Friday, July 31, 2009

Marta Speaks

Also: Whenever we ask Marta about a person or animal's name (i.e., Marta, what is that doggie's name?), she replies, "Henry."

Lies, Ineptitude and Frugality

Berit being with her Mimi and Grandpa today and tomorrow, AND MOSEY, TOO, Marta and I set off for a morning of rambling downtown from The Grain Train, where we needed various things, to the farmer's market, where we had to pick up our CSA share. As we pulled up to the first downtown crosswalk I noticed that the streets were blocked for sidewalk sales. Um... yay!

Except that Trevor and I have recently decided to forego any extra purchases -- even McDonald's and gum -- while we save for our next house and try not to get too kicked in the butt with the sale of our current house. So, being the good steward of family finances that I am, I did my very best to walk through the sidewalk sales to the farmer's market on the other side without looking at a single thing. But the books! The clothes! And the FURNITURE! Two chairs in particular were calling to me, in the most soft and comfortable and elegant voices. Being not a fan of our current living room seating because it's a) leather/skin of animals killed for my furniture and b) not elegant, I was very nearly pulling out my credit card. However, since we continue to tolerate our furniture because it's a) very cleanable, non-stainable leather and b) kid-friendly, I bit my lip and walked away, visions of very neat children sitting on their hands in our next house in my mind.

I then ignored the jars and jars of pickles, jams and sauces where I was standing at the farm booth, but did they ever look delicious and Marta noticed because she began begging to eat them. I told her we needed to get some money, then we'd get some lunch. (My new trick is to pay for everything in cash, so I can see it and not pretend God in heaven pays when I swipe my bank card.) I don't remember how it happened but sometime in the past Marta decided that we eat money (not knowing what money is, just connecting it with food), and she started begging me to eat my money. Passersby grinned, but oh, Marta.

This child, who needs constant reassurance that I'm nearby while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, who seems to only want to be with me at all times when others are at our house, refuses to have anything to do with me while there is the possibility for activity outside. She passes on the stroller, shuns being carried. Wants to walk like a "bikgirl," jumping on all the shapes in the sidewalk and running away yelling when we approach a crossing and I reach for her.

As we walked through the sales en route to the farmer's market, a woman was sitting at a table with sidewalk chalk. Marta ran up and yelled, "CHALK!" and the kind woman gave her the bucket and told her she could color on the (closed) street. As Marta colored, the woman told me about the play she was selling tickets for (Footloose). Marta then began dumping the chalk on the street, breaking it into pieces. I bent to tell her to pick it up and she yelled and ran away from me, down the street. I kept half an eye on her and picked the chalk up, promising the lady I'd buy tickets at the door (lie), and ran to scoop up my flailing, obviously miscreant toddler, who was screaming "DOGGY!" and trying to run after a man who was running his bloodhound on the sidewalk.

We finally made it to The Grain Train when Marta again spotted a dog, this time loose in the parking lot with no owner in sight. She was a big black spaniel type of dog, with a collar and possibly blind-ish eyes. I went over to her to see if she was OK, to see if there was an owner nearby, and she smelled me but was too enthralled with her freedom to require a stranger's assistance. I meant to check her tag but Marta, trying to fling herself onto the dog ("PET HER! PET HER!"), made me pause and rethink the whole strange-dog-in-toddler's-face-while-I-check-the-tag situation, so I ran inside the store to tell a clerk. Who then announced in a feeble voice over the intercom, "There's a dog in the parking lot. If it's yours, go get it." She then told me flippantly, "Hah, I didn't know what to say, like, hey, go get your dog." Pushing aside a comment on hippies at the co-op that I could hear Trevor saying in my head, I said, "It might not be from someone in the store. Did you happen to call the police?" And she laughed and said no, it was probably already gone. Blah. It was.

