Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Regarding The House

To catch you up:
Sunday - Our house is one of eight a couple sees as they plan a possible move to Petoskey.

Monday - They request to see our house again.

Monday afternoon - The wife sees the three houses, and, according to our Realtor, chooses our house.

Wednesday - Realtor calls and tells us to plan on final word next week. Reminds us that our house is "The House."

Wednesday - Realtor's assistant calls us to set up showing with new couple tomorrow.

Status updates:
Trevor - Restless, randomly mad at different people involved for no good reason.

Me - Thinks Trevor is going to jinx us. Nesting furiously; baking pies, organizing refrigerator, freezer, cabinets. Baking hearty foods. Alternately settling firmly into house and whoops, spilling kids' paint on wood (it came out), and thinking of our long day tomorrow and all the driving it will require just to get to area attractions (dance class, library, dinner, etc.) and feeling ready for change. Itchy to research rental homes so we don't get stuck in a dive.

Berit - Messing with my mind by sobbing, "I love our house; I don't want to go to a different house," after I explained to her that we needed to clean up because people were coming to see if they wanted to live in our house. Hey, bonus, we could go to a different house by the library, school, and friends!

Marta - Sick. As. Dog. (Also, wants to be dog, but that is her typical state of being.) Not eating, barely sleeping.

Mosey - Seems to be extra hound-y, surely because we have another showing tomorrow, therefore requiring me to wash the carpets as often as I vacuum them.

And if you're still with me here at the end of all of this rambling, thank you for wondering and for being excited with us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Highs And Lows, And Lots Of Caps

Now that I'm just settling down at the end of the day, I'm realizing that the past 24 hours have felt like about two weeks.

We got to bed last night before 11 -- which never, ever happens, no matter how serious our intent -- and when I got into bed I was thinking, "Pretty soon the girls might be able to share a room." And just as I put my head on the pillow Berit woke up screaming because she had an itch she couldn't reach. I purposely left both monitors on in case I needed a hand (she tends to get overly dramatic; don't know if I've mentioned that here before) and shook Trevor: "Can you listen for Marta?" "Oh yeah, mmph, sure, yeah."

I went upstairs and dealt with a needing-to-be-naked Berit who was so incensed about her ITCH that I started feeling terrible for all those little babies who couldn't communicate that really they just had an itch they couldn't scratch and no, they didn't have colic at all. Because she would not let up about the itch.

Finally, when we had resorted to getting out baby wipes and rubbing them on her itch to make it -- what? drown?, I started leaving her room and she perked right up, telling me in vivid detail all about the books she read before bed. At this point, Marta, who had gone to bed with a bit of a cold, started screaming. Berit was so genuinely intent on telling me about the wardrobe in Bootsie Barker Bites on EVERY PAGE that I couldn't interrupt her (also I feel like lately all I do is rush her and I feel terrible guilt about this), but the screaming in the next room would not stop. I gestured wildly at the video monitor trying to rouse Trevor and when it occurred to me that he didn't have a clue that I was even upstairs said quickly yet gently, "Berit, you need to lie down and go to sleep now," and miracle of all miracles, she did.

I went into Marta's room, where we began our first "I'm sick please cuddle and dote on me" of four sessions during the night -- the last of which ended with us in the kitchen eating Puffins.

At roughly 4 a.m. I went to bed in earnest, sure that all was well again for at least an hour. And it was. For an hour and a half, in fact. At 5:30 a.m. I was pulled to the first layer of consciousness by Berit singing in her room. At 5:45 a.m. I realized that she was screaming How Much Is That Doggy In The Window? and slapped Trevor on his back, saying, "GO TELL HER TO BE QUIET!"

In the second miracle of the night he bounded out of bed and up to her room. He walked in and yelled, "STOP SINGING!" And she, hurt, sobbed as loudly as possible, "But DAD, I NEED TO PRACTICE HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGY IN THE WINDOW!" And Trevor said, "I like your singing but now it's night and you have to go to sleep." To which Berit replied, "I don't like you playing in my room." So Trevor left. Berit continued to sing, and Marta woke up, at 5:50 a.m.

