Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving photos

This just in from Paul: Orphan's Thanksgiving photos, at Paul's house.

All the Orphans.

Rubye, me
& Katrina.

11/25/06 The boys do yardwork

I had grand plans for going somewhere fun today, which were shot by the need for a lot of sleep this morning. Last night, I got tired of this persistent cough and took some of my super-uper-duper cough medicine. Sure enough, it knocked the cough flat, as well as the remnants of headache AND incision-stitch pain (in fact, my surgery incision didn't feel like needles today for the first time -- it's healing, yay!). But, the price paid for all this relief is sleepiness. Not a bad thing, but not one conducive to getting the whole family going somewhere early.

And where would that somewhere be? I have an itch to see the ocean, or a redwood grove in the mountains. These things aren't all that easy or practical to take a new baby to. When Katrina is strong enough to go in the jogging stroller, our options will open up. Already, I feel liberated by not being so tender while nursing (from the surgery incision), which means it'll be easier to nurse her in places other than home.

We all went to Bobbi's today, then the boys spent the whole afternoon outside with Dave doing yardwork. Gabriel actually helped rake leaves, mostly so he and Julian could jump into the leaf pile. Julian wasn't much help, kicking the leaves around while Gabriel struggled to rake them with an inadequate tool. They played hard outside for hours today, I was really glad about that, since I felt guilty for not taking them anywhere.

Katrina slept a lot today, partly (I think) because she's fighting a cold too, as she sounds congested and sniffly. But when she was awake, she was absolutely adorable -- lots of smiley cooey time. She didn't cry at all during the bath tonight, nor afterward, which is a first I think!

I managed to get another photo session in, without any particular goal or color scheme in mind. I noticed the other day that this sheepskin from Aunt Stephanie would make a nice comfy background, and that was just enough excuse to capture some more Katrina-poses.

Dave played with her for a while after her bath, then she started to get fussy, and he put her down without incident (so far). Good thing, because she still doesn't relax easily in our arms. Betsy's new baby, Dylan, falls asleep easily when he's held...I remember that from Gabriel and thought all babies were like that. Not Katrina! How nice for Betsy though.

She's doing pretty well holding her head up, though this photo shows her mid-flop!

When Julian was about 6 weeks old, I remember thinking I had a handle on things. I know better than to ever believe that now, but we do seem to be in a decent rhythm right now. The hardest part is still dealing with the boys together (fighting, Julian crying) when I need to take care of the baby. I still have no answer for that.


Friday, November 24, 2006

11/24/06 Our closest "park"

Dave had to work today (wah!), so I took the boys and a no-sleep Katrina to the closest thing we have to a park to walk to. There's a tiny crummy little playground right behind the sound wall for I-280, no doubt that the developers of a nearby housing development had to put in. It's tiny and noisy from the highway, but always empty -- and really, our only choice for a park to walk to.

There's a large grassy area that we walked around first, then I sent the boys across the grass to get to the playground.

In the playground, they bored quickly of the ladder and slides, but ran around chasing each other tirelessly.

I took a bunch of photos of the boys playing, and a few self-times. I'm really starting to wish I had some basic instruction in photography, both the technical aspect of it and the artistic one. Most of these are just play snapshots, but I'm still making an effort to do a little better than just documenting.

They like pretending that vertical fence bars are "jail", thanks to the classic book "The Little Cowboy"!

Julian being goofy with the pole:

Katrina calmed completely for this walk, and slept for part of it. Today she's had a lot of time awake and unhappy, clearly needing to sleep, but having a hard time holding on to it. I attribute this to tummy troubles, as there was a lot of spitting up too. But we also had a lot of Happy Baby Fun Time, especially with Gabriel. He positively beams when I tell him that she loves him.

I had a few moments today when all three kids were down for the count! Gabriel fell asleep under a small coffee table, incredibly, and didn't wake up when I pulled him out and put him on the living-room couch.

I still had remnants of a headache today, but not nearly as bad. But, another old nemesis has been bothering me for days too: a persistent cough. I remember the days I used to say that I was indestructible! But now, if anyone in the household gets sick, I will too, and I'll hold onto the respiratory problems for weeks. The worst is when I need to cough while nursing -- not only does it disturb and surprise the baby, making her wrest her head around (owch!), but it pushes my surgery stitches against the pillow across my tummy for nursing, and they're still very tender and sting-y. More owch.

But, I can still say: this is a heck of a far sight better than being pregnant! Especially when my beautiful baby beams a bright smile at me, and when I see my little boys playing exuberantly.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

11/23/06 Orphan's Thanksgiving

We had a great time at the Orphan's Thanksgiving! Thank goodness. I was nervous, but the boys were very well-behaved. They liked this little cat, Coonette, that Elisabeth (the hostess) showed them.

