boring her to tears, and Marta is literally laughing at everything in our house. I don't want to get all complain-y that we went to Vail for a week, so I'll just say this: You live, you go on vacation with your kids, you learn.

Things I've learned from our trip:
1. Always book a seat on the "airplane" (small jet) for the "lap child."
2. Always bring your children's carseats, because they'll relax in them in the plane and the rental car company's carseats are sketchy at best.
3. Wal-Mart will take anything back, even after your child has made it her own for a week.
4. Always pack toys for DURING the vacation, never assuming your kids will be so engrossed IN the vacation that they won't need material possessions.
5. Ice cream makes or breaks a vacation, especially if it's green ice cream.
6. In Vail, in the middle of the mountains, you will not see the animals you thought you'd surely see, unless you are on top of the mountains, which with kids you won't be. So don't tell your kids you will.
7. Even though you won't get a wink of sleep, don't let your children "cry it out" on vacation, because really they're just scared. But once you get home, cry, cry, cry. (The kids, not you.)

A few trip highlights:
1. Trevor and I shared a bed for about 2 hours during the entire trip, since both of our kids decided they weren't comfortable in their beds alone and Marta (our good sleeper) refused to be set down in her shabby-mattressed rental crib for even a minute, let alone for the night. (I made a nest for her in my bed and Trevor either slept in a twin bed in Berit's room or in a different room.)

2. On the plane ride there, I sat in a tiny seat with Marta on my lap next to a very kid-unfriendly man who kept saying, "It's FINE. It's FINE."

3. On our whole vacation, Marta pooped once.

4. On one particularly lovely day, I boldly put Berit in the stroller and walked the two miles into Lionshead, a village near our house. There was a detour on the bike trail that took us to the bottom of the village, and the Imagination Station (a little room set up for kids to play, which was the highlight of the children's activities in the area) was at the top of the village. Fine. However, Lionshead has no ramps, and all stairs. Determined as I was that my child would have some toddler-based fun on her vacation, I pulled the double jogger up about two hundred stairs. (Really; I'm not exaggerating to sound heroic.) Once we were done with the Imagination Station, Trevor was supposed to pick us up in the car, but he never showed up. Several hours later, I was sure he had overdosed on his cold medicine (yes, he was sick) and that Marta had drowned in her own vomit after screaming so much she threw up in her crib because he wasn't alive to hear her wake up. So I ran the two miles (hello, 8,200 feet elevation) back to the house on the highway to avoid the stair situation, in sandals, no running bra (hello, nursing breasts), up a crazy hill, adrenaline pumping to save my baby and husband, only to find out that they were gone, had just left, had somehow missed me on the road, and were completely alive.

So we're home, and it feels so good. We think we'll skip a vacation next year, and after that take the kids someplace where they'll have fun, instead of hoping they'd conform to an adult vacation. 

We're especially looking forward to the long weekend, because Trevor will be around and maybe we can make extra-special memories right here at home, where we don't have to over-pay for chicken nuggets that no one eats, where sleeping, while sketchy, is enforced, and where everyone poops regularly. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Suddenly It's 10:30

I'm sitting on the floor of the living room, surrounded by: 
1. A warm pup
2. Folded (!) laundry
3. Packed (!) suitcases
4. Diapers -- some dirty, some clean
5. A portable DVD player unwrapped, explored, then wrapped back up to be returned
6. One (not two) baby monitor

Here's why.
1. Mosey senses that we're leaving and is nervous, and therefore is either at my heels or is sitting ON MY FEET at all times.
2. Tada! Aren't I good?
3. Tada! Let's face it. If I didn't get them packed while half of us were gone for the weekend, they weren't going to get packed until the morning of the trip.
4. How many diapers need to come with us for our travel day and first night in Vail? Could be two, could be 20. (The dirty ones just haven't been put in the garbage yet. If you're appalled by this, you might want to reference an earlier blog to become comfortable with my cleaning habits.)
5. We have a portable DVD player that is old and being held together with tape. Since Wednesday involves about 7 hours of travel time, I thought it'd be smart to buy a new, dual-screen DVD player. Turns out the only one I could find in our little town is junky and not quite the steal I thought it was. 
6. Despite coming home yesterday from Grandma and Pop's house (to which she begged repeatedly to return), Berit is currently staying overnight with Mimi and Grandpa, who will surely miss her and be missed while we're away (and who also sense our anxiety over a list of things that need to get done before we leave because....)

