Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pause Button

I'm currently listening to Berit scream in the bathtub while her dad pours water onto a tiny little boo-boo that caused much drama today. She doesn't whine quietly, she doesn't whimper -- she always, always yells. She opens her mouth really wide, like one of those singers who hits really big, high notes, and s-c-r-e-a-m-s. She did that a lot today. Granted, she's tired. She's tired a lot lately, which is and isn't strange. I mean, she hates taking naps, so we got used to just going with her flow and letting her skip. But then, when we instituted a rigid schedule of dinner at 5, bath at 6, bed by 7, she started getting super drowsy in the middle of the day and sometimes drifting off in a high chair or on the floor. But that's not what this post is about; I could write a book on our sleep struggles with her and I just don't have the time right now (as if it would solve anything, anyway. My shelves are filled with books about "helping" kids learn to sleep, and so far they just make ME more tired from reading them/implementing them).

Back to the more positive topic of whining. She whined a lot this afternoon, and kept asking to do things "with YOU, Mama." And, like I do often enough, I took a look at what I was doing from her point-of-view, and noticed that I was so wrapped up in Marta that really I was letting B play near us, not with us. But I'll tell you what, I don't know what else to do. Marta loses it when I put her down. If we're all sitting on the floor, she has to be on my lap. And I could just make her cry it out, but gosh, that'd mean I'd be sitting on the floor watching my baby sob, trying to lurch herself onto my lap. I can't do it. And I guess we do do stuff together, but really not what Berit wants to do. Later in the day Berit asked, "When we get home, is Marta going to go to sleep or be awake?" And I said, "What do you want her to do?" (You might think the answer would be obvious, but Berit really does love her little sis, so I was unsure.) And she said, "Go to sleep. Then she's a good girl."

And I feel like I just need time. I have a pile of freelance work up to my neck to do, but I don't dare break away when I have time for Berit, because she clearly needs the attention. I need a pause button. I need to pause Marta to play games with Berit. Today Berit picked up a book and paged through it, naming every shape. When I was getting dinner ready, we practiced counting, and she could do to 50 -- she's never gotten that high before, but she can do this stuff, and I'm not nurturing it, expanding on it. 

My mom once told me that she always felt like someday there'd be time to devote all of her attention to my sister, the second child, but in reality it was just too hard to do it, with me, the older, and her job, and running the house as a single mom, etc. And I feel like that, only switch the order of the kids. Like someday I'll be able to focus on Berit again, and do fun things, and take her places, but right now Marta needs me for survival. I have to tell you that I h-a-t-e this. In fact, I'm thinking that paying a babysitter to watch Marta while I play with Berit is sounding waaay better than paying said sitter to watch both girls while I work on that stack of freelance copy.

And Berit seems like the child who will hold this against me, out of the two. Jeez, in writing it all out it seems pretty obvious -- just drop everything to be with her. 

Tomorrow my mom and sister are coming to stay for Halloween, and Trevor is leaving on Saturday to spend a long weekend in Chicago rooting on the Bears. My mom wants to take Berit home with her until Monday, which will be wonderful in many ways -- but I so want her to take Marta instead! I'm insanely jealous that she gets uninterrupted time -- DAYS -- with Berit. That Trevor gets to go do all the fun things with her while I hold/feed/sleep with Marta. That T's mom and dad get to take B on their day-to-day errands and take the time to look at everything she likes. And to be very honest about my craziness, I get terrified whenever she leaves that something awful will happen -- car accident, kidnapping, etc. -- and it will be the last time I see her, and I'll regret that I wasn't there, and that I didn't spend more time with her like they were doing.

Gripe. Moan. Whine. I know, I write about this all the time. I don't even know how to end this! I do know that I'm going upstairs, now that she's out of the tub, and I'm going to read with her tonight. Trevor can have his turn another time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"I'm Cinderella, You're Belle, Daddy is Sleeping Beauty and Mosey is Jasmine."

Marta And Her Personality

I love watching our little one develop. She used to be just a bundle of happiness and joy, but lately, at 10 months old, she's really starting to show a personality. Today when Trevor was feeding her dinner, Berit was pulling on the front of Marta's high chair. Marta didn't waste any time in telling her "Nah Nah Nah!" (No, no, no!), while pushing her hands off the chair. And when I nurse her these days, she bobs off and looks at me all goofily, and says "Baby bye bye" and waves toward the big frame we have above our bed with several black and white pics of the girls as babies in it. (We say goodnight to them each time she goes to bed.) When she does this, she smiles in a very comfortable way and I always expect her to give me a little wink, like it's our special time. (She also points to her source of nourishment and says "Ball, ball!") 

