Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let Me Tell You About My Day

Well, I'll tell you one thing, this past week has been anything but uneventful.

Here's a picture to kill you with cuteness before I begin:

 Okay, and here's one more:
 And I can't leave this one out!!  I'M SORRY!!! :

Whew. Okay. I think I've reached Blogger's Kitten Quota.

So, my oven has been dying a very slow and painful death, with the pain not so much having an impact on IT, as it does on ME and on my baked goods. It's just been getting worse and worse over the past year. Remember how I used to make my own bread? It just kind of stopped turning out. It kept coming out burned all over the outside and still raw on the inside. I would make quiche that should only cook for 30 minutes and it would take 2 hours to cook through. It was RIDICULOUS. Martin got me one of those hangy thermometers for the oven and that helped a little (at least I learned that the temperature was roughly 100 degrees off, give or take, depending on the day and the weather) but really, we had to come to grips with the fact that it was time for a new stove.

Thanksgiving was a big day for us. It started bright and early with me returning the van we'd been borrowing from my parents and enjoying a nice walk home from their house to ours. It was the most beautiful morning ever; a little cold, but really sunny, and all the fall colors that were hanging on were so bright and pretty. When I got home we all dressed up and loaded the car for our trip to Chicago for the day with Martin's family. It was also our nephew's birthday and Martin's sister's birthday, so it was quite the celebration.

The next morning Martin was determined to head out to the Black Friday sales and get us a new range. (He waited until mid-morning, because he's not insane, just frugal.) And he found one! A great deal on a flat top electric, very sleek and fancy. It took a few hours to get it in, then we had to cut windows and doors from the box it had come in, and our friend Perkins came over because she was in town for the weekend, so it was kind of a crazy day. Just like the day before.

I don't remember what we did on Saturday, but I know the girls had not quite recovered, behaviorally speaking. (It takes us awhile around here.) On Sunday we missed three different Mass times. This was mostly because of a pair of red tights that I'd bought the weekend before, stupidly telling Anja they were her Christmas tights. (Why did I say that?!? WHYYY?!?!?) So, when I suggested that Greta wear them and Greta excitedly agreed (new tights!) Anja had an absolute meltdown. And then Greta had a meltdown of equal intensity. It was pretty cool. So we had to go to the noon Mass, without our friend Perkins, and amazingly, the girls were pretty good. I don't remember the details of the rest of the day, but I know it wasn't our best. Still recovering from Thanksgiving, of course.

Monday promised to be an absolutely CRAZY day. Martin is off all week to hunt, but the morning was spent getting the girls ready for Anja to go to speech. And then I remembered that they had a doctor appointment in the afternoon, so I'd have to pick up Anja early from Speech. (Many tears.) I promised her that I would try my best to reschedule so she could stay at speech the entire time. Speech starts at 12:45. I called the doctor when I got home from dropping her off, but they were closed for lunch until 1:30. The appointment was at 2:00. So, at 1:30, AS I was driving to pick up Anja, I called the doctors office, explained that only if it was possible for them, could I move the appointment to later or to another day this week so my daughter wouldn't have to miss her speech class (which hadn't begun or even been scheduled when I made the doctors appointments, which I forgot about until I turned my calendar to December*) please? She asked the names of my kids and looked up the appointment and said brightly and very professionally, "We have you scheduled for December 3rd?"
*It's not December yet.
"Yeah... Oh wait... Today isn't December third?"
"Today is November 26th."
What a relief! It pays to not have any idea what day it is, I'm telling you. Martin asked me how I could possible think it was already Thanksgiving. My natural thought process was that since Thanksgiving is over, and I know that the doctors appointments are on a Monday, it must've been December! But, I was wrong. And so the day was saved.

Well, not quite saved. Because Anja's teacher sort of forgot to tell her that I was not coming early, so she spent almost the whole time at speech dreading leaving early. She told me that every time someone had said her name she thought they were going to tell her it was time to go. So sad!!  Anyway, I took Martin back home and he packed up to go hunt and Greta and Elka spent only a few minutes there before it was time to go pick up Anja at the regular time, which we did, and then went home and continued on through dinner. I had "seasoned" my new oven earlier in the day by letting it burn off it's new-oven smell, so I told the girls that we could make cookies when Daddy got home, because Elka was clingy and not napping well. (also a theme of the weekend.)