And that is how we began our day. Oh, they're both sick. No preschool, no gymnastics. Pouring rain.

Also: second showing today.

Also: cloth diaper decision needing to be made today. My trial is up.

Also: book signing to attend in the evening -- should I leave my sick children?


Let's start with the cloth diapers. We decided that no, we wouldn't buy the cloth diapers we've been trying for the past two weeks. We have had a GREAT EXPERIENCE with and think that anyone who is interested at all in cloth diapers should do their trial. Super nice, super easy, and great dipes. In fact, we loved the cloth diapers. We decided against them because:
  • One week of diarrhea made us hate the dumping in the toilet process. If it was all ... solid... it'd be fine but bleccchh.
  • Marta, a little furnace in her own right, might have been contributing to global warming by wearing them. She loved the diapers, but did NOT want to wear clothes with them. Every time she had them on, she was sweating.
  • She's almost two. She will probably potty train within a year's time.
We had a list of pros about the diapers as long as my arm (and truly, they are SO EASY TO USE), but in the end this is just what we decided to do.

Now, regarding the book signing. I went, and it was really, really great. Whenever I go to one of these events I feel so at home, like I'm in my own little club of people from all different backgrounds who spend their Monday evenings gushing about books from very diverse perspectives. The girls were fine. Currently they are purring through their noses in their sleep, completely stuffy and uncomfortable. But they were still fine. And actually, Berit doesn't even seem that sick. So that's good.

One other thing and then I'm telling you about the SECOND SHOWING. Trevor got bad news about a house he had been planning on building when his sworn enemy in the business made a bid that sounded pretty good to the homeowner but which we all know is a PACK OF DIRTY LIES, naturally. So he's been mad about that all day, and I've been all "Well can you IMPLY this or INFER that or nagnagnag-businessethics-theirsarebadhowdoweimplythatwithoutoursbeingbadtoo?" Which could explain why he's downstairs and I'm upstairs. Hm.

And. Second showing.
They came at 1 p.m. when we had finished cleaning the house at 12:58 p.m. Literally, I saw them pull into our subdivision, ran in and screamed at Trevor, HERE THEY ARE HURRY and he ran out. Our house is their choice. They put together what they think their offer would consist of and drove home to GR to figure it out tonight. Our Realtor (also their Realtor, coincidentally and bonus for her) thinks we'll hear tomorrow. They would need to move in in, oh, about a MONTH.

So this might not happen at all because we've been this close before with no offer, but still. STILL! And our Realtor is going on and on telling us about all the things they loved about the house and I'm thinking, that's what I love about this house. And she says, "Nothing else they've looked at has a basement/ballpark-esque playroom like yours, and I'm all, I KNOW. I know!

I'm reading Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler right now (yes, I am) and all day I've been muttering the f-word in my mind because apparently if I read it, I become it, and the f-word has seemed like an entirely appropriate reaction to people possibly probably wanting to buy our house.

Also, I have my first race in two weeks and I have not run in five days.

The End.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Many Chins Mean Happy Life

Since Thursday I have been presented with several thousand calories' worth of deliciousness every day, and I have not turned one down. I'm talking filet with blue cheese butter, many, many bottles of wine, chocolate lava cake (2), pumpkin cheesecake, truffles, chocolate chip-pecan-coconut cookies, pumpkin biscotti, moose mix, raspberry kringle, peanut butter custard, mochas, lattes, coffee with real cream, raclette, Pirate's Booty, sausage, tenderloin rolls, pickled green beans, pickled garlic, pickles, homemade salami, prosciutto-and-cheese rolls, breadsticks, breadsticks with cheese inside them and homemade chicken soup with dumplings.

And those are just the ones I can remember. Let's not forget I have a memory like a hollow cave.

And even though my pants are getting tighter as I sit and type, I think it's going to be OK. Because:
1. I have my first race in two weeks and I don't have a choice but to run faster and longer. (For those of you who might be there, I will be slow. But considering what I've eaten in the past four days, my finishing the race at all will be a triumph.)