Katrina mostly slept, and was pretty good and irresistably adorable while awake. And of course, I had a grand time socializing and ingesting all sorts of nursing-unfriendly things: caffeine, alcohol, sugar. Mmm.

This morning, I slept off a vicious headache attack -- day 7 of this migraine now, which mercifully left me alone this afternoon. I was able to get this essential sleep because Dave took the boys to Shoup Park in Los Altos (at Stacey's recommendation) to go bicycling/tricycling. They had a great time, though Dave said the park was really packed. Gabriel told me that he rode really really fast: "HUNDREDS of fast!" he said. Heh.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

11/22/06 Thanksgiving cookie cooking

Tomorrow we'll all go to our Jim Franklin Annual Orphan's Thanksgiving, generously hosted again by Paul and Elisabeth. Come to think of it, I think they've hosted this event more than Jim Franklin has!

This is a potluck, and I'm bringing my usual candied yams. Still feeling newly liberated from pregnancy, I took this as an excuse to make other things as well: cornbread, a blueberry pie, leaf-shaped gingerbread cookies, and a cauliflower dish. Really, all this is baking, not cooking, as even the cauliflower dish is somewhat sweet.

I've never been this productive before Thanksgiving. So how am I doing this now, with a 7-week-old baby, and two rambunctious little boys? Quite a few reasons. I'm thrilled that I can. I'm much, much better at planning ahead, managing my time, staying focused on a task to completion, yet also doing multiple tasks at once. I'm much, much better at doing things with one hand. Most importantly, today I got lucky and both Julian and Katrina napped at the same time this afternoon.

Gabriel helped me with much of this baking, which is time alone with him I greatly enjoy. I asked him to read off amounts from a recipe (he can sort-of recognize "1/2" and "1/4" and does know "cup" and "teaspoon" and can spell out the actual ingredient), or butter the bottom of a dish, or get the eggs from the fridge, and stir batter. He even made a good effort at peeling a yam!

But the leaf gingerbread cookies were for me to make and decorate, which I did after grubby-pawed little boys were in bed!

Our nighttime pattern has been pretty consistent: it's often difficult to get Katrina to stay asleep in the evening (two nights ago it took until 1:30am!), even though she's fussy and clearly tired. But once she is asleep, she wakes up once or twice a night, and has been going right back to sleep after nursing. Occasionally, she'll wake back up because of some seismic gastric activity, and I have to change her PJs and then she's up for a while, but still no fussing. Lately all daytime fussing is from being tired (or poopy -- this baby's bottom can't be trusted for 5 minutes!) and is soon followed by a nap. She still isn't easily soothed by being picked up, but she does now tolerate being carried around, as long as she's facing out.

Happy Thanksgiving all!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

11/21/06 Gabriel's pun

Yesterday during dinner, I got Gabriel to eat some "orange french fries" by joking about different colors they could be. "What about...purple fries?" and he'd think that was funny and take another bite of the "orange fries" (shh, they were yam sticks from Trader Joe's that I baked in olive oil).

Then I asked, "What about...brown fries?" and Gabriel laughed and said, "Eww -- good one, Mom!" Then he paused and added, "What if my knees were brown? Then I'd have brownies!" (get it? "brown knees").

I was floored! Kids his age make puns and jokes, but that's the first I've heard from him. I sure hope he doesn't take after his father's or uncle Andreas' penchant for awful puns!

And he ate all his "orange fries." Unlike his pesty younger brother who claimed he hated them without even trying one.

Katrina spent two hours at Tonya's today while I went to my OB for a corrective surgery for my still-not-healing incision (which should heal now that the non-dissolving dissolving stitches have been extricated). She did great! She slept, ate, then hung out on the floor for half an hour, looking around with her characteristic fascinated face. Susan, Julian's preschool teacher, assured me she was very easy, entertainable and enjoyed all the activity from other kids.

Not only does that make me feel not-so-bad for leaving her, it makes me feel a little guilty for not making her life here at home all that interesting! But I can't compete with a roomful of noisy toddlers. And thank goodness for that.

Still bad today, but I think this 5-day headache finally broke tonight. At the very least, I've had some hours off from it. And thank goodness for that too.


