Monday, August 31, 2009

Reason #387 To Get A New Phone

The girls each have a new long-sleeved t-shirt with doughnuts on it, and they love wearing them. Until recently it's been a little warm for the shirts, but at 40 degrees this morning, the warmth was a must. Might as well be cute, too.

The appliques on the shirts inspired the girls to launch pleas for actual, edible doughnuts, so off we went to Johan's Bakery.

They each chose a pastry -- chocolate frosting with sprinkles for Berit and jelly-filled with white icing for Marta (she typically picks whatever Berit does, so it was fun to watch her decide to be independent) -- and we sat down at one of the tables to enjoy the treats.

I have a really old phone. I use 30 minutes a month. But I really, really wished just then that I had a fancy camera phone, because Marta was the cutest doughnut eater in the history of the world. Really. She insisted on sitting on a chair without a booster, and the table came up to her nose. She had her huge doughnut on a tiny plate on the edge of the table, and was tipping it towards her so she was eating the frosting off the top and getting it all over her face. She was doing her best to open her mouth wide enough to fit the whole doughnut in at once. It was adorable, even if it sounds sort of typical and mundane here. If I only had a picture...

The lady behind the counter called out to her, "How's your doughnut?" and she said, into her frosting, "mrphGOOD!yumyumyum." And Berit shouted, "OH MY GOSH this is SO DELICIOUS!"

They really should have been in a doughnut commercial. I'm probably not biased. Even if it sounds like it here. Then again, this entire blog is dedicated to them and their lives, so...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Filling You In On Things You Might Not Even Want To Know

First, Polish Festival pictures:
Dancing with Grandpa
"Dancing" with cousins
Oh my gosh. Can you even stop giggling about this?
Talking and laughing and smiling and SUGAR and DANCING!
Looks the part, don't you think?


Today is a rainy day, but don't you think rainy days can be kind of lovely? I keep planning to take the girls outside and stomp in puddles, and just when I'm about to announce it the rain pours down in those heavy drops that might knock my little ones over. I feel strongly that Marta would relish the challenge; Berit, not so much.

I think we're going to scrap our plan to take the girls to the waterfront to throw stones in the little stream by the waterfall, and instead make our first trip out to the Gaylord Sportsplex. Their website shows a neat looking kiddie pool, and at a price of $10 for the family we think it's just the thing for this rainy day. (Is it ironic that we're driving 40 minutes to pay to get soaking wet when it's raining cats and dogs outside?)

I've spent the past couple of weeks doing smart shopping for back-to-school clothes for Berit and Berit's-old-clothes-are-too-small-in-the-waist clothes for Marta (nom-nom-nom pudgy baby belly), and by smart shopping I mean eBay and Gap's online sales. Also, longing for the ability to go to an actual Gap and hold up sale jeans to determine whether or not they'll fit said baby belly. Anyway, this morning being chilly and rainy I pulled out a pair of Berit's 4T jeans and long-sleeved t-shirt and... they fit! Who would have guessed that clothes that were too big just a few weeks ago would fit our 3 1/2-year-old? We're not sure just how she's growing, since she drinks a half-cup of juice in the morning, eats oatmeal before bed and survives on water during the rest of the day, but somehow she's turning into a little beanpole.

Oh, and Marta has started calling her Berry. As in a nickname (having been able to say "Bewit" scarily early), used most often in the following adorable phrases: "G'night, Berry." "Wove you, Berry."

Also, for posterity's sake (and if you don't read this blog because you're also up to your neck in kids, you might want to just skip to the next blog in your reader), Berit has now started pooping in the potty almost exclusively. The big push (ahem) came from her cousin Annie, almost 5, who pooped in front of her a few times during a recent visit. Now Berit goes, then shouts, "It's as big as Annie's!" Which truly, how can it be when all the child eats is oatmeal? After she's finished she insists on calling her personal list of Very Important People to inform them of her feat, and who are all dutifully impressed and ask appropriately graphic questions, furthering her on her path to be just like her father in all ways, especially in his need to mentally dissect poo. (Oddly, for some of you this may be TMI but for most of you, probably fairly normal to think about Trevor and #2 at the same time.) (I did not know this before I married him.)

And on that healthy subject, I'm off to get Marta up from her nap and whisk the family away for a wet weekend, no matter where we decide to go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Musings, And A Bloody Nose

We've been absent on the blog scene for awhile lately, because we've been busy playing hard in a few random days of lovely summer weather. Visits to Pond Hill Farm in particular, as their two lady pigs had piglets a month or two ago and we've been watching them grow each weekend. The girls love this; they crack up at the little pigs, who chase each other around barking like dogs. Marta calls them "pig-e-lets" and now refers to anything cute or goofy as "silly pigelets." In a twist, all last night she yelled in her sleep, "NO, PIGELETS, NOOOO!"

