Saturday, April 29, 2006

Julian's soccer class

I meant to take Gabriel to the gym for a class this morning, but he woke up unusually late, at 9:00am. So, I took him to watch Julian's soccer class, as I'd wanted to see it and get some pictures anyway. It was pretty cute! They did little 5-minute drills of kicking the ball through a hoop, then having the kid go through the hoop, or chasing the grownup who had a "tail" (a cloth) in his pocket, dribbling the ball together, and of course, GOAL!

I was surprised once again, though I shouldn't be based on gymnastics class experience, at the number of parents & kids who arrive late. And, how parents of the class afterward let their kids wander onto the field and potentially get in the way before the class is completely over. I mentioned to Dave that that sort of behavior would never fly at a dojo, and he looked at me like I'd just spoken Japanese. A dojo! A martial-arts studio. Maybe even at dojos things are less formal than they used to be, but I guess I'm old-fashioned about some basic courtesies (though being on time with little kids I fully recognize as being pretty difficult...then again, we always manage, and it's not like we have particularly efficient or agreeable kids!).

Julian seemed to have a great time -- kicking a ball is definitely his thing.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mom's new class

I did something tonight I've wanted to do ALL my life: I took an ice-skating lesson!

I signed up for a 13-week class on Thursday nights, and tonight was the first class (actually, the second one; I missed the first one). I started out in the ultra-lame class for people who've never skated, but apparently I'd learned just enough in the class Gabriel and I took for the teacher to move me to a slightly more advanced class. The new teacher was a lot better, the class was smaller, and it was a perfect level for me. I learned "edge pulls," two ways of stopping, forward crossovers and swizzles (to skate backward). Then after class, the rink opened up and I got to practice for a while, though it was pretty crowded.

I had so much fun I'm not even thinking about how difficult it will be to do stuff like that again when baby#3 comes about, though I got back to Saturday morning dance classes sooner after Julian was born than Gabriel. The only danger in skating is that the bending forward slightly feels like it could strain my fragile lower back. I'll only be skating once a week, so hopefully that won't cause any problems. Unlike roller skating, I didn't fall at all.

Time to get my own skates!

Gabriel and Julian play soccer

I had a horrible night again. Anticipating an extra increase in nightly stomach pain, I took some Tylenol with codeine that the gastroenterologist prescribed. Though the codeine mercifully made me sleepy, the pain was still great, plus nausea. It took hours to fall into a restless sleep.

But enough about me. What a breakthrough in swim class today! Julian went from being hesitant and unwilling (though never flat-out crying) to his old death-wish-drowning self. I couldn't keep him out of the water! Teacher Gina would be holding him, explaining something to me, and he'd just stick his face in the water and leave it there. No kidding, he spent more time underwater than above it, and every time he came up, he'd say again that he wanted to go back under.

In playtime, Julian did what he did constantly last year too: jump in again and again, to where I can no longer relax and just watch the kids play. Every time I turn my head, I find Julian underwater again. Julian was underwater so much that he really needs goggles: his eyes were really, really red and irritated, almost swollen shut, from the pool chemicals.

I remember that as a kid taking swim lessons in Camp Sloane's pool that I used to spend much of swim classes underwater myself. It makes me that much more excited to take the boys -- well, the kids, whatever the gender makeup ends up being -- to beautiful seas to snorkel and maybe even scuba dive. I want to do that so much with them that baby#3 or not, we probably will do it when the boys are old enough (Hawaii! Carribean! New Zealand!). I was thinking first of Gabriel, but my guess is that Julian will be my diving buddy.

These boys are going to grow up swimming, partly because I like it so much and will continue to put them in lessons, but also because they like it so much. Really, of all activities I've done with them, they've both taken so well to swimming.

I'm so excited that I just found a few lakes with beaches and even lifeguards, one as close as Fremont, less than half an hour's drive away. And it won't be cold in Fremont in the summer!

It feels like the first day of summer -- it's warm and beautiful, still green, birds are chirping and flowers are blooming. The boys had lunch outdoors today, then Julian wanted to play with a bouncy new ball. This attracted Gabriel, who of course took it away. I made Gabriel give the ball back and ask Julian nicely if he wanted to play, and they did! They actually kicked the ball back and forth, playing "soccer."

Gabriel lost interest before long and pursued trucks instead, but it was so nice to see them really playing back and forth together -- and with physical distance between them preventing the inevitable bashing and wailing!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mom has a banner day

Today both boys were in daycare all day. Tonya is so nice and picks Gabriel up at Kids Inc at 1pm, so I don't even have to go get him to take him to Tonya's for the afternoon! Another good reason to put Gabriel at Kids Inc: the location really can't be beat. And I really, really needed the time; the remodel is now being held up for lack of decisions and ordering things.