2. Fall is in the air. Hence, more clothing.

3. I pledge to eat only lettuce and grapes... starting tomorrow.

4. We had a showing today, and I bought a bunch of flowers from the farm market (something I never do because of my aversion to slowly dying living things in my home), and they really do make the house very cheery. Once you get over the dying thing.

5. Marta is a regular songstress, singing How Much Is That Doggy In The Window, Do-Re-Mi, So Long/Farewell, Ring Around The Rosey, The Wheels On The Bus, Skinnamarink (sp!), Baby Beluga and Rocketship Run constantly. It's freaking adorable.

So, good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wanted: Mary Poppins

Our sitter is moving.

I know, it doesn't sound like a big deal, especially if you don't have kids. But it was a big deal for us to hire a sitter. It was a big deal for us to involve her in our lives, to trust her with our children when we weren't home. It was a big deal when she started putting Marta to bed and getting her up from naps.

It was a big deal when I launched a huge project based on the knowledge that I had a sitter I could trust and rely on.

And our girls sure love her. They talk about her, sing her songs, play her games. She wears them out. She keeps them outside and loving it. She cleans up after lunch.

She's in her mid-20s, and has a real career that involves kids and programs for kids and helping kids stay out of drugs. She's certified in life-saving stuff. She's a good person. She has tons of energy. She's sporty and wears blue eye makeup sometimes.

She took much of the summer off from sitting because of her summer job, and my kids missed her and welcomed her back with fireworks when she returned.

It makes me sick to think I have to replace her. Is that ridiculous? That our sitter is so important that it makes my stomach turn? Shouldn't I be focusing on world peace, or something?

So, if you know of a sitter this good, would you let me know? Thanks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meanwhile, Back On The Ranch...

From The Mouth of B

To Ellen, while playing a computer game at the library:

"This is the hardest I've ever thought!"

Summing It Up

Dora. Cloth diapers. Preschool.
Two dogs (one is only half ours).
Marketing ideas for Doublestein Builders.
Cleaning. Cleaning. Cleaning.
Wanting to run out and buy Gabaldon's newest but knowing there's no time to devote to it right now.
Buying kiwis, peaches, bananas, pears, carrots, milk, eggs. Constantly.
Reading Sandra Boynton to Marta, and my brother's old books to Berit.
Organizing basement. Drooling over organizational systems.
Pulling back Marta's growing hair. Again. Again. Again.
Cooking, washing dishes, cooking, washing dishes.
Seriously, how many times can I clean the house?
Writing little pieces. Writing a big project.
Researching. Making lists. Wishing there was more time with my project, wishing there was more time with the kids, thankful that I have both to keep me busy.
Thinking about the holidays. Planning a halloween party.
Clearing out summer clothes. Getting summer clothes back out. Putting them away again.
Feeling grateful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cloth Diaper Trial, Day 8

Much less expensive than Berit's nightly Pull-Ups.
Much less expensive than Marta's diapers.
Natural, soft cotton on the bum. No chemicals.
EASY to wash and care for.
You know, the environment.
Adorable when worn alone.
The kids love picking colors.

Berit wakes up with cold, wet, clammy skin.
Berit's cold, wet, clammy skin makes her wake up much earlier than usual.
Much bulkier than disposables.
Much hotter than disposables.
When the #2 isn't entirely solid, it's just plain gross.
Marta will potty train within a year's time, I predict.
Will still need disposables at night. (I just can't get on board with a cloth dipe that makes me get up earlier and makes my kids cranky.)

Current verdict: Like them, maybe? Maybe want a handful...? Probably not worth buying a handful...? Should probably commit to it as a lifestyle and not just as an occasional thing...? Tired of changing runny poops in public and rolling them up to take home. Kind of embarrassed to send them back...?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fast and Slow

I don't wanna go slow
I go fast

I'm a rabbit
I hop and I jump and I dash

And I'll go whizzing by in the blink of an eye

Just like a jet engine airplane
who speeds through the sky

I don't wanna go slow I go fast.

I don't wanna go fast
I go slow

That's the way that I move
I'm a turtle you know

Join me as I go by

We can laugh
We can cry
We can talk about pie

We don't want to go fast we go slow.