When she gets around the many babies her age in our social group, she tries to stick her finger in their mouths, then puts her finger into her own mouth, repeatedly, as if to say, "Look, we're the same! We have mouths!" She has absolutely no interest in her nose, and if I point to it she brushes my hand aside like, "Whatever, Mom. Check out my mouth."

Tonight while we were rocking, she started waving, and when I waved back, she clapped, like "Good job, you figured me out!" 

Like the other women in this family, she's really into shoes, and whenever she sees them she tries to dive into them from our arms. She just sits there and picks each one up, inspects it, plays with any laces or velcro closures, then moves onto the next one.

Her love affair with dogs continues, and just seeing a live dog in person isn't enough. She must make repeated contact with the dog, and knows that dogs lick and lives for it. Gross. But cute, kind of. (In stark contrast to big sis, who's afraid of all dogs.)

She is not yet crawling. I know. It's late. But she's nearly there; she just hates falling onto her belly and howls the moment her tum touches the ground. She's started standing for a few seconds at a time, and is doing the walking movements. I think she'll be just like B in the movement phase of her little life -- Berit crawled and walked in the same month, 11 months. 

And like her sister and cousins, she's oddly drawn to her Grandpa Doublestein -- "Pa-Pa," she says, and she babbles about him when he's not even here. Not that he's so strange to love, it's just not as if she sees him constantly.

She bleats out "MAAA" at all animals until she figures out what they really say. Of course, you might remember my previous post about books and dogs. This continues. She's terrified of the vacuum. She LOVES laying on the floor with the telephone pushing buttons. This isn't consistent for other button things, like the remote or toys. Just the phone, so sorry if she's called any of you and you heard of bunch of gooey, slobbery noises.

She still wakes up a couple times a night, she eats whatever we eat but doesn't eat lots (enough to stay asleep, anyway) and she loves whole milk. My plan was to try to have her weaned by 12 months, but I'm surprised that it's already 10 months -- and I have no plan to carry out this plan. So we'll see. But she certainly is a fun little baby to cuddle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Putting It Out There...

A little while ago I sent a forward -- something I rarely do -- to everyone on my email list. I definitely don't make a habit out of that. The forward was of a video from, about both presidential candidates' abortion views. 

A handful of people I sent it to aren't going to appreciate it, I think. And after I sent it, I got a little bit nervous, wondering what they'd think of me, hoping they wouldn't think I was too far right, too brainwashed by my church, too sappy, too... you get the idea. And they might think I'm ridiculous for sending out a mass email about my personal political views. 

And then I went downstairs to do the elliptical and read my magazine. But I was still nervous... what would so-and-so think? But then I was reading this article about what people said they'd do if they only had a few months to live. And really, I didn't care anymore. I mean, what if this video helped one person understand this one issue? I wasn't telling people to vote one way or the other. And I'm not advocating that a person vote for a candidate because of one specific issue, because that in itself bothers me about other people. But I listen to what other people have to say, because why the heck not listen to other opinions? 

And a few minutes after I sent my email, a friend emailed me back thanking me for what I'd written. An acquaintance emailed me, saying how she didn't like what I'd written. I guess I opened myself up for criticism. But when I look back on my life in however many years, I'd like to think I did something about an issue that was important to me. And so maybe it started here. Not that one little email was the start of a revolution... But still, it was a step in a particular direction. We'll see...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sugar + Dough = Playhouse Disney Live

Months and months ago I noticed an ad for Playhouse Disney Live. That's right, I let my daughter watch morning TV, and she's so into it that I figured she'd love to see her favorite characters in person. I knew she would. I knew I would love taking her. So I shelled out $90 for three second-row-center tix to a production in Saginaw, 2 1/2 hours away. I knew it'd be worth it. 

I have these memories of going to Sesame Street Live with my family when I was little. They're in the category marked "Perfect Memories of Childhood." They involve anticipation, cheap, blinky souvenirs and popcorn, cotton candy and soda. I have been waiting more than 2 1/2 years to create such a memory with my own children (I've made other good memories I hope -- I just mean this one was different and special). I - was - stoked.

And so was Berit, when I told her about it. Aha! Just the reaction I was hoping for. She was ready for it developmentally... finally! The awe was just around the corner! 

Nevermind that Marta's been miserable all week. On Tuesday, the doctor said it was a virus that was making her super cranky, sleepless and not hungry. I swore it was an ear infection combined with her new (first!) tooth popping through, but no infections were found. No sniffles, no coughs, just a mysterious virus that makes babies feverish and fussy. How lovely.

On Thursday her fever broke, and I looked ahead to brighter days. Friday rolled around -- the day of the event -- and we dropped the dog with a friend, loaded the car with snacks, just-in-case stuff and pjs for the ride home. I even took a carsick medication so I could entertain kids from the front seat, turned around, or, if the perfect day turned into the perfect drive, READ for the two-and-a-half-hour trip there and home. (Hello, gas prices $$$) 

Marta was not excited for this day. Still miserable, she shrieked the whole way there. We arrived an hour-and-a-half early, and walked around the small waiting area trying to entertain a very-excited B and a cranky baby. I spent $40 on two blinky souvenirs that the girls really loved, and I didn't care too much that Marta was fussy, because I was way too excited to see the look on Berit's face during the show. 