We finally pulled ourselves away from downtown and ignored the signs for the HUGE YARD SALES (also ignoring my desire to frugally purchase the girls' fall and winter clothes at garage sales) all the way home, and I put Marta to bed. This is the time of the day when I told Trevor I'd vacuum and fold the literal mountain of clothes on our bed, except upon a basic inspection I realized that they had been shoved in laundry baskets so long that most of them are wrinkled and either need ironing or another spin in the dryer.

And somehow, it's only 11:20.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Status Update

Date: Thursday, July 30

Forecast: High of 69.

Dresser drawers: Full of girls' shorts that have never been worn.

Front closet: Empty of winter coats only because we have an open house this weekend; otherwise, they have been used from time to time this summer and haven't warranted putting in storage.

Toy Fairy: Have been informed that Trevor indeed created the Toy Fairy, and I am off the hook.

Additional Scare Tactics Introduced Within The Past 24 Hours: Strangers. Berit and I had the talk about strangers -- a gentle, 3-year-old appropriate talk -- and she occasionally dissolves into tears and won't leave my side since, afraid of strangers.

Continued Interest In The Sound of Music: We had to act the "So Long, Farewell" scene, with Berit playing Gretel and Trevor playing Liesl, last night on the way to bed. After, of course, we watched Berit give a production of the songs and choreography of all major songs in the movie.

Selling Of House: Open house this weekend, 2-5. You know you want to come see its cuteness and current clean factor! Closets! Drawers! Cabinets! Spices lined in rows!

Funny Thing Said At Park Yesterday: Little boy: "I'm four, and I'm going to kindergarten soon." Berit: "I poop all the time, so I'm going to kindergarten, too."

Go, Diego, Go!: Ending. Must return to parenting.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Toy Fairy

6:28 a.m.: "There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the stee-bo too. And up in the nursery an absurd little bird, is popping out to say cuck-oo CUCK-OO!" (This goes on until the entire song is over, and she begins again.)

6:34 a.m.: In tones of fear and possible pain: "MOMMY!" I rush upstairs and Berit says, trembling, "Mom-sob-my, last sob night I forgot sob to clean the toys and sob the Toy Fairy came and SOB took them all AWAY!"

So... the Toy Fairy. I have left her out of the blog because after the whole bathtub incident I didn't need another notch in my trunk of bad parenting. However, as I'm now kind of convinced that the girls will be having Toy Fairy conversations with their husbands someday (as in, "I truly feared this horrible creature and isn't it just like my MOTHER to make her up just to scare me??"), I'd like to explain myself.

The Toy Fairy is much like the Tooth Fairy, except she's evil and mean and scary and instead of leaving money for your hard-won baby teeth, she takes your toys away.


I don't remember inventing the Toy Fairy. Maybe Trevor did. Yes! He must have! He doesn't read the blog, let's blame it on him. But to be a little fair, I have a horrible memory, so I probably could have done it in a frantic moment and have shoved it deep into the bottomless file in my brain marked: "Necessary Parenting Strategies To Ensure Survival And/Or Sanity."

Anyway, the basic idea of the Toy Fairy is that she comes at night to take your toys if you haven't cleaned them up before bed. And since bedtime is meltdown time for Berit, but we also insist on our children's help in cleaning up their toys, at times scare tactics are needed. Enter the Toy Fairy.

When children leave their toys out overnight, the Toy Fairy sees that they don't really appreciate what they have and swoops in to shove them in her big toy bag and deliver them to children who will take care of them.

I have often thought about attaching a guilt factor here as well, like, "There are children who don't have ANY toys and you have so many even I can't count that high, so maybe you should feel badly for making such a mess with the toys you don't even care enough about to clean." But that's probably going too far.

I would have probably forgotten about the Toy Fairy altogether after her first use, except Berit clung to the idea instantly and now asks about her when it's time to clean up before bed and before vacuuming. (When it's vacuuming time she screams and cries in terror that the toys aren't sufficiently cleaned when they're just up on the shelves and couch.)

