Monday, July 16, 2007

7/16/07 Marvelous Monday

I couldn't believe I heard myself tell Dave when he got home today, "We've been having a really good day." I brace myself for Mondays, when I have all 3 kids and so often, a migraine, but today was relaxed and full of fun.

I need to learn to write less. I have blog bog. It's really not necessary to run down the whole day, every day, is it? Seems it is, to me. So today I'm trying short sections. As always, I fail on the "short" part.

The Lunch Menu

Harvest Grain Chicken Salad...A savory blend of Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa, simmered in chicken broth, with diced chicken bits sauteed in teriyaki.

Black forest Ham and Alpine Lace swiss cheese, with a smattering of organic mayonnaise, on seven-grain bread.

Would you believe, this was Katrina's lunch today?

The grains and chicken were dinner leftovers, and the ham-and-cheese sandwich was what Gabriel didn't finish from his lunch. After Katrina devoured the grains and chicken, I spooned off baby-bite-size slices from Gabriel's sandwich. She LOVED the ham and cheese sandwich!

I stopped making baby food for Julian when he was 11 months old. Looks like I'll be putting away my blender even sooner this time.

Scrapbooking as the Key to Better Parenting

I might have got it now. A confluence of events have greatly improved things around here: a few bad blowouts with Gabriel, getting so sick life stopped dead in its tracks, thinking more about the "positive parenting" techniques, and reciting stay calm, you'll have more control.

I've really been working at being more consistent, giving ONE warning, and without raising or sternifying my voice, to avoid default reactions. I know the big fight is always around the corner, but if the approach is different, maybe I can find a path around it.

And I think I see an improvement! Even the biggest bugaboo, washing hands before dinner, is going better. I stop what I'm doing, kneel down, pull the boys together, and then tell them very clearly with full attention, "It's now time to go pee and wash hands before dinner. Let's do this without screaming, without countdowns, without any putzing around, OK?" I do still have to remind them, but as long as I'm willing to accept some playing on the way to the bathroom, three nights in a row, they've both ended up doing this without much trouble.

Same thing with them bugging Katrina, another serious trigger for me, as mothers' hackles tend to rise when their baby is being swarmed. ONE warning, then they have to get off the rug, then to the living room, then to their room; and each time, I make it sound like I too am sad that they have to go, rather than talking sternly to them. I don't know yet if they respond better without me yelling, but I sure feel better.

Thinking about it, even though I might have "good" reasons why it's harder for me (short-tempered nature, chronic migraines, Gabriel), it doesn't matter to them. A grade of B with an excuse just isn't as good as an A, fair or not. The boyfriend who misses your birthday with a "good reason" just isn't the same as the one who got there. There really are no excuses. One way or another, their experience is what matters, regardless of my reasons behind it. A 3-year-old doesn't care about migraines. He cares about a strong, in-control mother.

So what does that have to do with scrapbooking?

For some time now, any baby-free time I've had, I've felt like I have to spend it working: dealing with the house remodel, my Dad's affairs, our own logistics. And, when I have had some time, a headache puts a serious damper on free-flowing ideas. But there's no getting around it, I need a creative outlet, the chance to concentrate, to produce, explore, create. Most of my life my creative urges have manifested themselves in textiles and writing, but now I have paper crafting too.

Last Friday, I was too sick to do much else, so I sat and did some scrapbooking. I can't believe how much better I feel for having done my monthly "photo album" page for May, rearranged a scattered and hastily assembled old photo album, and started a few decorative projects.

These are not indulgences. They're necessary for sanity and happiness -- and additional patience for little children. I'm not going to underestimate that again.

Planets by Gabriel

A few days ago, I pulled out some paints to paint a cheap picture frame (still hasn't happened of course). Gabriel saw this and got it in his head to paint, so I found some kid watercolors, set him up in our makeshift craft area (I love my two $2.99 vinyl tablecloths for this) and let him at it.

He was so proud of the result that he bugged me for two days to frame it. So today I had him write the title, his name and the date on the back, then I stuck it in one of those cheap acrylic box frames, with two sheets of colored paper behind it.

And I love it!

I've been lamenting the lack of artwork around here, and not only am I thrilled to have some homegrown decoration, but I genuinely like it. It's abstract and colorful, a painting of the sun and planets.

Gabriel said today that when he grows up, he's going to be an artist. Well, this is the first sign in that direction, and I'd be very proud. Surprised, to be sure, but very proud!

Crawl to stand

Katrina is still sooo close to her first crawl step. She gets on all fours, rocks, gets three out of four limbs moving, then slides to her tummy and reaches her arm out, scratching her fingers towards whatever it is she's trying to get to. Everything but a crawl.

Now, she's adding standing to that. I can stand her against something, and she'll hold up for a few seconds. And now, she's trying to pull herself up. Long ways off, but it's another little smidgeon of progress. Go baby go!

Swim class

Our only outing (yay) today was Julian and Katrina's swim class. It's official: I have a cryer. Katrina is fine in the water until teacher Gina comes over, at which point her face scrunches up and she bursts into her squeaky, high-pitched cry.

So today we tried me moving away completely while Gina worked with Katrina. Predictably, she calmed right down until she saw me again.

Then if I snuck around really fast, I could try to get a photo of Gina and Julian and Katrina before baby saw me and started to cry. Not easy. This was the best I could do.

Meantime, I got to take photos of Julian "diving" into the water. He had a great time today. He's much more confident now, so swim class is all fun for him now, even if he spends a lot of it spinning in the water, lost.

Watching Julian swim and remembering how Gabriel was at his age is a perfect snapshot of the differences in their personalities. Gabriel was so directed, he jumped in and purposefully made it to the other side. Julian is more random; he jumps in happily now, but sometimes makes it, other times plays around, other times just spins around and seems to forget what he was doing.

Gabriel insisted on another photo of all three of them with their monogrammed towels. The problem with the last photo, he said, was that he wasn't sitting next to Katrina. "That wasn't fair Mom." Julian insisted that their names show.

I see my concept of short sections has only served to lengthen this entry. I've got to do something about this. Then again, a calm and peaceful day deserves the extra inches.


No comments: