Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good Morning

Black Monday, aka "The Day After Berit Comes Home From Grandma and Pop's House," continues into the night with Marta, wide awake at midnight.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


1. I think Marta may be getting sick. She was in a funk all day, and when I put her to bed she said repeatedly, "Nurse, nurse." Huh? We haven't nursed in months. Aren't they supposed to forget that?

2. These past few days of leaving first thing in the morning and staying downtown until naptime are getting to me. Before heading east towards our house, I've been swinging around the streets we love, wondering if we'll ever rent one of those houses while we're building (as is the current plan), and more importantly, if we'll ever, ever, ever sell our house. I noticed someone grabbing an info sheet today, but I think it was the new neighbor who was moving in. Must have wanted to see if she could have gotten a different house for a different price... ? I do love my house, for its durability, for its child-friendliness, for its quiet swingset spot and for the beauty of the yard when dusk is falling and there's just a hint of moisture in the air. I love that when we go for a walk, the kids can run down the street and aren't confined to the sidewalk, and that all the neighbors are out after dinner just saying hello and picking at their lawns. I love the deck, where the girls play in their sand table and water buckets while I make dinner, and I am In Love with our built-ins. But I love being in the middle of the jostling, simple downtown in Petoskey even more. And I love the idea of our dream home, currently residing on blueprints in our closet that Trevor pulls out every couple of days and looks over, and over, and over. I love the garden that's already growing on the land in town, which never gets weeded because Marta doesn't like to stay near me while I try to tend it. My very favorite part of living there, though, is the idea that if I want to be anywhere, I can walk there.

3. Trevor is coming home in a few hours, and while I'm looking forward to seeing him, I always get mixed feelings just before he arrives. Of course I miss him while he's gone and am always happy to see him again, but I really like being alone sometimes. While growing up, whenever my mom and sister would leave for a weekend my dad and I would say our farewells to them, nod to each other and I would go upstairs, he downstairs, not to reappear until my mom and sister came home. I just like the quiet, I think. I'm pretty sure this sometimes gets to some of my friends, who are phone talkers. I don't know if it's my tendency toward the written word, so that I would rather blog or e-mail about life, but I very rarely jump on the phone to call a girlfriend. In fact, I really only call my sister, who is a little bit like just another part of my brain, so talking to her is, in a way, talking to myself, and girlfriends when I make a pointed effort to remember that I should. Isn't that lame? Isn't talking on the phone part of being a girl? It's not that I don't enjoy chatting with friends; when they call me I'm always surprised that we haven't talked in awhile, and am so glad they made the move to call. I guess it never really occurs to me in my day-to-day routine.

So anyway, there's that. My lameness in phone talking and husband welcoming, revealed.

4. I have come to the conclusion that having one child is difficult. Having one toddler and one newborn is harder. And having one toddler and one preschooler is easy compared to the first two. With Berit gone these past two days, Marta and I have had a lovely time just playing. The house has stayed relatively clean, I haven't cooked a lick and there haven't been any scheduling issues. But. The. Days. Last. Forever. I don't know what the heck to do, and Marta doesn't have her sister to play with. We've been upstairs, downstairs, up-upstairs, in my room, on the deck, on the porch, in the lawn, in the garage, on the swingset, downtown, shopping, blah blah blah. And when I look at the clock, it's STILL only 2:30, or something very, very far away from bedtime. So even though having two active kids is often rushed and harried and a whole lot messier, the days are more productive and enjoyable.

5. My neighbor stopped over today, to chat a few minutes on the front porch. I think he felt obligated to, since I bring his dog over to my house every day and left him cookies last night. So when he knocked on the door I was in black stretchy pants, was vacuuming like a maniac (because when am I not cleaning my floors, truly?) and had a tiny little sweaty area right between my boobs, which were totally visible in my "I don't plan on seeing anyone right now" t-shirt. He's a couple of years younger than me, unmarried, a complete bachelor and, I'm pretty sure, fairly "cool." His conversation centered on the sandy lawns we have and I talked too fast, too much, because of the whole t-shirt thing and the fact that I was trying to chase my child, my dog and HIS dog around my entry way, keeping bugs out but the appropriate creatures in. I think any coolness I may have possessed in his mind is gone, which is probably a good thing since I'm not sure I could live up to it for long, anyway.

