Saturday, December 02, 2006

12/2/06 Hangin' and swingin'

Dave kept Katrina calm for a few minutes this morning while I got myself together, joined by Gabriel. The three of them hanging out together was very sweet.

Usually we use the pacifier only for getting her to sleep, and even then not always, but nothing else would settle her this morning (I'd just nursed her). Finally I was able to wrap her up and get her to sleep, slightly elevated on a wedge-shaped pillow. Poor thing had a hard time hanging on to sleep this morning because of an ongoing stuffy nose.

Katrina tried out Saul's swing at Sara's birthday party today, and she LOVED it! I'd be tempted to get one, except: 1) our house without any one grand big open space just doesn't lend itself well to things like that; and 2) I know how quickly babies outgrow things like that. She'll be sitting up in another 4 months, and that's not enough longevity to make me want to buy a swing. Still, the effect on her was impressive.

Despite lots of snuffling and crying when she couldn't stay asleep, Katrina had lots of delightful, adorable, full-face smiling moments today, and lots of amazing coo sounds. One nice thing about the experience I have now with babies is that I really do know how it just keeps getting better.


Friday, December 01, 2006

12/1/06 A fussy afternoon

Poor baby just couldn't get it together this afternoon. After hours of snoozing for max 30 minutes at a time, she was wasted. Yet, we managed to pull off going out to Spoons for dinner! Katrina responds very differently to new situations, and loves looking around at new things, and a family restaurant is full of fun things to look at. I'd forgotten that even a 2-month-old, which she almost is (already!), recognizes that something's new and reacts to it.

She also let me get away with a Ballecore class this morning at my old gym, Supreme Court. It's the first time I've done this class not pregnant. Guess what -- it's still hard! But it's a great class, and just what my extremely weak abdominal muscles need. Happily, Yolanda at the gym daycare had only Katrina to watch over that morning, and was able to keep her happy when she woke up 10 minutes before I got her. (This gym daycare is where we found Peggy.)

Dave thinks he found the reason for her fussiness though. It's in this photo, which I took to show Stacey. What's wrong with this picture?

Answer: her socks don't match. It's hard to tell, but one of the adorable ruffled flowered socks that go with this outfit got sacrificed in a pool of pee. Baby girls don't sprinkle their own faces as baby boys do during diaper changes, but they do make nice little puddles to dip their feet into. I still like the socks so much that I kept the dry one on, and put a white sock on the other foot. Clearly Katrina was distressed about this fashion don't.

I had another nice afternoon alone with Gabriel. I swear, life is so much better around here when the boys are apart. For me, anyway. Gabriel asks about Julian every time he finds Julian gone for the afternoon. Today, Gabriel said we had to go pick up Julian because Gabriel had left his beloved Teddy Bear behind at pre-K (it was Sharing Day, which is why the bear was there at all), and that Julian could show Gabriel where his Bear was.

I guess I shouldn't feel too guilty about enjoying my time with each boy alone. Kristi still uses a nanny to handle days alone with her three kids (though with twin toddlers, that's a whole different ball of wax). I feel like I should be able to handle all three kids single-handedly, but really, it's not three kids that gets me. It's two boys.

Today when the boys were reunited, they were instantly absorbed in coloring, since I got Julian a new coloring book at Target today.

I also got Gabriel a new maze book that he picked himself. It's a Kumon book, which makes me cringe because this is the company that has extremely popular tutoring schools for kids to "get ahead" and advance all their academic skills. But, Gabriel liked the illustrations even though the mazes are pretty easy. I was puzzled by that, I'd have expected more challenging ones from a Kumon book, until I saw that the book is labelled for 3-4-5 year olds. 3 sounds young to be doing mazes at all, but I guess that's the Kumon way. (Either that or I can't judge what age kids would start to do mazes...Gabriel has almost always done most things late compared to his peers, so what do I know.)

Speaking of 3, Julian's 3rd birthday is in just 3 weeks. A 3-year-old again. I'm not sure what's more shocking in my life: a 3-year-old or a 3-month-old!


Thursday, November 30, 2006

11/30/06 Julian in music class

I took a little camera-video of Julian in music class today. The rest of the class is dancing and playing, and as usual, he is the only one just sitting! (Well, he's next to a mom holding a 9-day-old newborn, she didn't get up then either.) He always does this, acting like a little zombie. But at home, he sings along with CDs, makes up his own words to songs, and sings all the time.

The first time everyone else in music class had any idea that Julian could talk was today, when the teacher sang a song about sweet potatoes. Then he went around the room, asking each kid what they like to eat. He started with Julian, who surprised everyone (including me) by answering clearly and very sincerely, "I like to eat broccoli." Most kids answer with a single word, often shouted in glee, but Julian took this task very seriously. It made the whole room smile, including me. When he's not around Gabriel, I get comments all the time about what a sweet, mellow little boy he is.