Martin called me at 5:00 to report no deer and that he was coming home, and it was really cold. He called from the truck so I knew he'd be home in 30-40 minutes. (As opposed to longer; where he hunts he parks up at the top of a hill and walks a long way to his hunting spots.) The girls and I hung out, drew pictures, made dinner. I kept telling them we'd make cookies as soon as Martin was home so he could hold Elka, and then I kind of realized I hadn't heard from him in awhile. And by "awhile" I mean an hour and a half. I called him to see what was taking so long, but got no answer. Waited a few minutes thinking he might be in a drive-thru, tried again--no answer. Sometimes if he's talking to someone on the other line it takes awhile before he gets the message that he needs to ask them to hold on while he answers my call to let me know he's still alive, so I kept calling... and calling... and calling.... and then it got to be a full two hours since I'd last talked to him, when he was telling me he was getting in the truck to come home, so I kind of started worrying. (worrying/panicking. They're the same thing, right?) Well, I called my mom, and my dad and my brother-in-law were going to go drive out there to look for him, and while they were doing that I called the local police who were getting me set up with the police in the town where he hunts, when a call came in from an out-of-town number and I answered and it was Martin. And he sounded kind of shivery and he said "I locked the keys and my phone and my coat in the truck." He had walked three miles from his hunting place to the McDonald's in the nearest town. Talk about relief! Here's the funny middle of the story he told me later:
He'd gone in and bought a cup of coffee (he hadn't locked his wallet in the truck) and asked where the nearest payphone was. Of course, nobody uses payphones anymore and hardly any exist. So while the employees were trying to figure out where was the nearest payphone, he told them what had happened, and finally the manager (he said she was really sweet) said, "do you need to use our phone?" and he said, "It would really help if I could call my wife." Haha, poor guy.
So anyway, since my dad was already on his way out that direction, he went and picked him up and brought him home. And what he'd failed to tell me before my dad picked him up was that he had actually locked the truck WHILE IT WAS RUNNING. After some consulting with the men of the family, it was decided that it would likely be a bad thing to let the truck run out of gas overnight, so he had to drive back out to turn off the truck. I didn't like this idea, considering the fact that I'd spent a good chunk of time that evening legitimately believing he was dead, and I liked it less when I found out that the key was not here... it was 40 minutes away. North. The hunting spot is 40 minutes away.... South.

Much driving on snowy/wet roads later, Martin FINALLY got home for the night a little after 1:00am. We sat on the couch and had beers together. He told me about the scary houses he'd approached looking for a phone or a piece of wire to jimmy the lock. He had gone through quite the ordeal trying to break into the truck before deciding to just walk to town. Quite the adventure!

Today we have decided to drive down to Bloomington for the day to do some Christmas shopping and have a festive vacation day. Sometimes we get the itch to go down there and hang out. I don't know why we've both been feeling that way lately, but we have, so we're going. Should be fun!

I mentioned speech class. Anja began attending a preschool phonology class two weeks ago and SHE LOVES IT. She loves it more than I can say. This is her on her first day:

 Greta is not such a fan of her sister going off and having fun while she has to stay home with me. Here's a picture of Greta that same first day:
 Evidently the snowman cookie didn't make up for the fact that Anja was off having loads of fun while she was stuck going to the grocery store with her parents. I'd probably feel the same way, really.

And one Sunday we took a family walk, and here are the girls and me. It was a beautiful day. We stopped by our favorite local coffee shop and ran into friends who'd recently moved back to town.
So, yeah, there's been no end to the excitement around here lately. Martin says I need to post on my blog more often. I'll try, but I'm not making any promises.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Girl!

Can you even believe this cute face is five years old? And she is SO happy to be five. In the few days leading up to her birthday she would just burst out, "I can't believe I'm almost FIVE!" many times a day. And now that she is five, it seems to be everything she hoped it would be.

Her birthday was very fun. We'd been planning a special surprise for her for about three years... a kitten in a pumpkin! Every year on her birthday since she turned 2 we've thought "is this the right year?" and always the answer has been no, until this year. And oddly enough, just a couple of days before her birthday (when we'd already lined up the kitten) she started saying "I hope I get a kitten for my birthday" and trying to convince Greta to get her one. Specifically, a tiny calico. Well. That's just exactly what she got.

