Monday, September 21, 2009

They've stopped making it

So we live in rural Massachusetts (yes, there is such a place) on 40-someodd acres of "house lot." Basically, we bought the extra land from Love's parents and had it made part of our house lot for tax purposes. At some point we might have it become forestry land, which could be even better, if it's long-term enough.

Just recently we learned that two "house-lots" right across the "street" from us are on sale for half the price they were last time they were offered. (The house lots are probably actually buildable, but certainly not easily buildable. The street is a dirt road.) In addition, the owners are willing to sell about 19 acres of backland (past a bridge that would need serious updating before any of it is legally buildable, on a road that is drivable only by offroad vehicles) for a not-too-unreasonable price.

We'd love to buy it, but right now we have no equity. We'd basically have to take out a loan on the equity from the land itself at a much higher interest rate, which we don't want to do, and the taxes would go up too. That's if we could get a loan at all. (Our credit history is impeccable, Love's job is very safe for his industry, but can you blame the banks for being wary right now?)

I would like us to at least make some sort of lowball bid on the land, at least the backland (really the best investment; doubles the amount of house lots we could get if we ever did the road). The last two owners have had to sell the land quickly for negligible amounts due to not paying taxes, so if it happens again, why not sell to us? Not sure what we are going to do.

Right now houses aren't even moving, so house-lots are not in demand, much less backland. Our financial position is stable--we're living the American dream with our house that the bank really owns--but we don't have the kind of free cash that we'd need to do this lightly.

Don't know whether anyone is actually interested in this. If, however, someone who reads this is looking for a place to build, I could give more information, I guess.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

More on my brilliant daughter, if you're not tired of that

On Friday, Firstborn suddenly became very helpful. When I sorted magic cards, she brought me more from another part of the room. When I loaded the dishwasher, she brought me clean tops from the tupperware cupboard. Since then, she's also carried objects to people to help us pick up. She has previously helped get out-of-reach laundry for Mommy, and started handing me ducks when we pick up at the end of bath time.

Her implementation often leaves something to be desired, but her heart's in the right place, so I definitely tell her that she's a good girl and so helpful.

Her new favorite word is sit (sis or sszss). She gets a book (or several), brings it over, backs up to me on the couch and says "sit, sit, sit." She loves having mommy read to her. She also likes to sit on pillows, in chairs, in boxes or baskets, and in baby carriers/car seats (belonging to babies or to dolls).

I still don't think she realizes that she's about to get a brother, though, no matter how much we've told her. But she does like to carry and feed and kiss her dolls--and shake them.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Smart kids

My husband and I are both very intelligent. I expect that our children will also prove to be very intelligent, barring any disabilities. But at the same time, I know that every parent thinks his or her children are brilliant, so I am not sure of whether to trust my observations. Also, I know there's more to life than being smart, and I'd rather my children display diligence, compassion, and Godliness than sheer brilliance.

A few days ago, Firstborn was transferring water from her leaky sippy cup into a small cylindrical block and then drinking from the block. I was convinced this was a sign of her genius. Even though the cylinder had a hole in the middle. She was making a mess, but I was impressed enough to let her keep doing it anyway.

She has displayed willful defiance before the books have said she "should"--you know, when they give you a big smile and shake their head no as they do something they know they shouldn't.

Someone commented she knew a lot of words for her age--not as sure how typical that is. She seems to be adding a new one almost every day--pop (we have jewelweed to thank for that one :), please, vroom, belly button, shoe, rock-rock, cracker....

Books are some of her favorite toys.

She already plays creatively--the same object can become a hairbrush or a phone. She will on occasion pretend to feed a doll.

She knows how some of her books go--as soon as I turned to the page that said "God made deer," she was already finding my ear. (She always does that--she hears ear and she knows where that is.) She's also associated pictures of objects with the real thing (mainly cats but possibly ducks), but this is a step beyond that, because there's not a picture of an ear on the "God made deer" page.

She knows what button is pressed to get out of her car seat. She can't operate it (which is good), but she plays with it when she wants out.

If she has a shape-sorter toy, she can sometimes put the shape through the hole if I point at the right hole. If she doesn't manage it, she takes the top off of the shape sorter and puts the shape in, then puts the top back on.

So I think my daughter is brilliant. I don't particularly intend to do anything about it--at least not anything different--but I do think she's smart. I think that if I work on things at her level, she's going to pick them up fairly quickly. Some of that's practical--she can now indicate whether she's all done with her food (dah and pushes on tray) or wants more (mmm and pointing). Some of it is less so--I'm working now on "What does the ___ say?" (she will spontaneously make animal sounds, but doesn't know that question yet).

But I'm not pressuring her, because at this age (one might argue, at any age) learning is supposed to be fun. And at any rate, I keep hearing about a friend's niece, her age, who prefers realistic bears to teddy-bear type ones once she saw bears at the zoo and can express this (this was at 12 months), or the boy at church under a year who can already say words and names much more clearly than Firstborn can at 15 months.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

She speaks

Firstborn now has many words. She has said:
cat/kitty, momma, daddy, ball, mmm, please, stick, duck, down, cup, Blankie, doll, foot, wigglytoes, diaper, smart, good job, no, bye-bye, book, car, vroom, her name, tweet-tweet, turkey, an animal sound (growling--between a bear and a duck; made by all animals, in her opinion), banana, bread, fan
She may be saying other things I haven't caught on to yet as well--right now most of her words start with a d, and the number of syllables does not always correspond to the length of the word. All of these are words I am fairly sure she has both said and comprehended. And there's probably more I'm forgetting.

She also definitely understands, though she has not to my knowledge said:
clap, hair, ear, nose, mouth, tummy, belly button, nap, up, chair, seat, grandma, grandpa, shoe(s), head, hand, cracker, cookie, yummy, medicine, tub, in, not, don't, bird, frog, spoon, fork, dancing, dog, bear, bottle, brush

We still have a ways to go before real, two-way communication. I really am going much more by context than sound in interpreting her words. So if she is pointing at her cup saying "dup, dup" I know what she is talking about. If she is watching "King George and the Ducky" and pointing at the screen saying "dut, dut" I know what she's talking about. But if she's not pointing or carrying the object she's talking about, I rarely have a clue. Sometimes her understanding impresses me--like associating a picture of a cat and a real cat, or when I told her that a freestanding fan was a fan and she went and pointed at a ceiling fan instead. She tries to put on clothes and shoes, and she feeds a bottle to a doll on occasion. So there are a lot of things she understands--but what she is thinking is often still a mystery. Real conversation is a way off. It's less common than it used to be, but she'll still point at something and call it "dah" and I'll still not even know what she's talking about sometimes.

She's also really adorable. Complete strangers randomly come up to me and say how beautiful she is.

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