Saturday, December 09, 2006

12/9/06 Gabriel's yes/no game

This would normally be the weekend that we'd drive up to Black Road Christmas Tree farm and pick out and cut down our tree. But visiting Kristi's house last weekend for the holiday party reminded me of what happened last year: The tree we cut down browned up and died before Christmas! So, on Kristi's recommendation, we went to Home Depot and got the lushest, most gorgeous -- and cheapest -- tree we'd ever had. Kristi's tree this year, once again a Home Depot special, reminded me of that episode.

I love our annual outing to the mountains, and the boys would love it too, but there's no denying it: we'll get a better tree here in the flatlands. I think we're going to brave Home Depot tomorrow for our tree. Then again, the crowds there might be enough to drive us into the mountains after all.

Gabriel and his yes/no games again tonight. What can we possibly do? Tonight the final impasse was about water before bed. Do you want some water? NO. OK, time to go to bed. YES I WANT WATER WAHHH!! OK, take some water. NO. OK, then time to go to bed. YES I want water WAAHHHHH!!! Repeat, repeat, repeat. Obviously, we should cut him off right away -- one chance and that's it, right? Doesn't matter: whether we offer him water again, or insist he to go to bed, we're mired in an impasse, one that can take all night to get him out of. It was never about the water, he's perfectly capable of pouring himself a cup of water.

And, of course, it could happen again the next night -- it's not like he'll learn a lesson and it will curtail this behavior if we do the SuperNanny thing of putting him back in bed again and again and again for hours until he gives in. Which is just not practical when you have two other kids to take care of too.

I didn't like how I got him out of it tonight, losing my temper and shoving a cup of water at him so it spilled and got his pajamas wet. But that's what it took. He finally got scared and backed down and cried and said "Mommy, I want you to be nice to me." But Mommy and Daddy were also dealing with Julian having just thrown up and having to change all his bedding and Mommy had little room for Gabriel's games 45 minutes after he was supposed to be in bed. After he finally stayed in bed, I went up and talked to him quietly about being nice.

Actually, we just moved the boys back upstairs out of the living room, but put Julian to bed in the living room again tonight. Partly, Gabriel wasn't letting him sleep, and partly, all Julian's bedding was in the wash, and partly, we know from past experience that he should be closeby if he's throwing, I just got interrupted by Julian crying in the living room. Now his ear hurts, poor thing.

Thank goodness one of our children actually went to bed with no trouble at all. Gold star for Katrina.


Friday, December 08, 2006

12/8/06 An overcast day

Tonya had to close today, so I had Julian this morning. Well, no dilemma then about attempting to go to the gym. If Katrina were sleeping this morning, I'd be tempted to get some "think" time in (doing things in the office, photos, writing, etc), since it's becoming increasingly rare and difficult -- and necessary.

So instead of working on my mind, I worked on my body, and went to a "Pilates Fusion" class at Supreme Court. Katrina did fine in the gym daycare, sleeping the whole time in the carseat. I always, always feel better getting some kind of workout in.

I decided against attempting Target with all three kids after picking Gabriel up from pre-K. I'm glad I did, because persuading Julian to take a nap took a lot of time, but even better, I suddenly discovered a moment when all three were in a good state.

So I took advantage of the overcast day to attempt a photo session outdoors, and actually got some decent pictures. I have very few of all three together, and this is a pretty good one.

I did succeed in Julian's nap, and then Katrina's also, so spent some time with Gabriel decorating cookies. He got in a snit once when he refused to wash his hands after picking his nose, and stomped around for about 10 minutes saying, "FINE, Mom, I'm not going to help you then." So THERE. Since this was a harmless threat, I answered him calmly and said, "OK, Gabriel, that makes me sad, but that's fine," and it didn't escalate despite his best attempts. If only I could be calm about his other threats or refusals, most of which aren't so benign.

Gabriel really liked the angel-shaped cookies, and chose orange to color them with. He's a lot of fun to make cookies with, as he's enthusiastic and cheerful and constantly says how much he likes making cookies. Today's snot-snit was a rarity.

Last Christmas, the boys got a nice toy from Cousin Aidan: a wooden toolset. A nice innocuous toy, a basic building-block sort of toy that I love. Well, today it got turned into a gun. Though I see no reason to buy gun toys, I'm practical about kids and guns: they're going to make their way into the house one way or another!

Using my still camera, I couldn't resist capturing one of Katrina's gooey cooey moments today, though this doesn't do it justice at all. Of course, I know babies get even cuter and more fun as they get older, and that this clip of her at 9 weeks old will seem a lot less thrilling in even just a few weeks. But I can't help myself. Sitting and just looking at her and smiling at each other is so heartwarming and fulfilling. That's the reward of babies.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

12/7/06 Katrina's rhythm

I daresay we have a pattern going on here.

With the first child, you have no concept of routine. With the second, you appreciate the benefits of routine. With the third, routine is absolutely essential and your life revolves around it.

I remember someone asking me about Gabriel's "naps" when he was 2 months old, and not even understanding the question. He's two months old, he sleeps on and off all the time, there was no defined "nap" for Pete's sake! But I remember now that the asker was a mother of three, and she KNEW.

Katrina isn't entirely predictable of course, but we've fallen into a definite rhythm, if not full-on pattern. She still sleeps most of the time, but her awake times are now about an hour long, and mostly completely happy. She has an awake time in the morning, then around noon, then in the late afternoon, and then in the evening sometime. At night, I get her to bed sometime between 8 and 10pm, depending on when she last woke up, and if it's more toward 10, she doesn't wake up again until 3am-4am, and then only once. Not bad.

Today when I went to pick Gabriel up from pre-K, Katrina was tired and crying and clearly in need of a snooze. And for the first time, I made a point of not driving extra to get her to sleep. Instead, I wanted her to take in her bed, not in the carseat. Already, at just two months old, I'm starting to make a point of not falling asleep in the car if we're on our way home (though I do make a point of her falling asleep if she needs it and we're on our way somewhere -- I wish I'd done that before the holiday party!). This is only possible because she is now very used to being wrapped up, hugged and "shhhd", put down, and given the pacifier. If I called it right, and now I do 80% of the time, she's out in 5 minutes. The remaining 20%, she cries and I pick her up right away and try to find out what she needs.

Katrina's relative reliability in getting her to sleep, and being in such a good mood most of the time when awake, I attribute much to loosely following the core principles in the Babywise method. I aim for the "feed-awake-sleep" cycle, meaning, I put her down awake and not right after feeding. I try to feed her every 3 hours. (I still bristle inside at calling nursing "feeding," since there's so much more to nursing, but unfortunately, for Katrina and my thrush-prone highly sensitive "girls", it is all feeding, not comfort or getting-to-sleep-ing.) When she nurses, she REALLY nurses, no nibbling or putzing (the "full feeding" called for by Babywise).

I'm not sure why, but the 3-hour (about) feed-wake-sleep cycle has helped me be much more in tune with what she needs. It's no mystery anymore when she starts to cry after she's been awake and happy for an hour. Her nursing, awake-time and sleep needs are much more organized and consolidated than I remember for the boys. Despite our rough start the first 3-4 weeks, she really doesn't cry much now, unless we're out somewhere and these needs aren't being met. (My mom friends really haven't seen much of her not crying yet!)

The best part is, we're well on our way toward having a baby who goes to sleep easily, and stays asleep for a long time. No more books! No more methods! No more crying to sleep!

Getting overconfident, am I? Of course, things could easily change -- having an easy 2-month-old doesn't mean trouble won't emerge in another month or more. After all, Gabriel was an easy baby, and we barrelled into toddlerhood thinking we were off the hook. Hah!

Speaking of who....much of today, Gabriel was nice and agreeable. But other times, his rudeness and ordering me around was unbearable. In an attempt to get a rise out of me, he even went so far as to threaten to "smash the baby." He lost watching Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer this coming Saturday, something the boys have been looking forward to all week, for that one.

Would he ever really hit Katrina? I tend to doubt it. Gabriel loves her, he always wants to help me with her, and is thrilled when she smiles at him. He's really very tender with her. He always says what an adorable baby she is, or that he's so glad that "he" has a baby. He loved this photo session today because he got to hold her and play with her for so long.

He really cracked me up today when I picked him up from pre-K and he saw Katrina, and he said to her, "Oh -- Hi Babes!" Babes?!

But Gabriel has hit Julian with the explanation later that he did it because he knew he'd get in bigger trouble if he hit me. Another time, he said he hit Julian because he was angry at me.

So how far would he go? Would he really take out his anger at me on Katrina? He can get pretty frustrated and worked up when he's had something major taken away. He escalates and does irrational things all the time to make the situation worse, looking for anything that will rile me (and often succeeds). And now that we've so strictly forbidden even saying that he'd hit the baby, he knows that's a serious trigger.

You can probably tell that I had a tough afternoon with the boys today. Julian took a nap, but woke up crying and whiny and needing lots of quiet attention from me. Then he needed to just sit and color quietly -- but Gabriel wanted a rambunctious playmate. He kept taking things from Julian, to "show" him how to color for instance, making Julian cry again and again, refusing to obey my direct instructions to leave Julian alone, and ended up on several timeouts. I was on with them constantly, every 5 minutes something else came up. I was counting the minutes until 7pm when Dave was supposed to get home from his business trip, and I was greatly relieved when he arrived early. "TAKE 'EM THEY'RE YOURS!!!"

After all that about Katrina's reliability, she had me up last night from 3:30am to 5am with a long nursing followed by some very active Happy Baby Fun Time. Adorable cooing, gurgling, flailing, full-face smiling, almost giggling. Too bad it was lost on me, especially since Julian had me up an hour earlier with some lame-o excuse (his blanket was touching the ground). Yawn. Bedtime.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12/6/06 Single Mom

I've done three nights now of putting the boys to bed with Katrina around, and I do say we're developing a rhythm. And tonight was the worst night yet!

But it still wasn't bad. The boys had dinner early again, by 6pm, and have now gotten used to me telling them stories and explaining things to them during dinner. I don't usually do that when Dave's there, since I want to talk to Dave. Gabriel even asked me before dinner tonight, "what story are you going to tell us tonight, Mom?"

(This supports a dynamic I've observed empirically: the boys often act up more around Dave. They act up evenly to both of us, but it's more likely when Dave is there. So many times they've been really good all day, then fall apart as soon as Dave gets home from work. That could be due to other factors, such as a later dinner, but I've noticed it at other times too. I wonder what that's about. I don't think it's about sharing my attention; I think it's more about testing Dave since they perceive him as being the stronger parent -- even though I'm the target of their antics just as much.)

Katrina was awake and crying on and off during the bed-bath process tonight. I was able to hold her for some of it, get her calm in the bassinet for some of it, and just had to let her cry for things that absolutely required two hands.

The most stressful time if she's crying is storytime; I like to read the boys a book without being rushed or stressed. Tonight she needed attention during book-reading, and I had to interrupt it once, but I managed to read the boys a book during a somewhat calm 10 minutes.

No photos today, since most of what I did today was boring grownup tasks, between baby care, errands, little-boy pickups. I did get a few moments talking and praising Gabriel for his "hard work" with his Lite-Brite cube, and actually enjoyed listening to them run like mad while I was nursing Katrina, even though I'm always braced to hear a crash followed by crying.

Yesterday, the boys right before the bed-bath process. Not easy getting them corralled, but somehow I managed without it all turning into a fight. Phew.

A final note: I was very sad to see on CNN that James Kim was found in the Oregon wilderness...dead, probably of exposure.