Actually, Gabriel sings all the time too. His latest is "Hickory Dickory Dock," to which he puts in his own words describing what he's doing at the moment. This afternoon I heard him singing "each one a different color," and then various crayon colors, as he worked on coloring a backhoe drawing in his truck coloring book. He sings to himself and works on coloring, mazes or connect-the-dot (if I can find one for him with numbers that go high enough; he picks an arbitrary number and usually the connect-the-dot books we have don't go up that high) for hours at a time. I love listening to him.

Gabriel being Gabriel of course puts his own twist on coloring. If the drawing has sections that aren't closed figures, such as a mountain outline that trails off, he won't color it. It has to be completely enclosed.

Also, when he was showing me his work on the backhoe, he referred to every color as a number. Apparently each crayon has a number next to its color name. He knows the color names too ("carrot orange," "melon," etc), but when describing his work, he says that an area was colored with crayon number 10.

Katrina is 8 weeks old today! She's in a pretty good predictable pattern now, which includes times of unpredictability. At night, she wakes up once or twice, and for the most part, goes right back to sleep after nursing. In the morning, she's often awake for about an hour, usually happily, then gets a good long sleep from which I usually have to wake her to keep up the 3-hour schedule. I don't always do so, depending on how tired I am, but I try. Same in the afternoon -- a long snooze, then usually awake to nurse again in the late afternoon.

Dinnertime for the boys can be dicey; she usually needs to go back to sleep around then and starts to have a harder time doing so. From there, she has more tired crying, less sleeping and more waking up. After some sleep and nursing, I give her a bath, and lately that's been calming her if she's crying, though I also try to do it right after nursing so she's in a better mood.

After bath, she's almost always tired and crying, so that is really truly bedtime. Sometimes it can take hours to get her really to sleep; other times, like tonight, it's minutes.

When she is awake and happy, she is absolutely delightful, kicking around, cooing, smiling at nothing in particular at all. I'm sure I have mom-amnesia, but I don't remember the boys being quite this energetic when happy. I wonder how she'll feel about being tossed around and going upside-down. At about 4 months old, it was clear that Gabriel couldn't get enough of that, and Julian could well do without it. And that said a lot about their personalities today.

Oh! How could I forget. Tonight, I got all three kids fed and to bed single-handedly!! Dave had to work late, to prepare for a business trip he's taking next week. This was good preparation for me too, though we're in an odd state with everyone sleeping downstairs. In some ways, that actually makes it easier since everything is so close -- I can spend a few minutes cleaning up dinner while the boys are in the bath! Katrina was awake and crying and fussy while the boys were in the bath, but I managed to get her down for a nap long enough to get them to bed. Then Julian got up with some lame-ass excuse while I was in the bath with Katrina (the giant Jacuzzi tub downstairs is too big to bathe her leaning over it, so I have to get in with her). But I pulled it off, somehow. Good thing, because I'll have to do it three nights in a row next week.

One thing about doing it all single-handedly is to do everything early. Tonight the boys sat down to dinner at 6pm, and pretty much finished by 6:45pm. I shoot to start the bed-bath routine for the boys at 7pm. Katrina didn't allow that tonight, but I did get them started around 7:15pm, way earlier than we used to, and they were in bed by 8:20pm. It'll go a lot faster when they're back in their own room and aren't screwing around in the "camp-out" living room.

The house stinks from floor staining and the first coat of finishing, and there's more tomorrow. I can't wait for this part to be done!


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

11/29/06 Discipline issues

Still upset about yesterday's blowouts with Gabriel, I resolved today not to raise my voice and not to get physical at all with the boys today. That's more challenging than you'd think, since they often need to be physically removed -- or put into -- a situation.

Just to get them to wash their hands for dinner often takes threats, and follow-up action, of throwing away toys. Not even "putting" away anymore -- they have to see a toy go into the garbage. I try all the usual advice in books and magazines. I give them advance notice. I try to make it fun (though I can't always, and why should I have to?). The times they do comply without a fight, I give lots of praise and positive reinforcement. I warn them without anger that something or other will get taken away. I try to give them incentives, like that there's a new color of soap, or that we'll talk about something fun once they're sitting down to dinner.

But it always comes down to threats, shouts, throwing things away, followed by them screaming and crying, before they finally capitulate. It's exhausting and infuriating. And impossible when I'm carrying around a crying baby.

With Gabriel, it might be best to skip all the lead-up and go straight to the big guns -- make a big impact right away with the biggest consequence possible, otherwise he'll escalate up to that anyway across a long painful conflict. Tonight the boys would not stay in bed, then finally Julian was ready, but Gabriel kept bothering him and making him cry. Repeated warnings to stay in bed and leave Julian alone were laughed at while I was there, and ignored when I wasn't. Finally, I made a rare idle threat: he'd have to sleep in the garage.