And those are the things I've been thinking about all day. Please refer to my earlier comment regarding lameness.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Easy Breezy Day

Trevor took Berit downstate last night so she could spend the weekend with my mom, which left Marta and me to ourselves today. When she woke up I "fed her breakfast," which was actually her sitting in her high chair for two minutes while nibbling toast, then me offering her bits of my breakfast while she ran around the house because SHE CANNOT STOP RUNNING/TWIRLING/FALLING for one single meal.

We were downtown by 8 a.m., with Marta singing "DOWNTOWN, doo doo doo doo do doo, DOWNTOWN..." while we parked at the carriage house and walked to the bookstore, the farmer's market, and Hallmark, where I bought her a handful of charms for her Crocs and apparently those were all she needed to be complete forever and ever, because since then, she hasn't allowed me to take her Crocs off, even to sleep.

We went to the park where she spent half her time in the swings. Wearing Berit's clothes from two summers ago, Berit's old hat and Berit's old Crocs, I kept thinking of her as 18-month-old Berit, and every time the swing swung up and I saw her face I had to laugh, because she is such a different child yet here she was, looking so much the same.

We walked back up to the car and headed home for her nap. I prepared to deliver the three dozen macaroons I had said I'd make for the Christ Child Society's summer party, only to learn that I was a month early, and now had three dozen macaroons (dipped in chocolate) at hand. So off Marta and I went to surprise our friends with cookies.

And then, the thing that always happens when I'm down one child for an entire day happened: The day became as long as possible. I kept looking at the clock, waiting for 6 p.m. and bath time, but no, it was 3:45, 4:12, 4:15, 4:19, barely 5 p.m., never ever bedtime.

And now, finally, she's in bed, and I'm procrastinating before doing my ab workout and washing the floors. It's a regular party over here on Friday nights.

Kale Chips

This is a recipe I've adapted from our CSA newsletter. To be honest, when I started putting this together for the first time I thought, "Well, here goes nothing," sure that I'd be the only one in my family to eat them, and on principle at that. But before I had even transferred the "chips" to a bowl, the whole family -- kids, Trevor, in-laws -- were eating them compulsively. When I told Trevor we got kale in this week's share, too, he was pumped.

1 bunch kale, washed. Use your kitchen shears to cut up the sides of the stems, making strips or pieces. Toss the stems; they're not very tasty.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt

Heat oven to 375. Pour the vinegar and oil over the kale and toss to coat. Sprinkle on the cheese and salt, and toss again. If you think you need more of anything, just eyeball it.

Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy and brown around the edges.

We loved them by themselves, but my newsletter suggests crumbling them onto baked potatoes, pasta and salads.

The Mystery Of The Wooden Teeth

When Berit's first tooth came in, Trevor and I exclaimed in delight, while privately each thinking, "That kid could really use a cap or whitening, and let's hope her adult teeth are cuter." Because it was a little gray, a bit thin and small, and altogether wooden-like. It was also wiggly. I called her pediatrician who told me it was probably a "bud," something that was under her gums when she was born and that it would fall out and all would be well. Weird, but fine. It fell out, her real tooth popped right up, and all was well.

Marta has been a little slow in the tooth-growing department. At 18 months, she has her four front top teeth and two front bottom teeth. She's still working on three molars, and one has finally reared its mean molar head in the top back of her mouth. And recently we noticed that another tooth, possibly the tooth that goes in front of the molar, was coming in on her bottom left.

As we watched that new non-molar, we noticed that it was funny looking. It was gray. Thin. Small. Wooden-like. It was also surrounded by a big blood blister and had ANOTHER one right behind it, or was possibly big (yet thin) and broken in half. We called Trevor's brother, a dentist, who told us it would probably fall out and all would be well. And it did. First, the back part fell out, then the front part fell out, and now there is no more blister, just a little cut-like spot where we're assuming another tooth is going to grow.

