Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gabriel's banner day

Today I had a lot of time with Gabriel. Dave took Julian to his first soccer class (which turned out to be cancelled due to rain-soaked fields), while I took Gabriel on Cupertino's annual Big Bunny Fun Run. It's a 5K race that also has a 1.5-mile walking route, which Betsy and I did (walked, that is, and she had Gina and Andrew with her). Afterward, there's a raffle, and food, and a bunny handing out candy.

I couldn't believe how many little kids were running the 5K race -- maybe someday Gabriel and I would run that, who knows! If we could keep up with Gina, that is.

We met Dave and Julian for breakfast at Bobbi's, the first time for all four of us in a long time. Julian had had some cereal that morning, acting like he was starving, so we thought he was past his stomach thing. Nope -- he threw up all over our table, himself and the floor, and we had to ditch our food, strip him down to a shirt, and take him straight home for a bath. He was cheerful and happy all day, but he must have been hungry. Still, all I dared give him the rest of the day was a few pieces of bread and a banana.

Later, Gabriel and Julian played together amazingly well for over an hour -- garbage play. Last year, Bonne Maman gave Gabriel a book called "I STINK!" about NYC garbage trucks, and they've rediscovered the book, and are really into garbage (gee thanks Mom!). They LOVE the alphabetical list of garbage in the book, and now they dump toys into dump trucks and push them around the house pretending they're garbage. We've had to curtail the garbage talk at the dinner table though.

Then Gabriel and I drove to Felton, in the Santa Cruz mountains, for Nick's 4th birthday party, a train-themed party. Perfect! I had hoped to give Gabriel some real lunch there, but instead, he gorged on pinata candy, then a beautiful train birthday cake that Lacy made. He also had a great time in the jump house, and of course, playing with a train table.

Bunnies, candy, jump house, trains, and birthday cake -- it doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Gabriel's preschool pal

Poor Julian threw up last night's meager dinner of rice this morning, so I kept him home from Tonya's. What a delightful little boy he is when he's not constantly being bugged by his older brother! He played and sang nonstop all morning, never once shrieking, playing so well that he even let me lie in bed for an hour and a half while I tried to fight off a cold.

As we were arriving home from picking Gabriel up from preschool, in the context of attempting to probe him again about friends and playmates at "new preschool," Gabriel volunteered, "There are so many beautiful girls there!" Oh really? Then: "yeah, like Kenda. She's really beautiful!" I guess he played with a little girl named Kenda today -- apparently I've been focusing too much on him playing with other little boys in his class! Kenda is the first name he's come up with from anyone in his new school.

Gabriel and Julian were both really good today, except for two timeouts for Gabriel that devolved into full-out battle. Here's how it goes: he doesn't do something I ask (usually to leave Julian alone), even after a firm warning, backtalks ("Zip it, Mom!"), gets put on timeout, doesn't stay, gets carried to his room and warned that if he comes out, he'll get locked in. Today as I was carrying him upstairs, he was flailing and kicking and trying to hit me with a free arm, so I had to reposition him, and in the chaos, I dropped him. He hit the edge of a carpeted step with his face, just under his eye, causing a nasty rugborn sort of scrape on his face. He was pretty upset, but after blotting it with a cold washcloth and calming him down, I still made him stay in his room, then he refused to apologize to come out, extending his stay. Even when he's genuinely distraught from being confined to his room, he shouts out defiantly, "You're not the boss Mom! I'm not going to play with you!" with the firmest angriest tone he can summon.

Not long after we got past that, the whole scenario replayed itself. What happened to consistency teaching kids that you mean it and they don't repeat the bad behavior?!

During Julian's nap (and mine), Gabriel made another ice cream factory, this time with a lighthouse (inspiration courtesy of a few Thomas the Tank Engine stories). I really like these structures, they're almost artistic, not a word often used in this household.

Later, the whole structure got knocked over and the blocks were everywhere, including in the stairwell. After Julian's curtailed early dinner of mashed potatoes (thankfully he held it down), Dave set Julian to the task of putting the blocks away. Which Julian happily turned into a game of trying to toss the blocks into the box. Perfect job: it serves a real purpose, and kept him entertained for some time! He was so cute doing this. Even when he's not feeling well, and even though he's prone to 2-year-old impossibleness, he's a constant delight. He sang for hours today.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Julian's tantrum

It must be because Steph wrote in email yesterday that Remi had been throwing up. This morning, Julian threw up a little on his pillow, and then at breakfast, he started throwing up his cereal even while he was still sitting in his high chair. Then I remembered yesterday, he said: "My tummy hurts -- I need a band-aid!". And yesterday, he didn't eat a good dinner, and had a loose BM. He's got a touch of something, poor baby.

The last time Gabriel had a bout of throwing up, the pediatrician said he kept throwing up because I kept feeding him -- give him only water until he's gone 24 hours without vomiting. So today I tried to keep Julian from eating, which meant Gabriel too had to forego snacks in the jogging stroller on our hike, and Trader Joe's samples as well.

