Saturday, November 18, 2006

11/18/06 Gabriel's ears

It's true, Gabriel really is having trouble hearing. He still had a temp this morning, so Dave took him to the pediatrician. By the time the doctor got into the room to see him, he'd fallen asleep and she measured his temperature at 104.8! It lowered down to 101 just an hour later.

The ped. found congestion in his ears, which might or might not be related to his fever, and could take weeks to go away, and that's probably causing the hearing loss. It could also lead to another ear infection, of which he's had two in the last two months, plus pain once that didn't develop into a full-blown infection. Gabriel was definitely out of sorts today, with many lethargic moments. Though he stilll found plenty of energy to play and bug Julian.

Katrina has been the model baby lately: predictable, easy to deal with (though still not that soothable when she really wants to fuss), and lots of adorable cooing smiley moments. She beamed a gorgeous smile at Julian today, delighting him.

Nighttimes have become pretty consistent too, with her waking up sometime around 11pm, then 3am-4am, then 7am or so, and going right back to sleep afterward. Daytime naps have also gotten easier. Not every time, but quite often now, if I'm certain she's tired, I can swaddle her, put her down, and give her the pacifier -- and even the pacifier isn't always essential. I always try to comfort her before putting her down, but she stays rigid and agitated until I put her down. Of course, babies are unpredictable and things could turn around, but she's in a good place right now.

Time to get full-body shot. This one I took before her nightly bath. It's a little easier to keep baby-in-the-buff shots "clean" with a girl! She has such a strong, active, healthy body, and is so full of energy and activity for a 6-week-old baby, with lots of calm moments now too. I'll always remember 6 weeks as a good Katrina age.


Friday, November 17, 2006

11/17/06 Gabriel's turn

Another surprisingly easy afternoon with all three kids. I think the big difference is not having contractors around, especially since Julian can take a nap upstairs (and he did today, for nearly four hours!). But also, we don't have to keep the family room clear, I don't constantly have to herd the boys downstairs, and I'm a lot more relaxed without the noise and lack of privacy.

Katrina slept much of the day, but when she was awake, she was utterly charming: making coo sounds, smiling and being absolutely adorable. Nights have been consistent for the last week or so: one wakeup around 3-4am, and going back to sleep pretty easily. Yay!

And she's 6 weeks old now, supposedly the peak of fussiness? She's the best now she's been in her short life. The turnaround started during Bonne Maman's visit. I will always prefer to believe that's no coincidence.

Thanks to my poor clock-watching, I'm aware that I nurse Katrina about every 3-1/2 hours, less than the 8 times a day recommended. And she doesn't nurse long, and lately has been squirming so much during nursing it's uncomfortable for me and I can't imagine she gets a whole lot. Yet her diapers tell a different story. Today I made a point of counting: five full-on poops, and soaked diapers inbetween. And every day I notice something else that indicates how fast she's growing, such as her feet hanging off the pillow I set her on to nurse. That is one efficient-sucking baby!

Thanks to baby and toddler naps, I had some nice time alone with Gabriel this afternoon. At one point, I left him to nurse Katrina, and when I returned, I found him asleep on an office chair! I picked him up to move him to the couch, and felt his face burning up. Oh no! 103.2 temperature. Poor kid. Gabriel is the world's best sick kid, doesn't complain or cry, he's just very lethargic. He had some dinner, some children's Motrin, and then straight to bed at 7:30.

At least we had some fun taking pictures during one of Katrina's many happy states today.

Lately I've been trying to scold the boys in a different tone first, saving the full-on strict angry tone for the 3rd or 4th round. I've been making a point of grabbing Gabriel, looking at him right in the face, and speaking very clearly to tell him what I expect. For instance, "Gabriel, I'm going to take care of Katrina now. I need you to be a big boy and not make Julian cry now, OK?" Then if I catch the boys throwing or some other exasperating behavior that they've been told not to do 1000 times, I tell them how disappointed I am, and that I'm sad that I'll have to put away whatever toy got thrown.

So far, I don't see that this approach is any less ineffective than getting mad at them right away!! And, it gives a little more impact to when I do raise my voice. I think I've been able to do this because they've been easier to deal with, and because without contractors around, there is less reason to constantly correct and remind them. Of course, I've given Julian a new "insult" for me, telling me that he's so "dip-appoy-med" in me.

Dave and I have been wondering if Gabriel is having some hearing trouble, since it seems he needs us to repeat things quite often. And that includes things he really does want to hear about. I've toyed with calling the pediatricians, but how can I call and ask, "My 4-year-old must have a hearing problem, he always ignores me!" Well, I may get my chance if he doesn't kick the fever tomorrow.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

11/16/06 An easy day

I was actually nervous about dealing with all three kids alone all afternoon, but we had an oddly easy day. Katrina slept all day, after a stellar night of only one easy wakeup (making up for hours and hours of fussy-tired until midnight). A nice easy fun morning with Julian.