And that is all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Marta

If by God's grace you are 16 or 17 (though I have a feeling with you it'll be more like 14 or 15) and you've decided to look back at our lives for reassurance of your place in our family because you're full of teen angst or possibly just (please) teen goofiness and you've pulled out this old blog, my feelings regarding your behavior today stand true forever and ever:

Even though it makes you furious, the things I do to restrain you are for your safety, because you are a certified Wild Child. You like to take the scariest, bumpiest, slipperiest route to any destination, you teach your big sister to do stunts she'd never have dreamed of, and you throw body-flinging tantrums when I even suggest you hold back your physical ambitions.

I spend half of my day holding you down, and the other half in sheer joy of your loving existence.

You say the most, The Most adorable things ever in existence in all eternity, like "Come 'ere Mama," whenever you want to be picked up, rubbing your face into my knees all snuggly and sweet. You pretend to cry and then say, "Goodness!" and "Heavens!" over and over until I say it back to you. You thank everybody for everything: "Marta sleep. Thank-you Mama." When the sprinkler spray hits you you get a nervous look and you say over and over, "S'okay-s'okay-s'okay-S'OKAY MAMA-S'OKAY!"

Yet you have the kind of spirit that will get you into trouble. I only hope it's going to be the good kind, the kind that brings you home with scraped knees from climbing trees and riding bikes rather than running with a wild crowd.

If you keep the curls, though, you might make us forget to ground you.

Finally! Summer Has Arrived

Friday, June 19, 2009

Marta At 18 Months

Yesterday was Marta's 18-month birthday, and to celebrate we went in for her well-baby check-up (she did get a sucker at the end, so not such a bad party). For those of you who don't like when parents brag about their kids, you should stop reading now. She was a Big Girl, and I was proud of her.

The doctor walked in and she said, "Mama," because she was caught off-guard and was nervous. He said, "Is that your mama?" And she pointed at him and said, "Dr. McGeath." He laughed, and said, "Did you see the fishies on the wall?" And as he pointed toward the wallpaper mural of sea life, Marta turned to it and showed him, "dolphin," "starfish," "bubbles," "fish."

She then proceeded to tell him all about her family, his office, her clothing, HIS EQUIPMENT (as in, "Ears! Ahhhh! Heart!" as she pointed to each of his tools, without prompting), and a variety of books that were in reach. A good human being, the doctor laughed and said appropriate remarks of praise, such as "You are so smart!" and "I should be more specific when talking to you!" (Me=Beaming)

Usually my kids clam up at the doctor's office, not showing off the skills I know they have. But yesterday Marta named colors and counted to 10 and said clever little phrases like "Shake your body!" to the doctor. (It's from a song. She sang it. It was adorable.)

He took a look at the myriad bumps and bruises covering her body from her daredevil tricks and wrote "Safety" on my take-home growth record. He told me what to look for in case of concussion, because she has a habit of bonking her head, which he sensed with his doctor reflexes/sensed by seeing the 17 bruises about her head. He laughed as she spun in circles for way too long, refusing my attempts to stop or even slow her, and watched as she climbed on every surface of his office, with me constantly pulling her down, trying to keep her in one place while we chatted about the horror of the benches in downtown Petoskey that city officials have decided to place in the middle of the streets downtown. Permanently. Ridiculous. Anyway, Marta's stats are:

Weight, 24 pounds, 2 ounces, 50th percentile
Height, 32 1/2 inches, 75th percentile
Head, 18 7/8 inches, 80th percentile

She has four mean molars coming in, which I've named Meanasaurus, Molarsauraus, Biteasaurus and Ouchasaurus. She's hurting from them, and the doc thinks we've still got a bit before the bottom two are fully up. Poor baby.
And when I left I made the appointment for her 2-year checkup. Two years! I can't believe it's been so long since I gave birth to our baby, but at the same time, it's such a relief to have her a toddler, doing adorable things, a moving part of our family instead of a new baby needing full attention for sustainability. She is a tornado, a dictator, bubbly and joyful. She makes us laugh just by looking at her, so full of happiness that it's making her hair curl with pure delight of life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In my quest to be a passable mother, here are the questions tops on my mind today:

1. How do I enforce a "TV Time-Out"? In other words, the kids have been watching too much TV lately. Yet they only watch it while I get things done, like make meals, clean meals or put Marta to bed. So I'm doing too much without them, without figuring out how to make it all work, without letting them just play. How do I turn off the TV and turn on the fun, and still run the house and make healthy meals?