So I indulge a bit in the Toy Fairy, and now she's having nightmares about her. I wonder if she's wearing Berit's dress-up clothes in the dreams? Is she riding in on Berit's toy ponies? Maybe in the dollhouse minivan? Does she use Berit's fairy wands, and ride the tiny carousel when Berit's sleeping, hoping that tomorrow night Berit forgets to put it away and she can claim it for herself?

You see, I can take this places. It might be wrong, but my living room is clean.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Trevor and I left yesterday morning (was it only yesterday?) as early as we dared for Mackinac Island. My sister and brother-in-law came to be with the girls, as we had a mini vacation with lots of kid-free plans.

We swapped lives for the night, which was agreeable to all, for the most part (I'll get to that later). Trevor and I arrived on the island and, after checking into our hotel (quaint and lovely with a four-poster canopied bed and a view of the bridge), took off for an afternoon of biking. He being a trail rider and my being a road rider, we compromised and first flew around the island, dodging tourists and horse poop. We then rode up into the middle of the island, up, up, up to the very top and around to the various sights. Since the island had recently seen rain, we rode on streets and trails that were horse poop soup, and, I regret to write, were covered in the sludge from the tops of our heads ("Your hair looks like leopard print!") to our toes. We had a small lunch, drinks, coffee, showers and went to a fantastic 5:30 church service that was fun, fast and whole. Every parish should follow suit. It was one of our favorite parts of our trip.

We had a great dinner and drinks, a SANDERS CREAM PUFF (Sanders is new on the island this year, and truly, as we were walking down the street I was saying to Trevor, "I was talking to my second-cousin yesterday on Facebook about Sanders and how it's sad that I'll probably never have another cream puff," and he said, "Hey look, there's a Sanders.") and then sat in our rocking chairs outside our hotel and had a beer. Then, we went to bed. Kind of lame, but hey, we got 10 hours of sleep and when was the last time that happened? Four years ago?

In the morning we had a great breakfast, tons of coffee and decided to go for a walk before we hit the bikes again. We started talking and took a few trails that were more "interesting" than "practical," and ended up on a nearly 3-hour walk, after which the ice cream and fudge we then ate were completely justified. We parked ourselves in a booth in Horns Bar, drank beer and played cards for an hour before ordering lunch. We left the island a little wistfully, relatively buzzed from both sugar and beer, and completely tired. We were also looking forward to getting our arms around our girls, because in truth we really did miss them.

They were elated and naughty when they saw us, and pleased with the Elmo tees we brought not because they needed a Mackinac souvenir (we live close enough that going there doesn't require gifts every time), but because we thought they'd really dig the fashion and we were right.

Andrea and Nick were... ready for us to be home, I think. While they love our children nearly as much as we do, they were surprised at how long the days pass while entertaining two under four. I admit that in hearing that I was a tiny bit pleased to know it's not just me who watches the clock each day, and also a tiny bit nervous that they'd assume caring for our kids might be a reflection on wanting kids of their own. "It's different when they're you're own!" we told them. They agreed, but I remember when Trevor and I watched a neighbor's children overnight before we had our own, and we may have put having kids off a bit longer than we had originally planned afterward.

We're already planning our anniversary trip. It was great to get away for the night, bike and walk and eat and drink without sharing, stopping, waiting, bargaining or consoling, and we feel refreshed to get on with it all tomorrow. The girls had a wonderful time painting, swinging, dancing, dressing up, making Jell-o and climbing up Uncle Nick's body like a tower. A vacation for all (maybe not Nick) and a fun week to look forward to. We are a lucky lot.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dora: Our Kind of Wisewoman

There was nothing noteworthy about today, but for some reason it struck me all throughout that I was completely happy with each moment.