I've been following the story of a San Francisco family that got stranded on a National Forest road (Bear Camp 23) in Oregon. The family stayed together in their car for 6 days, then the husband set out to find help. 9 days into the ordeal, the mother and two girls, ages 4 and 7 months, were found alive in their car. The mother kept the kids alive by nursing both of them, incredibly. An intense search was started for the father, ending in tragedy today.

It really strikes home for me because of course I too have very young children. But also, NF roads like Bear Camp are ones Dave and I frequented on motorcycles (though this one appeared paved), and would be very inclined to take in our car -- with our children. Could we have found ourselves in the same situation? It's chilling. My heart goes out to the Kim family.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

12/5/06 Mom gets away with it.

[ Technical difficulties made it impossible to post last night...and it's still not working from IE today, but sort-of is with Firefox? Dunno. ]

My first full day as a single mom...I got away with it!

I got to sleep late this morning, until 7:30am. Wow! The boys were up before then of course, playing together. If I'd been awake, I'd have been alarmed by them counting down in unison: "10, 9, 8...!" (and indeed, they were making cars "fly".) Still, I got them dressed and fed by 8:10am. I got away with it!

This early start let me go to the Y and get in a good hour's workout. Katrina slept the whole time in the Childwatch. I got away with it!

At home, I managed to squeeze in a shower and breakfast while Julian played with a map-of-the-USA puzzle, which kept him busy for a long time. A shower, and food?! I got away with it!

He loves this puzzle, and likes to ask which each state is, and if we know anyone who lives there.

Usually he knows who lives in New York and Pennsylvania; I'm not sure why he forgot in this little clip:

Julian's geography

[ More technical difficulties: Blogger doesn't like the HTML that YouTube provides to embed this clip, though I never had problems when composing with IE. Something about cutting-and-pasting into Firefox, i guess ]

After picking up Gabriel from pre-K, I decided not to run an errand in Los Gatos, but instead to grocery-shop. With all 3! I had the boys carry canvas grocery bags, and despite an extremely inconvenient detour to a bathroom, it worked out without any major disasters. I got away with it!

At home, I was torn with the max 7 minutes I expected of Katrina's sleep after the grocery outing. Should I scarf lunch? Unpack groceries? Return phone calls? Work on Julian's nap? That was the most important, not easy since he and Gabriel got ensconced in something. But I managed to distract Julian enough to get him in the living room and read him a book and get him down for a nap without event. I got away with it!

Dinnertime didn't start off well, with the boys utterly ignoring me when I announced it was time to go pee (a new rule, as Julian ALWAYS has to interrupt dinner to go, and Gabriel ALWAYS wiggles his way through dinner) and wash hands before dinner.

So I tried something different. I got two plates and put four cookies on each one and showed them to the boys. All ears now. Then I told them that these were their cookies for after dinner -- but only if they listened to me, behaved themselves, and ate their dinner. Any time they disobeyed, I'd take away a cookie. Now go wash your hands. Gabriel started to resist, but as soon as I reached for his cookie plate, he cried, "NO!" and RAN to the bathroom. Julian lost a cookie during dinner for blowing bubbles in his milk (after 3 warnings to stop), but other than that, the visual incentive worked well.

I swore I'd never lie to my kids...but do lies of omission count? Gabriel asked what something was on his plate, and I told him it was a "filet." I left out the little detail that it was fish (breaded cod from Trader Joe's). Julian loved it and wanted more; Gabriel ate his only on threat of not getting his cookies, but he didn't complain. They ate fish -- I got away with it!

Katrina woke up during the boys' bath, but I was able to hold her until she got fussy, then put her down again. Then she woke up right as I was done putting them to bed, which was complete by 8:10pm. I got away with it!

As I type, Katrina's still not down for the count; waking up crying and not nursing, not needing to be changed, not being distracted by entertainment -- not needing anything that I can find, except to go back to sleep. Still, I managed to get this far in this message....I got away with it!