Hooray! We have a second showing for our house on Thursday. Which means we have to leave our house sparkling clean Wednesday morning, but which also means there is a chance we could sell it. (From Vail, nonetheless!) I suppose all of my griping about cleaning the house goes right out the window now, huh? Although, I do feel like the more I brag about this second showing, the larger the chances are that they'll pass. So that's it. Now you know, I'm not writing about it anymore. 

When Berit came home on Sunday, my mom called to tell me how special and lovely she is. And I recently had the same conversation with Trevor's mom. No one can believe that she is a stinker here at home, which I believe is fairly typical of grandparents. But I get so jealous of those people who get her all to themselves; who get to listen to her entire idea, who get to play her new game until she tires of it, who get to dance all day or wear the dress-up clothes she chooses for them all day or just have two arms to hold her all day. (This is a recurring theme in my blog, I know. Therapy? Chocolate?) I know I'm giving my girls the gift of sisterhood, of which I could not be more pleased because I have a wonderful sister and I'm so grateful they'll have each other. And they do truly love each other. But oh, you should see Berit when she's with my mom or Trevor's mom or my sister. She's in heaven, showing off her newest moves and telling them her brightest ideas. It's like she knows she's their center of attention and she runs to them, out of the darkness of our boring home hoping for excitement and action and she relaxes right into their arms, like "finally, thank you." It makes me so happy for her and also so sad for me. Oh that sounds very whiny; sorry. I want to be that person, not the one who has to make her stand in the corner because she's being a stinker (probably because after breakfast she plays alone while I put Marta down to nap, or because I have to make dinner/change the laundry/pick up Marta instead of putting her up on my feet like an airplane for an entire hour). I know I'm a good mom to my girls, but it's so hard to be the mom I want to be to my daughters individually. I write about Berit because Marta's needs are met, and I have to be with her right now. Berit has the opportunity to be with other people who love her, and of course I want her to be with them, because she thrives. Oh, in a year it'll all be different, right?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thanks Friends, and My WOW Friend

Thanks girls for your comments about messiness and happiness. Everything worked out great, my house is spotless, and I just spent the evening alone save VH1 and a bit o' cookie dough. :) Trevor decided to stay one more night -- yay! I am foregoing another morning of sleeping in tomorrow, though, but I'm happy to since it's for my amazing pal Ellen, who's doing two legs of a triathlon tomorrow. We originally decided to do it together, with our friend Sarah, but I cancelled and so did Sarah, and Ellen surged ahead to do both the swim and bike -- toughest parts, if you ask me -- all on her own. So Marta and I are going out first thing in the morning with big signs to wait for her at the finish line. 

Marta is sick, just a few days before our big vacay. Seems to just be a runny nose and sneezes, but possibly an ear infection because she's tugging, tugging, tugging. Of course this happens on the same day that she is denied health insurance. Yup! We tried to switch health insurance, because ours was pretty feeble and we're hoping for more children. Turns out her bicuspid aortic valve is a big red flag for insurance companies. Oh, Marta. 

Anyway, other than that we're having a lovely time together just doing baby stuff. But man, did I ever forget how b-o-r-i-n-g baby stuff is! It's waaay slower than toddler stuff. We miss our spunky 2-year-old, who's having the time of her life with Grandma, Pop, Uncle David and Aunt Andrea. Yes! Aunt Andrea! The Best, Greatest Person In The World!

So they return tomorrow, Ellen's race is tomorrow, and tomorrow I pack our bags for Vail! Looking forward to having Trevor all day, every day and family time all the time. And a great week spent with friends!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Relaxing Night Alone (Almost), Gone, and My House is a Mess

Trevor took Berit down to Greenville for the night, so he could attend a concert with the men in my family and my mom could get her Berit fix. That left me home alone with Marta, who is needy but not really messy, takes three to four naps a day, doesn't require cooking and, the best part about this whole thing, goes back to sleep soon after waking in the morning, meaning tomorrow I can sleep in until, like, 9 if I play my cards right. 