First I had a regular appointment with Maria, where she listened to Miss October's heartbeat and said it was great, and she could hear lots of baby movement. Then I drove to The Moulding Company to order door casing, baseboard and picture moulding, having a nice chat with Andreas along the way. Then I went to Tile Fantastic to finalize tile ordering...or so I thought. It was only 11:15am, but I was wracked with painful hunger. All I needed was a little snack, and was drawn in by a sign for a pizzeria. Turned out to be a very nice little Italian restaurant, where I enjoyed soup and salad and a rare peaceful lunch. Then to the tile place, then to the cabinet maker's place to get countertop samples, then to check out a gym with yoga classes...and finally, home to make phone calls and shop online for light fixtures.

Though I was painfully sick most of the day, I had just enough resolve to keep busy, concentrate, and be productive -- far easier than taking care of the boys all day, which drains me. Usually I can fit in a few other things when I have the boys all day, but they've been draining my meager resources with the constant timeouts (two for Gabriel just since starting this message). It felt great not to be lying on our bed feeling sick all afternoon. I didn't even want to look at our bed; I associate it with confinement and disability. Our room smells like a sickroom to me now.

My great day being busy and productive was another writing-on-the-wall reminder that I'm probably one of those Moms I hoped I wouldn't be: happier working than being a full-time Mom. Perhaps it's not fair to compare. I'm not unhappy being a full-time Mom, despite the recent challenges, but I really was happy working. I wish I could be more like Lacy or Stephanie and be completely fulfilled from just being with my amazing children, but it seems pretty clear that I do a lot better with some concentrated, productive time (not to mention it'd be nice to resume a second income). I should drop the guilt and just face facts.

Hmmm...then again, look at the examples I chose: Lacy and Stephanie, who have two of the sweetest, most sensitive firstborn boys I've ever heard of. Maybe if I had a Nick or Aidan, instead of a Gabriel (who's now locked in his room for the 3rd time in two hours), this job wouldn't seem quite so draining! Meanwhile, Julian is happily singing away in the family room, enjoying a few minutes' respite from his bossy older brother.

At dinner, I tried something Andreas told me his mother did with his family, and that the Engels now do: ask each person what the most interesting thing they did today was. Gabriel didn't entirely understand what to do, and said something about a fire engine last week, but I prompted him about a pirate playset that Tonya told me he'd played with all day. Julian actually responded more directly, saying that today he went to Tonya's. I think that's a great way to direct conversation away from the constant "poop butt" talk we get at the table these days, at least for a few minutes!

Once again, no photos. Tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gabriel and Julian's timeouts

I keep thinking about the child psychologist advising us to disengage, walk away from most conflicts with Gabriel, though safety issues, such as holding hands to cross the street, are truly nonnegotiable. But as I go through the day, I see one thing after another that to me is also nonnegotiable -- from serious things like not closing the car door while Julian is getting out, to things like washing his hands before dinner. I don't want Gabriel to learn that if he throws a fit, he can get out of basic rules.

Such as getting dressed. Today after swim class, Gabriel turned his head and closed his eyes when I told him to put his clothes on. He was probably kidding around, but he continued to ignore me as I warned him several times that after Julian was dressed, we were leaving. And I did -- I packed Gabriel's clothes into our bag, last, then took both boys by the hand, and led them out to the car. I'm sure we made quite the spectacular entrance into the pool area, with me holding a naked and protesting Gabriel. It wasn't until we were at the car that he agreed to put his clothes on. Is getting dressed another thing I should just disengage from?

After swim class, I brought both boys to Tonya's. It's becoming urgent now that I take care of remodeling details that I've put off for weeks from being so sick. I'm still not feeling well, but without the boys, I have just enough energy to make that phone call or visit that plumbing supply store. Also, I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist to talk about all the pain and discomfort I've been in. He called for more tests and made some good suggestions on how to treat each of various gastric ailments.

But once again, after I picked the boys up, I had a hard time getting them out of the car. This has really becoming a bugaboo -- it takes 10 minutes, lots of countdowns, reminders and threats to get them both out of the car and into the house, for one stupid reason after another. This time, Julian insisted on getting out Gabriel's side, Gabriel insisted on "holding" the door for him, but he's very close to closing the door on Julian's fingers. This devolved into a now very regular and very, very tiresome pattern. Gabriel goes on timeout for not listening, then backtalk, doesn't stay, is put in his room (I always have to carry him, and my back won't take much more of that), doesn't stay, gets locked in, he lies on his back and kicks the door, I take his shoes and warn him not to kick the door, and if he does again, he gets spanked (which has finally curtailed the kicking, it didn't used to). When it's time to get him out, he routinely refuses to listen or apologize, turning into another round of staying in his room, then locked in again if he doesn't stay. We go through this painful pattern with him every day now, for something as simple as backtalk ("You're NASTY, Mom") that starts it. And I do ignore a lot of backtalk; it's the very directed talk like that when he's just been scolded for something else (such as grabbing Julian's neck) that kicks it all off.