We've also had a surprising two requests for showings and one open house lately (one showing tomorrow), so we've been cleaning like crazy people. At one point I was scrubbing the carpets by hand at 11 p.m., because when I took the girls outside to let Trevor wash the carpets with our steam cleaner, he decided he'd skip using SOAP and just ran a freshener over them. They looked clean, apparently, because they were wet. They were not. After I hand washed them in a fury, I made him go back over them with hot water. Then, we slept with all the windows open in our room and the fan on high so we didn't die from exposure to toxic chemicals. (Oh yes, it's currently too cold at the END OF AUGUST to sleep with the windows open all night.)

I've launched an attack on fruit flies and ants and am cursing myself for forgetting about two bananas that were hiding under our bread in the basket. Our garage no longer smells like it's home to a garbage can (which it is) and Trevor assures me that the paint he wants to put over a few spots in the walls where our baby gate has battered it will be dry by the showing tomorrow. Assuming, of course, that there is leftover paint at his parents' house. Because if there isn't, we'll have a nice little patch on the corner that's waaay more obvious than the scuffs were.

We're happy about the showings, of course, and are pumping the cute and efficient factors up for our open houses with cookies, muffins, whitefish spread, coffee and light music, and we're folding the toilet paper into points as if we have a cleaning lady (a welcome guest who I do occasionally employ for these events, but who hasn't been by in awhile) (note: drop in price of house) (note: clean your own damn house, stay-at-home mom).

I'm getting nervous, though, as the action is suddenly picking up. It may have a lot to do with my explaining to Berit that we needed to pick up the basement just now instead of tear it apart because people were coming over to see if they wanted to live in our house and, if they did, we would move to another house by the park! the library! downtown! her friends! And she said, "But Mommy, will they want to keep all of my princess dresses?" I'm suddenly very aware that we have two children and no home to move into; that we will rent until we build and that, up until now, we've lived very comfortably with a big playroom basement, a great deck as an extension of our living and dining rooms, and a neighborhood where our kids can run up and down the street without being restrained to a sidewalk. Every day and every night we take leisurely walks, chatting with our wonderful neighbors, picking baby pinecones from a particular tree and gathering stones to toss into the creek, which flows under the bridge that Trevor built. Without the home we have on blueprints ready for us, it's hard to consider this as progress. Especially considering that that home is probably five years away, with unknowns in the meanwhile.

I'm constantly seized with the sensation to run out to the yard and yank down the "for sale" sign. What the heck are we doing?

So, I'll let you know on that one.

I've also been working on a project for Country Lines Magazine, which is taking considerably longer than I had anticipated -- what with the whole "business hours" not quite coinciding with "my hours that I can work uninterrupted" and "the hours that I'm not cleaning my house for showings," and the boatload of research the kind people at the magazine have directed my way for only 1,200 words of end-result copy.

We also have a couple of projects we've been brainstorming and in meetings about (real, actual meetings with people other than family members) that may or may not be coming up. If we go forward on them, they'll be serious and we don't know how we'll survive but it'll be worth it. If we don't, we'll always wonder .... well, what if? So major decision-making happening in our household, which could mean something and could mean nothing.

I'm thinking an apt title for this post might be: Fear Of Commitment. Thank God we're already married.

Speaking of which, next month is our six year anniversary. So, of course, Time Flies When You're Having Fun! And, Only Six Years? Seems Like Forever posts coming up.

Berit is belting out serious cries right now because tonight was her first night sleeping without a Pull-Up -- something she's been begging me to do for weeks, after our friends the Marsmans visited and Luke and Paige wore Big Girl Underwears (even Luke gets the big girl nod) -- and

... right after that "and," which was about an hour ago, Berit really started screaming, and I ran up to check on her. Not the pee in the bed we had anticipated, but a bloody nose. Her first, to our memories. Coincidentally on the very same day my sister had nose surgery, to repair an extremely deviated septum (truly -- not a "deviated" "septum" slash "reconstructive" "surgery" = nicer nose, like some of us may have had, or may have had twice). Anyway, there was much calming, bathing, hot chocolate-ing and worrying going on, and now she's off to bed while Trevor and I hope that it's a one-time occurrence. I had bloody noses regularly since her age until a few years ago, when I had a vein cauterized. She doesn't have dark hair, eyes or skin, but she does have my tendency to bleed from the nose. Luuuuucky.