This is only partly idle. We're out of rooms! Three of our bedrooms and two of our bathrooms are upstairs, and we can't go upstairs at all right now. We're living in a two-bedroom one-bathroom house, just like our house started out as in 1913. The boys are camped in the living room until next week, and they're taking baths in the giant Jacuzzi downstairs. Their bedtime noise is a definite problem for calming Katrina, too, as the bathroom is right next to our room where Dave and I and Katrina are sleeping.

So there's nowhere to put a little boy who's misbehaving to separate him from his brother. The garage is an idle threat -- but a powerful one. After one too many times I had to go into the living room to intervene, I walked Gabriel outside, barefoot and in pajamas, and took him into the garage. There I found a padded floor chair thing that stretches out to a convenient small mat. I told Gabriel to lie down there until he was ready to behave -- oh yes, without lights, and I would lock the door. That finally made enough of an impact on him that he backed down. He said he was scared, but I'm sure he was cold too. (The Bay Area is in the midst of a cold snap -- I had to scrape ice off my windshield this morning.) I don't know if I was more relieved that I got him to back down, or upset that it has to come to such extremely harsh measures to get him to back down.

But I had a nice day with Gabriel (Julian was at Tonya's since the flooring contractors were here today and he won't nap downstairs) and Katrina. After picking him up from pre-K, we grocery-shopped, where he earned himself a cookie for being so helpful and good and sweet (which he is most of the time!). Then we spent lots of time together at home, some of it with Katrina, cutting things. Gabriel cut out the picture he colored of the garbage truck, and I was cutting some felt to make Christmas stockings. I was glad to spend so much good time with him after yesterday.

Katrina bestowed upon me some darling Happy Baby Fun Time this morning -- at 3:30am. A full hour of wiggling, kicking, smiling, cooing....adorable, but why then?! She was tired too today, and slept a lot, and overall was very sweet and cute when awake. She's still congested, and I was glad (and surprised!) to pull a few inches (inches!) of snot out of her nose with the blue snotsucker thing they give you at the hospital.

I'm sure you're all tired of these photos, but I can't get enough of looking at Katrina's sweet face. That doesn't mean I can get great pictures though. I tried different angles, but didn't get any one crowning moment today (ooh, bad pun, since this is a shot of her crown):

I like this funny face though.

Katrina's funny and smiley faces are a welcome constant around here, a refreshing breath after all the turmoil of little-boy conflict and the disruption of flooring contractors. It's the closest to normal we have right now.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

11/28/06 Successes and failures

Only moments to type here...

Made it to the Y this morning, and put Julian and Katrina in the Childwatch! I got 50 minutes' workout in. Success!

Tried to take Julian to the park, but Katrina fussed and cried pitifully. Failure!

At home, she nursed me dry and then slept for 4 hours, including an interruption to go pick up Gabriel. Success!

Julian agreeable about a nap. Success!

A nice relaxed afternoon with Gabriel. Got some scrapbooking in, and then a photo session with a happy baby and proud older brother. Success!

Some nasty redeye in these photos. Failure!

I like the 'S' shape of Katrina's feet together (success!) though once again my photography skill shortchanges the subject (failure!).

Gabriel colored another truck picture, very proud of himself. Success!

Later, Gabriel went upstairs and woke Julian up from his nap. Failure!

I heard Gabriel scolding Julian, then hitting sounds, then Julian crying. Found Julian with a bleeding lip and crying about his nose hurting. Failure!

Gabriel sent to his room, then slammed the door and kicked it. Consequence: door must stay closed for the remainder of his sentence. But he kept opening it, despite threat of, then ultimate action of, spanking. I'm greatly summarizing, there was a lot more to the conflict, and it escalated to the point that I was livid and screaming at him for his continuous defiance. Gabriel ended up crying and saying he wanted hugs, yet still refused to keep the door closed. Meantime, Katrina was screaming downstairs too. I broke down while trying to make dinner, it was just too much. I love him so much, why do we have to have these horrible blowouts? I felt bad for Katrina having me as a mother. Huge, huge failure.

The flooring contractors are coming tomorrow, and we won't have access to upstairs for 5-6 days. So tonight we had to get all laundry done, bring down bedding and clothes and linens for the boys to sleep in the living room. Major pain in the rear getting everything together. But we did it. Success!

Gabriel acted up again during bedtime, hitting Dave with his Teddy Bear and having it confiscated and put on a huge fit about that. Plus the major fit from both boys when blocks were confiscated after not being picked up after numerous warnings. So much for being consistent about consequences and kids learning from it. Hah. They have more confiscated toys in the garage now than inside the house. Failure!

Katrina up to her old tricks this evening: crying heartily after being fed and changed, apparently tired but refusing to stay asleep. 11pm, I think she's finally surrended. Success!