Except. The real estate office called, and we have a showing tomorrow. No interest in our house whatsoever for two months, yet I get one night and two days to myself and now I'm faced with the not-so-happy reality that my house is, in its fairly clean state, trashed. As in, boxes with garage sale leftovers hanging around the laundry room, baskets and baskets of laundry to put away, toys shoved in every possible nook, kitchen countertop full of various fruits on trays and boxes too oddly-shaped for the pantry, deck with toys, garage with toys, yard with dog poop, etc. Aside, of course, from the general bathrooms/wood floors/carpets that all need cleaning because that's what's expected from a normal, sanitary household. 

I didn't, didn't, didn't want to admit to Trevor (on the phone, lounging on my parents' deck) that I needed a hand cleaning it all before the morning, but really I do. I mean, I feel like a person should be able to clean her own house, or you don't buy that house, or you don't buy all the junk to muck it up inside the house. It's not really that I need help cleaning the house. I just need someone to hold the baby so I can clean the house. So I'm wondering: Do other moms live this way, too, or would all of my friends be able to whip it into shape before morning, baby on hip? Do they keep things constantly clean, always on top of it, or do they live in a messy house most of the time? 

In the end I called my mother-in-law and asked if she'd come take Marta on a walk in the morning. Overly generous soul that she is, she said she'd be here first thing in the morning and she'd bring my father-in-law, who'd take care of the yard for me. Wonderful, I know, but embarrassing and more than a little ridiculous, I think, that I called them. Any thoughts? Truth, please.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Throw Up, and the Terror That Ensues

Funky day yesterday, which led into an even funkier night. Berit was overflowing with excitement Thursday morning, because we were going to her friend's house where they have one of those blow-up bouncers. "We'll take turns jumping," she told me, doing one of those excited moves where kids jerk their knees and elbows like they're almost going to jump but don't. So we get to our friends' house, and her little buddy there is spirited, as they say. Which is good for Berit, who is so serious. But Berit got immediately intimidated, and spent the majority of the morning clinging to my leg while the other children had a blast playing in the living room. When it was time to go outside to the bouncer, Berit was actually shaking with excitement. She told all the moms she was going to jump, and she was first when it was blowing up. So once it's inflated, the other girls take their shoes off and jump in. (I should mention that the other girls are just-turned-two and 22 months old. Berit is the oldest at 2 1/2. Doesn't make a huge difference but to me it makes this whole thing even more ridiculous, since she's "wiser." Arguably.) Berit right away backs up to me and puts on this mask of avoidance. "Let's go inside," she says. She clearly doesn't want to jump while the others are in there. Long story short, she finally gets in after much bribing with cookies, only to see an ant and flip out and require that we leave the playdate altogether. 

So yes, we had a busy day, because we had another playdate scheduled for that afternoon. We went to my friend Beth's house. She has twin boys, who are also 2 1/2, and Ellen came with Liam, 3, and Brennan, almost 8 months (three days Marta's junior). We had pizza and played and all was calm and fine and fun. She's used to it there and only freaks when the dog approaches, which was twice. 

For some reason, though, while I was taking my shower at 11 o'clock at night, she began throwing up. She threw up a couple more times during the night (Marta, not to be outdone, woke up at 3 a.m. and stayed up until 5:30 a.m.), and woke up with bells on this morning. 

I of course am now confined to the house for the whole of the day, waiting for her next bout of terrible throw-up, which will mean five more loads of laundry that might just need to be thrown away, several baths, another good cleaning of the tub, and finding something to do with Marta that keeps her out of the line of fire. 

Or, Berit will be just fine. Who knows?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Eating, With the Possibility of Running

So I ran three miles today, but I ate three candy bars, too. I'm going to say I broke even. :) 

I took the girls to Gaylord to check out a teacher supply store. I'm not a teacher, but I wanted to find a pocket chart for Berit to encourage her to want to eat more fruits and vegetables. It was my first time in a teacher supply store, and I could have bought everything in the place. Holy moly -- fun learning games, stickers, charts, organization -- I wanted to just live there. And to boot, it was on the second floor of a book store. Hello, heaven. Both stores even had kid areas, so I was free to browse while Berit played. Except for the time when I checked on her and she was laying on the ground, watching a mom actually interact with her child, she did perfectly. On the way home, however, both she and Marta were overtired, a little hungry and fed up with being in the car. They screamed the entire way home, and I ate three entire candy bars (gifts for others from the book store). It was a scene straight from a Weight Watchers ad. Emotional eating? Sign me up.