Now the high-fives we were giving each other over a decent bedtime for us aren't valid anymore, and my rambling post ends on a very different subject than it began. We thought tomorrow was our major excitement for the week; seems as though we shouldn't look past our own noses for that. :)

"Silly Pig-e-lets" (Marta's Phrase For All Things Cute)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blessed -- Through Thick and Thin

We have had sort of a roller coaster ride with the girls these past seven days. Early last week I was in pure kid bliss, loving every minute of their hand holding, playing together, running on sidewalks downtown and general merriment. We went downstate for The Wiggles, saw the grandparents, Marta got sick and we came home to a no-Daddy weekend, and things are a bit less electric in the fun department.

They've been cranky, but beyond that Berit has been a complete handful. She will not stop talking! I ask her to do something, let's say pick up her room/eat her lunch/can she do this puzzle?/go potty and she has a dozen things to tell me about it, all delivered with lots of ums, buts and I-I-I-I-I... Truly, it is maddening.

Though I realize this is her age, and it's my job -- my actual job -- as her parent to sit and listen, and allow her her thoughts and comments, and let her work them out so she can move onto the next level of language and conversation and *&^%$#@ LISTENING SKILLS.

Speaking of listening skills, a few times lately she has been in non-threatening danger -- getting banged by a moving swing, for example, or in the path of bee -- and I have told her something like, "Berit! Come here!" in my best urgent parent voice, and she has... argued, stood her ground, and whined. I've tried talking to her about listening, because she might be in real danger someday and I'm trying to help her, and she doesn't care. She shrugs and says, "Huh!" With fake big eyes and a "this is how I'm supposed to react" tossing out of her arms, pretending she's very interested and "go on! tell me more!" but really is just not getting it.

She is also unsatisfied with her clothes at any given moment in life, and I regularly find her in princess clothes, dresses yanked down from her closet and in the nude.

She has informed me on no less than a dozen occasions that "I'm a princess and princess don't wear barrettes/eat lunch/wear shorts/use bibs/take baths/take naps/etc." It's not to be silly or cute; she truly believes this and I'm wishing Disney would commission a reality show based on what princesses actually do when they're not prancing around singing and falling in love. (Odd that she hasn't decided to start doing serious housework, considering that nearly all Disney princesses do have some sort of hands-on work to do. Jasmine excluded but Jasmine doesn't wear a gown and therefore doesn't count as a true, role-modeling princess.)

She also told me that "Every story starts with Once Upon A Time."

It does all seem quirky and adorable when I write it down. And this is my struggle -- I know it's all so simple and easy compared to what it could be. I think about what her first diagnosis was, way back when I was pregnant, on the table at the University of Michigan, and we thought that, if we didn't lose her, she'd wear a pacemaker for the rest of her life. And my wall of exhaustion and resistance crumbles, because here she is, healthy and strong and making fanciful decisions and praising me -- no, thanking me with actual relief -- for my personally wearing a skirt.

And of course I think of those parents who can't stay home and want to, or who are raising their children with major obstacles and challenges and health issues and then there are those children who need caring adults and have none, who keep me up all night praying that God will send them to my door somehow.

When Marta is up crying because she has a stuffy nose and, most likely, a sore throat and I'm rocking her, mostly asleep and wishing she would just give it up and get her own needed sleep, I think about those babies who cry and are ignored because their parents are passed out from drink or drugs or who just don't care.

I think about the little boy down the street who lives with his grandparents (his mother's step-dad, to be exact) and is ill cared-for, but his mother is a train wreck and recently sent him to live with his father in Florida and he was beaten daily there, and finally sent home, and TWO NEIGHBORS -- myself included -- have called social services on this family and he remains right there, crushingly alone in a world of mean people going in and out of his house.

Am I refreshed in my own life? Guiltily I write, sometimes, and sometimes not. I would still relish a little weekend away, completely alone, with nothing to do but read and sleep. But even given the chance I wouldn't go, because I can't bear the thought of missing a thing.

So another cup of coffee and back I go to my demanding princess and sniffly baby. And after writing this out, after cleansing the spirit a little with "between moms" talk, I think I'll be better at my job this afternoon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Loving The Adventure; The Return Is Questionable

On Wednesday afternoon I packed the little ones into the car with Everything We Could Ever Need for a two-day trip downstate. I was a little nervous to take them both by myself, because Marta is a notoriously terrible traveler, not being inclined to rest or sleep in the car and not settling down enough to sleep well anywhere but her own room.