Monday, December 04, 2006

12/4/06 Mint Katrina

Katrina had her 2-month pediatrician appointment today, and her first shots. She's thriving and healthy. Her stats:
Weight: 10lbs 8oz (50%)
Length: 23" (75%)

I like Dr. Loeb. When we brought Gabriel in for the first time, at 5 days old, I lamented aloud how clueless and out of sorts we were, and Dr. Loeb said calmly, "Don't worry, he'll guide you." Today, she commented conversationally about my having a girl after two boys, as many people do. I answered with my usual answer that I had been a confirmed boy-mom and was still trying to reconcile this whole girl thing. So far, of course, it's not that different. Dr. Loeb answered that now, maybe it's not different, but the relationship you develop with a daughter over time will be different. Once again, she hit it on the head. That's what I'd wanted the most about a girl, was the unique mother-daughter relationship -- and also am most nervous about now.

I get to be single mom for 4 days, since Dave went out of town on business today. And then Tonya couldn't take Julian this afternoon! Horrors!

But, it worked out great. I insisted with myself that I work on Julian's nap as soon as we got home from picking up him and Gabriel. He was settled in the living room by 1:30pm, but didn't actually fall asleep until 3:00 or so (I think), then I had to wake him at 5:30pm. That meant a lot of time without the boys fighting, phew!

Katrina woke up around 5pm, crying hard. She doesn't usually cry like that, and I think it was a pain cry. Shots bothering her? I held her while I tried to figure out what to do. Our infant Tylenol was upstairs, which was inaccessible today due to a final coat of floor finish applied this morning, darn it. So I held her and rubbed her and paced her around and looked at her a lot, hoping something would come to me. To my amazement, she actually put her head on my shoulder and relaxed between bouts of crying -- then fell asleep. She's never done that, not even put her head on my shoulder! It was very sweet, but unfortunately, I HAD to wake Julian and make the boys dinner. I put her down in the bassinet and she went right back to sleep.

Mercifully, Katrina slept for 3 critical hours, during which I made the boys dinner, fed them, cleaned up, gave them baths, got them ready for bed, read a book, and pretty much was tucking them in when she woke up. Yay!

One way to get the boys to pay attention and eat dinner is to tell them stories, and lately I've been gearing them up on all the standard Christmas fables. I inject some good-value stuff too, like telling them that Christmas is about spending time with family and giving people things, but they're very keen on the part about getting stuff too.

Tonight, the tale of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer kept them entertained, and I also sang them the Rudolph song a number of times. Julian tries to sing along; he loves singing "...had a very shiny noooooose."

It just happened that Katrina's shirt, blanket and socks all ended up a minty green color today. Combined with a great mood in the afternoon, it was enough for another photo session. I just love the expression on her face in this first photo.

I love how you can lock eyes with a two-month-old and just look at each other, long past the point of comfort if you did the same thing with an adult. She's been smiling and making wonderful sounds more and more, almost like she's trying to talk.

I took a few closeups too, wanting to capture the moment of her being so sweet and happy, with little success. I always forget to turn the flash off and so end up with one flash photo. Here's why I hate indoor flash photos now: it looks like the room was dark, but you can see a stream of sunlight in the background. Still, I like the effect of capturing her nondescript gray eye color.

And then just one of numerous goofy faces.

I'm on my own with all three tomorrow morning. Nanny, anyone?!


Sunday, December 03, 2006

12/3/06 The Holiday Party

I'd really been looking forward to my mom's group's annual holiday party. I love the cookie exchange, which I used as an excuse to turn into a cookie-baking fiend this weekend, partly just to experiment.

Unfortunately, reality crept in. I had to wake Katrina from a much-needed and hard-won nap to go to the party, and she wouldn't go back to sleep for the entire party! She had a few short naps, the longest courtesy of Carmelita's very nice and wonderful husband swinging her in the carseat, but I spent most of the party trying to calm her and get her to sleep. (Betsy's ultra-mellow 3-week-old baby Dylan made not a peep the whole time!) I missed being able to talk freely with my friends, and their interesting husbands, and missed being able to so much as get dinner for the boys (which Heike and Carmelita kindly did for me).