I don't wanna go slow
I go fast

I'm a rabbit
I hop and I jump and I dash

And I'll go whizzing by in the blink of an eye

Just like a jet engine airplane
Who speeds through the sky

I don't wanna go slow I go fast.

You don't want to go slow
You go fast

and you may find you're missing the world as you go past.

Crickets singing their sound
Golden leaves on the ground

You might find something new
that you wouldn't have found

If you never went slow only fast.

So won't you slow down

and wait for me.

Take it slow, take it slow, take it slow
C'mon slow down

We can share all the new things we see

when we're slow,

here, we go

Together we're slow.

And other times I can go fast!

(Lyrics: The Laurie Berkner Band)

From The Mouth of B

"Mommy, you can be Maria and stand on the stairs.
"Daddy, you can be the Captain and you stand downstairs and say to Mama, 'I want you... to be wet.'"

(Editor's note: The actual line is delivered by the Captain to Maria, who is wet from falling into the water. "I want you to stay. I... ask you... to stay.")

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back To School

We have been lucky that Berit never had any preschool jitters. In fact, we sent her to preschool as soon as she turned 3 years old in February, right in the middle of the year, because she was ready in a big way for structure and activity beyond what we were doing at home. She thrived.

This year she's in the 4 and 5-year-old class, since last year she was in the 3-year-old group and she's moving on with the same crew. I wasn't sure if she'd care about going back to school, really, because she was there for camp once a week during the summer and was neither thrilled nor bothered by going. However, when she heard it was back-to-school day for her this morning, she could not get out the front door fast enough. We nearly had to physically restrain her to snap a picture before she tumbled down the steps and raced to the car.

When I picked her up today, I noticed that she was different from last year. She was robust and talkative, and not quiet and thoughtful. She ran off with her friends and chatted merrily. She came up with clever ideas and never wondered whether she'd be going back again, but is just assuming that it's part of her life. She was STARVING and tired.

Marta had a first today, as well. She went to "gymnastics" for the first time in her memory, and she had a fun time but I could tell she missed her playmate big sister. A local gymnastics center offers a play hour twice a week, and Monday's session coincides nicely with Berit's school, so that's where Marta and I will be. While Berit was obsessed with jumping on the big trampoline when she went there from ages 18 months - 3 years old, Marta wanted to RUN and CLIMB. She ran down the long trampoline as fast as she could, and her little knees came right up to her chest as she bounced and wiggled down the runway. At the end her body couldn't hold her bouncy gait upright any longer and she'd crash down in what looked like a painful tumble of limbs and head, but she'd only pause for a second before popping up and doing it all over again. She also loved sliding down the mats and plastic slides, where Berit was afraid to slide on anything until she was 3 years old.

A good day for all, and a positive outlook for the rest of the week. Loads of writing, our two-week cloth diaper trial, and sunny weather to kick off fall. And let's not forget Mosey's fifth birthday this Sunday, for which we are making his favorites (chicken, scrambled eggs, cookies and bacon) and a bone-shaped chocolate cake.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leaving Kids In Cars: Not Okay

When the topic of leaving children in cars comes up in playgroups, my friends roll their eyes in my direction. I'm the mom who stands on the soapbox yelling about kids left in vehicles. On a site I belong to for Northern Michigan moms, this was a recent post. Do you do it? I couldn't believe the number of parents who said it's "no big deal" and "the kids are happier in the car." I was in the minority, and I was shocked at what many of the women said in their replies. They lamented busy-bodies who give them a hard time for leaving their children, they said it's so much faster and easier to shop without little ones (obviously, but WHATEVER).

And today, I watched a police officer take a mother's children away from her, for leaving one of them in the car.

I had a few minutes to kill before heading back home, so I swung into downtown Petoskey to hang out with the kids. We walked into the toy store, where they have a little table set up with "guys" and trucks and animals, and the kids got to work playing while I pretended like I might buy something.

We had been there a few minutes when another mom with her two kids came in. They looked to be doing the same thing, and after the children had all migrated to the side of the store to inspect the dolls, we started chatting. She seemed a lot like me -- ponytail, practical purse, shorts and a t-shirt, interacting with her children in a loving way. She asked my girls' ages and I asked hers, and she said, "My oldest is four, this one just turned two, and I have another baby who's sleeping in the car."