That baby has twice as much energy as her brothers put together at this age. She had a lot of nice cooey gooey happy moments today, despite a few serious crying fits. Just like me.


Monday, November 27, 2006

11/27/06 Flu shots

Today I skipped Power Weights class for a few reasons that I rarely succumb to. One, I was feeling headachy and decided to nap instead, since: Two, Katrina had just settled into a good nap herself. After having no end of trouble getting her to stay asleep last night, her first and only wakeup was around 4am, but she definitely needed more sleep this morning. Three, I needed to go to Target today. Four, the boys had flu shots at 2pm, so, Five, that's too much running around with a baby if I'd gone to the weights class. Oh yeah, and Six, she's not old enough for the gym daycare, and I find it stressful to have her in class with me, though I do it.

Incredibly, I managed to sneak in a successful trip to Target, with all three kids after picking Gabriel and Julian up from pre-K/preschool. Then home, feed baby, then back out to the pediatrician's office -- and we got there on time! Nothing short of miraculous. The boys were very cooperative and didn't cry or complain at all about their shots.

I weighed Katrina at the pediatrician's: she's 10 pounds even.

It was another rainy, blustery day today, which I like because it makes the skies more interesting, but it also means little boys can't go outside to play. Since I was well-rested from the morning, and since Katrina was sleeping this afternoon, I made a point to spend some real time with the boys this afternoon. Gold star for Mom today.

We went through a huge stack of catalogs, preparing for Christmas, talking a lot about Christmas and our family. I taught Gabriel how to read a price, and he got the dollars and cents, but the dollar-sign symbol didn't sink in. They both looked over the toy catalogs, volunteering what items they wanted to get for people. Gabriel wants to give a Karaoke machine to Remi and a big doll house to Bonne Maman and Papa Paul, and Julian wants to give a maze toy to Uncle Andreas (I don't know what's gotten into Julian, but he's mentioned Uncle Andreas three times in the past two days, unprompted). To my amazement, their favorite catalog was Sur La Table!

Then when Katrina woke up, the most unbelievable thing happened: nothing. I got to make dinner with a peaceful, idyllic scene next to me.

Gabriel and Julian colored, cooperating and sharing crayons, while Katrina played in a bouncer with occasional entertaining visits from her brothers. No arguing, no screaming, no crying -- none of us! It was so, so nice, and a welcome relief after yesterday.

Julian likes it when he sticks his finger near Katrina's hand and she wraps her fingers around it.

Gabriel is very proud of how he stays in the lines when he colors something, and has finally started coloring with more than one color. He had no interest at all in coloring when he was Julian's age; now he's all over it!

Gabriel gets upset when Julian "scribbles," as it violates Gabriel's ordered world. Actually, Julian has gotten much better at staying inside the lines, though he doesn't always try. And there's nothing wrong with that, I tell Gabriel -- and Julian. It's fine to scribble.

Life much better with a less fussy, more sleepy baby. Katrina sounds much less congested today, and much of the time she fusses, it ends after a big spitup. I have to believe that lots of other fusses are from a wannabe spitup that doesn't materialize. Happily, there are fewer and fewer times that we just don't know what the problem is, though even when we know what it is, we can't always solve it! Not unlike life itself, really.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

11/26/06 Cute Katrina

Cute baby today, but with a cold and fussy today. As I type at 11:30pm, she STILL isn't asleep, keeps waking up and crying. Dave's with her now, we've been taking turns for hours.

Dave took the boys to a train expo in Pleasanton today, and I looked forward to a nice time alone with baby, but she either slept or cried. I had to take her outside, and it was rainy today, so took her to a scrapbook store. What torture, all I see is yet more supplies and materials she'll never give me a chance to use!

Here's a non-fussy cute cooey baby moment from this afternoon.

What are we going to do about Gabriel's backtalk and rudeness?? It's absolutely chilling how he orders us around, or says nasty things in the midst of a conflict. "You get me my milk RIGHT NOW Mom!". That's an easy one, he doesn't get milk. But what about something he has to get? "You get me my shoes RIGHT NOW Mom!" He has to have shoes to go out when we want him to go out. It isn't practical to bail on those things every time he's rude, since he is so often, and many times I want to, or have to, go out. I can't ignore it and teach him it's OK to talk to me that way. I can't put him on timeout every time, because it disrupts whatever it is we were going to do. I can't take things away every time, because we run out of things to take away and sometimes aren't in a good place or time to do so. I can't smack him every time (though that is the most obvious and immediate consequence) because it doesn't stop him, nor prevent future episodes, and I'd be smacking him all day long. Occasionally laughing at him stops the rude behavior and turns it into something else, it never actually ends the conflict.

Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like if Gabriel weren't Gabriel. Then again, then it wouldn't be our lives.