Friday, January 30, 2009

Change A Diaper, Change The Sheets, Change In Our Lives Lately

So several of my recent posts have been about, among other things: 
  • Mom guilt.
  • Potty training.
  • Following Marta while Berit plays alone.
  • Berit's blossoming maturity.
  • Never getting anything accomplished because I'm dealing with all of the above.

And things have changed recently. Like, within the past few days. For example:
  • I've given up potty training completely.
  • I no longer have to follow Marta anywhere.
  • My house is clean, even after a playdate this morning, and I even made risotto with asparagus, peas and spinach for dinner. And pork tenderloin! 
The biggest change is with Marta, who plays completely independently now and will be busy for hours at a time. The doors are closed around the house and the gate at the stairs is up, so she can just wander with minimal following. It's a whole new world, I tell you. I watch them. Watch them! Who knew I would ever just watch them? 

Right now, as I sit in a chair and type this, the girls are playing together for the first time in history. They're running around the circle linking our living room, kitchen and entryway, laughing. Berit just said to Marta, "You're almost a big girl now!", and gave her kisses on her head. If I wasn't watching it I wouldn't believe it.

However, another not-so-wonderful change is with Berit, who is constantly droopy and whiny and begging me to play with her, because she suddenly doesn't know what to do by herself. Not every now and then, when a mother should do things with her child, but constantly. Like, even if we're playing and I get up to answer the phone, it's on with the wailing, weepy, "Mooooooooommmy, mooooooommmmy, plaaaaaaay with meeeeeee." There's a lot of rolling around on the ground, weakly picking things up and tossing them away, etc. It's maddening. I find myself saying really inappropriate things, like, "Jeez, you're never going to get to go to school because you're such a whiner." And, "Just go away from me right now. I don't want to play with a whiny little baby." I know! Isn't that terrible? I promise to never do it again. I just needed to tell someone. And by someone, I mean all of you.

But I see great things on the horizon at our house. My kids will love each other! Share toys! Play all day long and teach themselves and feed themselves and I can just sit in a chair and blog all day! 

Or something like that. The simple freedom of not following a person during every waking second is perfect enough for now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Lazy Mom's Admission Re: Potty-Training

It was so cold today that Trevor called me from the road to report that his temperature gauge had not stopped dropping since he left home. At the time of his call it was -12, -13, -15. Yet I couldn't stomach the thought of being cooped up again, so we braved the weather and went to the college to run off some energy. We met our good friends the Darts there, and Berit and Liam, who are like sister and brother with less fighting, had a blast. 

However, at one point I turned around from my chit-chatting with Ellen to notice Berit hanging onto the side of the toy bin, engaged in a very serious poop. I took her into the bathroom to change her Pull-Up, and found no diaper changing station. So I put my mat on the floor of the dirty bathroom, fed up with the potty-training refusal, and told her, "You know, if you would just go on the potty we wouldn't have to change you this way." (She is disgusted by germs and anything that might get her dirty.) "Oh," she said, unaffected.

This is the kid I thought would breeze through potty-training. She tries to be like a grown-up in every way, yet apparently loves the feel of a big gloppy poo on her derriere. I'm trying to stick with a program recommended by my sister-in-law, who also has a daughter like our Royal Sensitivella, which is basically ignoring it altogether. We told Berit that the potty was around, and if she wanted it she could have it. And though she loves wearing Big Girl Panties all day long, still no potty on the... potty. 

I will admit this, though: I love, love, love not having to sit with her in a bathroom while she poops. Pull-Ups make shopping, playtime, driving, everything easier. I see how long it takes her to complete a Number Two and I thank my lucky stars that I wasn't on the hook to watch her while she did it in the bathroom. 

So maybe I should give up the worry. I mean, I guess it works for me. The garbage is awful and the Pull-Ups peeking out of her size 3T pants everywhere we go scream "Bad Parent," but really, REALLY, if I'm completely honest, it's a whole lot easier this way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Odds and Ends

Well, our house did not pass muster. Apparently it was the couple's second choice; the first being right next to the school that their child will attend. Oh well; nice to have some interest again.

Our current drama of the moment is babysitters, and the seeking of. We had one girl who didn't work out for the kids, and another promising possibility got a better offer in her own city, and driving for a half-hour to come watch my kids for three hours wasn't very enticing. So we're looking and hoping and then when one surfaces, we get nervous, because we don't want to act like they're not trustworthy but still, it's our KIDS. And it's only for three or four hours a week, so it's not as if we're offering them the world. Yet, I can't help but want Mary Poppins. What mother doesn't?

In Sleep News, last night we went back to trying to get Marta to sleep through the night. She gets so worked up when Trevor goes to her that she becomes overstimulated and screams until she shakes. Sigh, we just don't know how to crack this code. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sitting On Our Hands

Our house has been on the market for some time now. How long? I can't even remember. Must be around 6 months now. I definitely recall telling Trevor that I wouldn't put a "For Sale" sign in our yard until Marta was 6 months old, and now she's 13 months old. So there, at least 6 months. 