Um... alone? "Yeah, shhh!" (Conspiratory lean-in.)

I started having the girls wrap things up, because now I felt as if I needed to stand guard OUTSIDE, watching this woman's car in the 80-degree heat. We said goodbye and left the store, and what do you know? There's a police car pulled right up next to an SUV several spaces away from the toy store. As in, she wouldn't have even been able to see her car from the store's window.

I walked back to the store and flagged her down. She thought I was signaling that her baby was awake, and waved and started rounding up her other children, but when I told her THE POLICE HAD HER BABY, she moved so quickly she forgot about her oldest. She went back in for the oldest and loaded the two older children into the side of the car, as the police officer already had her baby strapped into his car and was on the far side of his car, looking in at the child who was a teensy, tiny newborn with little fists punching the air. Then he walked over to the woman and told her what he was about to do (I couldn't hear because we were in my car, loading up to leave), and she burst into tears and was fairly stressed out. We left then, but as I drove away I saw him herding the children into one car and physically showing her that no, she wouldn't be taking them home.

I nearly threw up. I couldn't even call Trevor, I was so disturbed. My throat was caving in just thinking about how she must have felt, and yet, I was so pleased that someone had DONE something about this and now she'd never do it again. Such a shame that she had to pay what must be terrible consequences. Can you even imagine watching your little children and your newborn baby riding away from you and knowing that you would now be subject to an investigation?

And once again I soapbox. Can it possibly be worth it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nothing Pressing

I vaguely remember last year at this time, writing about all the things we were trying to fit in before summer was over and the cool weather set in. I don't feel as rushed this year, even with our cold summer, but I know I am really enjoying these newly warm days with the kind of delight you take in the last fresh Michigan strawberry. I guess I'm savoring them, with more patience for exploring and picking fuzzy old dandelions and getting dirty or jumping in water.

Today we had a garage sale in the morning, so Trevor took the kids bright and early to get doughnuts and play with friends while I manned the tables. (Sidenote: Repeat garage sale -- with more stuff from friends who stopped by -- in two weeks. It was quiet today.)

After we closed shop Trevor went on a Vespa cruise with a friend and I took the girls to Camp Petosega, where they bypassed the playground and headed straight for the beach. The water was crystal clear, completely clean and so warm that even Berit walked right in. We did lots of adventuring in the lake, picking up wet sand and squeezing it, plopping it back into the water, scavenging for shells and stones and playing with the friendly minnows.

I have always had a fear of lakes (and a terror of oceans), but when I've got my kids with me I usually completely forget about it. It's one thing if we're by my parents' black lake and they want to go in -- no. They can with Dad; out of the question for me. But when we're in Lake Michigan or Crooked Lake, I always think back on our day and realize that hey, I wasn't scared. It helps that our children rarely go in past where Trevor and I can stand, so there's no open water at my feet with who knows what lurking down there.

We came back home and I served ice cream at 4:30 p.m., and somehow they were still hungry for dinner afterwards. We did baths and bed, and when Trevor's not home we three pile into the big rocking chair in Marta's room and read books together instead of each girl in her own room. They chose Dora's Sleepover Party, Ten In The Bed and Tugga Tugga Tugboat -- a book whose lure escapes me completely, yet I read it on demand at least four times a week. Marta took Good Dog, Carl, to bed, and Berit took Noisy Nora with her.

The sun set tonight around 7:30. Seven-thirty! And Facebook is filled with back-to-school excitement. Berit still has one more week before school starts, but we're feeling the electricity of fall creeping in in our house, too. While eating ice cream sandwiches on the deck we analyzed the colors of the leaves on some of the trees hanging over the side -- purples, reds, oranges, and leaves that have already passed through their bright phases and have gone onto brown.