I don't know if it was my meeting with our Realtor this morning to drop the price of our house below that which we paid for it. During the meeting I realized that if we didn't try very hard to sell our house this summer and fall, we might become stuck here when our lives changed in such a way to make serious progression a possibility (in other words, to build our dream home). Because Michigan's economy is depressing, and Detroit's struggles hit Northern Michigan -- many a wealthy Detroiter's summer home or getaway -- hard. And because the middle class in Northern Michigan is losing -- jobs and homes, namely. And because there are more than ONE HUNDRED HOUSES FOR SALE that are in our price range.

And after all of that negativity, after all of that shredding of the dollar signs we once saw when we purchased the house as an "investment," I just gave up and looked straight at my children. I was tired of feeling encumbered by the house, the market, the lack of homes to build and the weight of general housekeeping. I realized I had been looking at my children lately as tolerable, instead of enjoyable. And oh my gosh, they are like two little jumping beans of joy, and so today I just put out as much love as I could and tried to have twice the patience for slow-moving preschoolers and insistent toddlers. I'm not saying it worked all the time, but at least I was a better mom today than I was yesterday.

I think if I sat here awhile longer I could think of a better, more appropriate, less obvious way of saying that they are practically perfect in every way (to me), but it's late and there's still the kitchen to be cleaned. Today I received in the mail a book I made of my first year of blogging. It's not fancy; it's a journal in professional clothes. I wanted it for my girls, because I know I would love to read something similar of my mother's life when her children were small. It's only a softcover collection of most of my posts without pictures, but for its cover I put a collection of odd photos on it that may never end up in formal scrapbooks. Berit baking cupcakes, Marta wandering, a snow day that didn't end in frozen tears. On the back, under a smaller arrangement of photos, I wrote the quote "The happiest thing about being happy is being happy with you." I took this from one Dora the Explorer, from a song that gets lodged in my brain every other day and refuses to leave.

And today, with the spirit of simple joy I was feeling for my blessings of having two healthy daughters and having the opportunity to be with them every day, and offer them a good home, a good life, a good family, the book came in all of its imperfect accounting of their days and I could not have been more complete in my happiness with them. Because there is Just. Nothing. Better.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Need. Coffee.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Marta has started throwing tantrums, and I don't mean those occasional fits she used to throw that I called "tantrums" because I believed she was so sweet that those were the extent of her anger.

These tantrums tend to come about when she's gotten a poor night of sleep, and begin at roughly 5:41 a.m. They are increased when she watches too much TV. They are so intense with the screaming that they wake Berit up, which we can't even do with the vacuum right outside her room.

*** (This space reserved for those of you who may have secretly disliked my bragging about her 18-month check-up to comment out-loud, snicker or raise your eyebrows, then pat your non-tantrum-throwing child on the head.) ***

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pond Hill Farm

Seconds before grabbing his tail.

Of course, there was much swinging to be done.

"Here's a box of food for you to give the goat, so he'll rub his tongue and nose all over your baby hands! Who wants popcorn?"

Marta could not stay away from these baby chickens. "PEEP! PEEP!"

She kept SCREAMING with laughter while watching the piglets.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Take The Good You Take The Bad

Today Berit and I had a really awful ... confrontation. (Does the word "fight" apply with a 3-year-old that you're screaming with? What is the PC term here?)

She refused to do something... another possibly inappropriate thing to write on the Internet? Well, she refused to wipe after going pee-pee; I waited for her to do it, she continued to refuse, I "talked" with her about it, she refused some more, I called her a little baby (shame, guilt, terrible, I know), she whined and cried because she didn't "feel" like it and wanted me to do it for her, and eventually I picked her up, carried her to my room (Marta was asleep a few feet away from the bathroom) and forcibly put her down on the floor and yelled, "YOU CAN'T CRY ABOUT EVERY LITTLE THING! YOU ARE A BIG GIRL! STOP ACTING LIKE A BABY!"

Ahem. (This space reserved for the relatives who think I am a tyrant and need to yell out to their husbands that I am indeed a tyrant and here's proof.)