The best part was a contractor-free afternoon, after a morning of saws, air compressors, and heavy banging while the wood flooring was being installed. Wood flooring contractors win for being the noisiest trade, though painters are the smelliest, drywallers the dustiest, tilers the most expensive, and carpenters take the longest. They ALL have vans that leak oil in your driveway.

Julian informed me today, "When I'm your age, I'm going to go to Yoga!"

One not-so-great half-hour today was when Katrina was screaming and I kept having to stop nursing her to deal with the boys. Gabriel knocked Julian down so hard I heard his head hit the floor from far away. I brought Julian upstairs for a nap, then talked with Gabriel about why he didn't have anyone to play with now, and how it only makes him sad if he pushes other kids because then he won't be allowed to play with them.

One funny thing Gabriel said: I asked him, "Do you push your friends at school?" He answered no. "Do you push Gina?" He answered, "No -- she's stronger than me!"

Julian took a nice long nap, and Katrina was in a great state when I woke her up around 5pm. Great enough that I got in a nice photo session with all the kids.

I did these with the flash off; risky without any natural light, and difficult to get shots with all three of them still. I learned a sure-fire way to make the boys laugh and move: tell them "FREEZE!" It was fun experimenting, and I even got some blur I like (the boys leaning over Katrina, with a slightly alarmed look on her face).

Then the boys goofing around on the floor inspired this series:

The boys enjoy these sessions too, especially since it means they get to spend lots of time kissing their baby sister! (By the way, I'd love it if you all told me if you like a picture and why -- please, critique away!)

I really don't like blogspot's photo uploading methods: slow, uninformative, buggy, inflexible, and any editing you do at all has to be in HTML. The Web sites you can order pictures from have a much better way of uploading via drag-n-drop; there must be a better way here too.

In fact, it took so long tonight that Dave and Katrina fell asleep waiting for me.

Uh-oh, baby's awake. Brace yourself for another marathon evening!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

11/15/06 Mom's Peggy day

What a day. Major root canal (requiring an endodontic specialist) this morning, a two-hour procedure, then my 6-week post-partum appointment. With Julian's temp yesterday, plus of course Katrina, these two together was enough to call in the big guns: Peggy. She brought both her kids, and still had no trouble handling Julian and Katrina. Julian thought it was all a big playdate with Miranda!

My postpartum appt revealed two things of interest. One is that my surgery incision is truly not healing; apparently I'm reacting to the dissolving stitches (or they're not dissolving). So, another appointment next week for in-office surgery.

And, I'm now down 8 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, a real surprise since my tummy still sticks out like I'm 4 months pregnant. Buttoning jeans is still an impossible, flab-spilling affair. Ick. ICK.

BUT, because of Peggy, I was able to sneak in a SWIM after my appointments! Yay!

Julian made an interesting comment to Dave today. First he said, "When I'm 4-1/2, I'll go to pre-K." Then, "Dad, when I'm your age, I'll go to work!". Julian's also really into things rhyming. "Bear and care, that rhymes!" he exclaims.

I often think about the psychologist telling us that kids really don't want or enjoy conflict when Gabriel plays his stupid yes/no game. Tonight, Gabriel was distraught because Dave put his pajamas on, after Gabriel had had numerous chances to do it himself. He came crying to me, and I tried to distract him by suggesting I cut his fingernails. No answer. "Gabriel, do you want me to cut your fingernails?" No, he says. "Gabriel, you don't have to, but no games now -- yes or no. If you don't answer, that's a No." Still nothing. "Five seconds and that's a no, then you go upstairs with Dad...5..4..3..2..1...OK, we'll do it tomorrow, time to go up." THEN he threw a huge fit about wanting me to cut his nails. Even an hour later, he wanted me to come up to his bed and cut his nails. No amount of consistently following through prevents these incidents from happening. He clearly wants a reason to scream and yell and cry. Kids don't want conflict? Hah!

Katrina smiling, sort of -- it's hard to capture!

More experimenting with closeups: will a side shot distort her face as much? Not as much as a straight shot, but still somewhat.

Another photo shoot today, this time with a monochromatic color scheme. Katrina's legs are still pretty skinny, but she has a little cute baby thigh flub now !

We had a great night last night; Katrina went right to sleep and only woke up once. That was at 4am, and she didn't go right back to sleep, but I couldn't blame her: she'd spit up so much I had to change her pajamas, blanket, crib positioners, everything. Then she was awake and happy for a while, and sat calmly in my lap while I just looked at her and marvelled at the miracle of babies. After about 20 minutes, she started to fuss, so I swaddled her up, put her down, and that was it.