We're meeting friends for a walk in the morning and I pulled out long layers for the girls to wear, though I feel fairly certain they'll be shedding them as the sun creeps out. Trevor's constantly updating us on pre-season football and just informed me that we'll need to be home this Sunday by 8 p.m. for the Bears' first season game. As I wrote that last sentence he told me about it again, and as I write this sentence he continues to tell me about it. Against the Packers, did you know?

With a late summer of little to no building going on, we've been so glad to have several clients eager to build this fall, and Trevor keeps having successful meetings over on the lake as friends and clients spend their last few weekends here of the season. We're blessed, that's just what it amounts to, because this economy stinks and so many people don't have work. We've had a few scary weeks but for the most part, we've turned out to be very lucky, and we are grateful. This past year of unfriendly NASDAQ reports has taught us to cling tightly to the basics and realize that the rest is just crumb topping -- it is lovely to have but could fall away in a moment.

My girlfriend was here this morning with her 9-week-old baby, who was just warm and cozy and slept all two hours she was here, and it just felt right to be holding a baby as the temperature dropped. Both of my babies were born in the winter, and while it's hard not to be able to take them outside, it is nice to snuggle their warm little bodies.

It feels so good to be prepared, with school clothes and new jeans and the coats out of storage, but not needing them. To know that we're safe and secure for the time being. And to have our oldest heading into school, but only a little -- we don't have the nervous excitement of kindergarten for two years yet.

Things are calm. Are they calm before a storm? Hope not. The dog still stinks. Really stinks. And we're thinking about switching to cloth diapers, so, that'll be dirty. Things will pick up here soon enough.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dangle Down

If you aren't here because of the kid stuff (then why are you here? My book recommendations? Oh please, let it be my book recommendations.), turn away.

Berit needed help on the potty today because her princess dress was so big and so froofy that I had to hold it up while she peed.

She said, "Mom, Angelina Ballerina definitely doesn't have a wee."

Me: "Um, I think she does."

B: "Where is it?"

Me: "Where yours is. You just can't see it because wees are private, and we wear clothes over them."

B: "What does it look like?"

Me: "Well, she's a girl... mouse... so, probably like yours."

B: "Like this, or a dangle-down wee, like Liam's?"

Kids' Club

The neighborhood kids have recently realized that our girls are no longer babies. The majority of the children who live on our block are aged 5-10, and even though they're older than our kids, they've taken a shine to Berit and Marta that we hadn't expected.

I think you spend so long in your baby bubble that it's hard to realize that your children will soon be part of something larger -- a culture of little people who don't think it's at all strange to invade your home without knocking, conquer your swingset or immerse themselves in your children's toys.

Since the start of summer we've had a few tagalongs with every evening walk, which our kids absolutely love. Now that school's just days away, the neighborhood gangs seem to be out in full force. They come over whenever we're outside to play on the swingset, and have recently taken to running in our house with Berit to play in her room. If Marta is inside having lunch or watching a movie, they always pop in to cuddle with her and try to get her to say a thousand entertaining phrases. When they see that I have her video monitor in hand, they ask to see her on it, and coo over the littlest member of their club.

Our kids have fallen right into this. They don't bat an eyelash when they turn around and a big 7-year-old is handing them a toy. And the children are so gentle and polite, and are genuinely friendly and playful that's it's hard to tell them when it's time to leave. They call their parents to inform them of where they are, and settle down to play blocks or read books or run around the driveway. They don't seem to notice that they're two or three or four times our daughters' ages.

In the beginning I wasn't sure how to handle them. They're so BIG, with so much to SAY, and I haven't had much experience with kids their ages so I would wonder when they'd run off to be with someone else and let us take our little family walk. But as time went on I realized how much bigger it all was. They had included our kids in the neighborhood pack, and were checking out the welcome potential from Berit and Marta's mom and dad. In fact, I noticed how important it was for Berit to interact with them, and now even Marta is asking to see them when we walk by their houses.

One day we were strolling by the home of two little boys, ages 5 and 7, who were outside playing and who love to fuss over Marta. We walked past and shouted hello, and Berit ran over to have a quick once-over with the youngest. When she was walking back he shouted, "Bye, Berit!" And she thought he had called her another name, so she said, "NO, I'm BERIT!" And he yelled, "Of course you're Berit! Everyone knows that!"