I have the option to run a 5K this weekend, and I'm really unsure about it. I know 3.1 miles isn't much, but I am such a lame (though well-intentioned) runner right now. My friend Jane suggested I walk a mile, run a mile to get my time up, and it seems to be helping. Since I don't have much time to be away (this could be a whole other post in itself), I'm only doing 3 miles total, so I'm pretty much running 1 1/2 miles and walking 1 1/2 miles. Still, progress. 

I'm considering writing and trying to submit to magazines a piece about having more children... or not. We love having two and are open to more, but we find ourselves in this awkward spot where we really, really want to have experiences with our kids and not be in constant baby mode. There are so many things to consider when you're open to new life in your family but not quite sure if you want to shoot for it, so to speak. So anyway, maybe I'll blog the article and see if it's catchy enough for my friends before trying to get someone to buy and print it. I'd love to know if anyone else is in this position, or if it's just me, overthinking something that's relatively out of my control. Ah, another reason to strive for the emotional eating sugar buzz.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Girls Being Goofy

Here are a couple gems from yesterday. Berit, as usual, was sporting some sort of "look," and she informed me that she was done smiling for pictures. So I tested her, and here's what I got. (Notice the lips tucked in.) After I took the pic, she said, "See Mommy? I didn't smile." Miss Thang indeed.

A few more funny things:

After finding both sets of our car keys she said, "Oh, I can't wait until I can drive."

After driving by a statue of Mary, she said: "Hey Mary. You're such a sweetie pie."

At church, when all was quiet and worshipful, in front of the large Mary statue with her arms outstretched: "Look, Mary's playing air guitar."

Marta has been doing peekaboo with her blankie, something she discovered by herself and revels in. When she pulls the blankie down her smile is gigantic. She has also started saying her version of "Hiiiiiiiiii!!!" when we get her up from her nap, and has recently been saying "Hi-Da-Da, Hi-Da-Da." Who knows if it means anything, but when she eats she definitely says "Num-num." Does that count as a first word?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Berit's Gone for the Night

All is quiet now in the Doublestein House. Trevor's of course at work, Marta's asleep (as is Mosey), and Berit is at Trevor's parents' house. I have SUCH a hard time saying goodbye when she goes to stay with them. It's not even for the weekend, it's only overnight, but as she pulls away in someone else's car, head looking out the window at me and a goofy smile on her face, because she's excited to be doing something a little different, I always almost say, "WAIT! You're staying right here." It's not that I don't l-o-v-e the time to myself (meaning, time to clean the house and take care of the rest of the family who didn't leave). I appreciate not having a no-napper at my heels asking for help but not wanting actual help, putting greasy, dirty fingers into my mouth, climbing on me, asking me to hold her, hold her dolls, hold her blanka, standing at my knees while I pee, etc. etc. etc. I've been working on my newsletter project since Marta went to sleep, and I've actually accomplished things, instead of sitting down to do it and having to kiss a boo-boo, sitting down then having to get a drink, sitting down then having to pull a stuck toy out, again etc. etc. etc. But I feel like every single day I put her off in favor of the baby, because I assume she's more mature and less needy than she is. She's not baby-ish anymore, and so I expect her to understand when I have to nurse Marta (in the dark, in the same chair, with her sound on, and a blankie). She shouldn't have to sit out in the living room alone while I do this. I hate it. 

So when someone takes her for an hour or overnight, I get really jealous that they get quality time with her. It's not that I don't love being with Marta, too. I just long for my big girl, so that I even miss her when she's right next to me. Touching my knees. While I pee.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

From the Mouth of B

Last night when I was leaving Berit's room, she said to me, "Love ya, Babe."

(This is a pic of her wearing Marta's bathing suit as a front pack, a trick her cousin Annie taught her.)

Speaking of tricks, Marta has started patting my back when I pick her up to burp her -- adorable to the max -- and cracking up when I get her out of her crib after bed/naps. She has also started wrinkling her nose and snorting really fast, over and over, until I do it back and then she laughs and laughs.