When Anja came into the room, she first thought the moving creature in there was a spider! But she eventually realized it was a kitten, and the kitten was immediately named Mary. And so, we have another little girl in our family. Mary, the calico kitten. The tiniest, sweetest, friskiest, most dog-like kitten ever, who likes to wiggle up into the dresser drawers from underneath, through the little gaps at the back of the drawers, and sleep on Martin's tshirts. She is not a bit shy, and she has been the perfect Birthday Cat.

Anja received a few special packages in the mail; one was from Auntie Perkalator, who sent this fox card, which Anja really loved. 

We had her family party this past Sunday. She asked for a strawberry cake, so I made one of those weird jello poke cakes, but I used too much jello and it was kind of gross. I also opted for homemade whipped cream (thanks, Martin!) instead of Cool Whip, because I'm an idiot like that. The theme of the party was PRINCESS. It was a very nice day and it looks like Anja's princess dress has replaced her fox costume for the time being, as her everyday uniform.

Here's more KITTEN:

I knit up this bowl to be our Thankfulness Bowl on our kitchen table. It's kind of cheesy, I know, but I feel that it's important to teach the girls about being thankful for even the smallest little things. Like markers, which is what Greta wrote on her card. And of course, Anja is thankful for.... being 5. But I'm sure we are all equally thankful that Mary has joined our family.

She's really SO tiny. (And while you might think the above picture is taken during an enormous roar, she actually can't make a noise any bigger than a tiny squeak, no matter how wide her mouth opens.)

So, yes, it was a good birthday. And I feel now that the Holiday season has begun. Making Thanksgiving plans, getting secret packages in the mail full of Christmas presents, guessing our anniversary gifts for each other, etc. This Christmas we'll celebrate 6 years, the traditional gift for which is "iron." When Martin told me that, I said, "you can get me a dutch oven!" and he said "thanks a lot." Then I worked really hard to sneakily get him into the local blacksmith guild but I had to tell him about it early. That's all I said--"I have your gift, but I have to give it to you early"--and he guessed it RIGHT AWAY. How did he do that?!? Anyway... in the end, it didn't even matter because the first meeting was this past Saturday, but Martin wasn't able to go after all because he'd spent the entire night before in the emergency room with Greta, with a terrible case of croup. It's always a little scary when they wake up coughing like that, but this time it was really frightening and very sudden--she doesn't even have a cold! I thought she was having some kind of allergic reaction to something and we couldn't get her calmed down so we rushed her off. Evidently they almost admitted her... luckily, she got calmed down and the breathing treatment did it's job. We've got a prescription through a few more nights, so hopefully we'll have no repeats of this! And Martin said the nurse was SO nice and that Greta was her old charming self by the end of the night.

Needless to say, our Saturday was pretty quiet.

And here are my girls:

 Elka is 5 months old this week!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where Every Day's a Holiday

Anja is really into holidays. The other day she said it's no good to have just a regular day that isn't a holiday; that's no fun. And my explanation that the reason holidays are holidays is precisely because they don't happen every day was not enough for her. But really, the joke's on her, because right now every day IS a holiday around here. Just wait till she goes to school next year and she can't stay in her pajamas till noon, or change costumes fourteen times a day, or decide that right now is a good time to bake cookies... We've got a pretty great life around here these days--relaxed, happy, fun... and on most days we do all the things that we do on the holidays, complete with seeing the relatives. It's just that normal life is a lot better than the holidays on the normal days I'm not freaking out about washing their hair and keeping obligations and having to be someplace on time. When you don't go anywhere, time means nothing. I like it that way. I don't know how ready Anja will be next fall when she heads off to kindergarten, but I can tell you one thing: I'M going to miss these days and this easy-breezey lifestyle!

Here are some things we did today:
-Drew pictures
-Played music (Elka LOVES music... I'm going to have to have Martin take a video of her wiggling to "Rattlin' Bog" sometime soon)
-Made a very ugly leaf garland out of colored construction paper cutouts
-baked "sweetberry crisp"
-Ate mashed potatoes in the middle of the afternoon because mashed potatoes sounded like a good snack
-Read 'George and Martha'.  Okay, RIGHT NOW, no matter your age or whether or not you've got kids, you HAVE to go to your local library or at least get on their website and place a hold on as many George and Martha books as you can. We just can't get enough George and Martha around here! They are so funny
! They are so sweet! And they are an example of true friendship. I don't remember loving them when I was little, but as an adult, they are my absolute favorite book characters. I love them. I really think they might even beat out Frog & Toad.
-Ate candy (until I decided it was time to hide it all for awhile.)
-Stayed dressed out our Halloween costumes, which we'd slept in, and which we are sleeping in again right now.

