Sunday, January 31, 2010

Girls' Weekend

When Trevor's gone for a weekend we shift gears entirely. It's so strange, really, because it's not much different from when he's home -- typically he works all day, and is home with us for about two or three hours before bedtime. I suppose it is different, now that I write that -- he's present at the end of the day and in the morning, and any time with your dad is better than no time.

When he's not around, though, I quit cooking. We eat out once, twice a day, and steer clear of the house as much as possible. Knowing that he's not coming home (thus serving as a little break for both the girls and me) makes me want to be in public. I'm proving to myself that we're not hermits, and I'm relying on outside stimuli to enthrall my kids so they don't get bored at home... only to have HOURS before bedtime ahead of them.

Marta's new naptime schedule has helped this, though yesterday she could have taken one and been happier for it. But yesterday we weren't going to skip out on our fun afternoon at the Gemini concert for anything. I'm telling you, my girls were the only kids dancing in the aisles! And I got dirty looks from the parents around me! They weren't in anyone's way, and they were having a blast. It was a KIDS' CONCERT -- I hardly expect them to hold still when one of their favorite groups is within touching distance.

And oh, we had so much fun! Thanks to my parents, who are friends with the Gemini brothers, we were able to chat with San a bit before the show, and received lots of little smiles throughout. The girls felt very special, and had dressed to the nines. This is what I miss about living in the Grand Rapids area -- the events they could be going to, even at their ages. When I was four I was going to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (last row seats!) and the hands-on museum and the Science Center and the Detroit Institute of Art. It didn't make me into an artist or brilliant musician, but I cherish those outings as some of my favorite memories. And to be honest, it's hard for me to be enthusiastic about taking the girls skiing or out to do other wintery activities. Spending my early years in Detroit didn't lend itself to many snowshoeing adventures, and the museums and concerts are what I know. So I guess I have some learning to do with them, eh?

Anyway, it felt great to take them to the show, and afterward we went to The Bob-In Again, because of course we did, we love going there and being able to run around while we eat hot dogs and frozen custard.

They played so well together this weekend, and I can't figure out if it was related to Trevor's absence, our outings or just that they're really becoming best friends. I feel like it's the best friends option -- they seem like it's natural, and they have so much fun together. I wasn't sure if I should step in to play with them, and I didn't, and they came up with lots of adventures and shows to put on for me.

Marta is a bit of a mess today, and Berit has been bringing her all sorts of toys to cheer her up, helping her with things and telling her sweet little stories.

We're all looking forward to Trevor's return, but I think we need this once in awhile, to sort of mash together in an attempt to make the days go by in interesting ways as a family, without school and playgroups and grocery shopping.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


My kids were cute today, but I can't even post anything about our fabulous day because we're waiting to hear about a house (THE house), and it's all I can think about.

I was going to ask for good vibes, but then I felt selfish so please, send good vibes to Haiti and the White House and sick children everywhere. But maybe cross your fingers for us. :)

From The Mouth of B

Out of the monitor yesterday morning, as Berit woke up:

"Mmmm," rustle, waking-up sounds...

"OH, unicornio, kitty, blankie, I wasn't having bad dreams! I was dreaming about princesses and the Big Rock Candy Mountain!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UPDATED: When It Rains It Pours {Alternatively Titled: Down To Three Hours of Sleep For All The Imagining}

If you can't tear yourself away from my updates on the Petoskey real estate market and how it affects my family daily, you're really going to love this. We now have options:


We're waiting on homeowners to tell us a thing or two about A and B. Once they do, we will move as fast as humanly possible to make an offer on either. They both need lots of work, but it's work we're willing to do.

We're also waiting for something, we don't know what, to move C into availability, and we hear it might be just around the corner. If C comes around, we have no doubt, and there's no work.

D seems nice and might be perfect, but is about two blocks outside of where we want to be.

E and F are two houses that are being sold under our price range, and we could live in one and rent the other. Might be a smart option. In an OK location. We haven't been inside yet.

G is probably nothing, but we're going in anyway, just in case.

But here's the biggest question: Once we do buy a house, should we name it the letter I've assigned it here? Or should we name it Can You Even Believe We Almost Bought The Yellow House And Missed This One?

UPDATE: A and C are out. Boo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ah-Ha Moment

Trevor (singing Laurie Berkner-style): "Marta has a billy goat on her head..."

Marta: "NO! I have a poop on my bottom!"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moving On

Now that the yellow house mess is over, I thought I should hop on and officially note that we are moving on, and happy to do so. We're finding that we're relieved to just have something answered, be progressing somehow and not waiting for this. We feel like we're waiting for lots of things -- houses to come on the market, people to get back with us, our own closing -- and this one is done. So we're positive, and we're sleepless wondering which house we might like, which one we might obsess over next, when the Right One will appear, which is all good stuff.