The time to enter came. Our seats were perfect. We bought cotton candy ($), roasted almonds ($), yogurt pretzels ($) and chocolate-covered raisins ($). Berit was in sugar heaven, let me tell you, and I didn't even try to stop her. Marta, on the other hand, was squirmy and unhappy. "As soon as the show starts, she'll be fine," I thought. We were front and center -- she'd be mesmerized by the action and the lights. Trev and I took turns walking her around the arena. With each lap, she got more fussy, more tired, more uncomfortable. 

But the show started, and Berit's face! She was so happy! Mickey was onstage, and there was singing and interaction and dancing and oh, what promise this show held for her, for me. But Marta couldn't have been less happy, and she was letting everyone around us know about it. I had no choice but to take her somewhere less crowded (though I did try to nurse her several times right in our front-and-center seat, so that even Mickey could see my belly and possibly my breasts as Marta refused them). I moved to the last row -- no dice. I moved to the bathroom, and did something I promised my sister long ago I'd never do -- I sat on a public toilet and nursed her. Still no happiness. I proceeded to march around and around the arena through the entire show with my fussy baby winding circles around and around in my arms, trying to get comfortable and finding it impossible. Trevor says Berit loved the show, and that as soon as it was over, said, "I want more," quietly, matter-of-factly, in true Berit fashion. I know it sounds ridiculous -- I have a happy, healthy family who can do fun things together -- but I was really sad that I didn't get to watch the show with my kiddo. 

On our way home Marta crashed. When she woke up nearly in pieces she was so upset, we stopped for dinner ($) -- which Trevor and Berit ate while I hung out in the car with Marta. She then proceeded to shriek the whole way home, and Berit had an anticipated and accepted sugar meltdown. 

During the night, Marta would only sleep if I was holding her, standing up. So you can guess how much sleep we both got. This morning I took her to the doctor's office (again. $), sure her virus had somehow led to an ear infection. When we unzipped her pjs to take her temp, we noticed that her whole body had a rash on it. And to be honest, I was relieved, because there was now physical evidence that something bad was happening with my baby, and the doctor would see it, tell me what it was and what he would do to make her better.

But he said everything was fine -- the rash was simply an indication that what she had was a virus, that she probably had a headache and body aches, and to take her home, give her some Tylenol and wait, because it'd start clearing up, he guessed, by Monday.

And by the way, keep her away from other kids (sorry, Playhouse Disney Live crowd), and were we taking our kids downtown for the downtown trick-or-treating starting in five minutes and lasting for the next hour-and-a-half? 

So Trevor took Berit dressed in her dragon costume trick-or-treating, without Marta and me, and he said she "had a blast." And I missed it.

And I know this post sounds like a lot of whining on my part. I think these past few days were a shining example of Mom sacrifice, like when you were a kid and you stayed in your jammas all Christmas Day playing with your new stuff while your mom, who had purchased, wrapped, set out and videotaped your enjoyment of said stuff cooked dinner for a dozen people and cleaned up your Christmas mess. And Dad took a nap. (Not saying for a second that Trevor hasn't been my hero through all of this -- at 3 a.m. last night he took Marta and read her books for a half-hour so I could get a little shut-eye. But you understand.)

And I don't mean to sound like "Oh, moms have to sacrifice so much just so that their kids have a lovely life." Even if that were the case, I'm happy to do so. I don't know what I'm trying to say. I just wanted to see Berit happy and enjoy these things, because they're brand spanking new to her, and I wanted to see the first time she realized them, the first time they entered her consciousness. 

Side note: When I asked Trevor if he had taken any pictures of Playhouse Disney Live, he said he had. I was so excited to look at them... but they were all of Mickey Mouse. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Books in a Life

This is the typical scene I greet each morning, after Trevor has gotten up with Marta around 5:30/6 a.m. (wonderful husband that he is) and spent about an hour hanging with her before bringing her in to me pretending she's ready to go back to sleep... but really he's just had enough of books. As a big, big fan of books, I never thought I'd want to ban books from my children. But Marta's obsession with them has led Trevor and me to actually move as fast as we can in a panic -- not in a funny, "Can you believe we're doing this?" way, but in an "OhmygoshmovemoveMOVE!" way -- to hide books before she sees them, lest we end up reading the $*&^#@ dog book four hundred times in one sitting. Honestly, if we stop reading books, she screams as if there's an emergency room-level injury plaguing her. It's so far past the "Oh, but that's so cute and smart!" stage. If the book has real pictures of dogs or babies, we're toast. If I bring a book into the car for her and God forbid she drops it, I had better pull over and fish it out and sit and read a few pages with her before continuing our journey or else I fear her shrieks will bring the fuzz to my bumper. When it started I was loving it -- my kids don't look like me, but they love books like I do! But now, oh, if only she'd start throwing her body towards the television instead I'd be pleased as punch. 