What would SuperNanny do? Even Julian won't sit in timeout anymore, and I go through Supernanny's method of putting him back again and again and again, and it's incredibly disruptive and exhaustive. The whole idea behind these methods is that you only have to go through the pain a few times, then the kids learn that you're not going to back down. But certainly Gabriel doesn't learn that -- we go through the painful process every time he does something bad. Julian's a little different; he gets so distraught that he won't sit in timeout, sobbing "sorry! sorry!" and trying to walk away from his "naughty spot." Sometimes moving him to a new spot, or talking to him calmly and telling him that if he sits, he can come out soon, will do it. But the whole idea that they'll eventually learn and sit in timeout hasn't happened here. I really wish I could find a way to curtail these long, and now-daily, disciplinary sessions with both of them.

I went to Tuesday Dinner tonight with our old moto-friends. It was at Hobee's, a restaurant that Dave doesn' t like, so he took the boys to Pizza & Pipes while I went to dinner alone. I used to go to Tuesday Dinner alone all the time, but it felt weird being there without Dave -- I haven't done that in years! I needed time off from the boys tonight, it was good.

Sorry, no photos today.

Julian's rainbows

This morning at breakfast, Julian took apple slices out of the bowl, took one bite from the middle, and then set the slices peel-up on the table. "Look!" he exclaimed. "Rainbows!"

Dave and I had our final appointment with the child psychologist, Dr. Laurie today. The long and short of it is that while there are some aspects of Gabriel's play that raise some red flags (such as his lack of symbolic play, like making rainbows out of apple slices), there's nothing that needs treatment or anything. We'll keep an eye on it, and if any problems develop, we'll contact the school district for a cognitive assessment. One interesting thing is that his speech delay rules out the Asperger's variety of spectrum disorders. The things we needed help with, which were his tantrums and conflicts, have improved a great deal. This is the second time we've sought professional help for behavior problems, only for them to sort themselves out right around our first appointment!

Julian's just figured out how to pedal a tricycle. He goes around the house now, very slowly and deliberately -- that particular tricycle isn't that easy to pedal -- dismounting from time to time when he hits a dead end or has to reposition it. I'm glad; it's a nice sign that outings with the whole family on wheeled vehicles (with baby#3 in a trailer or baby seat) is in sight.

After another troublesome get-down-for-nap episode with Julian (which turned into a 3-hour nap!), I came downstairs to find that Gabriel had decided to take a nap too -- right on the living-room floor!

Tonya's back open, no one was sick today, and I actually had a little time at home alone without anyone here. I'm torn between joy and relief, and guilt at this joy and relief! I've been very short with the boys lately, because I'm still constantly uncomfortable and tired, and Gabriel's new rambunctiousness can be very wearing, though I always enjoy his energy and joie de vivre, even at the same time he's using it for irritating purposes.

I'm now entirely certain that baby#3 is trying to burrow his/her way out. The movements are like sudden tiny jabs, with much more force than you'd expect for someone who's only 3 inches long. I recall now that Julian was like that too, but Gabriel was calmer at first, like he was just feeling his way around. Goes to show how little in-utero movement says about the kid later! Then again, later, Gabriel's movements were much quicker and more frequent, whereas Julian's were slower but grander, causing a lot more pressure. Of course, this baby has already done a marvelous job of making itself known.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gabriel and Julian go to Shoreline

I had a horrible night last night, awake and tossing and turning in pain for about an hour, setting us up for a screwed-up day. I tried to sleep late, but Julian was being testy and difficult, and I finally groggily got up to make the usual Sunday morning fare. Finally by 1:30, usually Julian's naptime, I got the boys' shoes on and took them out. I needed to get out more than they did, I think!

At the last minute, I had a brainstorm: Shoreline park in Mountain View. It has a sailing lake, for windsurfing and boating, and trails along the bay where you can bike, rollerblade, and birdwatch. First we went to the sailing lake, where I discovered you can rent a paddleboat for $16 an hour -- I'd have done it with the boys if we were better prepared with windbreakers! Next time.

We walked around the lake, then on a paved trail and found a little kids play area. After some running around, boat-watching and a snack, we made our way back across a field, then along another trail back to the car.

Nice cloudy days are a common occurrence here these days, and something I've come to enjoy (especially for photos, though I didn't get many good ones). We'll certainly have to go back when we're prepared to go on the boat, I think the boys will love that!

I noted with a twinge that all the boats (paddleboats, kayaks and rowboats) seat only 4 people.