It was cute, and a lesson in kid society. She wanted to be known. This is her social group, these are her peers. They are not her family, nor are they her classmates who have no choice but to know her. They have decided to be friends with her, and she with them.

Trevor has a hard time with all of this. If I had asked him five years ago how he would feel about having kids run in and out of our house, climbing on our swingset and playing wildly outside with our kids, he would have said, "That's exactly how my childhood was! I can't wait for that!" But when the door opens after a soft knock and a 4-foot boy runs in, he gives me a look as if to say, "Oh I don't think so."

He rolls his eyes and isn't as overly kind to the kids as a host might be (he's not mean -- just full of STAY OUTSIDE, GUYS and PLEASE DON'T TOUCH THE FOUR WHEELER).

I said to him today, as five kids had joined our brood and all seven were doing various activities in our living room during "rest time," "This is it. This is what our life will be like for the next 20 years, at least. Do you want to tell our kids they can't do this? Their friends aren't welcome to be here? We're too picky about our toys and furniture to allow you to have good, clean fun with your friends?" And he smiled, and said that it was just strange.

He often talks about how he's not sure whether or not he'll give our kids permission to try beer when they're 16 (NO) or let them drink if they're going to stay at our house (NEVER), because apparently his parents let him do these things and he now has a healthy attitude toward drinking (My parents did not let me do these things and I also have a healthy attitude toward drinking.), and I think he maybe fantasizes about our kids as teens with things like soccer games and trendy music and is really looking forward to that. But I have to wonder if the same thing will happen as is now; when the time arrives, will he realize that, this time, he's the adult in the situation? That it's a whole lot different to be going through it as the parent, as it was the child?

It's interesting to watch this happen. When a woman gets pregnant, she often reads books, searches the Internet and talks her friends' ears off about being a mother. As her children are growing, she makes friends with ladies who have children about the same age, and they journey through stages together. They talk about what's next, how to handle certain hurdles, how to discipline, celebrate, educate. But men go about things so differently. Yes, I know, there are those dads who also pounce on the books and can't get enough of researching baby stuff, but the majority of guys I know tend to take things as they come, and react from a completely unprepared place. I don't think one or the other is better (OK, maybe I do), but it's nice when you can approach things in two different ways, to see what works best for the kids.

The most interesting part of the day happened this evening. After a late morning and early afternoon of the neighborhood's children being one with our family, we had the Dart family over for dinner, and our girls played with some of their best buds, Liam and Brennan. Trevor spent most of the time with our girls, since Ellen and I were busy setting up a garage sale and the dads were hanging with the children, but as soon as they went home Trevor and Berit headed for the swingset (where she's been the majority of the day). I said, "Looks like it's time for a bath." He said, "We're going to play for a minute." I said, "It's past 7:30." And he said, "I know, but I promised." And then they played, hard, with Berit giggling uncontrollably and Trevor laughing as they frolicked and chased and pushed and climbed.

I think he missed her.

Hum Drum Happiness

It is a remarkably gorgeous day. I have all the windows open, and even the front door is swung wide to let all of the late summer/early fall bugs in with the fresh air. We're looking forward to a barbecue with the Darts this evening, and El and I are going to set up a garage sale for tomorrow, Labor Day Monday. I eschewed the boys' need for fancy beer and instead bought Irish red for Irish Ellen, and Layer Cake wine for the adults' dessert while the kids have ice cream cones.

The DALMAC bikers have been riding through town all weekend with their orange flags, making me wish I was enough of a happy camper to sign up for next year's 300+ mile journey from East Lansing to the bridge. Can't imagine not having our Tempurpedic after riding all weekend.

... We've just gotten back from downtown. Trevor had an unexpected meeting with a client spring up, so the girls and I went to the Grain Train to get trail mix ingredients. We parked by Ace and walked there. Berit was dressed in one of her princess costumes, as usual, and while I don't even notice that she's in full princess mode (with crown to boot), passersby sure do. Whenever someone compliments her, she CURTSIES. Adorable.