But when we got home, Julian set off into a massive tantrum from...oh, what was it, I think because he ran down a countdown to get out of the car, and I carried him indoors. Getting him inside from the car has become a battle every time these days. He got SO upset, throwing himself on the floor and screaming, then wailing that he wanted me, then going into new fits when I'd come back to check on him, then coming into the kitchen to scream at the top of his lungs. I tried putting on soothing music and offering him water to drink, but each thing I did brought about a fresh fit. Finally I got him calm by offering to turn off the music, and after some hyperventilating and crying standing next to me, he got out of it. A genuine tantrum from him is pretty rare!

But how was I not supposed to feed him? I never thought I'd feel guilty about feeding my baby! He saw Gabriel eating yogurt and wanted some, threatening another rage. I gave him a little chicken soup broth, but he didn't like it, and he was very on the edge of going into a full-on rage at every step again (seeing the soup, then seeing me take it away -- there's no winning). Finally I gave him a piece of bread, and that settled him immediately. The moment the first piece went in his mouth, he cheered up and started talking happily. After one and a half pieces of bread, he was in a great mood, and then played great with Gabriel until his nap (coming into the kitchen once to tell me "Gabriel build a track for me!"). He's been cheerful ever since, especially after a 3-hour nap. It's pretty hard to take pediatricians' advice not to feed a child for 24 hours when you see this sort of thing.

The new expert on gastric ailments, I myself feel a little better today, not in relentless constant stomach torment, but never even close to right. Tonight I'm going to Coffee with my mom friends, and I'm going to spring the NEWS on them. I'm looking forward to their surprise!

I just snuck out to see what Gabriel and Julian are doing as I type: innocently reading a book together. Anyone want to take bets on how long this harmony lasts? (later note: it lasted about 20 minutes, then they moved to the bathroom to look through catalogs, for a total of about 45 minutes. Not bad!)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gabriel's nickname

Occasionally, someone will ask me if it's OK to call Gabriel "Gabe," and I always say I don't care, it'll be up to him, though everyone calls him Gabriel. But the one person who's taken to calling him Gabe, without permission, is Julian! I don't know where he came up with this, and he doesn't say it all the time, but sometimes when referring to Gabriel or addressing him, he says just "Gabe." It really is up to Gabriel, but I hope "Gabe" doesn't catch on. I like Gabriel.

I have some reservations about Gabriel's new preschool, but overall it's a definite plus. I don't like that you have to pass through one room to get to another; they're all connected by an open doorway and it's disruptive to each class to have to pass through. Also, I get the impression it's more a daycare than a preschool, as when I asked today how everything went, the main thing they told me was about what he ate. All that said, Gabriel's teacher said he's adapting very well; some kids don't eat for a few weeks, or cry a lot, and he's fit right in. She said he doesn't seem to know any of the songs they sing -- I don't doubt that. Monday he requested a "car song," and she also commented that he mostly wants to play with trains. Yep, that's Gabriel.

When I dropped Gabriel off this morning, I left him in the company of three other 4-year-old boys, and when I picked him up, he was running around happily in the play area in the back. Mostly on his own, but if a group of kids started running, he'd leave me to join in. The main thing I wanted him to get was more social interaction, and he's getting it, so I'm happy with that.

More and more often, I hear a new ominous sound from afar: giggling. Total silence, of course, triggers the biggest Mom alarm, but laughing together...? That can't be good. But, today, it was innocent: they'd brought pillows and a blanket into the sunroom, surrounded themselves with toy vehicles, and declared they were taking a nap in the "garage." It is so delightful to see them making up a game and laughing together, thinking they're hiding from me or outwitting me. Little partners in crime!

Later, Julian playfully pushed me, and I told him to try again, and dodged him at the last moment, causing peals of laughter. This quickly transitioned into a chasing game with both boys chasing me, laughing so hard they almost couldn't run straight. That was a lot of fun. I love making them laugh.

A few blog notes: I just changed the template format since Mom was reporting horizontal lines through the text. Dave also noticed some font problems, and also suggested using a different one. I still consider this blogsite experimental, and so haven't publicized it to all family members and friends. I'd like a way to password-protect the posts, and also archive posts onto my own computer. If anyone else has any comments, observations or suggestions, please tell me!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Julian's countdowns

These days it seems I'm constantly giving Julian countdowns. Any step along the day: getting his clothes, picking his diaper, climbing into the carseat or his high chair, anything, he will deliberately stop and wait to see what happens. I used to warn him that if he didn't climb into the carseat himself, I'd put him in, but he refined his motion so that he was still seeming to be climbing in, but it would take him forever. So I had to add the countdown. I tell him that if he doesn't do XYZ by the count of 10, then I'll put him in, and I don't have to say it angrily. It almost always works, but I really wish I weren't constantly counting!