In that time we've had, oh, maybe 20 showings. More? Probably. Less? Possibly. (Though it may seem as though this post is about my sleep-deprived memory, it is not. Please stick with me.) Those of you with children are probably right now envisioning getting the house ready for each showing -- and you can't hide things in closets, because buyers look in those! At times one of us has taken the kids out and the other has cleaned, moments before a showing. Other times, like yesterday, when Trevor was still in Vegas, I've corralled the children into small spaces, vacuuming with Marta in her front pack and making the dog stay outside in the cold while I washed the floors, then yelling frantically as I made the last few touch-ups, "Nobody touch anything!!!" (Though in retrospect I'm now wishing I had instead yelled, "Not a finger!" for retelling purposes.) My favorite times are when we've hired a cleaning crew, and we hit the road. Very satisfying. 

And I know there's just no getting around the toys. I've tried. It doesn't work. I remember before we had children, and Trevor and I were adamant that we'd never let our kids' stuff overtake our grown-up lives. No clutter, no bright, plastic, noisy things in the living room, the fridge clear of clutter and a few tasteful photos hung smartly around the house.

Oh, my. Our living room is our play room, and the dollhouse has its own wall -- a big wall. The lower half of our built-in bookshelves houses toys and kids' books, and the top half contains no less than 15 books about child-rearing. Our kitchen's magnetized surfaces are awash in finger paintings and cute pictures, and a high chair rolls around the dining room. The basement, besides having an office and bedroom set up just for show, really, is F.A.O. Schwartz. We have a slide, a swing (hanging from the ceiling!), a trampoline, two kids' lounge chairs, a kids' kitchen, a babydoll nursery, a bin of dress-up clothes, a mini piano, a whole village of Little People stuff and... and... and... (and really, really, really generous grandparents). Upstairs is no better, but I'm not going to write about it because I think you get the picture. Oh, don't forget the garage, stacked with warm-weather outdoors stuff, and the outside's swingset/playland. It's just ridiculous. 

So I know the odds are against us, no matter how we try to minimize the look of the toys, when people without children enter out house. I always picture them coming in and saying, "Geez, do you think they have kids??" (And then sniffing and saying, "GEEZ, do you think they have a DOG?")

The showings seem to come in spurts. Right when we put the house on the market we had quite a lot. It was warm then, and we could easily head outside and wait the showing out with walks and trips to the waterfront. In the fall we had a string of them, during which our Realtor thought we'd have at least one offer (and of course we fantasized about a bidding war, which would push our price into the stratosphere and we'd be rich, rich, rich). After one showing, which was actually the third time this couple had come to see the house (not counting the time they showed up unexpectedly to walk the property or the time they called my father-in-law, thinking it was us, to chat about the construction of the house and possibly building the same one on a bigger lot somewhere -- what??), our Realtor (who is actually a dear friend who threw Trevor and me our "Up North" wedding shower) called me while I was driving. I turned down the news channel I was listening to on the radio to take her call. She said, "They love it! I think you're going to get an offer today. Stay by a fax machine, and keep your phone on." Yay! I turned the radio back up just as the reporter said, "Today is the worst day in history to buy a house." No offer.

Then, nothing. The market dove, then dove again and again, and the house next door to us and the one next to that were foreclosed on, and nobody could sell anything to anyone. 

And, randomly, on Friday we got a showing request. Last night, long after the kids were in bed and as I was getting out of the shower, our Realtor called to tell us that they wanted a second showing, first thing in the morning, and by the way, she had run into a man driving in the neighborhood who was looking for a house here, needed to be in it in less than a month, and he liked ours. He snapped pics of the outside and she gave him a packet of information (how coincidental is that, that she happened to be out here and he happened to be driving by?). He planned to call for a showing this week. 

So we're waiting, and hoping, and trying not to wait or hope, because we just WANT to move -- we don't HAVE to move. Being a builder who did not build his current house, Trevor needs that satisfaction and perfection. But we know that we have a great house now, and that building a new one will just be plain old expensive and hard work, but oh do we want to do it. So we're staving off the urge to pull out our plans and start the line of self-questioning. (You know, "Where would we live?" "Would we put our things in storage?" "When should we break ground?" And the ever-imposing, "Can we really afford this? Are we making the right decision?")

We're also a little unsure about how we'll keep our house in show condition, with the weather outside so frightful, and a toddler who loathes the cold and would rather spend the entire day cooped up, tearing apart the interior, and a baby who likes to walk around picking things up and taking them to the other end of the house. Best not to even mention the mess the darn dog makes. 

Little by little, though, positive thoughts about this are creeping into our minds, and we're once again envisioning a massive bidding war. To sweeten the deal, we may even throw in the dog.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

As If Vegas Is Such A Fun Place To Celebrate A Birthday....

Coincidentally, Trevor's International Builder's Show trip fell smack dab on his 31st birthday, which is today. So he's been in Vegas all week, and, poor thing, has to celebrate his birthday there. 