And that brings us to our next topic: HALLOWEEN!

 As you can see, Anja was not a princess, as you might have been lead to believe after seeing the first picture of this post. No, princess dresses are worn casually around these parts. For Halloween, Anja was a fox. A really splendid fox, too. I feel like I did enough complaining already to anyone who would listen about how we BOUGHT the girls princess dresses (really pretty ones) three weeks ago and they were all revved up to wear them until about two days before Halloween when Anja decided she was going to be a fox. Her exact words were "I'm intent on being a fox." And so she was! No matter how much I tried to convince her that she'd make an awesome princess, she wanted to be a fox, and so, a fox she was.

This is the back of the costume:
 In the end, it was totally worth the headache this costume caused me. She LOVED being a fox (her fox name is Mary, by the way) and it was a good exercise for me in letting go. So what if I didn't get the dishes done from the family dinner party we'd had the night before? (oh... those dishes are still on the counter? Hmm.... ) Anja really enjoyed watching the costume take shape, trying it on as we went, checking everything before I made any seams to make sure it was just how she wanted it. And in the end, it turned out to be a pretty good costume for being constructed from scratch in just a few hours. The funny thing is, on the one hand I feel like I should be proud of myself for being able to whip up a costume like that lickedy-split... on the other hand, I feel like a fool because this is what I do every Halloween! Thankfully, Greta changed her mind in this order: Princess-ghost-bat-princess-[as we were walking out the door] CAT! Luckily, we had a cat costume in our dressup basket.
A few days ago they carved a pumpkin with Oompa up at my parents' house. I forgot about carving pumpkins. Because I'm a loser mom.

And speaking of cats, let's talk about THIS crazy cat:
Elka has begun to crawl. Does this seem ridiculously early to anyone else?! Four and a half months? CRAWLING?!? She's not quite got the arm-and-leg synchronized movement down yet, she's still at the rocking on her hands and knees phase. But she'll get up on her hands and knees and then rocket herself forward. This is how she gets places. Like a little toad. She can go across the room this way. It's crazy! And really, really funny to watch. It makes me worried about my future.

I got a call today from our local special services program within our schools and have an appointment to get Anja started with speech therapy. I feel like her speech (articulation, I guess) has gone up and down over the past year or two, and right now I do think it's improving, but I'm afraid she needs to improve A LOT before she goes to school next year. So that ball is finally rolling.  It's kind of sad because she has a really incredible vocabulary for a four year old (I'm clinging to the fact that she's still four... I've got one week left...) but nobody can tell that because nobody can understand a thing she says! But, a fix is in sight, at last.

To be honest, we've spent the majority of our days lately gathered around the kitchen table with piles and piles of paper, drawing. Greta, especially, LOVES to draw. In one month Greta has gone from drawing heads with stick limbs to drawing whole detailed people and even beginning to grasp the concept of foreground and background, distance within a picture and expression of movement and emotion. It's really, really fun to watch. Here's a picture she drew of Anja, Greta and Elka in Halloween costumes:

Elka is the little one with the stick on top her of her head (that's her mohawk) as a mummy; Greta is below that as a ghost; Anja is the big one with curly hair, and I can't really remember what her costume is... maybe a fox with a flower on her tummy? I can't remember, but it made sense when Greta told me (at least, it made as much sense as a three year old's drawing can.) Anyway, it's been so fun to watch her drawing develop, I'll be interested to see if that's something she'll continue with or not! Greta is absolutely turning out to be the artsy one of the bunch... she can really sing in tune too! Anja likes to do all the same things Greta does, but she does them much more strategically. She is more interested in doing things the "right" way  Except when it comes to poetry... Anja loves poetry and often closes her eyes to recite.

And here is a picture of my three little goofballs, all looking perfectly goofy, showing off their footy pj's as cold weather has arrived here.

And even though they all like to wear pajamas, none of them really likes sleep very much. Which is too bad. Obviously.

I imagine the next time I post Anja will be a big five year old, since that's happening next Friday. It will be an exciting birthday for her in more ways than one. I'm very excited for it myself!