Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Last week we had scheduled our girls' "summer" pictures (summer being a relative term in these parts), but Marta ran into the bookshelves and bruised her face so I rescheduled for this week. When it happened I thought it was a good thing I changed the date, because they were antsy and wild all day, and wouldn't have been very good company to the photographer.

Turns out it may just be Wednesdays in general that they're naughty, because we made quite a show of "Auditions for Supernanny" today.

Marta was well-rested and had had a snack and I did all the right things beforehand, like sing in the car on the ride over and praise their good manners and la-dee-da. We arrived and Berit hopped onto the platform posing and vogueing and kind of creeping me out, what with all of the leg-crossing and propping her chin on her fists without any sort of prompting. Where did she learn this? We don't practice "Going To The Photographer" at home.

Maybe it didn't bother me as much as relieve me of my motherly duties to her during the shoot, since Marta was running around the studio yelling like a banshee. When we tried to pull her in for a shot with B, she screamed and pushed Berit away. When we tried to get her to smile she yelled. When we tried to get her to SIT DOWN, she leapt off of the platform. The photographer took 200 pictures and we think we may have gotten one or two good ones of Marta. I spent the first five minutes swearing to him that my child is usually adorably clever and silly, then gave up and did acrobatics trying to make her smile.

Afterwards Trevor met up with us at the Bob-In Again for dinner, where we apparently became the parents who don't watch their children, bribe their children and let their children continually hurt themselves, because Berit accidentally (though it didn't exactly look that way) hit Marta in the face with her hula hoop, Marta tripped on her hula hoop while Trevor was ordering and I was wiping off the table and fell flat on her back, I took Marta outside to calm her down (in the 50-degree weather, with summer clothes on from the photo shoot), we let her eat chips and french fries with her dinner, she threw her food, she screamed at the table, then she had ice cream. All while they both wore their fancy, IRONED linen shirts and cute capris from the earlier debacle. I caught one grandmotherly looking women glaring at me as if to say, "Maybe if you spent a little more time with your children and a little less time buying them expensive clothes they'd behave for you." I very nearly announced to the whole restaurant that the shirts were on sale and that I usually shop for them at Target but we had just come from what I had hoped would be a priceless photo shoot and yes, I knew that feeding them fries, chips and ice cream was probably part of the problem but was at my wit's end and... well, you get the picture. 

At home, Marta yelped until I put her to bed, where she fussed and finally said, "Thank you Daddy, thank you Mommy," and fell promptly asleep. And she is forgiven. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Good Kind Of Cold That Makes You Sleepy And Happy

Today was nice enough outside, with the sunshine and the mid-60s weather. We had two birthday parties to attend, but since Marta was due to nap during the first, she and I stayed back at home while B and Trevor went along without us. They circled back to get us just before dinner time, and we bundled on sweatshirts and jeans for the party at the state park.

I know I complain a lot about the winter months here in Petoskey. The dark, the cold, the never-ending snow -- it's just not me, and during those 8,000 months of winter each year, I continually wonder if we all -- me, the kids, the family, the marriage -- wouldn't be better, happier, somewhere else. 

But once spring is really, truly here, and there is no threat of snow or frost for at least four months, I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of gal. 

And evenings like tonight's just make me content. We went to wish our friends' daughter a happy 2nd birthday. They live adjacent to the state park, and had picked a private yet open area to grill hot dogs and hamburgers and let the kids run off the day's steam. The evening was brisk and got more so with each quarter hour. Our girls went feet-first into the big sandy area, where the rest of the kids played with little beach toys and searched for stones. There were bugs -- could there be more bugs in Petoskey right now? -- and even though we were constantly blowing the not-mosquitoes out of the girls' hair and reapplying the natural bug spray to their clothes, it was picturesque. The local sheriff drove by, taking his boat out of the water for the evening and waved, charcoal fires burned their rich, hard smell, grandmothers brought bean salads and fretted about keeping the buns away from the bugs. The kids ran safely yet not entirely supervised through the woods and the sand with hardly any real toys, instead improvising with sticks and imaginary obstacles. Burgers, bug spray and vinegar from the "famous" beans scented our clothes so that I can still smell the cold night, here in my warm chair. The thought went through my head that weren't we very Life In A Northern Town just now?