I don't have much room to talk. I'm also a book addict, but since having two kids I've sadly been more of a book collector. About a year-and-a-half ago Trevor took down our bookshelves and made a wall of built-ins to house my treasures, and it's my favorite thing about our house. I've already outgrown it, and I don't intend to slow down. I still have stacks and stacks of books I've started and haven't been able to get into because of one thing or another, and still more that I haven't touched but desperately want to. Every now and then I walk over to the shelves and just look at all the books waiting for me to read them. I love the way they smell. 

It stands to reason I suppose that I harbor secret fantasies of owning my own bookstore someday. Now that I write that, I'm realizing that it's not really a secret, and in fact the people at my fabulous local bookstore, McLean and Eakin, are probably so sick of seeing my face loitering and asking for recommendations when I'm not actively reading much that they might just hire me to make it all legit. (What a great plan!)

My friend Sarah recently started a book club, and I can barely describe how excited I was about it. I mean, I was literally giddy and couldn't wait to gather and chat with fellow readers. I didn't technically read the book, but it sounded really good from what my friends said. It was a self-help kind of book, and I just couldn't get into it. But before I left for book club, I perused my own shelves for ideas for our next book. I didn't want to arrive and have my friends decide that this was our first and last meeting -- I needed to be prepared. 

Here's what I considered: 
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (complex, crazy interesting love story)
Blessed are the Cheesemakers, Sarah-Kate Lynch (super easy, fast and fun read)
Midwives, Chris Bohjalian (we're all moms, and it's about delivering babies -- but possibly dead babies, so not good for this stage in our lives)
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (another crazy interesting story but also involves a dead child and I just can't handle that right now)
The Twentieth Wife, Indu Sundaresan (an empress who changes her empire and arranged marriages)
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (hostages, love interests, foreign languages, compatriots -- still one of the books I plan to recommend)
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (the story of a hermaphrodite over eight decades -- the top of my list of recommendations)
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant (motherhood, Biblical times/tales, womanhood)
One Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus (a little hard to remember, but women who were commissioned by the government to marry Native Americans to help civilize them)

And a couple that I haven't read yet that I'd like to:
Interred With Their Bones, Jennifer Lee Carrell
Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, Kirsten Menger-Anderson
The Saving Graces, Patricia Gaffney
Fortune's Rocks, Anita Shreve
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

I'm sure this is all riveting for you. Anyway, I was so happy that at the end of a really cool, productive discussion about the book, motherhood, homemaking and other relevant topics a couple of girls threw out suggestions they had, and everyone had high hopes that the book club would go on indefinitely. 

I got in the car and called home: Marta was awake and Trevor was kind of in a pickle about putting her back down. I don't care!!!! I had fun! And talked about books! Which, clearly, needed to happen. 

And by the way, I was so impressed with the conversation we were having. First we talked about the struggles we have in our every day lives and how they relate to the book. And that led into how we feel about certain situations and feelings (my dad is just groaning right now, I know) regarding motherhood and homemaking, and we were all kind of down on ourselves. And then suddenly we were talking about all these great, positive things about ourselves and our kids and husbands and homes... like maybe we just needed to hear that others are going through what we are. I know this is fairly basic in terms of moms getting together -- shared experiences and all. But it was still good and much-needed for some of us. 

And so, book club is good. I'm excited to add another paperback to my stacks. And perhaps, if I'm lucky, even read it this time.

Recent Crafts

I've recently discovered that having a "project" each day makes our lives a lot smoother. Especially since Berit's been opting to stay home instead of go out lately, it helps to give her something interesting and new to do, and the individual attention doesn't hurt.

Here I took her to the craft store and let her pick out beads and pipe cleaners. I got this craft from Secret Agent Josephine, and it worked like a charm for the most part for letting me get the dishwasher unloaded. She just threaded the beads and I secured them to make jewelry. The ends of the pipe cleaners were a little sharp but so far no mishaps.

Our street is covered in gorgeous leaves. I love raking leaves but I love even more when we leave them on the ground and just walk through them. The neighborhood looks magical and golden right now, and I'm a teensy bit glad our house hasn't sold yet just so we can enjoy another fall here. We took a bucket out and found leaves that looked extra special. (This sounds lovely but really she wasn't too into it. It was more me pretending to get really excited about the leaves and she shrugging and saying, "Put it in the bucket.") We let them dry overnight and then measured her head, picked a paper (one for the doll, too, of course -- the doll's name is Saw-Saw, or Saucy for short) and I taped the paper together with packing tape. Probably could have used staples or glue but this was handy and I could easily tape the leaves she chose right onto the crown. It was a fun project but she doesn't like how the crown bends and kind of scratches her in certain places. Surely this could be remedied with a creative solution but personally I'm over the project so I'm not coming up with one. 

