Saturday, April 22, 2006

Julian's first soccer class

Finally! Julian's soccer class wasn't rained or soaked out. I didn't get to see personally, but Dave reported that it was a decent class. It's for 2 to 3-1/2 year olds, which is quite a range of ability, and heavily depends on parent participation. Dave said Julian was pretty good at the kicking, but pretty slow at the running, though he is among the youngest in the class. I'm glad that Dave is learning how to teach Julian soccer too, it'll give them something to practice for fun.

The real success was Dave taking Julian to Bobbi's single-handedly after the soccer class. Dave wasn't sure at first; Julian can be pretty pesty with table manners. But without the influence of his brother, he was wonderful. There's always the advantage with Julian that he likes to eat, and eat he did -- bacon, eggs, pancake. Dave does a treat with boys at the end of the meal, by spreading jelly on pancake pieces. This time, Julian wanted to try spreading the jelly himself, using a knife and scooping jelly out of those tiny plastic restaurant containers, then spreading it on the pancake -- and he did really well at it. Gabriel's never even tried!

Meanwhile, I was stumbling my way through an aerobics class at the gym, with Gabriel happily playing in the gym daycare. I'm making an effort to exercise more, but that effort has coincided with a fresh bout of stomach pain, feeling sick and nasty heartburn. It brings me down emotionally even more than physically because it's been going on for so long, and when it returns after even a mild abatement, it's very depressing. I just want to lie down and put a heating pad on my tummy and watch something engaging on TV.

I'm quite certain now (well, 95%) that some of the twitching I've been feeling isn't just little spasms. Some of it is too deep and too consistent not to be the baby. I'll say for certain in a few days, but I think baby#3 made his or her presence known to me, aside from the black eye, at just 15 weeks.

We went to a wedding celebration for our friends Charles and Sara this afternoon, and had a nice time socializing, and for me, lots of yummy little tarts! Sara, the bride, and another woman Tara, are both pregnant with their firsts. It was fun talking to first-timers, with all their newness and anticipation of the whole experience. I haven't thought of pregnancy as fun at all lately, so it was a nice break. I had to chuckle when Charles semi-joked that any arguments about sock color with a toddler would be taken care of forcefully once, and that would be that. Uh-huh, yeah, sure! Good luck with that!

Sara, who's due July 26, says she feels great after yoga classes. If I can't find a pool with lap swim times that will work, yoga might be a very reasonable alternative. Or addition!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gabriel and Julian hunt worms

This morning, in an effort to fight fatigue and a relentless "blah" sick icky feeling in my stomach, and motivated by the Title 9 catalog non-models, I dug up my rollerblade skates.

Rollerblades?! Does anyone even know I have them? I bought them years ago, and attempted a few times to skate, but never learned how. I haven't used them since we moved here, but today, I put them on, put Julian in the jogging stroller (remind me next time to reverse the order of that!), and went for a tentative skate around our neighborhood. Ah, how good it felt to get out, wear a T-shirt on a sunny cool day! Skating is a lot easier with a stroller to hold onto. I still can't skate, but I was happy to find that I could skate backward, just as I'd learned in Gabriel's ice-skating class. Julian seemed to appreciate the faster pace in the jogging stroller, too.

When we picked Gabriel up from preschool today, a substitute teacher, Miss Rose, interrupted a phone call and her lunch break just to talk to me, to tell me what a good boy Gabriel was. She said not only was he very well-behaved, but he participated in class, volunteered for stuff, had good "listening ears," answered questions, and got a lot of stickers today. She seemed genuinely impressed and said he was one of the best ones in the class (almost sheepishly, as though she knew she really shouldn't say that, but could since I was the only parent there). That was nice to hear! In fairness, he's among the oldest kids in his class of 3's and 4's.

Teachers at Gabriel's school are routinely surprised to see my relief at his good behavior. They just have no idea how extraordinarily difficult he can be. Even nice teacher Rose said that with her 3-year-old son, who she finds difficult, said that taking away stickers pretty much reins him in. I'm used to this by now though; most people haven't experienced a truly defiant child, and good for them. Then again, teacher Rose's comments today may be the first in a trend: teachers may not often run across kids with Gabriel's attention span, either.

Gabriel is really thriving in his new preschool now, talking about his friends and mentioning things he does there or learns there. It's been great for him getting into more of a regular school environment, even though my hope that it would improve relations between him and Julian have been dashed.