Also coincidentally, I HAVE BEEN TOLD, some of his buddies are in Vegas this week. It looks much more deceptive than I think it really is as I type this. Whatever the situation, they're there together. 

Geesh, wonder if he'll find anything to do.

But just in case he happens to read the family blog, because it's his birthday and he's feeling homesick (go with me on this), he should know that we miss him and are celebrating this day of his birth all the way back home. His girls are a little lost without him; any time Marta wakes she calls for him, whenever they see his picture or hear his voice on one of the home videos we've been playing they both get wistful. Berit is planning all the fun they'll have once he's home. I, by the way, miss my buddy. 

So, in short, we can't wait to see him in-the-flesh and hear about his tame, mild, ever-so-boring business trip, and shower him with happy birthday kisses.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tech Tease

First off, let me just own up to the fact that I'm on Facebook and I love it and I'm 30. Fine.

And Trevor always makes fun of me for checking my Facebook account every night and replying to all the friends I've caught up with and those who I'll see the next day but can't bear to go one night without talking to. Writing to. Anyway.

On Monday morning I tried to log into Facebook and it wouldn't work. I can access my profile home page, where it shows my friends' updates and that I have messages and friend requests and all sorts of fun things to look at, but when I click on the links I get... nothing. And, friends, I'm going a little bonkers over it. I've tried (wasted time at) a zillion tricks to get it to work, and still nothing. 

And I don't need Facebook to survive, but it's maddening. Mostly because I can see that I have messages and other fun things to explore, including a new Scrabble game with my friend Candace, but I can't get into any of it -- though every other Website I go to works just fine. It's kind of like the carton of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream in the freezer right now that I can't eat because of the salmonella outbreak. Suddenly all I need to get through the day is a big scoop of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream (though before the salmonella it was just hanging out in the freezer, not calling my name). 

Hm. Maybe someone should tell me I have to stop saving money or stop eating lots of vegetables.

Attitude Adjustment

It used to make me furious when my mom would tell me to "change my attitude" when I was growing up. But it's not so bad when I tell myself, as a grown-up.

When Trevor left on Monday I was all enterprising and organizing. I admit that I get a little excited when he leaves, because, though I will of course miss him, it makes me buckle down and work out a system. I love a system. 

And with him away for a whole week, I would be super efficient and my life would be sweet with tidiness, order and the satisfaction of checking off every item on my to-do list. Ahhh.

As it turns out, I haven't exactly found my groove yet, three days into the week and three days away from Trevor's return. 

Yesterday, on our way to the grocery store, "we" decided to go to Traverse City (an hour-and-a-half drive away). (By the way, I'd love to go back today and just set up a temporary house at Target, because I relish my trips there and have twice written the company and asked them to build a store here in Petoskey, to which they politely declined.) So yesterday the only action our house saw was in the cup of curdling milk I left out and found at 10:30 p.m. 

This morning I've decided to change everything. As in, stop worrying about getting everything accomplished and just sit in my pjs with my unbrushed teeth and not clean, cook or check things off my list. My attitude adjustment, which will make me feel less guilty about all the things I had wanted to do and am not doing.

I'm pretty sure that's not what my mom had in mind 15 years ago. But it works for me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let's Get The Party Started

When I was growing up and my dad would go away on hunting, fishing and guys' weekend trips, my mom would throw a party. (Sorry, Den, for revealing this to you now. Sorry, Mom, for revealing.)

He worked hard all week and always wanted things low-key on the weekends, so we never had any big playdates or wild ruckuses at the house. But when he left, my mom let the good times roll, with kid parties and fast food and shopping trips. It might sound like we longed for my dad to leave us on a weekend, but somehow we found him enjoyable enough to want him around for the majority of the time. :) I did love when my Mom and sister were gone (no offense to them), because my dad and I would part ways, him to the basement and me to the upstairs, where we would do whatever we wanted (I read, mostly) in complete peace until they returned three days later. We'd see each other now and then and say hello, but mostly we were in our own worlds. Heaven. 

Anyway, now Trevor has gone for a week (Vegas, for work) and I've become my mother. This morning I gave the girls little gifts I'd been hoarding for Berit's upcoming birthday, took them to gymnastics, and when Marta went down for a nap I gave Berit a big birthday gift. Why? I don't have any idea. I just did. And then I gave her an ice cream cone. And THEN, after she kind of choked on her apple a little later, I felt bad and offered her another ice cream cone, which she took and licked a few times then gave back. Why am I doing this? Do I actually have a party gene that is activated when Trevor packs his suitcases? I had planned to be so structured, and right now I'm feeling like... eh! Let them eat cake!

Friday, January 16, 2009


Legend has it that every four days, after the hands on the clock have passed midnight, a member of the House of Doublestein will begin vomiting. And only when the heads of the household feel sure that all evil spirits and germs have been freed from the grounds of the kingdom through obsessive cleaning and wondrous magical charms, and only after the female head of the household has taken her brood to a particularly tactile playdate where her children's germs would mingle with the virgin immune systems of other children, will the chosen member of the House of Doublestein begin vomiting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waiting Room

I was overjoyed to leave the kids in Trevor's care this afternoon and head out for a few hours all to myself. Unless you count my obstetrician invading my nether-regions, because it was for my annual exam, but I didn't care. After two sleepless nights and two days of a non-napping teething baby, I took what I could get. 