The lack of baby rest was worth the trip, because we had tickets to The Wiggles, easily one of my children's top three acts. I couldn't wait to see their faces when they realized that the foursome was live in person, and not on the tube.

The kids actually did a super job on the drive down -- not sleeping, only watching one short video (eh, The Wiggles), munching snacks, reading and playing. They were so happy to be at my parents' house, and my mom even got them the cutest table and stools set that we took home to play with and they've been sitting at it all day today, doing activities, having snacks and reading.

Despite the short time we spent there, I had good, long conversations with my mom and brother -- Dad was working most of the time -- and the kids slept beautifully.

On Thursday we went to the show and it was fantastic! Super fun show to see for adults and kids, but the best part was watching the girls' faces. My mom, sister and I were actually teary because the kids were so happy and excited. My mom leaned over and said, "I'm hiring them for Berit's birthday party" (I wouldn't put it past her entertainment abilities) and I said, "I'm running away with them." I have the tiniest Mom Crush on Anthony. Teensy. ... Anyway.

We met my dad and brother for dinner at a little Mediterranean restaurant, then loaded up the exhausted children and I headed towards home, thinking that they'd surely fall asleep after so much excitement (and the hour of departure already being bedtime).

Berit did in fact crash soon after hitting the highway. Marta, however, called out for ICE CREAM!! for the first hour of the drive. Huh? We HAVE been really doing it up this summer with the ice cream and sandbox and water features, so I kind of understand how she might assume that after a fun-packed day she'd get ice cream. (Note to self: Change this. Soon.)

But I figured she wasn't sleeping anyway and getting ice cream might eat up a half hour that she might instead spend screaming for ice cream and possibly waking Berit up, so I took the first exit that promised a McDonald's and headed for the drive-thru (three miles from the exit, which felt kind of like forever). Turned out to be a big McDonald's drive-thru night and we waited in line singing and biding time and trying not to wake Berit. When it was our turn, the WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AN ANGUS THIRD POUNDER VALUE MEAL lady informed us there was no ice cream; the machine was down, so we drove around and to make a long story short, ended up getting a shake at Burger King after getting stuck between ordering and paying for 20 minutes. I asked for a small vanilla and received a large chocolate. Fine. Put bib on the baby and off we went. After a few quiet minutes I checked the rearview mirror and noticed Marta painting herself and carseat with chocolate ice cream shake. (Warning: Bad parenting practice coming up.) I let her continue because she was happy and quiet and it was late and I just wanted to get home when Berit opens her eyes and yells, "MOM, WE FORGOT TO BRING A FIZZY POP!" (Before we get in the car to drive home, my mom promised Berit she could bring home a soda, because all of the adults had had soda for dinner and I had run across the street to get the girls milk from a coffee shop (popcorn and junk having been liberally applied at The Wiggles) and the promise was made before consulting me.)

And then Berit looks over to Marta who is slurping down what appears to be a giant soda, and completely freaks out because THERE IS HER FIZZY POP AFTER ALL.

I assure Berit that it's just milk and pray that Marta doesn't start painting again and reveal that no, it's not milk and no, it's not fizzy pop but it IS ice cream.

We drive for the next hour like this, and then the girls start to lose it entirely because it's 9:30 and it's been bedtime for at least two hours now. It's dark outside so I give the girls their blinky glowy sticks they got at the show which I realize blink red, white and blue lights in a row just like a police car. So for the rest of the drive, the cars in front of me SLOW DOWN because am I cop? Am I pulling them over? Am I a fake cop trying to pull them over to kill them? No one's sure, so they drive as slow as they dare but never pull out of my way, so the trip gets extended by a whole half-hour.

Finally we arrive home and the real screaming starts, and the dog is barking and the phone keeps ringing, and I end up putting a new-jammied Marta (whose hair is in chocolate ringlets) right to bed in furious tears and Berit goes down like a dream, thank God. Marta stays up all night getting more and more sick (random addition to the story, she's now sick) and eventually wakes up for the day at 6:30 with a full-blown green-snot cold.

I keep sending Trevor little messages like, "Hope you're having fun at the cabin! Miss you! By the way, Marta is SOOOOOO sick and I haven't even gotten dressed yet! Ha ha. (pleasefeelguiltythatyou'veleftusalonetoindulgeinaguy'sweekend)"

Still, completely worth it. Pictures to come soon, unless I fall asleep first.

Monday, August 10, 2009


"She's a booty!" (Marta, pointing to Berit, calling her a beauty.)