2. Do I take Berit? I've been thinking for some time about taking Berit on a solo trip to Chicago this fall. I go back and forth, and I'd like to get the details nailed down in July to pounce on deals, but should I even do this? Is she too young, at 3? Would a trip to Dairy Queen be the same for her? As I write this, I think, "yes, obviously this is silly; take her when she's 5, or at least old enough to remember it later." And yet, I can't help but want to introduce her to the spectacle of a Big City, with the museums and aquarium and Navy Pier and the restaurants. She'd love it, but is she too young?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They Win

Today was... huh. Every time I start to bemoan a certain day, I think about all the women in the world who would love to be in my shoes, with a roof over their kids' heads and food in the fridge and then I feel guilty.

And yet.

We started off pleasantly enough, with a playdate with some friends we haven't seen in awhile due to the arrival of a new baby, so it was doubly great (triply great, since the friends are twins) to see the friends and the newest addition to our little group.

I planned to take the girls to Charlevoix after Marta's nap to visit their new children's fountain (new to us; it's been up for a year now). It was remarkably warm in these parts, with our thermometer reaching 83 degrees (in the sun, but still). So I thought the girls would revel in the newness of the fountain and the chance to be outdoors without coats on.

Charlevoix is about 40 minutes from our house, but I thought the fountain was worth the drive. I packed tons of snacks, since Marta is eating everything, all the time, and by 10 minutes into the ride she'd eaten a banana, twisted fruit stick and crackers. She then began chewing her cheese and raisins and spitting them out onto her chest, and she dropped her water (NOT a no-spill cup) upside-down into a corner of the car that I couldn't reach. I stopped the car, got out, got the water. Fine.

Berit is in this magical phase where all she does is make noise. She is very literally constantly talking, and not just to herself, but needing answers and when said answers are given, she's clearly thinking of something else and asks me to repeat everything. Therefore:

B: "... Mom look at this FRECKLE on my leg! Look Mom! Hey Mom, look at this freckle!"
Me: "Wow, I love that freckle."
B: "What?"
Me: "I love that freckle."
B: "Mom, what did you say? Did you -"
Me: "I said-"
B: "What?"
Me: "Nothing."
B: "What?
B: "Oh. Mom, did you SEE that truck? When I grow up can I ride in that truck with that man? MOM, that truck was LOUD! I don't like LOUD things! MOM! There are people walking on that sidewalk. I like sidewalks. Remember when we walked on the sidewalk and Marta fell down and hit her head? MOM, do you remember when..."


So anyway, we do this all the way to the fountain park, we run up to what seems to be an amazingly fun fountain and realize that the jets in the ground, the ones that shoot water up into the air, are set on "power wash the paint off a house" or possibly "shoot holes into houses" because they are intense and my toddler, who loves water and anything really that she might get into, walks right up onto one that's currently dormant (because helpfully they're also set on "random," so you can't figure out which ones might be safe to play over) and sticks her face over it, studying the dribble of water popping out of the hole in the middle. Of course, what you're thinking happens happens, and this sets the tone for the entire visit. Berit is terrified and never so much as ventures three feet into the fountain, and Marta desperately wants to play in the fountain but keeps getting shot in the face, head and hands with the vicious spray.

It may have been helpful if another child were playing in the fountain that my kids could watch and mimic, however the only other kid there was a baby with his mom and her friends who just yelled at him the entire time for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ("Don't you walk with that towel!" "NO you can't go over there." and my favorite, "Mommy can't hold you because I'm SMOKING. You know Mommy doesn't hold you when I'm smoking, and can't you see I'm smoking?"). The poor child was also completely and painfully developing a serious sunburn, and I tried in vain to offer them sunscreen and they laughed at me when I put even more on my girls' parts in their hair.