This has been building up, because for the past two weeks she's screamed, cried and whined through her entire bath each night simply because she doesn't want to take one. She has also stopped eating dinner yet begged for dessert (no) and starts crying in lieu of her typical reasoning for most disagreements or generally unpleasant rules (like no standing on the couch arm). I don't know what's going on, but we've been doing our best to reason and explain for two weeks and today I was done.

After my screaming and yelling (in front of an open window, thankyouverymuch), I walked out and closed the door, held the knob while she banged and pulled on it and screamed her voice hoarse, counted to 20 and went back in. She then tried to beat me up. I stood and waited as she pummeled me until she was exhausted. I know this probably isn't a good parenting tactic but at the time I thought, I just screamed at her, guilted her and roughly picked her up, hauled her over and tossed her down and it made me feel a little better, so this is probably helping her, and we were both wrong and we'll deal with it after it's over. Which is what we did, and had a really good conversation about how she wants to do big girl things but can't if she's going to act like a baby, and devised a method for when she gets frustrated and a discipline plan if she breaks the rules, and she actually agreed to it all. We then cuddled on the couch and...

watched The Sound of Music and she LOVED IT and I cried and had goosebumps the entire time because she loved it! We had to watch parts over and over again which was fabulous for me because it is my very best movie of all time, and then we went out and bought the CD which she also loves. So, in the final tally, I think today may have been a great day.

We also said goodbye to our friends the Marsmans this late morning, after they came for an overnight stay and we had such a fun time. Teri, "the mom" Marsman, was a friend of mine from high school and we reconnected over, you guessed it, Facebook, and we had a complete blast catching up all night long. Our kids, ages 6, 4, 3 and 1 in total, had a great time together, despite the frigid temps (high 50s! What?).

I rented Pride and Prejudice to watch tonight but I think I may have to hit the hay early. I. Am. Exhausted. I'll bet Berit is, too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Think Local, Assume Global, Return to Local

I grew up in a big Meijer community. That's where we went when, in high school, we had nothing else to do; where we bought everything we could sit on, eat, look at and play with; where we bought our gas and flowers.

My hometown of Greenville was also the birthplace of Meijer, so one drive down Main Street alerts visitors that Fred Meijer has Invested In The Community with sculpture, events and sponsorships. I happen to know that the Meijer family has given more than most people think to my hometown, as my mom is the executive director for the hospital's foundation and our family counts the Meijers among their friends.

I don't write these things to gab about my hometown or my family's connections. I write them to assure you that I love Meijer and all of its deals, contributions and, really, cute clothes.

I also love Target, but have no personal connections to the chain. I love it solely for acquisitional purposes.

Anyway, yesterday I had a list of about 300 things I needed to get, all at different stores, for our busy next few days. I took Marta and as I set out, I realized I could probably find everything I needed at one store if I drove the half-hour to Gaylord to go to their Meijer (Petoskey's Meijer is scheduled to be done in 2o10). I calculated it would take me the same amount of time to drive there, shop at one store and drive home as it would to drive to all the different places in Petoskey and shop at each one.

And I did find everything I needed. But it was different. I don't know if I'm changing or if the store was really and truly too big and too confusing, if there were too many people to distract me or if it had been winter I would have actually appreciated the one-stop shopping. I suspect it has something to do with the dairy counter which was NOT IN THE FOOD SECTION but in the middle of bedding, electronics and toys. When I asked a manager about this he said, "Now you have to walk through all those departments to get to dairy and you might want to buy things you didn't know you needed." Seriously, he said this.

And I did find organics, but I don't know the farms the fruits and vegetables come from, and I had to wait so long at the deli that I gave up and bought packaged meats and cheeses.

When I went to pay I held my breath because I bought a lot of things, but it wasn't too bad and I feel like if I had bought all of those things locally my bill might have been more. But how much more? 5 percent? 10 percent? I think it may have been worth it.