Another Katrina triviality: her hair is curly when it's wet! Especially right after towel-drying. Then I give it a quick brush to make it stand up, and it stays that way, though it dries stick-straight. I have to admit, the brushing-up is for the photos!

She was so cute and funny this morning, kicking around, making cute sounds, moving her limbs around, constantly taking in the sustained me throughout my long dental procedure. It was fun thinking about her.


11/15/06 The world's worst advice

Lots of time waiting in doctor's offices means reading lots of magazines. Are the people who write these actually parents, and of real kids?

"Parenting" magazine, November 2006, page 112. A sidebar called "household shortcuts" includes this one:

" *Have dinner and a bath. [...] When I really need downtime, I hurry the bedtime process by giving my girls supper while they're in the tub. [...]"

November issue of "Parents" magazine:

* Used clothing is fine, except used sleepwear since many washings can degrade the fabric's flame retardent.

Will someone PLEASE explain to me the importance of flame-retardent fabric in sleepwear? Exactly how much longer can this fabric withstand exposure to flame? Does the answer to that really matter in terms of fire protection? I mean really, if the flame retardent buys you an extra 10 seconds, isn't your baby in grave immediate fire danger? Why only sleepwear and not all other clothes? Have baby lives actually been saved by this stuff? My guess is that it has to do with smokers, and once again, a flame retardent fabric will do very little to protect an infant from a parent stupid enough to smoke and drop ashes on the kid. Why don't these magazines ask these questions instead of repeating the advice verbatim?

* If a child sulks or throws a tantrum when they are suffering a consequence for a bad behavior, simply REMIND them that they wouldn't be in this predicament if they hadn't misbehaved in the first place.

OH PLEASE! Right! Gabriel -- and even Julian -- will just drop his attitude, see the error in his ways, rationally understand that he himself is the cause of his misfortune, and will immediately revoke his fury at me for the consequence, and will carefully consider his behavior in the future. Does ANYONE have a kid like that?! (OK, maybe cousin Aidan, but I'll bet Steph would say even he won't capitulate every time.) Heck, I have a hard time getting Dave to see cause-and-effect in his actions sometimes; my 4-year-old is supposed to get it just from a REMINDER?!

* No ATVs until at least 16. Surprisingly, helmets don't protect kids from injury.

NO KIDDING! Did someone actually believe a helmet was a protect-all? Of course not. It's an absolutely necessary thing, but not nearly sufficient for safety. And yeah, riding an ATV can be dangerous. I'm surprised they didn't say anything about motorcycles. But why stop there? Skiing, horse-backriding, rock-climbing, shortage of risky fun things to do...or not. A little snippet picking on ATVs isn't sufficient to discuss the risk-benefit tradeoffs that all individuals, and parents, must consider for any number of activities.

Why am I ranting here...there's SO much silly stuff in those magazines it's really a waste of time. And in fairness, occasionally I find a good piece of advice, or a good snack recipe or something.

But nothing beats the "time-saving" advice to give your kids dinner in the bathtub!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

11/14/06 Julian's turn

A rough night last night. Average as far as baby-sleep goes, but bad because I so needed a great baby night to sleep off my fever. And no chance for a morning nap, since Katrina wasn't interested in one either. I do love my baby, but I'm not loving the baby experience right now.

I'd put Julian in Tonya's all day today, knowing I'd need some recovery time, but Tonya called at 10:45am. Julian's temp was 101!

I don't know what we'd do without Tonya. She picked up and kept Gabriel this afternoon so I didn't have to deal with the boys together, especially with one boy sick, me recovering (temp down, but still weak and woozy), and a no-nap baby. The boys are no trouble apart, but together, they're a disaster. This morning, despite Julian's looming fever, they got in trouble again, this time for throwing books.

Julian spent the afternoon watching PBS programs (we tape 3 hours of it on Sunday mornings) and sleeping on the couch.

Poor Katrina baby has to cry so much more than my first baby did, and I remember feeling bad about that for the second baby too. Though I know better intellectually, I still have some irrational attachment-parenting (AP) guilt about letting a baby cry. I've often said I could write an article about straddling the worlds of the alternative and traditional, and one thing I'd note is that I think there's more guilt to be had from the AP world. Today Julian needed some attention: medicine, dry clothes (he'd peed while asleep), hugs, and Katrina just had to scream furiously in the meantime. I guess Dr. Sears wouldn't hold me in too much contempt for that.