In other news, we're having a bit of a struggle with nursing. I tend to do pretty well in the nursing department. After about a week of sore nipples, I'm a regular Niagara Falls of sustenance for my babies. And especially after 10 months of nursing (not to mention the previous 18 months of nursing with Berit, that ended precariously close to the commencement of Marta's nursing) I should be a pro -- but over the past couple of days, Marta has started tripping me up. As soon as she latches on, she starts wiggling so that she's kind of laying on her stomach. Then she begins yelling (while latched on, so it's sort of mumbling really loud) at the breast instead of nursing to bring on the flow. My let-down is just not responding to such treatment, and therefore she gets more and more mad, and louder and wigglier, and as you can imagine it goes on for quite a while until my instincts kick in and finally a survival-only amount of milk comes out and appeases her for a few seconds before she pulls off and tries to turn around to the other side, assuming, I think, that there's more milk there. This goes on and on until finally the flow is flowing and life is normal again. 

I'm being told that I'm Aunt Andrea, Saw-Saw is Uncle Nick and Mosey is Uncle David, so I must comply.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

Lamentations 4:4
Because of thirst, the infant's tongue sticks to the roof if its mouth;
the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them

Today I drove to the store to buy long-sleeved onesies for Marta, because she only has three.
Today I made far too much food for dinner.
Today I ran my washing machine and dryer two times each.
Today I bought my kids Halloween novelties.
Today my children slept soundly in warm beds at naptime.
Today I spent every single minute of the day with my kids.
Today my children were bathed.
Today we wasted milk, because Marta's still learning to like it.
Today we bought extra diapers, just in case we run out.
Today I gave Berit a few diapers for her baby dolls.
Today we lived in a house that's bigger than we really need, but is filled with stuff anyway.
Today, when my 2-year-old told me she didn't want to eat her food, I told her the age-old story of children who have nothing to eat. And I meant it.
Today, when my 2-year-old went to bed, I heard her tell her daddy that some children are sad and crying because they don't have any food. And she said, "So we should really say thank you to God."
Today we looked on our chalkboard and talked about Laura, the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International, for about the same amount of money per month that we spent on miscellaneous things today. $32. That's all it takes.  Go there, today. 

Nehemiah 9:27
But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.

Matthew 10:42
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Mark 9:36-37
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scratch the Last One Off

So we had this list in our heads of all the things we wanted to do with the girls this summer, but life just got too hectic and we never made it to Mackinac Island (actually, we should have gone to the island instead of to Vail. We should have done a lot instead of going to Vail). 

And even though Trevor had a really busy day today, he managed to sneak away early and we planned to take the 2:30 p.m. ferry to the island. The girls took mini naps on the short drive there and were a little cranky when we arrived. Marta missed her morning nap because today was gymnastics, and (bad mom alert) we ate McDonald's in the car so she only sucked on a few fries for lunch, so the entire day was thrown off. But anyway, it was worth it to see the girls' reaction to the ferry ride and the horses. In the ferry I asked Berit what we would do on the island, and she said, "See horses, eat green smudge, eat brown fudge and give the Little One ice cream." (Berit calls fudge smudge, so henceforth fudge shall be called smudge in our family. And she meant we would get Marta ice cream, because only Big Girls are allowed to have smudge, not babies.)

The horses! The horses made the trip. The girls spotted every horse in shouting distance and Marta yelled "MAA-MAA!" the entire day, because that's what she strongly believes horses say, with her pointer finger stuck out as far as she could possibly push it (it was nearly shaking she was so sincere about pointing), finding horses even we didn't notice. We ordered smudge (Berit green, Trevor chocolate peanut butter, and I wanted oreo but Trevor decided it just didn't look as good as turtle and forced me to order that instead), got Marta a chocolate pretzel (from which she was a big chocolate ball herself) and sat in the park to eat and watch the horses.

We took the 5 p.m. ferry home (that's right, we were there from 2:30-5, which was long enough for a horse-watching/smudge-eating visit) and had pizza before heading back to our house. The girls are a little hyper from the sugar, but we really had a pretty nice time and we're glad we went.

So now a little Jon & Kate + 8 and off to bed. Time to make a new list of things to do before the snow falls!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halloween Costumes

We are planning a Halloween party for the kids in our "group" and our neighborhood, and we're getting pretty excited. Trevor and I both love Halloween, and putting together fun stuff for kiddos is going to be fun. We're even having a hayride! Yes, I think we're going to be the party house (in a good, safe, wholesome way, not in a "we're friends with our kids" kind of way). 