We like walking from store to store in our downtown. The clerks and grocers know my kids by name. I can always get help easily and I don't ever feel like I'm being tricked into buying unnecessary bedding.

I do wish we had a bakery, a butcher and a drug store downtown. Then I'd never have to leave my little mecca of shopping and park enjoyment. But I think that even my little box stores like Glen's and Oleson's outperform Meijer, deals included.

Realizing this makes me feel a little sad, relatively speaking, but also a bit more respectable in my small-town life, because I always felt like I was the only one in Petoskey who wished she were in Grand Rapids when she shopped.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life's A Beach

All summer Trevor has been wanting to go to the beach at Sturgeon Bay. I've wanted to go, too, but not quite as much as Trevor because:

  • It's a "local" beach, only 45 teensy minutes away by curving, angled road that makes me carsick even when I'm driving;
  • Save for about five days, the summer so far has been relatively freezing;
  • We live on a bay and have beaches everywhere, and I strongly believe Trevor only wanted to go because his friend lives by it and raves about it much like I might rave about going downtown, but that doesn't mean Trevor's friend's wife should be expected to go to my downtown and not her convenient one.

However, I'm sure 75 percent of the people reading this are thinking "Where's your sense of adventure?" and "It's a fantastic beach so go already" and to the other 25 percent of you, you are my favorite readers.

So it was Sunday and we were having one of those really fun family weekends filled with lots of kid-friendly stuff, so we went. Here is what happened:

I drove, and I got carsick (which probably has more to do with my not eating a single thing that day, which is something new I'm trying and seems to be working like a charm since I've lost one measly pound in three weeks).

When we finally arrived, it was beautiful, and we got a great parking spot.

It was freezing, and the wind was blowing so hard that my really big, heavy bag couldn't even stand upright.

Marta screamed with delight and ran right into the water, while Trevor stripped off his clothes (down to his bathing suit, thank you) with one hand while he hoisted her out of the water over and over, because she was in such crazed bliss.

I laid out the blanket and got the towels ready, and Berit Freaked Out Entirely because she was so cold that she needed to wear: a) The clothes she arrived in, b) Her jean jacket, c) Her pajamas, d) A hat and my sunglasses, e) A towel wrapped around her entire body, f) A second towel wrapped around the first towel, and g) My body wrapped around the second towel. She then cried the whole time.

Marta could not have been happier, sandier, more wet, or more cold. But she was ecstatic.

After 15 minutes, we packed it all back up because by this point Marta, still in heaven, was shivering and her lips were blue, Berit was... Berit, and Trevor was a human popsicle.

In case you're wondering, the above photo is of Trevor carrying Berit to the car wrapped in her cocoon, because she refused to walk on the sand or in the wind.

The day was saved by Polish food at Legs Inn, a half-hour at the Central Elementary playground and a walk downtown.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Marta Speaks

Regular running commentary in our house, from Marta:

"Hi backpack. What'cha doin' backpack? Nothin' backpack." (She does this with anything and everything, from food to laundry.)

"(Where) Are you, Berit? Wove you, Berit."

"Hooos 'hat?" "Hi Adams."

Recent adorables:

"Marta dig, blue shovel. Daddy dig wit' da green shovel."

"Mama, sing a song. Sing da fishy song.... Stop! Sing da octopus song.... Stop! Sing da Baby Beluga song."

Me, leaving her room: "Goodnight, Marta. I love you."
Marta: "Night, Mama. Wove you."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"What's Your Name?" "Berit." Cue Blank Stare.

I remember driving near Detroit about 10 years ago, thinking about one of those topics that creep into the female mind every now and then: What I would name my children, someday. I saw a sign that said "Madison Heights" and I thought, "Hey, Madison would make a cool name! No one names their daughter Madison!"