One more comment on tantrums: Stacey mentioned at Coffee that Cassie, who's now 2, had a full half-hour tantrum the other day, and the other moms there were impressed. Not me, of course, and I commented that if a half-hour tantrum was noteworthy, then she really did have an easy kid! Stacey added, "Well, she is just 2." Another mom commented that ignoring tantrums worked best for her. Oh, if only! Gabriel was in full swing by 19 months, and there was no ignoring his 45-50 minute mega-tantrums several times a day. Even Julian has fits as long as half an hour, though happily it's not a regular thing.

Gabriel and Julian enjoyed some backyard time this afternoon, digging and finding "snakes." They were both very excited by their squirmy discoveries, and kept pointing out each new worm to each other, one of which was in some dirt in the back of the dump truck. Poor worms, exposed to sun and prodding...the ultimate sacrifice in the name of a childhood rite!

Spurred by yesterday's nap nightmare, I was very stern and direct with Julian today for naptime. I told him we were reading one book once, and he could have water before we went in his room, but that was it (asking for water just as I'm about to leave is one of his top procrastination strategies). He seemed with the program, but then pushed it at the end, requiring a countdown to get him onto his bed. Testing the limits, he left his feet off the bed. I failed that test, as he got another countdown (I should have stuck to the first one), he still didn't get fully on the bed, so I gave him a quick kiss and said "Good nap!" and left. I heard him crying about his feet still being off the bed, and completely expected I'd have to go back up to calm him so he'd take a nap, but after wailing strongly for about 5 minutes, he suddenly stopped. Then he took one of his glorious 3-1/2 hour naps!

I had some nice alone time with Gabriel during Julian's nap, building a wall out of MegaBlocks, pretending we were cranes, then taking a nap together. And then while Gabriel was still asleep, I snuck in a grownup snack of brie, crackers and apple, reading newspaper articles in full. Luxury!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

gabriel and Julian's lunch

This week, Tonya has been closed, so I brought Julian to the gym on Monday and Wednesday, where he eats his lunch (that I bring) in the childcare. He's so good about this! He sits and eats a much better lunch than I can often get him to eat at home, like rice, broccoli and chicken.

Though today's lunch was a very typical no-brainer, for some reason I felt oddly satisfied that they both had a nice healthy lunch, and ate it all. I'm not sure, but I suspect that Gabriel's new preschool doesn't serve anything with peanuts in it; it's a big trend these days. Certainly it seemed that Gabriel was glad to have a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and fresh strawberries. Other than the bread not being whole-grain (I still haven't found any that everyone consistently likes), it was a nice healthy lunch -- and they both actually ate it, no fuss (that was the best part).

We had swim class again today. As usual, Gabriel was very enthusiastic and excited about it, and Julian hesitant and reluctant, but he's warming up. I think taking the noisy dome off the pool will make a big difference. Last year, Julian warmed up so much that in playtime, he wouldn't quit diving into the water!

Though we had a good swim class and good lunch, I had a hard time with the boys today. Partly, I was very tired and not feeling well today, and my patience has been running very thin with having to give Julian countdowns for EVERY step of the day. Gabriel got upset after swim class when he took his towel off and I wouldn't put it back on him, telling him instead to get dressed, and that kicked off a long snit.

The worst thing is that Julian has been getting increasingly putzy about his naps; making one excuse after another to keep me in there, and getting one countdown after another just to pick a book, sit with me to read it, turn the last page, get into bed, lie down. Oh, for the days when he'd dive down onto the bed after reading a book once! Or, he insists on lying down on the floor, where he's not nearly as comfortable, and wakes up crying. And the past few days, his naps have been much shorter.

Julian's not napping well is a real disaster for me since I'm so tired by the afternoon, and often, so tired of constantly mediating between them. I also think the lack of any real time off from both of them (Tonya's closed this week, and before that, Julian was sick for 3 out of 4 mornings) has been really wearing me down. I'm just not being a good mom to them these days, fresh strawberries for lunch notwithstanding.