And to complete the vision, here we are at home with sleeping children, a sleepy house filled with the day's fun, and Trevor downstairs, going through his full playlist, each song bringing up memories of our courtship and marriage. 

It's all so very good right now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Yap. Marta, sit Mama's yap."

Any parent of more than one child knows what it's like to love them equally, yet differently. The love for both of my kiddos is unending, overflowing, both overwhelming and constantly growing. I remember when I was pregnant for Marta, wishing that God would deliver to me a clone of Berit, because she was so unique and perfect. And Marta, she's a completely different child than Berit in nearly every way, but she's also so unique and perfect. 

I always say that the stage the kids are currently in is my favorite, partly because it's hard for me to remember anything prior to TODAY, but mostly because I enjoy the things we're able to do as they get older, and the things they come up with in their ever-expanding minds.

But truly, I can't imagine Marta making me smile more than she does lately. She's 17 months old, and she is joy personified. She speaks full sentences, sings songs, takes risks and makes us laugh constantly. She's full of cuddles, dares and clever ideas. I am bowled over by my enjoyment of her at this stage. I am also always certain that she is a genius. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And The World's Children Turned On Their Parents, And Their Parents Drank Wine

Trevor left early this morning and as he kissed me goodbye, I had one of those moments of being half awake but still very half asleep, a little confused and yet needing to speak for no good reason. I said, "Wait -- you mean no one's up yet? Well that means I get to go back to sleep!" And that was all, I didn't even hear his answer, until the monitor blared and Berit sang out, "MAma, I'm AWAKE, come and GET me!" And at the very same time Marta started talking and laughing in her crib. 

I thought, not bad, they both woke up at 7 a.m., they're both happy, the sun is shining and it is already HOT in the house. Good day.

But by the time we put our two feet on the last step to head into our morning routine, Berit had started whining and crying and Marta was making it very clear that she had two new teeth coming in and she didn't like it a bit. 

No, this did not continue all day. It got worse. Berit spent most of her day crying, an emotional wreck, shouting, pushing, taking, not eating, etc. etc. Marta spent most of her day hanging on my legs, a crumpled mess, begging to be held and begging to be fed and begging to be not fed. 

Luckily, I had scheduled our sitter to come today, since I had a meeting with a friend regarding a freelance job I've taken (which will hopefully be fun and rewarding and not one more thing to do with no time in which to do it). (Friend, if you're reading, I'm doing it to work with you again. Let's have fun and reward ourselves.)

I escaped for a few hours to my favorite local eating establishment for the meeting and left uplifted. When I returned home, nothing had changed (much of this was due to Berit's discovery of an old blister she had on her toe, which she hadn't noticed before today but was clearly old and in recovery mode, but made her act as if she painfully had no foot on which to stand for the duration of the day). 

To make a long story short, there was more whining, a forced walk, sidewalk chalk that couldn't ever be just right, a rough buckling of the children into the car for a ride to anywhere, three McDonald's ice cream cones, two episodes of Max & Ruby, a screaming bath, and an uneaten dinner. 

And now, we drink.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Better Place To Be

First things first: Can someone tell me where I can get Adam Lambert's mascara?

We started the day with cold and rain, and I squelched my idea of a bike ride tonight (even solo wouldn't be that much fun in the rain). Berit bounced off to preschool and Marta and I hit the road for the grocery store where she had a chocolate milk instead of riding in the car (germ-covered-filthy-plastic-piece-of-molded-fecal-matter-that-children-must-lick) cart. 

We walked around downtown a little then picked B up from preschool. It turned into one of those long, drawn out days that are reminiscent of winter when we're stuck in the house. I wasn't having it, so when Marta woke up I gave the girls a piece of bread for a snack (I know, but seriously, my car can't take any more individual pieces of anything, no matter how healthy they are) and took them downtown again, just to Be.