Oh, hah. I'm glad I changed my mind, as now a number of little girls I know are named Madison. (And it is very, very adorable.) :)

When it came to naming our children, Trevor and I had a different plan than that of driving expressways looking for inspiration. And every so often, when we meet new people or when the idea that we named our kids something completely out-of-the-ordinary gets to someone, we are asked why we chose the names we did.

Lately there have been a lot of inquiries regarding this. I'm not sure if it's that I've caught up with people on a certain social networking site who knew me a zillion years ago or if there's just a new crop of people who wish, for ease of use, we had named our kids Emma and Jake. (Which are both very, very adorable.)

So here are the stories.

When I was pregnant for Berit, we knew we wanted something that was a very classic German or Scandinavian name. Our last name being so obviously German and such a mouthful, I wanted to pair it with a first name that made sense. Plus, having been raised in a Danish community and Trevor in a German/Czech family, we liked the names from those regions.

Trevor was stuck on "Berit" from the moment he found it. I wanted something a little more feminine and known. But soon we discovered that our baby had a heart condition; one that she might not survive, and I didn't care anymore. We needed to name our baby, to know her, to bond with her now, and I told Trevor he could pick anything at all, as long as her middle name was Hayes, which is my maiden name. He told me that Berit meant "happy girl," and even though the meanings behind names are really just a novelty at best to me, I liked it, because she was supposed to be struggling yet she was... happy. Active. When Trevor read books to my belly she kicked and squirmed and moved close to his face. In fact, that's how we got her to change out of a breech position. So Berit she was, and is, and she loves it.

I will admit that The Sound of Music is my very favorite movie of all time, but it's not the reason for our choosing the name "Marta" for our second daughter. When we found out we were pregnant, I printed out a list of German names, and I just loved it. Trevor was on the fence, but since he chose Berit I got to choose Marta, and it just seems so lovely to me. And if, upon meeting her, anyone ever says to Marta, "My, you're practically a lady," I will secretly love them for all time.

A funny thing about the names... Right when we were very, very first pregnant with Berit, we ran through the list of baby names that we liked in general. This was before the decision to do the German names. Anyway, our top two names for girls were Evan and Drew. If we went with Evan, we thought we'd call her Evie (eh-vee, not eee-veee). We didn't tell anyone about this, because we were so newly pregnant and at that point, we were certain we wouldn't reveal our name choices.

While I was pregnant for B, one of my dearest friends was preggers for her twin boys. When I asked her what she would name them, it was "Evan and Drew." ! That sent us back to the books, and led to our decision to do German names.

A year or so after that, Trevor's cousin and his wife had their first baby. A girl, who they named "Evie." And yes, they pronounce it eh-vee.

So what would we name our next? Well, if it's a boy, his name will be Peter, which has been our boy name since the start (though Trevor did really, really press for AXEL. Honest). But since we're not even close to being pregnant yet, we haven't discussed girl names.

So that's the story. I hope my girls like their names, and their reasons why.

I Scream, You Scream... And Then I Scream Again

It has already been a long week, starting with Berit having a cold and ending with Marta and a runny, ever-so-runny nose. We did ice cream twice.

Fourth of July Photos

Watching the parade with cousins.

With Annie at the beach in Harbor Springs.

A flag on the arm, so that she could see it. (On the cheek just didn't compute.)

Tom's Mom's cookies for brunch. (Following a breakfast of pancakes with whipped cream and preceding lunch of peanut butter and nutella sandwiches.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Fourth Worthy Of Fireworks, But Different

A few days ago I meant to mention that my blog has had its first birthday, but completely forgot because of the high activity levels of the two creatures for whom I write said blog. So I'm saying now, Happy Birthday to Blog! In all my spare time I'm putting together a BookSmart book of the blog, so my kids will have a written record of their lives, and just in case something technical happens to the blog and I don't have access to it in, say, the 30 years it'll take them to actually care about it and look it up.

So just now, when I sat down to indulge in a little Haagen-Dazs frozen yogurt (totally worth it, so very delicious), I decided to check back into my blog's history by reading the first few entries, coincidentally about the Fourth of July. Which is, you might realize, today.