When I arrived all the typical stuff happened, with the weighing-in, the peeing in a cup, the "has anything changed in the past year?" business. (Well, I wasn't pregnant and I didn't get pregnant, which is a switch from the past four years.)

But just before my doctor was supposed to make his entrance, he had to run out to perform a C-section. The nurse asked if I'd mind waiting, and I didn't, because I had brought a book and a coffee stand was in the lobby of the building (truthfully I was a bit giddy at the thought of this enforced quiet time).  So I got my cup and took a seat in the big waiting room of my OB's office.

I focused on sucking all the whipped cream on top of my mocha (splurge!) out of the hole of the to-go cup before it melted. Then I pulled out my book and glasses, and got to work assessing the people around me. 

Now, Trevor and I have been pretty happy with our little family of four. In fact, you could say we've been freakishly obsessed with discussing how we don't really know how we'd handle any more children right now. I'm fairly certain it's because we're "natural family planners," who don't use any form of birth control besides charting, faith and terror.

We've gotten pretty good at charting, but I go through spurts when I forget to take my temperature, or when I've been up all night with the kids and my temperature is way off. We have a cool computer program that helps us and we've taken all the classes, but mostly we're just trying to get the whole temperature thing down pat and every now and then we get thrown for a loop with it. This creates nervous energy, which leads to compulsively talking about not having more children right now. Which leads to feeling guilty because if God has more children in store for us, we don't want to miss out on them. But really we would love to just have these two right now. But we wouldn't mind more later. Probably. But God is good! He has a good plan! But our car is pretty small and we couldn't possibly fit another car seat in it!

You see how this goes. 

But sitting in that waiting room today (through what turned into TWO C-sections), I watched pregnant woman after pregnant woman bounce through the office door, happy grins and ultrasound pictures in hand, sometimes with husbands, mothers, mothers-in-law and even other kids. I love pregnant women. I love the way they sit down -- the big exaggerated sigh, the one arm back first to lower themselves down. I love the pregnant waddle. I love an OB visit when pregnant. I love how when you're pregnant, anything about babies is fascinating. 

One couple came in with their 9-month-old daughter, who caught my eye and waved like babies do to strangers, over and over, and I waved back, and she made me miss my girls. So I asked when Mom was due, and she said in June, and that she had two other girls at home, and today they were finding out the sex of this, their fourth baby. And a little later they came out and, surprise, it's a boy! Life-changing news, just like that. 

Remember that? Remember carrying your babies in your belly? Oh, I just melted in my chair today, watching the moms-to-be in that waiting room. It made me ache to be pregnant again, but only for a few minutes. I do miss being pregnant. Everyone seems to want to know about this; if I miss it so much that maybe I will be pregnant again in the near future. Maybe I am currently pregnant, they wonder? Am I drinking wine with dinner? Am I looking a little green around the gills? Could I be sharing a secret with Trevor, or are we just being goofy?

Some people really don't want me to be pregnant. One of my family members once said, "It'd be nice if you could just keep your family of four." I think it's hard for some people to deal with natural family planning, when they've been used to controlling things through methods that are 99 percent effective. So when you don't really know what's going to come up in your life, it bothers them. 

A few months back I was shopping and a lady was standing next to me at the check-out desk. She was talking to the salesgirl about her grandchildren. "I have 10 grandchildren!" she said. The salesgirl was impressed. "I like shopping, but not for 10 different kids. So I tell them, 'When you're 18 you aren't getting gifts from me anymore.' I think that's fair; they're adults then so they don't need me to do things for them." She was so sure of herself. The salesgirl just nodded.

I was so saddened by this grandmother. I don't mean to say she should spend all of her hard-earned money on 10 grandchildren; I just mean that it sounded as if she didn't enjoy having 10 grandchildren. 

I think about her when I think about God's plan for our family. I wonder if we'll have six children, and if people will lump them all together as "The Doublestein Children" and not think of them as individuals. I would like to claim that Trevor and I would be amazing parents to six or five or 12 children but I don't think we would. I think we could be great at three, spaced well, and possibly four. We desperately want to travel and do exciting things with our children. We want to be able to afford certain things. Not Porches or mansions, but we would like to take our kids to Europe and Disney and camping (well, Trevor does) and we want to buy them the right sneakers for school. That might sound materialistic and I am very, very aware that children are a gift and I shouldn't forsake a possible child for sneakers and truly, I'm not (natural family planning isn't fun for us). But it's hard for us to imagine life with many children, to be honest. In fact, we love the idea of our two children. And we love the idea of our two children, plus one or two others. But in the end, like everything, it's in God's hands.