We bought Berit a new pair of shoes, and it's so funny to see her running around in them, because we've finally crossed into "Big Kid" sizes with her size eights and they're real shoes, not cutesy versions of real shoes. 

The kids ran around in the big, grassy parks downtown and we pretended to be a carousel in the gazebo until we were all dizzy. We came home, grilled burgers and I went for a surprisingly good run (I had a few cookies in lieu of lunch today). We bathed the girls, and in their polka-dotted jammies we all went for a walk before bed. There's still the house to clean up, but American Idol first, then more all-American, wholesome spring life. 

Oh -- Oh oh oh. Adam's pants are blinding me. Think pure thoughts. This is a respectable house.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Day In Town Is A Good Day For All (Minus Trevor)

While our house sits ever on the unmoving market, I decided to pretend we live in town already and spend the whole day there. We left right after Marta's morning nap and met Trevor at the college for a picnic. Then I loaded Marta into the double stroller with Everything Under The Sun to entertain her and walked down to the park, to meet Trevor, who had driven there with Berit. We first stopped at Bearcub Outfitters to pick up one of those blankets that everyone already has with the waterproof underside and the soft topside for picnics in the park. The store was slow and the ladies put out the various stuffed dogs so Marta could run up and down the line of them, saying, "Come here, doggie! Lay down, doggie!" and petting them, hugging them, and generally making me want to buy them all for her. 

We played at the park, where we met our friends, Emily, Sage and Sienna, then headed back up the very steep hill to the college to get the car. Nearly horizontal pushing the stroller, the girls and I played "I Spy" and I secretly listened to my audiobook. I kept thinking to myself how successful the morning and afternoon had gone; how soon we'd be at the college with a healthy lunch, two very long walks and lots of playtime behind us, and a new park blanket and spring jacket for Marta to boot. And. Then. It. Hit. Me. I had sent my fleece with Trevor, since with the addition of Berit in the stroller there was less room to carry stuff. Trevor was hard at work on the lake. And the key to the car was snug in my fleece's pocket. 

The icing on the cake? My phone was at home. I felt ridiculous for thinking I could pull the day off without a hitch, but you know what? It wasn't so bad. The college had free public phones (Hello -- in the age of cell phones, who does this? How cool is that?) and I was able to reach Trevor (not always possible when he's on the lake). The college bookstore was open and I bought the girls a much-desired bag of M&Ms. They chose colors one at a time, and by the end of the bag Marta had figured out which ones were "ello" and "boo." We had a quick potty break in the clean bathrooms (thank you college, again), and Trevor was there, key in hand (back in town for the second time, and even though I'm sure he would have rather stayed with us all day, he really had plenty of work to keep him on Walloon. Points for Trevor for having such a good attitude about running my key back).

We made it home and now Marta's taking a nap before we head out again for groceries and a prepared dinner (no time to cook today; too much fun is being had). Trevor's going to go biking this evening and I'm going to give the house a good scrubbing (and looking forward to possibly biking myself tomorrow night).

So there, housing market.  


What we're doing right this minute:

Berit: Watching Dora the Explorer and eating toast on the couch. 

Marta: Trying not to fall asleep on her chair because she's been up since 5:30 a.m.

Mosey: Staring at Berit, eating toast on the couch.

Trevor: Still not at work. Taking his time getting dressed. Took Marta for a half hour this morning to let me sleep.

Me: Still in my robe. Wondering how I might transfer our old mini DV tapes from our camcorder onto the computer when our old video camera is broken. Wishing we could go to our playdate this morning, but they have a new baby and Marta coughed all night. Watching as Berit dumps toast crumbs from her plate onto the couch. Wanting to brush my teeth. Thinking that the above representation of the kids doesn't do much for my reputation as a Good Parent.