Berit has decided that a boo-boo she acquired last weekend (WHICH HAS SINCE HEALED COMPLETELY) is still in need of special treatment in the bathtub. While it is forgotten for the entire day, once we hit the tub she must stand during her bath with her foot on the edge of the tub, keeping her toe (the location of the injury) out of the line of any splashes, soap or cleanliness. Oh, she also screams during her whole bath, "NOT MY TOE! NOT MY TOE!"

She has a minor runny nose and is up in bed whining for me, so I should probably get ready for a night dedicated to wiping her nose for her since she won't do it herself.

Still, the "Love ya, Babe," makes up for all of this drama. I'm requesting that she say it over and over in the hope it sticks in her mind and she says it in lots of cute situations. Preferably in public.

A Quick Walk In and Out of the Park

Took the kids to a new park today in Alanson, and as you can see, Marta was thrilled. :) The whole park thing is making me rethink my mettle as a mom, because I talk it up to Berit all morning to get her moving, then when we get there all I want to do is leave. Maybe it'll be more interesting to me once she actually plays on her own or with a group of kids, but the whole time it's her begging me to push her on the swings (Marta despises sitting in the front pack while I do this) or watch her hang from the bars above the slides, and never actually going down the slides. Today I showed off my great parenting skills by refusing to push her on the swing after her first round of swinging and forcing her to try things like CLIMBING and BOUNCING and GOING DOWN SLIDES. She cried and I told her to suck it up. Is it wrong to tell your 2 1/2 year old to suck it up? 

So then I was desperate to leave after a half-hour, but she protested and I ended up promising her ice cream if we could just go already. It occurs to me that she's building brain cells and personal character right now that she'll use the rest of her life, so maybe I should devote more time to expanding her horizons and less time watching the clock, wishing it were bedtime. If any moms out there have clever play games their toddlers love, please pass them on. The best I've done lately is sidewalk chalk. Every day. 

Friday, August 1, 2008

But Armed and Dangerous

Just in case any creeps happen to be reading my blog and decide to use the below info to their, ah, advantage, I'd like to note that we have a crazy good alarm that I've jacked up to go off if we so much as sneeze, a hound dog who's been cooped up with no real exercise in days and who barks madly if we so much as sneeze, a cop living next door who suffers from insomnia, a sheriff's deputy across the street, and I'm a really good shot. Just needed to mention that.

Home Alone

The long weekend is halfway over, and I'm all the way over it. We did have fun at Emma's 2nd birthday today, but the hours following were long, long, long, with no adult conversation in sight. Berit didn't have a nap today (I wrote that like it's strange, but we know the truth), so I couldn't leave the house after "quiet time" because then she'd fall asleep in the car and go to bed at some ridiculously late time. So she went down at 7 p.m. and will surely be up at 6 a.m. 

In completely unrelated Berit news, today she told me, "I'm not a raisin girl, Mom. I'm a Berit Hayes Doublestein." (Note that I did not ask if she was a raisin girl, nor did I offer her raisins before said comment.)

In case you were wondering, here's how my brain is working after two days alone: After Berit went to sleep, I took Marta out to swing for a little while, hoping the cool air might lull her into an early bedtime as well. While I was pondering whether or not Berit could sense the swing moving with someone else in it even while she slept, the birds around my house -- not in just one tree, in all the trees, all around my house -- started flipping out. Screeching, flying in varying directions, lots of wings batting and freaking me out. This lasted for a long, long time, and may very well be going on still, but I'm not opening the doors to check because they're all properly booby trapped in case someone tries to break in while I'm home alone. Anyway, the whole birds thing made me fairly certain there was some sort of wild animal on the loose outside, and I've spent the past few hours thinking about how I would save both girls and possibly the dog if a puma broke down a door or leapt through a window in my house. 

I also concocted a little dessert made from sugar, flour, vanilla, butter, cocoa and peanuts -- essentially brownie mix minus eggs plus peanuts -- and ate it while I watched The Soup and folded mountains of laundry. 

Trevor, on the other hand, slept in until NOON, went on a walking trip on the south side of Chicago hoping to check out Soldier Field and possibly touch the grass upon which his beloved Chicago Bears play. In true Trevor Luck, he stumbled upon Family Day, and got to watch the Bears play, mingle and entertain the crowd while he took pictures from his iPhone and emailed them to me. I'm putting them all in a box marked "Reasons Lisa Gets to Visit a Spa for a Week When She's Not Pregnant or Nursing."