While we've got Berit covered as far as a costume goes (she's had the green dragon costume she's been wanting for about a month now, and regularly wears it to the grocery store), and Marta will wear whatever we dig up out of Berit's dress-up clothes or old costumes, we hadn't really thought about our own costumes. We're not so much into the idea of Halloween being an excuse for me to wear a sexy cat costume and Trevor to put on a mullet wig. No, that's not true: Trevor loves a mullet wig. We'd like to wear valid costumes that are fun and, most of all, inexpensive. (I would love, love, love you to know that my brother thinks I look like Angelina Jolie and my mom thinks we should go as Angelina and Brad Pitt, but I wouldn't dare try to achieve that level of lippage and cleavage at a kids' party, let alone allow people to think I also consider myself an Angie look-alike.)

If I were pregnant (and as far as I know I am not), I think it'd be funny to wear a bun-in-the-oven type costume and have Trevor dress as a baker. 

We've considered going as Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn, because I read a lot of books from that era and we just saw the movie The Other Boleyn Girl (read the book, it's much better) and Trevor, I secretly think, was kind of impressed with Henry's looks as portrayed by the hunky actor. But we're strongly opposed to those whole Renaissance festival bit, and we tend to make fun of those people (sorry to those of you who might be those people) when we see them with their capes and swords and tights, so I'm feeling like we might not do that.

Trevor wants to do a superhero duo, but I strongly believe that's because he wants to see me in a Wonder Woman outfit. Something to do with boyhood fantasies, I'll bet. 

So any thoughts from my friends/family on this one? What have you gone as, that worked and was kid-friendly?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pics of Aforementioned Craft

Life in the Slow Lane

The past couple of days have been perfect. Messy, but perfect, in a When I'm 50 This Is How I'll Remember Our Lives With Little Kids way. On Thursday we had friends coming for dinner. Berit was at Trevor's parents' house, so Marta and I went to the farm market and to the grocery store, hunting for just the right fresh ingredients, smelling them, touching them, picking out decorative pumpkins and thistle and altogether relishing a few hours of sensory enjoyment and togetherness. We came home and met the new babysitter who's going to start looking after the girls for a couple hours a week so I can (big, excited breath) do some freelance writing. She played with Marta for a few minutes while I prepped dinner, then our friends came, lovely dinner and conversation, appropriate bedtimes and all was well. 

On Friday morning we went to Bill's Farm Market for a hayride with a group of our friends. Berit was so thrilled by this that she was screeching with delight -- especially when the cows came right up to the hayride. Marta kept yelling out "MOO-MOO!" It was the quintessential fall day with sunshine and full-color trees, and it was even warm outside. We picked pumpkins, ate apples and generally got in lots of autumn fun. 

Later that evening we went to the waterpark, where Berit was whiny and didn't want to try anything -- full-on sensitive child mode. Trevor took her down a big slide and she got soaked and for much of the next hour was an emotional wreck. But we ate a junk-food dinner and she livened up enough to truly enjoy another hour's worth of play before piling into the family restroom to get the girls into their jammies (imagine Trevor insisting in increasingly loud tones that Berit HOLD STILL and NOT WALK AROUND because she was wet and the floor had GERMS and I kept waiting for him to say something like, "How do you do this all day?" but no, so I just cleaned up Marta's poopy swim dipe and looked annoyed). They fell asleep after 10 minutes of driving and smelled like chlorine when they woke up this morning.

Speaking of this morning, I set Berit and Trevor up with a super easy, super fun craft project that I thought I'd share:

You'll need coffee filters, washable markers, water, thread/string and paper/an old tablecloth to lay down under the project.

Spread out the paper/tablecloth and secure.
Give child a coffee filter and have her color all over it. 
We used a medicine dropper to take the water out of a cup and drip it onto the coffee filters. The marker will run and look like watercolors.
Let dry, then poke a small hole on the top of the filter and hang with the thread/string in front of your windows. 

Here are a few pics of us doing it. (OK, they're in the above post, because I can't figure out how to paste pics in certain places.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do-Overs, Make-Ups and Promises

Today was The Day We'd Been Waiting For. Trevor would be able to get out of work relatively early, so we were going to make our first trip of the season to Avalanche Bay, our local indoor waterpark, where we were going to buy the family pass (big deal here) that would keep us active and happy and occupied all winter long. Trevor and I were like kids waiting for today to arrive. We just couldn't help imagining our children splashing and getting worn out and loving every second of this fun, awesome park. 

And the icing on the cake: Trevor's parents were going to take Berit for the night. That means sleeping when the baby sleeps the next day, my friends, and I was all for it. 

