Monday, December 25, 2006

12/25/06 A late Christmas

Is Christmas really all about getting Stuff?

Pretty much. We might tell kids it's about love and family and the birth of Jesus, but really, what they're excited about is the Stuff. And is that so wrong? For as much as we admonish "it's better to give than to receive" (a platitude I've always thought makes only a useless comparison) and complain about the materialism and commercialism of Christmas, most of the effort goes into giving to other people. I'm reminded of that every time I see a huge line for a highway exit leading to a mall -- a lot of aggravation and effort to find things to give to others. And not just gifts; many people make great efforts to please others with food, drink, decoration, a warm and happy atmosphere. Commercial? Sure. So what if that lovely scented candle came from Williams-Sonoma? Most of the "materialism" of Christmas is in giving. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But kids are allowed the latitude to enjoy just the getting, with little pressure or expectations to please anyone else. That will come later in life.

Or later in the day, if you're a Doudna kid. Our day started off poorly, with a nasty night for me. Katrina woke me up twice, rare these days. That by itself wouldn't have been bad, but Dave was strangely restless in his sleep, keeping me awake. Then I had a bad coughing fit that would not go away until I took some codeine cough syrup. That did knock the cough flat, but wiped me out until the afternoon.

But that wasn't the real problem. Day 3 of a bad headache, including while I'm asleep. This one, I can hear blood rushing past my ears with every heartbeat. To my surprise and dismay, the codeine cough syrup did nothing for it. I had more respect for codeine than that.

So I slept as much as Katrina would allow this morning, until about 10:30. And that of course meant Dave and the boys allowed it too, sort of. Julian did a lot of screaming this morning. When I got up, I made a big breakfast, and each of the boys got to open a few things while I was cooking.

After breakfast, it still wasn't a good time to open gifts (I forget why now), so I tried to take a nap. Katrina put a stop to that, but then Julian really needed a nap. He was really unbearable today. Then Julian napped until Dave woke him up at **6:30** pm!! Dinnertime, then finally the boys could finish opening gifts. Poor kids! They're supposed to have everything torn open first thing in the morning!

Gabriel liked reading all the tags, and Julian did too though somehow all the tags came up as "To Julian" when Julian read them!

Uncle Ronan gave Julian some classic Lincoln Logs...

...and the very next gift opened was a set of Lincoln Logs for Gabriel from the Doudna grandparents!

That was all the photos I got, but we did manage to open all the presents for the boys tonight, plus a few for the family. I will call everyone individually to thank you, since they got an awful lot of great Stuff! It's hard to top Uncle Ronan's Lionel train set though, WOW. It was quite the challenge holding Gabriel off from setting it up right then! We'll work on that tomorrow. (Or will we? Tomorrow is another big event!)

Julian screamed and cried the whole way through the bedtime process. No wonder I felt so depressed and out of it today, a lot of it was from his relentless screaming on top of a cruel headache.

I went up to check on Julian after he was in bed, because he was still crying. "I love Julius!" he wailed, because his toy monkey is missing. I told him that maybe Julius was hiding because he was screaming so much, and Julian answered, "Julius isn't scared." "Besides," he continued, "I'm not screaming now, I'm crying." I said that maybe Julius doesn't like crying, and he said calmly, "I'm not crying. I'm whining." I couldn't help but to laugh aloud.

Where was Katrina in all this? Either sleeping, or smiling and grinning broadly at everything around her. Often she'll watch the action with interest, sometimes not even wiggling that much, but as soon as there's a face to look at, she's all smiles. She is almost always happy when she's awake now, and if she's not, she's almost certainly tired, poopy, or hungry.

That got me to thinking. There are many things I did with my first two babies that I just never, ever do with Katrina. I remember with the boys, feeling frustrated when they were around 3 months old that I could never just sit and have an uninterrupted meal. With baby#3, I always sit down to meals. I don't nurse her at the table, I don't bounce her around to get her to stop crying, I don't blast music at 1am to rock her to sleep, I don't stand next to the dryer, and I never have to carry her in the sling. Based on the first few weeks with her, I don't think this is because she happens to be a super easy baby (like my friend Betsy's new baby Dylan). I really think now that much of the fussing my first babies did, and much of the angst and work I put into calming them, was simply because they were tired. Katrina gets a lot more sleep, longer, more solidly, and far far more predictably.

I almost feel let down by the alternative crowd. They didn't tell me that I'd have a much happier baby, and that I'd be much happier, if that baby got a lot more regular sleep in a bassinet, rather than getting catnaps dozing off in a sling. In my heart, I still feel like being physically close all the time is the right thing for the baby, but those frustrating back-breaking hours spent bouncing around a miserable baby weren't right for me, or for the baby.

Most of the time I hold Katrina, she's happy and gooey and adorable and positively charming. My favorite times are sitting with her propped up on my knees, so we can look at each other and make big smile faces, and I can play with her arms and legs. How did I get so lucky to have such a charming, rewarding, wonderful baby?

Completely frustrated with indoor point-and-shoot photography, I messed with a few camera settings tonight, and went from this:

To this:

Hard to tell on these Web photos, but the non-smiling photo is brighter and less grainy and a little less out of focus. I gotta learn something about camera settings!

Isn't that red toile outfit gorgeous...I hate that they outgrow these things so fast!

Merry Christmas to all, and thank you for all the great Stuff!


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