I haven't mentioned this yet, but one fun thing for me: Gina's mom, Betsy, is also pregnant with #3! She's due just about 6 weeks after I am, around Thanksgiving. How nice for me that I have a friend to go through this with! We were just saying tonight at Coffee that we both need to pick up our exercising, just to survive pregnancy with two little kids. And how! I want to be one of those women in the Title 9 catalog. That's my inspiration. Now if only my stomach would cooperate....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's new clothes

It's finally been warming up here, turning into T-shirt time. Somehow I persuaded both boys to try on the Gymboree clothes from Bonne Maman and Papa Paul -- and how cute they are! The shorts are too big around the waist on Gabriel, as I expected, but I'll find a way to take them in. (In fact, I just had to get swim trunks for Gabriel, and bought an 18-month size, and still had to take them in!) I'm just glad to see long shorts on him.

Julian's latest phrase, said after I got off the phone today: "What are you talking about?" or, "Who are you talking to?" Nosy!

Gabriel's picked up a very unpleasant new phrase as well: "You're nasty!" or, "you're weird!" I'm not sure how to handle this yet. I've already learned the flip side to making a big deal out of something they say: it becomes such a powerful term that it becomes indelible in their minds. Hopefully, ignoring it will make it lose interest, and most of the time he's just saying it randomly amidst a lot of other chatter to no one in particular. But there are times Gabriel says it angrily, with meaning and eye contact, and that's just plain rude. He's been on timeouts a few times for it today, but for me to time him out for every casual utterance just wouldn't be practical. What would Supernanny do?!

Julian busied himself today picking oxalis flowers (a very pretty weed) from our backyard. Just like his Grandpa Jim; Julian seems to love fresh flowers.

He might look innocent, but he's also been really trying my patience lately too. Fortunately, his offenses don't turn into full-scale battle as they used to with Gabriel, but Julian got timed out several times today, and swatted on his botttm once, for hitting me with a straight arm with all his might. His physical might, anyway -- his emotional might withers quickly when scolded, unlike his wily brother. But not enough to prevent him doing it again.

Aside from the various time-out-able transgressions today, both boys were pretty good.

In other news, our red oak flooring is getting installed in our bedroom! I still have a long list of things that need to be decided upon, ordered or bought, but we're getting closer and closer to having our room back. I'm still not feeling anything close to 100%, and various ailments come and go all the time, but it's all been more manageable.

There are always twitches and little muscle spasms around my expanding abdomen (I am really popping out!), but last night I thought I felt some little blips that were deeper inside. I'm not really sure, but it puts me in the zone of "if it keeps up, I'll know what it is." They say you feel a baby earlier with each pregnancy; this one would be at 15 weeks if that's really what it is. I'm happy to say that baby#3 hasn't been on my mind as much, because constant sickness isn't forcing it. And constant attention to rambunctious little boys forces it away!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's first day of swim class

Swim season begins! We had our first day of swim class today, with Gabriel in a semi-private (2 kids) class, and Julian in the usual group of 3 for little kids.

As usual, there was a screw-up in the schedule: the swim school had called me last week to see if I'd be willing to change Gabriel to 9:40am, and I said no. I'd planned long ago to make sure the boys' classes were at the same time. I then asked them to double-check that Gabriel really was scheduled for 10am, no problem. But when we arrived, surprise, Gabriel was on the schedule for 9:40am! Fortunately, the mom of the girl scheduled for a private class at 10am was willing to make that a semi-private, so we're getting what we expected after all.

Gabriel was SO excited about swim class, and was great -- he jumped right in, paid attention to the teacher, was excited and enthusiastic and picked up right where he left off. In playtime, he loved showing off, showing me how he would swim to the side, jump in, and try to dive underwater. I had a hard time getting him out, in fact.

Julian, on the other hand, was hesitant and unsure, not smiling at all at first, and it only went downhill from there. He went along with some things, protesting mildly and sometimes starting to cry, but the few times we put him underwater, he did fine. Teacher Gina said to just take it slow, make it fun for him, and get him used to it again. In playtime, he mostly sat on the steps and shivered, interested in all the kids playing (especially his brother splashing around happily), but not participating. Finally, I got him to crack a smile by playing a game in which he threw Gabriel's goggles into the water and I pretended to be perturbed by saying, "h-HEY!"