I ended up carrying both girls in a "dance" through the fountain, trying to convey to Berit that water spraying up at random can be fun and to Marta that if she does it this way, she could enjoy herself without needing to be taken to the ER afterward. Berit freaked out and tried to climb up my now-soaking wet self and Marta cracked up. Half a point for mom.

Also: Berit threw my camera onto the cement (by accident); Berit threw a full-on screaming tantrum because she wanted me to put her pants on for her but then wanted to put them on by herself but then wanted me to do it for her; Marta found a bag of Annie's Bunny Crackers and shoved honestly 10 in her mouth at once, wobbled around with her mouth completely open for a minute or so trying to figure out how she was going to make it work, then launched into her own screaming tantrum when I scooped them out of her mouth; and I found a bag of very old peaches in the front pocket of my diaper bag that had melted into peach vodka and covered everything in the pocket, which happened to be where I put my keys and now my "fob" is all sticky in the buttons with rotted peach juice.

And: Trevor is working until 9 p.m., so I took them on our nightly family walk by myself during which they both scream-fought the entire time, even while our neighbor tried talking to us about his newly three-legged dog who needs chemo WHILE THE DOG HOBBLED IN FRONT OF US. Oh, and I tried to give the girls a bath but Berit threw a tantrum while she was on the potty before the bath, refused to get off, I removed her, she informed me she was so mad because she just wanted to dance, immediately realized she needed to go #2 and spent the next HOUR working on this while Marta ceremoniously begged for bites of oatmeal and spit them out onto the floor while I wasn't looking, but have now discovered.

Now I'm off to clean the oatmeal and the peach-soaked diaper bag, IN PEACE AND QUIET, thank you very much. Sorry, didn't mean to yell at you. Force of habit today, I think.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Almond Butter Balls

Berit doesn't eat lately, and Marta eats at least once an hour, all day. Sometimes she wakes up at night starving, too. That means I'm constantly coming up with things to give her that are quick yet healthy -- not always succeeding, but trying anyway. I need more portable snacks, because I hate always handing her a granola bar or crackers while we're in the car or out, but seriously, what else? Yes, raisins, we've been there. What else?

This is one snack that I try to keep in the refrigerator on alternating weeks (she gets sick of stuff easily). I've adapted it from The Toddler Cafe, a cookbook I use every few weeks or so when Berit goes on the random hunger strike. We're lucky that our kids tend to eat what we do, but if you're looking to mix it up a little, The Toddler Cafe is fun. Anyway, this recipe is one we do constantly. The book says it makes 12 balls, but Berit eats lots of the "batter" while we're rolling them, so we typically get about eight. If you want to double it, they keep in the refrigerator for five days, and in the freezer indefinitely.

1 1/2 c. cereal, crushed with a mallet (anything works -- my kids love our whole wheat/cinnamon cereal -- the organic equivalent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
1/2 c. nonfat dry milk
1/4 c. + 1 T. creamy or chunky almond butter (the original recipe is peanut butter but we use almond, for no reason other than it's just what we have)
1/4 c. + honey (I usually need a little more for sticking power, that's why I put the + in there)
1/4 c. quick-cooking oats
1/4 c. sesame seeds

Place the milk, almond/peanut butter, honey, oats, 3/4 c. cereal and sesame seeds (everything but some of the crushed cereal) in a bowl and mix with your hands until you can form it into 1-inch balls. Put the balls and the rest of the crushed cereal into a zip-top bag and shake and squeeze gently, coating them.

You could also roll the balls in coconut, cocoa powder, crushed nuts or sesame seeds (we just put the sesame seeds on the inside, for more protein).



  • Playdate this morning with loads of friends.
  • Berit loosened up during said playdate and actually threw balls and was OK with bouncing balls off of her head. She laughed. I tensed, then marveled.
  • Upon his arrival, Marta marched up to Brennan completely unprompted and said, "Hi there, Buddy."
  • Berit rode her big girl bike, even though she's been so nervous about riding it after she fell off months ago. She even got up and down by herself. (Much of this is due to Shelly's calm and encouraging influence.)
  • We went downtown for a walk, and played in the park, and each girl picked out a sweet at Symons, and being away from the house for just a couple minutes like that was the perfect before-dinner distraction.
  • Chocolate-burnt caramel-Hawaiian sea salt bar. M.M.M.M.mmmmmmmm.
  • Marta ate a whole avocado. Again.
  • I signed both Trev and myself up for a local gym.