I just didn't want my most recent post to be so needy and negative. :)

It's also Trevor's birthday today, and we spent the day doing a scavenger hunt for his gifts downtown (gotta love a small town that gets into a joke-telling, gift-finding party) and... talking about houses. His parents took the girls all day, and we imagined and dreamed and then ate and drank and walked and shopped. And it was so fun to hear which people were shocked that he's 32 (average guess = 27) and which people were shocked that he's only 32. Interestingly, the people we tend to hang out with and love being around most were those who thought he was older. So the lesson, boys and girls, is to act older than your age. Or, grow a gnarly beard for your "Guys' Cabin Weekend" and look like you're fresh out of the mountains on your way to the processing center to pick up your jerky. Wives love that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deadline + UPDATE

Last week we put an offer in on the yellow house. It was low, but very fair; in fact, it was just about what we are ultimately willing to pay -- not much riff-raff with counters and such -- because we did our research and we know what the home is worth. It's actually worth a bit less, but at $99,000 less than asking, we didn't want to be insulting.

Anyway, we put it in, along with our research, along with the actual bids for what it will cost to make the house safe.

We gave the sellers a deadline to get back to us with their thoughts on our offer. That deadline is... today.

So now we're waiting, waiting, waiting, constantly checking the phone (did I miss a call? Would we get an e-mail about it instead? Better check again, again, again).

Trevor called to tell me that he drove around to eyeball the homes our Realtor suggested we go through next week, assuming they go on the market. He was enthused, but cautious. Because we could get a good answer today. We may not. We have butterflies over this.

Last night while we were folding clothes together, we talked about what we'd do if we got the house. Just after closing we'd go to the house with our kids' big roll of white paper, a Sharpie and painter's tape. We'd go into each room and make giant list of what needs to be done and tape it on the wall, so if either of us has an extra half-hour in our day we could stop by and rip out the built-ins or paint some trim, or whatever. We decided that, if they accept our offer or something close to it, we will in fact put an addition on the back. Will we be house poor? What if we can't afford it? Is it worth it?

Playing a minor role here is the closing of our Cedar Creek house, which has been occupied by the buyers for two months now but is still not technically theirs, because of all the new and ever-changing bank requirements that are holding up our closing by simply existing; causing everyone involved to go get this, now this, nope, need this now, sorry, now we want this document. Our buyers are good, capable people. They are not sketchy buyers; they do not have a random history. They have great jobs and are a super family. How frustrating that our banking system has done this to them, to us, so that we cannot all just move on and become better-contributing people in this touch economy. We want to! We can! Let us!

So I will be here all day, aside from a few requirements keeping me out of the house, during which I'll hold my phone tightly and keep it on vibrate so I know, I KNOW I won't miss a call.

UPDATE: Well, we heard. A resounding NO, followed by a few jabs at our brother-in-law (an attorney, who helped us put together and send out an offer) intended for us, claiming that they were insulted by our offer and that under no circumstances would they ever sell us their house, ever, because we thought so little of it. Way to take it personally. Anyway, while I am a little bit heartbroken, at least our answer was definitive. There will be no negotiations, no wondering if we should stretch our budget more, no wishing we could have done it. It's just over, in kind of a mean way, so we're closing the book on it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Career Decision?

Overheard, from Berit's room:
"Mary, quiet pray quiet pray quiet pray...."

She walked into my room, holding her statue of Mary. She had put her faux wedding ring from her bride costume around Mary's praying hands.
"Look, Mom, I gave it to her. I gave my wedding to Mary."

She asked me to pray "Mary's prayer" with her, so we sat on my bathroom floor and prayed the Hail Mary. Then she went back into her room and tried to teach it to Marta.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Marta has recently put her own spin on the English language, pronouncing words in new and goofy ways. For example, when she says "Thanks," it sounds more like "Thuyanks." When she says the letter R, she says it a little newscaster-ish, rolling it and making it both hard and round. "IRRRRR," sort of. Hence, Berit is "BeaRRRR-it," and so on.

Lately she's been coming up to me and hugging me, saying, "Mom, you're RRRRRRReally it. RRRReally it, Mom, RRRRReally."

So not only am I flattered to be "it," there's something extraordinary about being RRRRRRRRRReally it.

UPDATE: Whenever we cuddle her or help her with something today, she hugs us and says, "Mom, you're really IT." She even gave Berit this distinction for helping her with a puzzle. I think this is a phrase that we're going to have to keep around for awhile.