I would really like to meet a few goals in the athletic department, and possibly even (gasp) in the career arena before another baby comes my way. I'd also like to take a trip for two nights with just my husband and even drink more than one glass of wine. And I'd like to have a year of doing fun things with two toddlers, and not worry about a baby's naptimes or nurse-times or diapers or devoting 98 percent of my attention to the baby and 2 percent to the other children. I want a year of joining in on all the fun, and not having morning sickness or missing parties and definitely, definitely not missing one of my girls' events, even if it's just fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Five minutes ago I wanted to write that sitting in that waiting room today made me miss being pregnant. But after writing this post and remembering the physical ache of watching Berit do exciting things without me because I was taking care of a baby, I want to instead write that I love being pregnant. Pregnancy, even just thinking about it, makes me smile. (In retrospect, of course.) But I don't want to be pregnant again for some time yet. And when it does happen, because we're natural family planners and it's bound to happen again, we can be pleasantly surprised, and totally fulfilled as a family, and not worried about the size of our car or that we have to wean the youngest now because soon I'll be nursing a new baby. 

I just hope God reads my blog.

Top Teeth; or, Sleep's Enemy

Since Trevor is leaving for Las Vegas on Monday for the International Builders Show, and since he'll be gone the entire week, we resolved to "help" Marta sleep through the night before he leaves. That way, even though we'll be missing him and I'll be flying solo all day and night, at least we'll all be sleeping well. 

We had our plan in place; the same plan we used to get Berit to sleep through the night. When Marta woke, Trevor would go up with a cup of milk (I can't stand thinking that she might be genuinely thirsty, hungry or maybe hot or cold, and we're not responding to her) and sing to her and rock her back to sleep. We were bolstered by this past Sunday and Monday nights, when Marta woke and Trevor went to her after my efforts failed to get her back to sleep, and he sang her to dreamland with ease. 

We hadn't bargained on her top two teeth coming down. And here they come, bursting through her precious baby gums, making her crazy 99 percent of the time, like a little match that needs only the tiniest bit of rubbing and it bursts into flames. I just have to tell her "no" during the daytime, or try to get her to sit down to eat, or change her diaper and she's screaming and twisting and throwing a temper tantrum. 

Apply this to nighttime, when everyone is sleepy, and the results are not what we'd hoped. I spent another sleepless night last night going up and down, up and down the stairs to an out-of-control screaming baby, who'd already had the maximum amount of Tylenol allowable. We tried to have Trevor go to her, but she was just a mess. 

So unless her teeth come all the way in today and stop bothering her, it looks like next week is going to be a little frustrating. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Roller Coaster Weekend

We packed as much crazy into 2 1/2 days that one couple with one baby could. 

Marta had a doctor's appointment today, Monday, for the second echocardiogram of her little life. 

Brief backstory: When she was born she was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, after our pediatrician heard a heart murmur and sent us to our local hospital for an echo. Plan was to do a new echo every year to monitor it and make treatment schedules if necessary. When her one-year birthday came around, I (having a sneaking suspicion that they were wrong about the valve) requested we have the echo at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, where Berit was treated and, truly, SAVED, where doctors specialize in children's hearts and where they know how to deal with wiggly-squiggly babies who don't want to hold still for an hour while their necks are jammed with an ultrasound machine. Plenty of offense directed at our local hospital, by the way. Sorry if you work there, but Marta's first echo was ridiculous. Picture me on all fours, above her on the table, shirt OFF, nursing like I have utters, while the technician sits there sour-faced just waiting for Marta to perk up and enjoy her echo. This leads us back to our original story...

 I took Berit to her first gymnastics class (more on this later, with photos!) then we left her with Trevor's parents, because the appointment would take three hours and really, we just wanted to focus on only Marta. In hindsight, this was an awesome idea, and I'm so glad I didn't give in to my mother's pleading that I bring B. Next time, Mom.

So Trev, Marta and I went to 5 p.m. Mass and left from there, hoping our car-hating child would sleep on the way down. She did not sleep until we were nearly there, and screamed about her discomfort for most of the trip. Once we arrived, at roughly 9:30 p.m., I took her out of her car seat and she threw up on me. Hm. Car sick? She threw up again. Hm hm. Once cleaned up and properly aired, I figured she'd bounce back, and we waited for my family to come home from a dance recital they were attending. Just as they were walking in the door, Marta had throw-up #3, and the night went downhill from there. She threw up every half-hour consistently through the night, and only slept when I held her, save for a miraculous 2-hour stretch when I thought she was through being sick but her body was actually saving up for a double-whammy of vomit and diarrhea. The laundry was constantly going (I had only packed three pairs of pjs and three outfits, and we went through them all) and the poor thing was a wreck. My family members were amazing and held her and loved her even though they were risking their own healthy immune systems. It's good to have people who adore your children.

On Sunday, Marta headed for recovery with two giant naps and no more throwing up. Last night she slept like a champ and we woke to a massive blow-out diaper, the likes of which we haven't seen since she was a newborn. Into the bath she went, the laundry started again, and we were a half-hour behind in my schedule for getting to the appointment. We ended up leaving my mom with a house full of laundry and scattered toys, and if I know her she spent her whole day disinfecting every square inch of her gorgeous and big house, and she won't complain a bit to me about it. 