Not So Good:

  • Mac and cheese for lunch AND dinner.
  • Marta is still awake, crying "Mooooommmy. Maaaa-maaaay. Mow-my. MOMMY."
  • Mosey threw up on the lawn, just as our playdate group walked outside for play on the lawn.
  • Marta threw a tantrum when it was time to leave downtown, and as I tried to pick her up she jerked herself back down and slammed her head onto the sidewalk. In front of an outdoor cafe. At dinnertime.
  • I did not take her to the doctor's after the head slam. Bad?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mackinac Island

On the first really nice day of summer for the past three years, we've gone to Mackinac Island. It's only a 25 minute drive from our house, and following a hotel remodel Trevor did a few years ago we've had a knee-high stack of ferry tickets, so it's quick and cheap for us to go.

The weather was forecasted to hover in the high 60s all day, so after Marta's first nap we went. Now, Trevor and I usually get pretty impatient at "kid stuff," even when we have good intentions and are prepared for the long waits, the sugar tantrums, the cramped muscles from a) crouching under playlands in case a child falls while climbing something that's clearly for 12-year-olds, and b) pushing a stroller that's holding the diaper bag and carrying or holding the hand of the child who's supposed to be in the stroller.

But on the island we rarely lose our cool. I don't know if it's the familiarity, the slow pace or the open space to do... whatever. But every time we go, we have fun nearly the whole day.

We did today, too. We sat on the front the boat for the ride over and got fully tangled, winded and fresh-aired, invigorated for our adventure. We immediately got "smudge" at Murray's Hotel (peanut butter tiger for Trevor and mint chocolate for the rest of us), danced in front of the mirrored case like the kids usually do, pottied and changed dipes in their clean bathrooms, ate the smudge under lilac trees in the park, played on the playground, rented bikes, went through the butterfly house, biked to a kid-friendly rock pile on the water and tossed stones, bought fruit and crackers at Doud's, ate the snacks in the park, went to another playground, got ice cream at Kilwin's, ate dinner at the Pink Pony and came back home with sleeping children, covered in sunscreen, ice cream and general stickiness. Really. Great. Day. Truly.

Yes, the kids went nuts at the end after all the sweets and lack of naps, and we went nuts with them, which we expected and dealt with and la da da, but in the end it was just what we'd hoped for.

I love this tradition. We don't have much in the way of things to do with kids year-round in this neck of the woods, but Mackinac is right around the corner, has animal delights galore, biking, treats, open spaces, parks everywhere and just lots of stuff to do. We all get sticky and hot, and we get chilly as the air cools in the evening, we bring sweatshirts and pjs and hand sanitizer by the bucket.

Trevor and I are exhausted. But it was a good day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Which I Use My Blog For Personal And Major-Decision-Making Sorting Out In The Absence Of My Husband

For weeks and weeks and months and days and hours we've been considering adding another baby to our brood. Right up front, this post is NOT that I'm pregnant. I'm not. But we thought I could be this month, and we were pleased with the possibility. And we determined that if we were ever going to get out of babyland and into "The kids are transportable and flexible and let's start having fun as a family"land, we'd need to make a decision by August about just what and how we'd go about it all.

And then we went away for the night, got a little tipsy, and decided we should really have FOUR children anyway, nevermind this "one more" business.

And then Trevor left for Chicago, and today was my last day of single parenthood, and it was a doozy. I mean, we had a really great day, the weather was sparkling, Berit had her first day of summer camp and all was well. It was a doozy of a thinking day. For example:

Out for a walk, Marta started in the stroller and Berit was walking Mosey. Then, Berit was done walking Mosey and Marta wanted out of the stroller. Berit wanted to run but Marta needed to stop at every single tent worm on the road, and we have a ton of them right now so we were pretty much going as fast as they were, except Berit was trying to run home and was mad at me so she wasn't listening when I was telling her that at any moment a car could come and she could get hurt really, really badly and that she needed to listen to me, and I was also pushing the stroller and walking Mosey. And I thought, "Now how would I fit a new baby into all of this?" 