Yet Marta is saving the moment for me by yelling out to everyone, "Ove you! Ove you!" On with the day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

No, Dessert Before Dinner Is Totally Fine

My sister is visiting this weekend -- a highly anticipated gathering, and not just by me. She is for whom Berit's sun rises and sets, and Marta, though less familiar with Andrea, has quickly decided she's also her Best Person In The World. 

There's been a whole lot of rolling, spinning, running, pretend play, art projects, dress-up, tea parties and general pulling around the house for showing off of precious treasures.

Yesterday I spent three hours in Boyne City, shopping, lunching and visiting without my kids in tow. While I love spending time with my girls more than, truly, anything, there's nothing like saying, "Just pop into a coffee shop for a quick sandwich? Yes, I totally have time." (And listening to an audiobook the whole afternoon instead of Raffi and The Wiggles isn't so bad, either.)

Trevor went to Traverse City to look for my birthday present, and bought a new video camera (which is not my birthday present, but which is equally appreciated), and nearly brought home a thousand-dollar handgun, so elated was he by his afternoon to himself that he was clearly over-romaticizing major purchases.

While taking the girls for a walk yesterday afternoon, Berit, dressed in a unicorn costume, fell asleep in the stroller. She's never been one for naps, taking her last regular nap sometime around 18 months old. Every so often she falls asleep in the car and takes a long, restorative nap, but we rarely encourage it because she then stays up until 10 or 11 p.m. 

Anyway, she fell asleep somewhere around 4:30 or 5 p.m. and slept hard until nearly 8 p.m. -- after her normal bedtime, even. When she does this Trevor usually takes her somewhere active, like the pool, mini golfing or bowling, and out to dinner. Andrea jumped at the chance to spend some one-on-one time with Berit, and took her to mini golf and Big Boy for dinner. Berit loves Big Boy. For some reason I think she's going to get a kick out of this when she's older. 

So, Andrea being Aunt Andrea, she let Berit have a chocolate/strawberry milkshake before dinner (which was pancakes and french fries). Everything was fine when Berit came home at 11 p.m., except Trevor and I were falling asleep in our slippers waiting for them to come home. She played even more, took an extremely reluctant bath, and then absolutely refused to go to bed. She was obviously over-tired, but with Aunt Andrea and the fun of the evening, we had thought maybe we'd let her get a kick out of the circumstances and stay up. Clearly we had forgotten that SHE'S THREE and GOOD PARENTS DON'T THREE-YEAR-OLDS STAY UP UNTIL MIDNIGHT.

She began having those overly tired fits, needing milk but not THAT cup or THAT milk because it was first too cold then too hot, then not "just right." This led into a fit of rage that had me doing my most extreme discipline technique, which really isn't a technique and not technically discipline (to me; I'm sure her therapist will have something to say about it when she's 16 and brooding) but helps her calm down and quiets her screams for Marta's sleeping sake. I put her in the bathtub.

It's empty, it's waterproof (necessary because she occasionally makes herself throw up to be dramatic), and it's near a large mirror that lets her see herself as she cries, and it always distracts her as she watches the funny faces she makes in a tantrum. Also, the big jet tub in my bathroom is too deep for her to climb out of herself, which is helpful in the event (as in last night's case) that she gets violent and I have to walk away. After repeated efforts to calm her down with distraction, humor, sternness and threats of no books before bed, I left her in the tub and stepped out the door. She sobbed and yelled for a few minutes, tried to throw up, then noticed her reflection and began making different crying sounds to (I assume) see what she looked like. Then she calmed down, yelled one "MOM!", I went in and we hugged and kissed and it was finally over. My sister, eternally compassionate, scowled at my bathtub "technique" and took her up for books. I got into bed, thinking it was all finally over at 12:45 a.m. and that she'd never, ever repeat the sequence of events that had transpired since she woke from her nap again.

And then at 3:45 a.m. she awoke in another fit. I sent Trevor up and she went through the original drama about the milk, having Trevor bring her a second, "just right" milk that didn't pass muster (and Trevor wasn't about to go down for a third), and after that I turned down the monitor and went to sleep. Which is why I've been up for hours with Marta while everyone else sleeps in. 