We arrived at Helen Devos Children's Hospital and Trevor dropped Marta and me (meaning, of course, Marta in her fleece snow suit, me in my slippery down coat and the giant diaper bag slung over my shoulder, so Marta kept slipping down my front while the bag was tearing off my back), and I asked a lady at the information desk to walk us to the appropriate place. Which was, after TWO elevator rides and a wing away the WRONG place, and we had to go back to the place we started plus another building over. (I'm not complaining, just illustrating the craziness of our trip.)

Marta had a general check-up and an EKG, both scary for her but she tolerated them relatively well. The pediatric cardiologist met with us and explained a bicuspid aortic valve, and listened to her heart. He then said, "Hm, I am really not hearing what I'd expect to be hearing from a bicuspid valve."

We went into the echo room and Marta did extraordinarily well for a baby who is propped on her side with stickers all over and gel covering most of her upper half, being smushed around by an ultrasound thing (wand? handle?). The tech was nice and full of good humor and listened to me sing in my really awful singing voice and played an Elmo movie for Marta. Afterward she told Marta what a good job she did -- I have to say, I appreciated that. And then we waited. 

A knock at the door, and the doctor came in with two thumbs up -- "Nothing!" he said. "She has three fully-functioning valves, looking perfect. She can do whatever she wants, she doesn't need antibiotics when she goes to the dentist, when she's big enough to do little person sports she can do them and she never has to come back to see me." 

Hooray! We've been celebrating ever since, kissing Marta with big smackeroos on her chubby cheeks and dancing her around like a doll. Besides Trevor spouting off every now and then with a mini tirade about wanting to sue someone for the shoddy first echo/misdiagnosis/insurance denial/new expensive insurance/money we pay out-of-pocket for these echos, we've been on cloud 9. 

Both babies are currently in dreamland, and all is well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Haikus To My House

what mess is found here
in this blue/gray winter house
it always comes back

little cups and spoons
in my sink bubble like fish
i run somewhere warm

clean clean clean clean clean
mess mess mess winter mess mess
clean clean clean not me

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sleepless In See-I-Told-You-So

I very clearly remember a conversation I had with Trevor before Berit was born. We were talking about my soft spot for children and animals, and he said, "Oh no. You're never going to be able to let a baby cry it out, are you?" And I said, confidently: "Sure I am. If I know it's for our child's own good, I'll be fine with it."

HA. Double HA.

When Berit was born I became a nighttime weakling. My first mistake was letting her sleep in our bed, but that's a different post altogether. It does, however, illustrate my lack of a backbone when the sun sets. 

I don't know why. During the daytime I run a fairly tight ship, and the kids respond well to it. But there's something about their neediness at night; like, how could they manipulate me when they're sleeping? I can count the time they've spent on this planet in DAYS. They must be hungry, they must be sad, they must be scared. They need their mama! 

Most of the books say to let the babies "cry it out," in one way or another. I always clung to the authors who questioned those theories, wondering why anyone would let an infant cry themselves to a sobbing sleep. 

However. The day came when it was ridiculous for Berit to nurse every hour at night (OK, it was long overdue), which coincidently came right around the time I found out I was pregnant for Marta. I knew I didn't have long to get sleep -- any sleep -- before I was up with a newborn again. I also knew that if Berit wasn't sleeping through the night at age two, she probably never would sleep well. So Trevor went to her when she cried, and she did cry more, and it was hard, and I held the bed listening to the monitor so I wouldn't jump up and go to her. But it worked. (I do have to admit that I was glad she was older and not a tiny baby.)

And now, here we are with #2. To tell the truth, I haven't minded a whole lot when Marta woke a couple times during the night. And I still don't mind. But my friend Lori was telling me that she and her hub made their youngest cry it out, and she's sleeping like a dream these days. And, she's two months younger than Marta. So I'm thinking about it, but I'm so, so wimpy about it. On one hand, those 10:30, 1:30 and 4:30 (roughly) wakings aren't killing me. But a full night of sleep? Really? I don't know what I'd do with myself and all my energy.

So stay tuned, because soon I'll be weepy about nighttime neglect, bolstered by newfound sleep or bemoaning my weakness when it comes to babies. The good news: She's getting bigger every day. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's Not Easy Missing Green

I don't remember when Berit's obsession with the color green started. My mother-in-law claims it was when she took Berit to Hallmark a year-and-a-half ago and let her pick our her own Crocs, and she picked green. My mom thinks it's because of oh I don't know, something that she bought Berit, which has slipped my mind because really I think my mom made it up to best my mother-in-law in the green-love department. I personally think it was just there in Berit, and she never had the chance to voice her opinion on colors because she was a baby, and then suddenly there was a wall of Crocs in front of her and she could point and be heard.