This sort of thing happened all day; benign moments where both girls' personalities hit full steam and I realized that I could barely vacuum the house without Berit screaming that she's terrified of everything loud and that she needed to have me listen to a zillion songs first, and without Marta twirling until she literally could not stand up without the momentum of her twirling keeping her in a delicate balance of uprightedness and then smashing her head on every sharp-cornered surface in the room. And Berit wasn't sympathetic for a second, and how, then, would she be helpful with a new baby? 

And while I was vacuuming, I was pondering all of the insecurities I have about my current children. Such as:
Do I give Berit enough undivided attention? Because no matter how long I listen to her singing, no matter how focused I am on her stories, no matter how often I take her picture or videotape her dancing or let her have one more sentence of chatter OKAY ONE MORE SENTENCE AND THAT'S IT, it's never enough for her. She always has to bring up all the other people who do these things for her, and who lay with her while she falls asleep or scratch her back as long as she wants.

And do we do enough to stimulate Marta? The first thing she says to me each morning is, "Go bye-bye? Outside?" And she continues to say this all day long. And no, we don't get to go bye-bye all day long, because it's damn cold here lately and her sister is a hermit who doesn't want anything to do with playing outside most of the time. Yet Marta takes one step into the living room and screams "NOOOOO!" at some point every day, and I sympathize because frankly, I get sick of seeing the same room all day, too. 

And then I started thinking about adding a baby to the family, and I realized that the above qualms would only be sharpened, SIGNIFICANTLY, if we were stuck inside again, with Mommy's hands and attention wrapped around the new person in the house. 

Yet I know I don't want it to be just the two of them. I love having two other siblings, and I would love having three more, too. 

And I know that all of you grandmothers and friends of my mom will say things like, "When it happens you just make it work," and "It's worth it in the long run," and I know all of this. I'm just nervous about it, and I wonder if I'm a good enough mom to in fact make it work, and if I'm organized enough or patient enough or if I can ever, ever give my kids enough time and energy and love.

So I don't know. I don't think I'll ever know, until something happens that makes my decision for me. 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Further Evidence That Marta Can Secretly Read

I usually go to the "meat market" when the sitter comes or when I've just got Berit with me, because there are no carts and lots of onions and potatoes right at toddler level, ripe for the picking.

I put "meat market" in quotes because the sign out front says meat MARKET, just like that, with thick lowercase letters on top and thin uppercase letters on the bottom.

And when I pulled up to the market today with just Marta along for the shopping trip, I found a parking spot right in front of the sign. And Marta said, "Meat, Mommy. Meat."

I hadn't told her where we were going, and I definitely didn't say the word "meat," since we were only there to pick up our farm share of vegetables, and therefore I think she can read. 

A Fantastic Not-Such-A-Surprise Party

On Friday Trevor's mom came over to stay with the girls while he and I went to Grand Rapids for the night. It was our first time leaving Marta overnight, but we weren't perplexed by it. (Trevor is never perplexed by this. I guess I should note that I wasn't worried, and he was his usual never-worried-about-anything self.) She's 18 months old in a week-and-a-half and is fully weaned and sleeping through the night. She was fine, Berit was fine, everyone was fine.

We went downstate to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday with a surprise party at The Crush nightclub in The B.O.B. Sixty of her friends came and we had an amazing time, even though she knew about the party more than a little bit. We can never, ever surprise her. 

During the party the guests got together in groups and performed skits for her and including her, as we've all spent the past 20 year performing in skits, shows and festivals that she's hosted. Who knew that her current position at Spectrum Health would have the majority of Greenville's finest doing the can-can, dressing up as politicians or pretending to be on game shows? Well, we dished it back and she loved it. 

Afterward, most of the guests stayed on when The Crush was opened to the public, then a smaller group kept the party going upstairs on the dance floor. At the end of the night/morning, when it had been Time To Go for hours already, I looked at the remaining people and was pleased to note that it was just our family -- Mom, Den, Andrea, Nick, Trevor and me. (Dave had to leave once the bar was open to the public since he's not yet 21.) Without meaning to, we had outlasted everyone else. I thought it was appropriate.