It was another rainy day today, so our big outing was to return videos, grocery-shop, go to Subway for lunch, then to Learning Express (a toy store) to buy birthday presents for 3 upcoming parties. Learning Express has several train tables and other toy tables, so it's a great place to take them on a rainy day, except for the problem of getting them out of there! Especially on a rainy day, all this in-and-out of the car proved to be a real pain, since Julian needs a countdown for every entry and exit.

I mused at Subway during lunch how easy this is now -- I've completely abandoned the Restaurant Survival Kit, and can impulsively decide to just stop somewhere for lunch without baby accoutrements. Both boys ate a regular sandwich, and had apple juice out of plastic cups I got there -- no sippy cups, no bibs, nothing (except a high chair since Julian was too short for the bench). It was a wistful musing about our newfound, and soon-to-be-lost, freedom. One thing about impending baby, it makes our current life seem really easy!

We've gone public with the new baby news. I'll be more excited about it when I'm not miserably ill all the time, but a decent day today has given me new hope.

Gabriel has been building things with new sophistication and imagination lately. Yesterday I came across this little Lego train-station scene in the living room. Today, he made an "ice cream factory" out of a set of wooden blocks they got for Christmas last year. He's recently re-discovered these blocks and seems to have a new appreciation for the various shapes and colors and how to fit them together.

It occurred to me while writing to Andrea that Gabriel has never once named a toy. He certainly knows names of toys that already exist (the Thomas characters), but putting names and personalities to toys is just not in his reality yet -- very unlike his imaginative cousin Aidan! Building seems to be his thing -- and, of course, knocking it down later!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gabriel's first day of "new" preschool

Today Gabriel started at Kids Inc, a preschool/daycare right down the road. We'd been talking about it with him so he wouldn't be surprised, but really, even if he had been surprised, I'm sure he'd have taken it in stride. It was hard to get worried about him not adapting or being anxious or shy. That's just not Gabriel.

And indeed, our lack of concern was justified. When we first arrived, he was cautious, but very interested and introduced himself and told his age when prompted. I familiarized myself and him with the routine (where to put coats, etc), and then his teacher skillfully started to shoo me out, clearly prepared for the lingering parent and the fretful child. In fact, while I was asking her one last question, Gabriel discovered the train table -- he didn't even look at me after that!

When I picked him up, the teacher reported that he'd been just fine, he participated in class, ate his lunch and went along with the program. He took home a little art piece (just some foam animals glued to a paper plate) and the work they'd done that day on the letter D. Though he couldn't tell us anyone's names (his teacher or classmates), he seemed to have enjoyed it, despite the rainy indoor day. All in all, a success.

The best part is that Julian was in a really good mood when I picked him up from Tonya's! I'd forgotten that one of the reasons for a new preschool for Gabriel was so that they have some time apart. My theory that they would fight less was shot within 10 minutes of arriving home, but I'm still optimistic that some separation will have a positive effect on them. I'm sure it did Julian some good to have Gabriel off his back for the morning. And me.

Not relevant to today, but here's Julian watching Nemo while Dave was sick yesterday. Very typical Julian: clutching Julius, his beloved monkey, and always sitting with crossed feet!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday outing

Our Sundays have developed a nice rhythm. I sleep late (that's the best part) while Dave gets up with the boys, though lately even that isn't a major task. Gabriel gets up, takes off all his clothes, goes to the bathroom (I get up briefly to help him with that), puts his pajamas away, then gets dressed (I lay out his clothes the night before). Then he just plays while we go back to sleep. Julian wakes up at some point and yaks and sings in his room, and often we'll send Gabriel upstairs to open his door. Sometimes they play nicely together, but mostly, then the crying and fighting starts.

But on Sundays, Dave lets me sleep late while he plays referee. Then I get up and make a big breakfast for everyone while Dave takes a shower and gets ready for the day. After breakfast, I take the boys out somewhere. I can't imagine a day in which they don't go out -- they'd drive us crazy!

Today, I took them to an animal shelter, just to look at the dogs and cats. I didn't realize there were also some small animals, including a whole room dedicated to rabbits. They loved this excursion, and it wasn't easy to get them away from each room, especially the rabbits. Julian can be nervous about dogs, but he did very well despite some real barkers. We all liked a nice little dog named Charlie Brown, but I knew better than to come home with a stray puppy!

Then we went to a park to have lunch, despite the looming rain. Dave was feeling terrible today, so the more peaceful time he had at home the better. The park we went to fortunately had a little covered breezeway where we could sit while the boys munched their sandwiches and raisins during the brief interludes of sprinkles. They had a good time running around a concrete circle, and looking at a construction site at the park.

I'd like to think visiting the animal shelter made a big impression on them, but really, the highlight of their day was watching a Thomas the Tank Engine episode after dinner. I like that the promise of the video gets them to eat dinner and clean up the living room!