Anyway. Berit loves ("loves-loves-LOVES") the color green. There has never been another choice for her; and when she has said she liked another color to get the popsicle I had or because her blanket is blue and she loves her blanket best, she always added: "But I love green."

She sometimes dresses in all green. She needs green food, if possible. If something green is presented to her, she makes an impressed face, where she opens her eyes into circles and gives herself a double chin by pushing her face back while keeping her shoulders forward. When other people wear green, she likes them. When other people who are close to her wear green, she says, "Thank you for wearing green for me." I think you get the picture.

The Green has crept into our lives like slime, oozing into our own choices. I saw a green diaper bag at the store, and had to have it, where two years ago I may not have looked twice. When we shop, we have to be careful not to buy too much green for ourselves, because it's the first color we reach for. I deliberately dress Marta in other colors, to keep green special for Berit. It's weird, I know.

A few months back Berit became interested in Cinderella. I'm not sure why (I have a sneaking suspicion the grandmothers pushed it, but no harm done), because we don't watch the movie really and we never introduced it to her ourselves. Recently, however, her interest has grown into an all-out lovefest, where she has to wear the same Cinderella outfit every day and EVERY NIGHT and the same old blue headband because she thinks it's Cinderella's and prefers that we address her as Cinderella.

And she has started asking for blue things. Not more than green things, but she is choosing another color occasionally, and it's so strange for me. I don't like it. I'm a little mad at Cinderella. I was quite pleased that Berit wasn't being all pink-stereotypical-girly-etc. 

And now Trevor's rushing me to end my computer time and I can't think of a proper way to close this post, and it will seem meaningless and a waste of your good reading time. Maybe I'll think of something profound to add to it later, but until then, the green girl is still reigning, just in an imposter's blue dress.

Last Night

7 p.m.: Kids asleep
10 p.m.: Lisa in bed
10:15 p.m.: Marta wakes for a feeding
10:30 p.m.: Trevor in bed
10:45 p.m.: Lisa in bed
1:30 a.m.: Marta wakes for a feeding
3:30 a.m.: Lisa wakes Trevor up to hang out with Marta, who has been up since 1:30 a.m. happily awake.
4:30 a.m.: Lisa takes Marta from Trevor and is able to relax her enough to leave her in her bed and hope she falls asleep.
4:31 a.m.: Lisa in bed, Marta possibly falls asleep but no one knows because we are too tired to listen to the monitor.
6 a.m.: Berit wakes. Lisa wakes Trevor up. Trevor goes upstairs to lie with Berit, to convince her to go back to sleep.
6:30 a.m.: Lisa wakes when she notices Trevor is back in bed. "Is Berit asleep?" she asks. "No," he replies. "She's watching TV."
7 a.m.: Marta wakes.

A note about two nights ago...
Marta woke around 2 a.m. for a feeding and I pulled the monitor over to me to watch her with the hope she'd go back to sleep. She did, and I fell asleep with the monitor's screen on, two inches from my face. A couple minutes later I woke up because of the bright light from the screen, and noticed a GIANT STINK BUG on the screen TWO INCHES FROM MY FACE. IN MY BED. Do I even need to write all the possibilities here? In my mouth, hair, crawling all over my body, how long had it lived in my sheets? Trevor woke up and said, "That's weird, those bugs usually only like warm environments." Um, like my ear canal? In that spot at the bottom of the bed where my feet are?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sick Day

My last post was about Marta acting out-of-sorts and me waiting the long, scary wait for the throw-up in the crib. And now I'm waiting even harder, if you can do that, because I spent my entire day throwing up and doing another unpleasant act of stomach flu-dom. At the same time, no less. It was a messy day.

None of my family members are sick yet, so I can only hope that God is sparing them and not actually getting my illness out of the way so I'm healthy enough and have already been exposed to the virus so I can take care of the rest of them. 

It's not that I am so afraid of a little kid vomit. It's that I'm terrified of the overnight kid vomit. The sheets, the pajamas, the face/hair/hands/ears/neck being coated and the babies unable to open their eyes because the last thing they knew they were sleeping and then suddenly they're letting loose in every direction, not knowing to turn their heads, and now have their eyes covered in throw-up.

I seem to be OK now, after a non-fun day of laying in bed while my saintly mother-in-law took care of the children here at the house, risking her own good health.

Oddly enough, the entire time I was laying in bed I was thinking about my friend Amy, who was on left-side-only bedrest for three months while pregnant with her twins three years ago. I was sore from laying in bed for three hours! I know it sounds so pitiful, poor Lisa who never gets any sleep was sore from sleeping so much. That's not what I mean; I enjoyed the sleep and was grateful for it. But sheesh, you'd think I never spent any time snoozing, that's all. Maybe it's another sign from God -- I need to sleep much, much more often, so when I'm bed-ridden I will enjoy it fully.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Marta was out-of-sorts today; funny about naps, funny about eating and drinking way more than usual. Lots of laying her head on my shoulder, which is sweet for me but leads me to believe that she is probably getting sick. Oh Marta. You're so joyful and adorable, and it makes us all sad when you're sick. 