Then I had to go pull an If...Then scenario and bite myself in the butt. Around naptime I explained to Berit that IF she took a nap, THEN we'd go to the pool (I wisely hadn't told her about our big plan to go to the waterpark before this point). Done, she said. Genius, I thought. She marched upstairs, we read a few books, I left the room and she laid there for a full five minutes before deciding to play with everything in her room. Cue me walking into her room repeatedly warning her that we wouldn't be going to the pool if she didn't nap. Finally I had to pull out my last warning, and she blew it. No one would be going to the pool, and without a nap, she wouldn't be awake for two seconds of the car ride to her grandparents' house, so why even bother?

Although we had to plan the sleepover for another night, we eventually decided to go to the pool, when it seemed she had forgotten about the If...Then situation earlier in the day. (We just couldn't miss out!) So we drive the 40 minutes to get there, forgoing Marta's rumbling tummy with the knowledge that as soon as we arrived, we'd be in hot dog/chicken finger/pizza heaven. Berit fell asleep, so once we pulled up, we woke her and carried the children up to the door, everyone on edge for very different reasons. And.... closed. On Wednesdays. Now the kids were really a train wreck... and speaking of trains, we heard one in the distance! Let's find it and forget all about the pool! Hooray! 

We missed it. But hey! Daddy brought home a swingset and we just need to put it together! Wouldn't you like to do that?!? Yes! Let's hurry home to do that very thing right this minute!

It rained. 

Poor kids. Poor us. We now have a weekend full of things we must do, things we've promised we'd do: Pool, put together a swingset, find a train and go on a four-wheeler ride (yeah, we threw that in, too).  

Lesson learned. Always, always call ahead.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Waiting for the Garbage Man

Berit is wildly intrigued by our garbage man. It's not us -- we forget about her fascination completely until it happens. She'll be playing along on a Tuesday morning, and little do we know her ears are tuned to ultra-sensitive and her brain is thinking of more than one thing at a time. A crash outside -- "THE GARBAGE MAN!" And she runs to the window to watch the green truck stop at our house, the man get out and load up our mountains of poopy dipes, then drive away. She's in heaven. She loves it.

And do you know what my theory is? She likes to have the "help." As in servants. Because she says things like, "There he goes, taking away our garbage," in a very rich-girl voice (and just where did she learn that, by the way?). I expect her to wave her hand in dismissal once he's done. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall, Fun, and Prescriptions

What a weekend of ups and downs. We started with a washing machine failure -- about which we were kind of excited, because of course that meant we had to either pony up $300 for a fix, or invest in a new washer (and possibly a new dryer, just to match). Since we're trying to sell our house and build a new one, we thought we'd buy our "investment" washer/dryer combo now and move it with us when we go. (Yay!) 

Here we are at Lowe's, where I gave the girls suckers to entertain them while we learned all about the washers and dryers that would change our lives. We were impressed and we believed they really, truly would. Trevor called one of the guys he gets appliances from for the houses he builds, and found a great deal on a set we loved. Perfect.

(Side note: I also took the girls to K-Mart and, since they both had runny noses and were fussy, I gave them suckers [this was a different day -- not two suckers in one day]. From the looks I got, you would have thought I had given them margaritas! I couldn't believe how rude people acted towards us just because my kids were happily licking pure sugar. I guess you can let your kids have a meltdown in the middle of the store, but you can't give them suckers for entertainment.)

So when the guys brought the gor-ge-ous washer and dryer to our house later that day for installation, they first had to take out our old ones. And as they did, one of them said, "Here's your problem. You've got a kink in the line." And moved it around a little, and poof, our washer is fixed and we save $1,600 and we have no new washer and dryer to show for all of our research, excitement and planning of the loads and loads of laundry that would get gloriously clean all weekend. Oh well. 

After biking with Ellen on Saturday morning, we took the kids to Boyne City's Fall Festival, for hayrides and all things fall-ish. Here're Berit and Liam in the double stroller, both hungry, cold and a little sleepy. But still really cute. 

Marta Bear, being agreeable and funny all day, even though something mean was brewing in her ears.

The jumpers. Of course, the jumpers. This picture actually represents a milestone for Berit, as it's the first time she's ever gone in a "jumper" with other kids. 

Berit l-o-v-e-d this bunny. I foresee a fuzzy Easter present a few years into the future...

After the festival, we had a relatively successful dinner at Red Mesa with the girls, I won a CD from the band playing in the street because I figured out their book question with the answer Brave New World (one of the best books ever), then we headed home, where the kids went to bed and all was well and crisp and fulfilling in a fall kind of way. 

Then Marta woke up at 8 p.m. with screams, which lasted all night. No nursing, burps made her scream more, she wouldn't lay in her bed, if she wasn't screaming she was listless, burning hot, etc. etc. I nearly hit the ER a couple times during the night. Of course, today was Sunday so her doctor's office wasn't open, but the local clinic diagnosed a double ear infection and now she seems to be doing better on meds and Motrin. 