We came home with chunky monkey cookies and trail mix supplies, and Marta helped me dump everything into a big pot and stir it up. They're both currently in their cozy chairs watching Max & Ruby with cups full of trail mix. Marta has already dumped hers twice.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Evening At The Beach

Hard-To-Answer Questions

Yesterday I was rushing around trying to get dressed while Marta cried, "GO BYE-BYE!", because the child cannot stomach being at her own house for anything other than sleep (for which she MUST be in her own bed, and this is non-negotiable).

I tossed off my PJ pants and pulled on some jeans. Just before I buttoned and zipped, Berit said "STOP!" She needed to see my c-section scar (again). She's interested in the scar in a roundabout way, because it's a boo-boo, because it's next to a tattoo and is therefore doubly fascinating, and because Marta came out of it. She typically looks at it, then says "wow," and it's over.

Yesterday, though, she said, "That's how Dr. Joe took Marta out of your belly." I said, "Yup, you're right," and pulled on my jeans. She said, "And that's how I came out of your belly, too.

Um... "Nope. You came out a different way." (Tell her the truth, but only as much as she needs. Tell her the truth. Tell her the truth...)

"Where did I come out?"

"Well, you were in my belly, and then you came out."


"Mommy and the doctors helped you come out."

"WHERE? Your belly?"

"You did come out of my belly."

"From your scar?"

"Noooo. From my... wee." (Yes. She calls her privates a wee.)

GIGGLEGIGGLEGIGGLEGIGGLEGIGGLE "Is that how all babies come out?"

"Yes. Either from a scar like this one, or from a mommy's wee."


Then, last night during prayers, she said, "I don't want to pray. Cinderella doesn't pray. Jane and Michael (Mary Poppins) don't pray."

Me: "They might pray in private. You just don't see them praying."

Her: "No, I would see it. They don't pray."

Me: "Well, maybe they do something different to thank God."

Her: "Mom, what's God?"

Two major questions in one day -- maybe she ate breakfast.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pros. Cons. Feelings.

This afternoon I came home from four hours of sorting books for Berit's preschool to find both girls desperate to go somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere FUN, that is. With ice cream.

So I put Marta in the car (Berit being in the stage where she has to do EVERYTHING by herself at negative turtle speed) and ran into the house to grab a couple of disposable bibs. As I did this I noticed my answering machine blinking. "Hi Lisa, it's Debbie from ReMax of Petoskey, we just had a request for a showing of your house for 4:30 today." Glance at the clock: 3:51. Glance around the house. Uh... Think: Girls are already in the car, ready to go. Can I speed clean the house and get a message to Re-Max?

My decision: No. NO! Why the heck was it a no? But truly, I don't think we would have made it. Yes, I probably could have cleaned up in a half hour, but not perfectly. Did I just shoot myself in the foot? Possibly. Probably not. Who knows. The people who were so interested in the house last week (Wife's favorite! Top three!) just made an offer on another house. We have an open house scheduled for this weekend and we're just not excited anymore. Does this mean we should quit the game? We're thinking about it. But there's that damn What If.

So we cleaned the carpets and we're doing the bathrooms tonight just in case they call tomorrow. But truthfully, if nothing happens after this weekend, I think we're going to take a break from the Realty game when our contract is up. Will our house ever be really, really clean again after we pull our listing? Maybe not. Will we be any closer to living in town? No. So why pull it? Dunno. Do our feelings count for anything here, or should we just brush them off? A whole year on the market, which sinks lower and lower.

Take it off the market PROS:
It might be a better market next year.
We might make more on it next year.
We might appear fresh to buyers next year.
No more frantic dustbunny clean-outs at midnight.
No more bittersweet cookies baked for open houses.
No more packing up the family and forcing our baby to nap elsewhere when someone might possibly like our house, maybe.

Take it off the market CONS:
It might be a worse market next year.
We might make less on it next year.
We'd be free from a mortgage in case we suddenly win the lottery and can build our house immediately, or in case new things coming up might force us to live elsewhere for awhile.
Why bother taking it off? We know we want to sell. What if we do? Who cares if it's winter?
No extra cookies.

Any advice? I should have went for the showing, right? I knew it.