Friday, January 2, 2009


I couldn't wait for Marta to walk. For the first 12 months of her life, I pined for her independence every day. That's not to say I didn't appreciate her babyness or that I don't enjoy spending time with her. It's more that I became spoiled in having a toddler who can do just about anything on her own within reason (this morning she changed channels on the TV to find Dora. I know lots of kids can do this but our remote control is tricky and I was impressed.), and I'm not used to following someone around every second of every day anymore. It's strange but I guess fairly universal that moms tend to forget the taxing parts of parenthood. Just ask any in-law, right? (Wink-wink.) (This is not to imply anything negative about my own in-laws, who are great. I'm simply commenting that our parents seem to have forgotten most of the hard stuff, and reminisce about how they "just did this" or how they were "more relaxed/more vigilant/more creative/etc." when they were new parents. Do I even need to explain this?)

Anyway. Now that Marta is walking, it's not all I had it cracked up to be in my mind. In fact, I'm starting to remember putting up gates, taking down knee-high choking hazards and padding every edge in our house (much to Trevor's disgust, because those corner pieces aren't cute). 

These days, even with the new Christmas toys all over the floor, Marta only wants to walk. Unfortunately, she's not walking quite like I'd imagined (like a nearly-3-year-old, I mean). Do you remember how a baby walks? Arms raised, feet stomping, knees up-knees down, wobble-wobble. So that leaves me stooped down, rushing along behind her, arms raised halfway, elbows bent to form an imaginary inner tube around her in case she comes crashing down in any direction. It's a lovely look for me.

It also leaves me with my back turned to Berit most of the day, running away from her and after Marta. Of course, I hate this. 

I was thinking today about when Berit was in this stage, and I don't remember it passing quickly. This is my job for the next few months. My girlfriend Beth, who has twin boys a couple months older than Berit, and I used to joke that "when they're 18 months old everything will be different." (We now customize this joke for whatever stage is next in our kids' lives.)

But it did give us hope. It's not that I don't love my baby, and I know I'll miss her roly-poly cuddliness when she's a toddler. But I'm looking forward to letting her go a little, and playing as a family instead of one-on-one, or worse, one-on-one and one alone. 

As for now, you can always find me hovering around our Little One, supporting her walk to freedom and fantasizing about brushing my teeth instead.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day 2009

(My checks won't reflect this change for at least a month.)

Five years ago was my best New Year's Day. It was our first as a married couple, and we woke up neither late nor early -- probably around 8 a.m. or so. We went to a coffee shop for breakfast, then to my favorite bookstore, McLean & Eakin, and wandered around for -- who was watching the clock then? -- a little while. We went back to the coffee shop next door, nabbed a window seat, ordered coffees (probably a fancy one for Trevor, probably a Breve for me) and read our books. Then, when we were hungry again and saw that it was lunchtime, we ordered lunch. And read some more. We people-watched out the window, then went out for dinner. 

It sounds so boring, doesn't it? It probably was to Trevor, who likes much, much, much more action. But I loved it; it couldn't have been better. 

Since then things have been different. We have two kids now, and our New Year's Days (not to mention our New Year's Eves) have changed significantly. Trevor's not very OK with this; for me it's just par for the course. I'm not the kind of mom who can leave her kids easily, so if I know it'll be difficult for them when I'm gone, I won't enjoy myself. And since I've been nursing a baby for the past three New Year's Eves, I haven't done much, but it doesn't bother me. 

Last night was funny. Even though we didn't have much planned besides a good dinner for Trevor and me, I was really excited. Maybe it was just the idea that it was a holiday, or that I'd be challenged to stay awake until midnight, or that my family would probably be calling at a ridiculous hour to welcome 2009 with well wishes. Whatever it was, I was a little giddy about being home. Our kids go to bed nice and early, so by 7 p.m Trevor was cleaning the house and I was cooking. The menu: Colossal King Crab Legs; shrimp with parsley, sesame seeds and chili powder; crab cakes; risotto and spinach. So very, very delicious. 

We bunkered down in our pajamas to watch Casino Royale and Trevor promptly fell asleep. After trying to wake him and failing, I went to bed. My family left messages on the machine and Trevor said he came in at midnight and kissed me on the head. We're a wild and crazy bunch. :)

This morning I made blueberry pancakes and Swiss cheese eggs and napped when Marta did. Then we took the girls to lunch at The City Park Grill, where they both ate like champions and we let them have ice cream. Then we went to McLean & Eakin, where we read books to the girls and let Berit pick two (both Dora books about dancing). We came home, and Trevor's now napping while Marta does and later we'll take them to the waterpark. 

I have to say, even though life is more slow-paced and we're not out partying the night away, I think it's going pretty nicely. Today reminded me of a new version of my favorite New Year's Day, and I love that we've adapted it to work with our kids, instead of pining away for a day all to ourselves (something that would be very easy to do). 

I don't mean to sound like we've got it all figured out. It's just one of those days when things work out, and it makes me feel like a good parent. Maybe it's a sign of things to come in the New Year.