And right now we're sitting down to watch Parenthood, that 1989 comedy with Steve Martin, which we rented because we think it might be really funny to watch now that we actually are parents. Berit is still up. 

Postscript: Parenthood was NOT funny to watch now that we are parents. It was scary and made us downright nervous.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pics of Weekend At Grandma's

We sure did have fun at Grandma's house!

At Klackle's Orchard.

Playing piano with Grandma.

At Meijer Gardens.

The story behind this dress: My mom took Berit to The Disney Store, and as they were walking past this dress, a little girl was begging her mother for it. The mother said, "No, it's not your size," and the little girl was devastated. So Berit watched this and said, "Grandma, is this my size?" (It was a size 6.) And my mom said, "Yes it is." And bought it. It brought much, much, much-much-much joy. 

So big!


Cue Eye Rolling, Throwing Back of Head and Stomping Away in Disgust

Last week my kids were sick. Guess what? They're sick again. Here are a few pics of the ever-indoors activities we were up to today.

Sad baby; so sick.

Not looking so much worse for the wear with a s'more. She opened the crackers and wiped out the insides with her fingers.

Hey, she looks just like Pop!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A C-Section Story

Hark, the herald angels sing, both my children are sleeping!

I have some unexpected free time, so here I sit doing something I haven't done in about three years -- watching A Baby Story on TLC. I was addicted to this show when I was pregnant for Berit; back when I had never delivered a baby in my life, when I knew deep down I'd have a C-section because my mom had three therefore it stood to reason that I would, too.

Of course, the heart drama with Berit lead us to an induction a week-and-a-half early, so I was even more convinced I'd be delivering by C-section. But lo and behold, I delivered my first vaginally and successfully and, might I say, fairly easily. (Much thanks to Mr. Epidural, but still, success.)

And what joy and excitement the whole process was! I know many moms had horrible, scary labors and they don't want to hear about women who have easy deliveries. I'm sorry to you; it must have been terrible, and how awful to have the fear of that kind of delivery looming over your subsequent pregnancies. That's how I thought it'd be for me. But it was really just hard work and an amazing payoff.

Imagine my delight when I knew I could deliver Marta in my city of residence, and wait for her to induce labor herself, and experience another (hopefully) joyful delivery.

But at one of my last scheduled prenatal exams we learned that Marta was in a breech position, and that realistically, she probably wouldn't turn. We didn't want to go into labor with a breech baby, which wouldn't be fun for anybody. And my obstetrician's father had died the night before; he was leaving first thing the next morning to tend to his family out-of-town. So, while we were looking at the screen of our upside-down babe, he said, "Let's do a C-section tonight." We were scheduled for 7 p.m... I left his office at 4:30 and cried the whole way home.

Now I know that C-sections are healthy and good in so many ways. I do! I was ready to have one with Berit! In fact, so often I'd say to Trevor, "I wish we could just schedule a C-section and be done with it all." But when I was faced with my own, I just wasn't ready.

And I had it and it was fine, and even though I couldn't watch Marta being born with the mirror the way I did with Berit (gross to some, I know), and even though I couldn't tape it like I had hoped (grosser to some, I know, but I really wanted to see the whole thing happen for myself and why oh why can't we tape C-sections???), in the end I had this most amazing, precious child and holy cow, nothing else mattered.

But to be very honest, I think of it constantly. Not so much that I regret having one, but I don't like not having the option of a vaginal delivery again. It's weird, because this isn't like me -- I don't regret things like this. But I can't deny this very innate tug of a feeling that makes me want to experience labor and deliver my own baby. Maybe it's because I've been through it and I'm not afraid anymore, and I want the excitement of it all. Who knows? And it's minorly selfish, because the end result is all the same. And truly the recoveries for both were equally do-able and gross, so it' snot about that. It's just this void-like feeling, like I'm missing out on something special, something I was made to do and something that delivers my most perfect, most important gifts.

So when I watch A Baby Story now, it's with a whole new feeling. An appreciation for those moms who work so hard to have their babies, and for the fear and anticipation they go through. But it's also with a touch of jealousy, knowing that from here on out, any babies who come our way will be done on a schedule, with a yucky, scary shot in the back and another incision into my scar (creeeeeeepy!).

But this isn't supposed to be a sad play for encouraging comments. I know many women have it so, so much worse. I'm just saying, as my friend Kelly says, and I want my girls to know about this, because someday maybe they'll go through the same feelings -- much like my own mom and me. Funny how that works.

Happy Days

We've had a couple of fun stay-at-home days that used to make us all bonkers, but now we're relishing the homebody life. Take a peek...