Still, not all was lost. The boys had a great time (except for one incident, and I'll get into that), and once again I was reminded what marvelous and generous friends I have, even if I couldn't exchange more than a few sentences with anyone, and with only 3% concentration at that. And, when I got home, Dave had cleaned up the family room and the entire kitchen, and I'd left a major cookie mess behind! Best of all, Dave was refreshed and relaxed from a nice block of hours off from kids, and had plenty of energy to deal with Gabriel's misdeeds and to put the boys to bed. His almost cheerful demeanor (and that's saying a lot for that sworn curmudgeon!) when we got home was a huge reward for me.

The one black spot was about Gabriel crashing into things, a growing problem.

This afternoon, Dave caught Gabriel smashing a dump truck into Julian's tricycle, knocking him down and making him cry -- and then kept doing it! This is something he's done several times now, unmoved by Julian's wails. Inside, we've had to remove their beloved indoor dump trucks for getting smashed into walls and furniture deliberately. It seems I confiscate a toy every day for being thrown or crashed into something.

When we arrived at the holiday party, Gabriel found a big dump truck and started pushing it around the house. I got down and looked right in his face and told him very clearly that he absolutely may not crash it into anything here, and especially not into anyone. I warned him I would take the truck away immediately.

Not 15 minutes later, I caught him knocking down a tower of blocks with the truck, and I took the truck away from him. He was furious with this, and started with his rude obnoxious behavior, in front of people this time -- a stretch even for him. He demanded the truck back, stood right in front of me when I was sitting on the floor and stuck his tongue right in my face. At first I was stern with him, then tried laughing at him with the tongue-sticking, but all that did was make him lick my face defiantly. He stood close to me, staring at me, saying rudely, "FINE Mommy, I don't care" (he thinks that's a very strong insult). I wanted to strangle him -- I had enough on my hands with Katrina. Finally, dinner and other distractions got him out of it.

But at home, we had a big talk with Dad about this behavior. He lost his weekly Thomas-watching privilege for disobeying me and then being so rude to me. (Really, it was the rudeness -- the disobeying I can chalk up to little-kid boisterousness, though I am getting very tired of the crashing-into-things problem.) To my relief, he was sad and contrite, instead of escalating defiantly as he so often does. Still, I have no doubt at all that he'll be crashing things tomorrow morning.

Julian didn't have a nap today, and was a time bomb himself. But, mercifully, he'd taken his sweet pill today and was a perfect angel at the party, and then at home. I felt an irrational twinge of annoyance at Katrina that she wouldn't let me enjoy Julian being so sweet and agreeable. He got to watch Thomas on a DVD in the office -- a huge treat!

Katrina...oh my. This poor baby. She just couldn't get it together at the party. I called Dave on the 3-minute drive home and asked him to meet me in the driveway and pull the boys out, because I was going to drive around until she fell asleep. My stress level was very high from all the crying, and I had a splitting headache. But Dave wisely suggested that instead, I give her a bath and put her to bed, even if she was still crying. I just wanted to not hear crying for more than 15 minutes!

But Dave was right. I scrapped together some energy and launched into baby-bedtime mode, her cries pounding into my head. But, incredibly, as soon as I put her in the bath, not only did she calm down, but she went into adorable-smile-coo mode! I was floored. Where did this come from?! It was a very nice treat after all that fussing and crying. Which of course wasn't her fault...she just needed to go to bed. And very comfortably settled into the bassinet right after the bath, wrapped up, noisemaker on, pacifier, comfortable familiar place. Finally.

I wanted to take pictures at the holiday party, but was way too occupied with baby.

Still, I got a few experimental photos this morning, with Katrina in a Christmas-y outfit. It's a nice reminder that really, most of the day she was wonderful. We could all use some of that.