Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Regarding Marta, Who Wants To Be A Mountain Goat When She Grows Up

Oh, Marta.

It's what we've said since she was born, as parents do about their little ones. They do something spunky or naughty or silly or for the 85th time, and we heave a big sigh, letting the last of our breath form an oooohhhh...

It rolls off the tongue now, while we watch her run full-tilt down hills, when we buy another box of bandages just for her. When she eats big scoops of hot salsa or when she chooses almonds over candy. When she has a fever and a sore throat but laughs all day long. When she won't, ever-ever, sit still. When she opens her 2-year-old mouth and out comes a 10-year-old's vocabulary. When she climbs to the top of everything and we have constant jolts of adrenaline from our brains, computing her odds of falling and shifting automatically into survival mode.

Oh, Marta.

It's easy to say it with a stifled laugh or through tears of empathy. It's often mumbled in the dark, when we all should be sleeping.

Suddenly none of her size-2 clothing fits. Her legs are a little leaner and a lot longer. She and Berit can easily pass shirts and shorts, sweaters and PJs back and forth. She takes off and puts on her own clothes, and always chooses either her carousel shirt or something with an animal's face on it (shorts or skirts never match). As bold as she can find -- that's her style.

Last week she walked up to two sea captain-ish men and said, "Hi. I'm Marta. I'm two-and-a-half and I'm smart."

She wants to be potty trained but doesn't quite get it yet. We bought Pull-Ups and she insisted on the blue Diego design. She buckles the top buckle of her car seat.

She can spell MARTA, BERIT, MOM, DAD, POP and sometimes MOSEY. When Trevor walks in a room she says, "There's our handsome guy."

She cannot dance; she only wants to twirl. She will rarely sing a song loudly, but in every new place we go she asks, "Mom, is this a loud place or a quiet place?" And then tests my answer by sending a quick "AH!" up to see how it echos and what I'll do about it.

She rarely naps. She plays "I Spy" these days by being the spier instead of the finder. Her new favorite game is Candy Land.

She wants to tell you how the cow got so much mud on its bottom.

Since moving in with Trevor's parents, she's been an uncharacteristically restless sleeper. Over the weekend we went to my sister's house and took with us a friend's toddler-sized blow-up mattress. She did great with this first non-crib, and on the way home she told me, "Now I'm going to sleep in a big girl bed. Not my crib."

So last night she did, for the first time, sleep in a real twin-sized bed, in a room all by herself. She slept until 7:45 a.m., which is a full one-to-two hours longer than she's been sleeping in. She woke up, sang a little instead of whined, and just waited for me to come get her up. She was very proud of herself.

Oh, Marta. You are the baby. You rub your blankie's tag on your cheek. You still have chubby cheeks and thin, curly-on-the-bottom hair. I don't think you even have real eyebrows yet.

But somehow you've outgrown your crib, your clothes, your limits. You put your own Band-Aids on your knees; you even open them yourself. Sometimes I want to get out the front carrier and put you in it, just to hold you near me during an outing like I did when you were itty-bitty.

Oh, Marta. Don't get too big, too fast.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Add Water

This will be the year against which we measure other years.

Yes, there is a lot of stuff going on right now. But I'm talking about sunshine, full-on summer days, no snow since February, a gorgeously green spring, long, rainy weekends, festivals and ice cream on everything and running out of our new sunscreen in the first week of July.

Because there's no air in the house, we've been forced to embrace the water. I know that sounds ridiculous -- we are surrounded by water; people pay millions to live here for even part of the year. But when it's hot out and the air is on, it's so easy to stay inside. These days we're jumping off the dock and braving mucky beaches just to float in the lake. I'll have to write another post about how much of a lake girl I'm not, how several of my beaus in life were lake obsessed and I was the one in jeans and a sweatshirt trying not to throw up with each wave. How I never even swam in a lake, really, until I moved to Petoskey. But right now we're on our way to bed after a day spent at the dog beach, and more recently a boat ride under the pink sunset that left the entire lake as iridescent as the inside of an oyster shell. 

We sat on stools and ordered custard at our favorite local place, and when they brought it out mine was three scoops tall and covered with sprinkles. I had said, "I'll have what he ordered," pointing to Trevor, and did it ever work out for me. We talked to the owner, who we know and the girls know and they shared their days, back and forth. We tried to hula-hoop. We ordered a pizza on the way home and cruised town, looking at the houses that are newly on the market while we waited for it to be done. We stayed in our swimsuits all day.

This is the best year on my personal record, I think. My feet have never been so brown. My hair has never been so unkempt. The girls choose their shoes based on their water resistance every day. We're telling more stories and turning everyday things into fantastical adventures. 

I would like very much to travel back in time to my 9-year-old, Detroit-residing self, and show her a picture of her life in 23 years. So much water, so much sand, so much stickiness and bug spray. I don't think she would have understood it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It's definitely true that life is slower on the lake. We putz around more and rush around less. I've slowed down my running schedule out of necessity, with sick kids and paperwork and visitors to focus on in the evenings instead of getting in shape for the half marathon. Trevor's getting home later and later at night -- when the sun goes down, he heads home.

It's odd though, even with our general slowing down, that the girls have backtracked. Marta, my champion sleeper, is needing lots of attention as she falls asleep each night. Covering, telling me "one more thing," another drink, a rock in the chair. When she wakes during the night she has a harder time going back to sleep on her own. I haven't pushed her to cry it out -- I have a hard time doing this at any point in our lives, but I feel that she's especially sensitive since moving in with Trevor's parents. She asks a couple times a day to move back to our Cedar Creek house or the Lake House. It isn't that she's not happy to be here -- she loves waking up to grandparents and a full, lively house. I think she really gets that it's not our place, and she just can't settle. She's also constantly asking me to feed her, when the moment she could feed herself at age... one? 18 months? she refused help forever. Nowadays she melts if I don't give her help, with sandwiches, bananas, full meals, even ice cream.

Berit has wanted to move back to the Cedar Creek house since we left. It's hard to move from house to house, even if the houses are great ones. She always seems to enjoy being at her grandparents' house, but she's started asking for help in the bathroom. We've always helped with the tougher stuff in there, but now she wants help with the easy stuff, too -- or just someone to chat with, or to hand her the soap when she washes her hands. I wonder if she's actually regressing in some way, just getting used to so many people being available to her, or is trying to get my attention, as I'm often chasing after Marta and someone else gets to Berit before I can.

These are all little things, I know, and I'm not worried about them. But I am looking forward to watching how the girls change again after our next move -- into their own home this time.