"Mommy, the floor was giving me a ride!" (Berit, after spinning and falling down dizzy.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

They Are The Sunshine

We have really had the most perfect past two days. The weather has been cool -- high 60s, low 70s -- but sunny and really quite lovely. Yesterday morning the girls and I played and read books together and deep-cleaned the house, then packed up snacks and books for a two-mile run and one-mile walk with the dogs. Marta played in the sprinkler, I watered the flowers and Berit rode her bike, and it was just so nice to be outdoors in the sunshine after the past few days of dreary weather.

After Marta's nap we met Trevor at the beach, where, despite the chilly air and water, Marta dove into the waves and she and Trevor swam for about an hour. Berit and I worked on a serious sand mountain with a moat, "boats," stones and sticks. We had such fun that when the girls' bedtime rolled around, we couldn't bear to head home so we loaded them up in the double jogger and walked the bike trail to get frozen custard.

When we finally made it home, friends were outside walking so the children rode bikes, pushed buggies and played in the dirt. They were over-tired when we put them to bed, but so happy.

Today was another beautiful day, and after a little playtime at home the girls and I went into town for the farmer's market. We parked at The Grain Train and stopped in for a snack, and the girls were so cute sitting at the table with their sneakily healthy cookies, string cheese and whole milk straight-from-the-farm. "Mmm, this tastes like special vanilla milk," Berit said. They sat there so nicely, playing little song games and chatting.

We walked to the farmer's market, only two blocks up, and they held hands and ran their little baby legs the whole way there. I must have looked so goofy, walking along slightly behind them, a teary-eyed giant smile on my face, taking mental photos.

We came home and painted pictures and stones, all the while chatting with Aunt Andrea over the iChat function of our computers so we could all see each other. Trevor got home early and we took the girls for a three-mile run, stopping along the way to toss stones in the creek and let them run a little themselves. Marta moved to a booster for dinner (will we keep this up? Highly unlikely, with the plate-banging and attempts at jumping off, but she loved it and so did Berit) and then she and I went outside to play in the sprinkler a little while Berit had her bath.

I feel like they're at such great ages right now -- they're buddies for the first time ever, and they love each other so much. They are both relatively independent and have fun ideas, can tackle activities together and generally like the same things. I know boys are blessings, but I'm so happy to have two little girls lately, mostly for the sheer adorableness of their dress-up, dancing and games they love, like kitchen, babies and dollhouse. Life is so sweet in this moment.

While walking home from getting frozen custard last night, an older couple passed us on bikes and looked fondly at the girls in their striped jammies, cozy in the jogger. I realized that soon enough we'll be through with this phase of our lives -- it's hectic, yes, but so, so wonderful. And I had a little ache in my heart, thinking that, one day, they won't be little anymore, and we'll miss it. I'll miss it, I know. Trevor is looking forward to travel, to restaurants, to rocking out more and rocking chairs less, I think. But when we have two days like we've had, with the most perfect moments happening one after another, I don't want them to grow an inch.

More Adorableness

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sugar and Spice

Berit has recently decided that life may be more fun if she sees her sister as a friend and playmate rather than a nuisance and parent-stealer. Which makes my own life not only simpler, but so much sweeter, as they do adorable things together and are sort of lost without one another. The photo to the left is of them seriously working on a sticker book (and their jammies) together. Every evening, Marta finds one of her blankies, finds Berit and Berit takes one end and pulls her around the house. They crack up.

Also fun from Berit lately: Last night she was singing in her sleep, "Queen Queen Caroline, washed her hair in turpentine, the turpentine made it shine, Queen Queen Caroline." Not awake, not in the least.

This morning, when she woke us up by climbing into our bed she said, "I'm going to wear a beautymite dress!" Which is her adaption/interpretation of the Wiggles' frequent comment, "Beauty, mate!"

She's been telling variations on the following story, which I just had her tell me and I wrote word for word (this morning at school she told it and included fairies):

"Once upon a time, there was a little bear and a little mouse and they were going to Mimi's house and then they were going to climb up on the couch and then they were going to fall down, the bear was going to fall down. And THEN they got there and they goed in and then the bear fell down and then the bear broke his arm. Then they had to go home and tie it with a bow. And then they needed to tape it. The end."

Monday, August 3, 2009

As of Late

Washing cars. Hers, too.

Must. Eat. Jell-O.

Berit has recently become an incredibly caring and helpful big sister. :) YAY, and finally.

Look away from the braces. Look away...

Remember this guy? A few glasses of wine with dinner and voila! We remember to take pictures of ourselves for once.

Climbing on the table, slowly, eyeing us, while we watched scolding, over and over. Then I'd stand up, plunk her down on the chair, and she'd start all over. We couldn't stop laughing. When she turned Trev snapped a quick pic.