Monday, November 20, 2006

11/20/06 A big headache day

This morning, I was at Stacey's house for a visit, and somehow ended up staying later than I expected. It was around 2pm, and I had a vague sense that I was supposed to do something, but I had a bad headache and couldn't think straight. In fact, I think I fell asleep. Stacey left at one point, saying she needed to take Cassie to an exchange, but the hint didn't register. Reality swirled around my head, eluding me. It was like one of those ultra-high-pitched fire alarms was blaring in my ears, shooting searing pain through my head. Sleep was the only escape. I woke up on Stacey's couch at 6pm, and I realized what I was supposed to do: I'd forgotten to pick up Gabriel and Julian! Could that be?! I was horrified! Then Dave arrived with Katrina and the boys to get me, and I was beside myself. He's never going to trust me again, how could I have done that! But those were just brief moments of mental clarity through the haze and fog of the pain crushing my head.

Then I woke up.

In my own bed, in my home, with my baby sleeping peacefully in the bassinet beside me. Dave had taken the boys to preschool/pre-K, it was only 9am, I hadn't forgotten to pick them up, and I hadn't grossly overstayed my welcome at a friend's house. I was overcome with relief.

But the one thing that was still true was the sense of a fire alarm blazing in my ears, and my head swimming with intense, sharp, cruel waves of pain. I'd incorporated my headache, now on Day 4, into a "fear dream," much the way people incorporate the sound of a clock alarm into a dream. The pain was the same as I'd gone to sleep with, dreamed in, and ended up battling all day long. Not to mention fighting a cold and cough. These are fights I lose every time.

For all the misery this last pregnancy put me through, the one oasis was from the chronic multi-day headaches I've suffered since age 13. And now without the protection of pregnancy hormones, they're back. This headache dogged me all day, making every moment a miserable struggle and once again robbing me of chances to enjoy my children.

Katrina didn't help today. Since 3pm, she's slept no more than half an hour at a time. It's mostly been short little naps, and she is way overtired and grumpy now because of it. Or, just as likely, whatever is preventing her from sleeping is still bothering her, something tummy-related no doubt. Even now, she keeps waking up and we keep either giving her back the pacifier, or pulling her out of the bassinet and playing with her until she starts to cry again 10 minutes later.

A lot of her awake time today was happy, fortunately, and much of it spent being entertained by -- and entertaining -- her brothers. I'm glad I can trust Gabriel around her, and sort-of trust Julian.

Julian means well, he's just clumsy and...well, two years old. But they both love it when she smiles at them, and exclaim that they made her laugh.

A short still-camera video of Gabriel tenderly consoling and entertaining Katrina this afternoon. For some reason, YouTube cuts off the last 3 seconds, when Gabriel comments about the cat on her shirt.

Pray for me that this brutal headache storm breaks tomorrow.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

11/19/06 Gabriel and Mom visit a new baby

Overall a pretty lazy day, unfortunately for two little boys who were bored and hyper this afternoon. Dave took them to a park and got the edge off, while I talked to Steph and prepared a dinner for Betsy and her family.

Then Gabriel, Katrina and I went to the White family's house to deliver the meal. A handy excuse to see the new baby! Dylan is just 4 days old, and I thought he'd look tiny compared to Katrina. He has SO much hair, and, of course, is SOOO cute! Ah, baby love.

Gabriel wasted no time seeking out Gina's trains, and they ended up playing with a dump truck puzzle together, with bursts of laughter that had us grownups a little concerned, but no disasters. Gina and Gabriel play really well together; Gina is very tolerant of Gabriel's train-focus and sometimes-antisociability.

Katrina has been a sweet, smiley, adorable baby today, hardly crying. When she did cry this morning, I wrapped her up, put her down, put on the noisemaker, gave her the pacifier, and five minutes later, she'd spit out the pacifier and was asleep. I swear she seemed relieved when I put her down.

Evenings to bed are not nearly so easy, unfortunately; it can take hours before she settles into a good nighttime sleep. Which she has been for many days in a row now, waking up once or twice to nurse and going right back to sleep. Dare I get confident this is the way it's going to be?

Steph told me all about the wedding (congratulations to my cousin Erik and his new wife Francesca) and funeral (condolences to my aunt Jacqueline and RIP Uncle Dan) I missed in NYC this week. Somehow all my cousins made it to NYC from France, but I couldn't! I wish I could have, it sounded like quite the grand affair. Our cousine Perrine (Erik's sister), whose daughter and son are 4 and 2, also wants our kids to know each other and encourages us to visit them in France. I guess we have a lot of flying in our future!

Steph also says our cousin Jason (Jacqueline's son) wants to visit me, which I think would be great. This is actually possible since he lives in L.A. now -- but I haven't seen him since he was 12! And we all lived in New York then, yet we still hardly saw each other. That's not going to happen with Aidan & Remi and Gabriel, Julian & Katrina. They're going to be more than cousins. They're going to be friends.