Trev and I were staying at the J.W. Marriott and walked there afterwards with my parents, for whom we had gotten a room as part of the birthday fun (four floors away, thank you very much). But we decided we were starving (a great surprise for me, as Trevor is never hungry and I always am) and went across the street to grab a bite at a diner that was obviously closing but welcoming nonetheless. When all was said and done, we had slept in until 10:30 a.m. -- the latest I've slept in FOUR YEARS (though we still only got a handful of hours' sleep, after all the revelry of the night before) -- and walked to breakfast where we ate a cinnamon roll the size of the plate it was on (which was big) and made plans to open a bakery/brewery once the kids go to school. Why not?

It was a great overnight getaway and much-needed by both of us. Pictures of my shoes to come.

P.S.: Regarding my previous post about the drive down, Trevor again surprised me by pulling out a book of his own and wanting to read it while I drove, giving me the chance to listen to my audiobook. I know some of you told me to bond with him the whole time, but the drive was three hours long and we did end up in a gratifying discussion about some of the stuff he was reading. So it was great.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Major Dilemmas

Situation: Playdate scheduled for today, that's already been rescheduled and discussed over e-mail way too much, which includes a picnic lunch, and which has already been revealed to the preschooler in our midst; also which is with newer friends and is a first playdate. 

At exactly the same time, Marta will need a morning nap, since she woke far too early today and is walking around trying to be mean because she's tired. 

Situation: Going downstate with Trevor with NO KIDS for an OVERNIGHT and the drive is three hours long. Trevor wants to chat and bond, I want to listen to my audiobook. Should I tell him he can sleep and I'll drive? Or should I take a hint from myself and sleep while he drives?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lisa Chocolate Spaghetti Cupcakes Sweet Potatoes Chocolate Chip Cookies Nutella ... Oh Hell, Everything

When we were little, my sister and I gave our family dog, Mindy, middle names based on her random favorite foods. Her full name was, then: Mindy Blueberries Applesauce Spaghetti Robb-Hayes (we had two last names for awhile; little wonder we gave our animals multiple middle names without a thought). 

While watching Marta smush berries into her hair and thinking to myself that now she really was "strawberry blonde," I started to subconsciously give my family their food middle names. So:

Berit Apple Strawberry Pancake Donut Hayes D....
Marta Toast Raspberry Yogurt Oatmeal Macaroni Anne D...
And to bring it all back home, Mosey Chicken Bacon Pizza Scrambled Eggs Hot Dog Henry D...
(In case you're wondering, Hot Dog Henry is his middle name, not something he likes to eat.)

I Have Become One With The Chaos

I'm not sure when it happened -- perhaps when Marta began demonstrating that she was in no way like her order-minded older sister and liked to literally drag her arm along shelves to wipe them clear of all toys, books, clothes, whatever -- but something has changed a little in my necessity to have all of the kids' toys stowed with their proper pieces comfortably attached at the end of each day.

Rousing post, right? 

But seriously, I used to be really picky about this. I mean, we bought (or more likely, had been given) these toys and I wanted to take perfect care of them. I wiped them down constantly, washed many in kid-safe cleansers at night, and tucked all the pieces in the right places. In fact, I often didn't have the need to pick up a game piece on one side of the room (or, God forbid, on another floor of the house) and haul it over to the OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM to put it away, because Berit never threw, mingled or messed her toys like that. Not bragging, she just didn't. 

Enter Marta. Last night she was taking any number of dolls from dollhouses, Happy Meals, those random sets of girls' toys with the ice cream trucks and couches and etc. etc.,  and pieces from Candyland, Memory, the doctor's kit and various fairy wands for rides in the dumptruck and dollhouse minivan. You can imagine the horror when I tried to clean it up -- where did it all belong? I was going to have to THINK about it! 

Instead, I just dumped it all into a bucket (with Berit's name, not even Marta's on it) and called it good. 

Is this progress? Is this a garage sale in the making, what with all the missing pieces?