Few things demonstrate the most basic difference in these two boys' personalities more than their reaction to the first day of swim class. Even allowing for the age and experience difference, Gabriel's embrace-it-all reaction was very Gabriel, and Julian's reserved and cautious reaction very Julian. So many parents I know assume that their younger child is more bold and confident because they're the second, but I'm quite convinced that kids are just who they are. Not that birth order doesn't matter, but I'm pretty sure the moms who tell me that Julian will become more aggressive than Gabriel are wrong, and just happen to have second-borns who are like that.

I do notice a development in Gabriel's memory though. Last year when he was 3, he seemed to remember some of the swimming itself, but no details. This year, as we entered the parking lot, he said, "Don't hit the fence, Mom!" Great, he remembered the time last year that I hit a pole as I was backing into a spot.

No photos from swim class though; the dome was up over the pool, which means it's too foggy and steamy inside to take pictures.

We went to Tuesday dinner last night because Paul and Elisabeth hosted it at their house. I made a gingerbread cake to bring, and continued a long-standing tradition: the boys got to lick the mixer's beaters! (This is the sort of thing that parents say is easier with just two kids, though I don't recall being permanently damaged over conflicts of there only being two beaters among three kids in my childhood.)

At Paul and Elisabeth's house, Gabriel and Julian were instantly taken with the cats, who would have nothing to do with them and quickly found safe perches out of reach! After they gave up on the cats, they took to a new activity: running around chasing each other shrieking. Great.

Actually, they've been getting MUCH more rambunctious lately, Gabriel especially. It's a new thing to have to discipline Gabriel when he's just being happy and playful, but often to an annoying, overly noisy extent. And he's rude -- as soon as I try to talk to him, he runs away, then turns his head and closes his eyes, then runs away laughing again. Most of the crazy play is initiated by Gabriel, but he wouldn't do it without a willing cohort. It's cute most times, but I sure wish I knew how to get them to turn it off, like at people's houses, without having to be so forceful that they end up crying.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's Easter Brunch

We got a nice invitation from Betsy to join her and her immediate and extended family for Easter Brunch today, including an egg hunt for the kids. I was especially grateful for this invitation when Easter Sunday proved to be yet another rainy day!

As soon as we arrived, Gabriel made a beeline for Gina's train table, and all the kids instantly disappeared -- except Julian. He stood in the kitchen with the all the adults, gazing at each one, shifting his eyes without turning his head as he assessed the group one by one. One grownup suggested he was shy, but he wasn't being shy at all -- indeed, it has to be intimidating being SO short in a large group of standing-up adults, and he didn't hide or act fearful at all. He made a point of engaging each grownup in the group with his famous "eye-lock" from his baby days. If not for his innocent 2-year-old face, I'd almost say he looked like a drill sergeant reviewing his troops. It was the funniest thing!

While Gabriel continued to play with trains, Gina pulled out a tablecloth, spread it out on a kid table, and then set up a little tea party from a nice little metal teaset she has. After a nudge from Dave, Julian got right into the game, stirring his "tea" that Gina poured for him. Julian sat and played with the teaset after Gina had gotten bored and moved back to the trains, in fact!

I thought about cousin Aidan and his picnics, and how much fun Aidan and Julian will have doing this sort of thing together. Aidan loves to tell stories and name animals and such, and Julian will be entranced by this...provided Gabriel is too busy with trains to engage Aidan in a big-boy running game.

After brunch came the egg hunt. Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for Gina's Dad, Vic, to hide eggs in their front yard, and for the kids to hunt for them. This time, Julian knew what to do, but couldn't come close to keeping up with the enterprising and very motivated Gina! Gabriel caught on right away, and was practically running from place to place to find more eggs. All the kids had a great time out there. Julian found a nice blue egg and had to go show Gina, "Look at my AYG, Gina!". I don't think she was impressed.

Another adorable moment was right before we left, and Vic was swinging Gina around in a circle, then Andrew. Julian walked right up to this family scene, looked up at Vic (who is a BIG guy) and said boldly, "How about me?" Vic was surprised, but gladly swung Julian too. No, not a shy child.

I wish I had more Gabriel tidbits, but for the most part, he played with trains the whole time. Surprise, surprise.

I was very envious of the cast at this brunch. Betsy had her (divorced!) mother and father there, her brother and his "friend" (a woman), a longtime college friend, and a cousin and husband who couldn't make it. I sure wish I had so much family and old friends in the area, but then, Betsy grew up here and didn't move away. Sigh. But it did get me to thinking more about our trip this summer, as of yet undetermined. I'm working on it!