In fact, that brings up a conondrum. The Baby Whisperer technique says to put the baby down awake, but if he cries, pick him up, comfort him, and put him back down calm; repeat until baby falls asleep. But Katrina does the opposite: she bawls her head off while we're holding her and trying to comfort her, but then she'll calm down (much of the time) if we wrap her up, put her down, and give her the pacifier. Picking her up when she's crying is no panacea, there's rarely a moment of "ah, that's better, I'm in mommy's arms now." What's an AP-guilt mommy to do?

Another photo session today!

With a predictable end -- gotta love that pout!

Mom commented today that it seemed I am getting into dressing Katrina, despite my statements that my joy in having a girl has little to do with dressing her, prospects of shopping, doing her hair and all those girly things (though people continually assume that I must be thrilled about that after two boys).

But, I am having fun with these photo sessions, including, yes, dressing Katrina. Not because I want to put girl things on her (though the vast majority of her clothes are girly), but because of the artistic and experimental aspect of putting colors together, and having found a way I like of photographing a wiggly, floppy baby.

That said, I do like this whole new world of colors and patterns, especially flowers, but the appreciation is much like that of choosing fabrics or scrapbook papers. So far I like strong colors best on Katrina, including a bright strong pink.

More smiles from Katrina today, not at things, but in response to my smiling at her. Lots of limb flailing and more and more coo sounds at other things, like the toys on the bouncer.

Betsy has her C-section tomorrow! I'm glad to have a friend in the same exact boat I am. Well, sort of -- her first two kids are a lot different than mine. No less challenging, Gina especially is a pistol, but very different challenges. Regardless -- good luck Betsy, Betsy's baby boy, and the whole White family!

Drat, baby's awake again, crying hard, too hard to go to sleep, but nothing comforts her. She ate very recently, she's clean, she hasn't slept solidly since this afternoon, so she's got to be tired. Dave's rocking her to music to try to soothe her, but the way she's wailing you'd think he'd stuck her in a cold bath. Meantime, we don't want to overuse the pacifier either, as in my desperate attempts to get her to sleep last night I held it for her for a long time many, many times. I'd forgotten, this is one of the toughest thing about babies: the feeling of helplessness and just not knowing what to do!


Monday, November 13, 2006

11/13/06 Mastitis strikes

Sore right breast, 102 temp, achy, cold, ears buzzing, headache, relentlessly tired (aka flu-like symptoms).

I described this to West Valley Women's Health over the phone, and they said to come in right away. Diagnosis: mastitis (infection in a milk duct). Treatment: antibiotics. Darnit, just when I'd kicked the thrush.

I sure wish I could just take a hot bath and crawl into bed. Dave's out getting take-out for everyone, and already came home from work early and took care of all three when I went to the doctor.

oh please let this pass quickly. It hit fast and hard and I feel absolutely horrible. But I'm glad we took care of it right away, since every case of mastitis I've heard of included the word "hospital."


Sunday, November 12, 2006

11/12/06 Katrina's force

I talked to Dad (my Dad, not Dave) briefly on the phone today, and he asked me how Katrina is. I found myself answering "thriving and vigorous -- a powerful life force." Dad likes descriptions like that.

But it reminded me that I'd said the very same thing the day I found out I was pregnant with her, since the physical effects on me were so intense. I felt from the beginning that the baby was a force to be reckoned with, powerfully alive.

And now, sure enough, this baby bursts with vitality and energy. Not always to my advantage! Is she going to be a "force of nature" too, as I've often described her oldest brother? Oh please, only one!

I had a fun time tonight attempting to entertain all three kids. I put fussy Katrina on a Boppy and blasted some music and danced in the living room. (I can dance again, hooray!! I'm horribly out of shape, but I can move again!) This calmed baby for two songs, and Gabriel and Julian found it funny. AC/DC's "Hells Bells" funny? OK, whatever. I had fun, anyway.

The boys lost their Thomas video tonight. That's the first time we've ever really taken it away. There's not much to take away; all they get is one half-hour Thomas program once a week. A few days ago, they got in huge trouble for throwing toys over a neighbor's fence. I made Gabriel apologize to the neighbor and promise not to do it again.

That didn't sink in. This morning, Dave caught them throwing rocks over another neighbor's fence. That was really, really bad. They had a slim chance for redemption tonight if they cleaned up the family room without constant prodding, but failed completely. Of course, they're deeply remorseful when they realize the consequence, but it fails to change their behavior.

No photos today. Dave and I worked hard this evening to clear out the boys rooms, move their beds into our new bedroom, and get everything off the carpet -- which is coming out tomorrow. Thursday this week, the new floor should go in. More progress!

And tonight, the boys are sharing a room for the first night of the rest of their childhoods.