Berit's Birthday List

Somewhere around her birthday on February 17, we'll be having a party for Berit. Since Marta's birthday, Berit hasn't stopped talking about her own. This morning she woke me up by screeching, "MAMAMAMAMAMA!" and when I ran into her room she said, "Mom, I was dreaming about my birthday and these are the presents I got...." She was then sure they were actually in existence in her room, and wouldn't get ready for school until we had searched for them. Over breakfast I had her tell them to me again, and here they are, in the form of What Berit Truly Wants For Her Fourth Birthday:

Jasmine Barbie
Pocohantas Barbie
Mulan Barbie
Princess and the Frog Barbie
Puzzles (24-100 pieces ONLY, Mom)
He-Man and Tila guys
Tinkerbell toys
Tinkerbell clock (with the light-up numbers, not all the numbers)
Princess pillowcases
The Little Mermaid
The Princess and the Frog

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2-3-4-5, All In The Same Shade Of Blonde

Next Thing You Know She'll Need A Pair of Girbaud Jeans

The girls' cousins are in town for the weekend, and came to play last night and this morning for a few hours. There's something so special about cousins that they all inherently *get,* so even if they haven't seen each other in months they fall right into play like they never left in the first place. I'm so glad they're close in age -- currently 2, 3, nearly 4 and 5 -- and that they're all girls. While we'd all have loved a boy in either family, these four spend the entire time in various states of undress or elaborate costumes, playing princesses or Barbies, or dancing. A boy might go blind from all the pink and sparkles.

In her own little way, Berit worships her older cousin, Annie. More than a year older, Annie is in kindergarden and is far more active than Berit. But they click anyway, and Berit likes to follow along and do whatever Annie does, trying to be bossy every now and then but never quite succeeding, and not quite caring.

At age "nearly 4," Berit hasn't had much exposure to peer influence, though she is at school with kids who are all a full year older than she is -- so I'm sure some comes her way there, but really, I don't know if she even understands it yet.

Today, while Berit and Annie were playing in the office (which is where we keep the TV and DVDs), Annie was looking through our stack of movies and said to Berit, "Why do you have Baby Einstein? YOU don't watch THAT, do you? YOU'RE not a BABY, are you?"

From my spot in kitchen I heard Berit hesitate, realizing that Annie was sort of taunting her, and not really knowing what to do about it. In fact, Berit never chooses Baby Einstein, but occasionally gets into it when Marta's watching something with animals or numbers, so I think she was trying to figure out if she ever does watch it. Also, Berit doesn't know it's called Baby Einstein. So there's that.

Her pause lasted about three seconds and the whole time I was pleading in my head, "Tell her you think it's pretty cool. Tell her you like learning about the animals. Tell her how you can do all the number stuff and the spelling stuff. Tell her that you don't care what it's called, sometimes you watch it and whatever."

Then she made a funny face that said, "Huyuck, giggle, silliness, kind of embarrassed, you're so cool, Annie," all in the crook of a nostril and the opening of her eyes and the screwing up of the mouth. So I said, "Actually, Marta watches those." And it was over.

But just beginning, I think. I wish I knew how to arm her to be strong in herself, to be sure of every thought, every action. I don't, though -- I feel like half the expressions on my face are like the one she made, like I'm rarely one hundred percent certain of anything.

It's a lesson for me, and a reminder to stick to my New Year's resolution -- to be true to myself, no matter what I feel. And maybe she'll see that, and feel more sure of herself, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Berit, Unexplained

We're not sure what's going on with Berit these days. While she tends to be dramatic in every possible way, at every possible time, she never has whole weeks that are just "off." On Monday she told her teacher she had a tummy ache, and when I was called to pick her up from school I learned that she needed to potty but really just wanted to come home. On Tuesday night I told her to go to sleep, because she had school in the morning, and she yelled at me that she didn't want to go to school, and "Didn't want Marta to go to school, either!" ?

At school today she told her teacher that she didn't want to go to school anymore, and when it was circle time she went over to a rocking chair in the corner of class and said she was "frustrated."

This is a girl who loves school, who wanted to go to school so badly that we sent her as soon as she turned three, in the middle of the second semester. She's never not wanted to be at school.

In addition: For the past two nights, she has wet the bed. She has never, ever wet the bed, besides the occasional random bed wetting at my parents' house (which we chalked up to her not doing her regular routine, not having the same access to the potty that she knows here, being overtired, etc.). Not even when she was potty training did she wet the bed, really.

Now, here are a few practical things to point out: On Sunday, the day before this all began, we returned from my parents' house where she always has the time of her life. Before we left my parents' house on Sunday she begged me to "move to Greenville," said that she "never wanted to leave." When I explained that she has friends and family and school here in Petoskey, that we couldn't just move when we wanted to, she got very angry with me and told me she didn't care about those things in Petoskey, because she just wanted to be in Greenville with my parents and siblings.