And here I sit, wondering if 8 a.m. is too early for a glass of wine. Aunt Andrea's here. We all get to indulge a little. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Very Good Day

Berit, directly upon waking this morning, more than a little bit confused...
"Mommy, I was just in dance class and I was eating cake and now it's gone! My cake is all gone, but it was just here! I was just eating a brownie cake, and I was at dance class!"

Berit, yelling, deeply asleep while crashed on the couch this afternoon...
"BOOTS!" (As in The Monkey, surely.)

While Trevor and Berit put on coats and shoes to take Mosey for a walk this evening...
Berit: "Marta, you don't get to go. You have to stay here!" (Push, shove.)
Marta: "Ove you! Ove you, Bebit! Ove you, Daddy!" Running after them, "Ove you! Ove you much!"

This morning, opening for me her Mother's Day gift made at preschool:
Berit: "Mommy, it's something to hold your flowers!"
(In actuality it's a baby food jar of bath salts. The funniest part about this is that I enjoy neither baths nor cut flowers in the house. It is, without a doubt, the very best present I've ever gotten, no matter what it is.)

Marta, currently in bed reading a book with a mirror at the end:
"Hi there Marta. Are you, Marta? Hi there Marta."

Monday, May 4, 2009

From The Mouth of B

This morning, in her effort to be as slow as humanly possible during the get-out-the-door process, Berit was using a baby wipe to "wash" her legs and feet. I stopped bustling around to listen in on what she was saying, because I thought I heard a couple of interesting words being used to refer to her feet.

Slowly wiping the cloth up the inside slope of her foot, Berit gets to her ankle bone and says, "Now I'm going to wash my nipple."  


I say, "Berit, that's not your nipple. That's your ankle."

"OK Mom. But now I'm going to wash my tits."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah. Your tits are right here (points to the soles of her feet)."

Hm. I say, "Berit, those are called the soles of your feet."

And she says, "Mom, why do we need soles? Because I don't need soul to have tits."

(To set the record straight for any grandmas whose chins are on the floor, we do not refer to breasts as tits in our household. She just made it up. Unless she learned it at your house, and in that case, please do give us a call.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Trevor's parents came to the house this late morning to watch the girls, so Trevor and I could bike to Harbor Springs and back. I dressed appropriately for my road bike: padded shorts under lined spandex pants, windbreaker, fleece, no makeup, hair in disarray because the ride wouldn't justify my actually doing something with it.

Fancy my surprise when Trevor mentions, well into our ride, that his parents were staying most of the day and we would have lunch, coffee, dinner and dessert, plus shopping, a potential wine tasting and general meandering. 

Which is lovely, but was a day for which I was not prepared. I had, after all, seven inches of padding lining my crotch and derriere region, and my eyes were red and puffy from the random streaming they were doing while biking. 

We did enjoy ourselves, bickering (yelling) on the way to Harbor Springs for all of Weque to witness, having a nice lunch at Mary Ellen's Place (read: agree to disagree), then forgetting all about the fight on the ride home, making plans for our future and pedaling ever-so-slowly to allow for Trevor's super heavy but very cool vintage Schwinn beach cruiser to keep up. 

We consumed more food and drink, put the axe on the wine tasting (yet took our disheveled selves into a wine cellar to chat with the adorably French cellarmaster who wore an appropriate neck scarf), spied into homes that are for sale, and pounced on some friends who live downtown and were outside because we felt a little empty-handed, not having our children to entertain us for hours on end.

We came home and the kids had had a great day. Marta threw up a little and now I'm on Vomit Watch 5/09, way too terrified of baby throw-up yet somehow relieved that tonight might be the night she gets sick and gets it over with, since I've been sure the preschool germs would hit the girls' digestive track any day now. (If she does throw up in earnest, do I call the doctor in case it's Swine Flu? What is the protocol for throw-up three hours from the nearest case?)

We have a movie, a bottle of wine to finish and we're both exhausted from the biking, walking and plotting. Fresh air is good. Throw-up is not.