We did a million fun, family centered things that involved sweets, multiple parades, beach romping and party-going. We skipped the very late, very loud fireworks and made sure to be at every other event in the hot, sticky weather.

Today was completely different. We took the girls to Harbor Springs in the morning, but just as we arrived Marta announced that she needed a nap, and do you remember, Mom, that I don't sleep in the stroller like I did last year? So she and I headed home while Trevor and Berit met up with the family and watched the parade. Afterward, Trevor brought a sleeping Berit home and I ran up to Lowe's for flowers, then Trevor and B left for a family dinner while I put Marta to bed. Later tonight, Trevor's taking Berit to see the fireworks -- her first that she'll ever remember, probably (why don't I know this?) her first ever, period. I wish I could see her face! I hate missing moments like these.

The pictures that were posted last year were of the girls playing, looking not unlike they do now. In fact, Marta is wearing the same clothes this summer that she did last summer, having grown up and not out, and having started out life a bit on the plump side. Maybe I would think she had grown more if her hair had come in, but it's still babyish, with little curls at the nape of her neck, as she becomes a kid, bit by bit.

And so this blog, a year later, is more about reflection and relaxation, rather than frenzied fun, and the startling -- very startling -- realization that my children have not changed very much in the past year. They can say a few more things, can jump a little higher, are taller. But I had thought they would be so different, and as I look around, very little really is. Life IS easier these days, and even I don't feel so frantic to be part of every last thing. Still missing moments with Berit, however, but now I'm able to create my own, as Marta is big enough to be without us. Am I happy about these non-changes? I think yes, very much. Because while they haven't suddenly shot up like weeds, and they haven't made life changes, they've gotten more fun, and I think I have, too.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Curb Appeal

Today we had great expectations, since Trevor took the day off and we had two adults and two kids. Ergo, we could conquer the world! Or, we could walk to the farmer's market, at the very least.

However, today being July 3, the weather was of course freezing and rainy. We bundled the girls into their strollers with coats and blankets and hats, and they still weren't warm. Walking up and down the hills of the neighborhoods by the market didn't even warm my body, let alone my nose or fingers.

But we tried. We even took the dog, who was so pleased to feel loved for once in three years. After the farmer's market, we quickly tried a park, then another, and ended up throwing in the stiff, frozen towel.

Berit and Trevor went to his parents' house, where his brother and family are staying for the weekend, and Marta and I went off in search of curb appeal for our house. Having the ability to only carry one large hanging arrangement in the back, one small hanging arrangement in the back, a big potted plant on Berit's car seat (washing to be done after this post) and a giant hanging arrangement ON my passenger seat (vacuuming to be done after the washing), I wasn't able to get the thousand other things our house needs. Now that we've decided to add about 40 cedars to the front, pavers and plantings, four more big potted plants and three flowering trees to our "landscaping," I'm jumpy and frantic to get it done. Not so much that I entirely want to forego Fourth celebrations tomorrow, but almost. We're also going to re-paint the steps, rails and rocking chairs, and I feel all of this will surely take several weeks to accomplish if I don't force it to be done this weekend.

When Trevor hung the giant hanging arrangement, the weight of it pulled the ceiling of our covered front porch down. As he, the arrangement and the "ceiling" fell, Trevor yelled, "Why'd you get one so heavy?!?" And I said, "I'm so sorry. I didn't consider that a big hanging plant would pull our house down." Which is what I think led Trevor to agree to all the improvements outside, to hopefully lure a buyer in and let us get on with building our house to Trevor's load-bearing specifications.

P.S.: The picture above is of Marta, after she took one of the dirt-filled trays holding a plant and dumped it over her head, resulting in dirt stuck to every teensy part of her body, including, somehow, in her diaper. She then ran around the yard wearing the tray as a hat shouting, "More dirt! Need more dirt!"