In fact, we typically call the Monday after a Greenville weekend "Black Monday," because the girls are back to reality and it's hard for them to adjust. So we chalked Monday up to that.

Today at school she told her teacher about a book she loves, Angelina Ballerina, in which the character Angelina never wants to go to school, only wants to dance. Coincidentally, this week we talked about how Berit's dance class would be starting soon, and she keeps saying things like, "I NEVER want to eat dinner; I only want to dance." So there's that, too.

But what about the bed-wetting? What about the sadness all week, and the unkind attitude toward her sister, and the pushing and all of the punishments she's been getting (movie privileges taken away, toys taken away, etc.), which is completely unlike her? Could it really be in anticipation of dance class? Or should I be looking deeper into this? Thoughts from all of you fantastic parents would be most appreciated.

Monday, January 11, 2010


As in, number of days in a row that Marta has not napped.

As in, napping is pretty much over.

As in, typically I might freak out about this, but since she's going to bed before 7 and is waking up at 8, I'm pretty OK with it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Surprises Around Every Corner

While driving home from preschool today, I asked Berit the usual questions: What was your snack? What was your project? What was your favorite part of school today? Who did you play with? What did you play? (Because she is already a preteen who doesn't offer information, and tells me her day was "fine.")

When I asked her who she played with, she said, "My friends, MOM." And I said, "Oh, that's nice! Did you play with (enter all names of children in class here)?" And she said, "No, not Sage. He wasn't at school today. He's home with a cold."

I told her that was sad, and maybe we could color him a picture to cheer him up. She got excited by that idea, and said, "Yes! Sage loves dinosaurs and cars. Maybe we could color a picture of a dinosaur and cut it out for him."

And I thought, hm. She remembered that about Sage? I mean, we love Sage, but it's not like we're together all the time. So I asked her what the other kids at school like, and one by one, she told me about each child's interests. Not a blanket, "princesses," which is what I expected, but "Lili likes ballerinas" and "Alex likes little cars best."

I thought that was very sweet of her, to have learned and stored the information away. And now very into this, I said, "What does Marta like?"

She thought about it for a full minute and said, "Messing everything up."

From The Mouth of B

Scene: Sitting in the kitchen, having a snack. Dressed in full Cinderella regalia.

Berit: "Mom, do you remember Jackson?"

Me: "Yes, I sure do. He was your friend in school last year. He's at a new school now."

Berit: "Actually, he's in kindergarten."

Me: "You're right, he is in kindergarten. When you're five, you'll go to kindergarten, too."

Berit: "Yup. But first I'll go to fairygarden."

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Night 2010

After a very fun New Year's Eve spent at our house with friends, we had a tough time getting Berit to calm down for sleep. True, it was 11 p.m., and was entirely our own fault. She had one of those meltdowns as our friends left, because she had had such a super fun time, and because she didn't want it to end, and because she was completely exhausted and might be ailing from a mysterious stomachache/sore throat illness that we deemed Not Real But Maybe?

Anyway, she made herself throw up (not uncommon, and unrelated to mystery illness) so we were dealing with that around 11:30 p.m. and of course, it woke Marta up. You'd think she'd be entirely immune to dramatic screeching from her sister in the middle of the night, but after a half-hour of it, I suppose it would get to anyone.

I went to Marta around 11:45 p.m. and rocked with her in the chair, while she told me all about how she wanted to go sledding the next day, and that the last time she did, Daddy pulled her up the hill and Berit "Cried per her Mama."

Suddenly I heard popping sounds coming from outside the window, and my half-asleep, half-romanticized-by-baby's-adorable-story self (OK, a tiny bit tipsy as well), immediately assumed there was a crazed shooter taking out his relatives on New Year's Eve next door. It dawned on me that no, those were actually fireworks, and since Marta was already awake we crept into my room, which has a wall of windows facing the lake. A party across from us was shooting off real fireworks, and they were the first ones Marta had ever seen. Trevor heard the fireworks from Berit's room (where she had just fallen asleep) and crept out, too, and we stood together while Marta and I pressed our cheeks together watching them. Marta kept exclaiming, "Sparkles, Mama!" and was completely excited by them. It was so special, and I kept thanking God for that perfect moment of middle-of-the-night haziness combined with Marta's first fireworks reactions.

When they were over she told us all about her jammies and how she was "Just so cozy and snuggly," and we wholeheartedly agreed. I took her back to her room and rocked her a little more, and she told me about the fireworks, about the "pink sparkles! And red sparkles! And green sparkles!" and was so filled with joy that I lingered longer than I usually do. When I put her into her crib, she said, "Thanks Mama. I love you."

And that might have been my favorite night of 2010.