Saturday, January 13, 2007

1/13/07 Running around

This morning my usual Saturday morning snooze was foiled by Katrina's nose. She has enough of a stuffy nose to disrupt her sleep, and hence, mine. This morning I must have sucked a thimbleful of snot out of her nose.

So I took her to the Y and snuck in a quick workout, including an indulgent 6 minutes on a regular stationary bike. It's risky for my fragile sacro-iliac joint, but all the treadmills were taken. I'd forgotten how much I like cycling! Then some treadmill time, which reminded me how much I don't like that. It's boring. Odd that I don't find swimming and stationary cycling boring, but treadmill is? I suspect an MP3 player would solve that.

I made it to Gabriel's gymnastics class just in time to see him get stamps on his hands at the end. But, I was surprised to hear from Kristi and Stacey that Gabriel is pretty good at it. That could be because he's been doing it for a while and is older than most of the kids in his class (even though he's still among the smallest), but maybe he's really taken to it. He was never much of a climber and was slow to learn coordinated things, but once he does learn, he learns well if he likes it. I was thinking of putting him in something else (he's very inconsistent when I ask him what he wants to do), but maybe we'll try more gymnastics. His skinny short build might be perfect for that.

After gymnastics, we took the boys, and Katrina, to the little playground outside the building. It was cold today! 45 degrees here is not only unusual, but feels colder than I remember 45 degrees feeling back East. So we didn't stay long, but I did try to get some pictures, and ran around with the boys a little.

To my delight, I discovered a payoff from my treadmill torture: trotting across a field doesn't knock me flat anymore. Even before my miserable pregnancy, I pretty much never ran, except for the occasional parental sprint to apprehend a wayward child. Indeed, our adult lives rarely call for any gait faster than a walk unless you're about to miss an airplane connection. But what a shame, I loved running as a kid. Now, I'd be lucky to stick out half a mile without collapsing, and that much only thanks to the treadmill work, but at least I can outrun the boys again!

Later in the afternoon, I took Katrina and Gabriel to Logitech Ice Arena in San Jose, to get myself some ice skates at their Pro Shop. I'd never been there before, and was delighted to find two ice rinks and the place swarming with girls' hockey teams. Katrina was fussy and didn't allow much time shopping for skates in the Pro Shop there, but I did manage to quickly try on a pair. It turns out that when you buy skates, they have to sharpen the blades, and this took a long time.

Enough time that we got to watch a junior-high-school girls' team start a game. I was blown away and so impressed -- these girls were good! They were great skaters and looked every bit as aggressive and confident as a San Jose Shark. I'd forgotten how exciting it is to watch hockey in person. Interestingly, the little girls seemed to be sharper and faster skaters than the older (high school?) girls in the other rink. You go girls! I was glad Gabriel's first live hockey experience was to see all girls (in fact I didn't see a single male hockey player among the teems of teams there). And fussy-fuss Katrina loved watching the hockey games!

Outside, there was a team of 11-year-old (or so) girls warming up in the parking lot with some pushup and stretching exercises, chanting, "Quarter pounder, french fries, milk shakes and big slurp soda..." My goodness, I had no idea the junk food culture was that deeply ingrained! (Though I confess that I find baked goods to be an excellent motivator.)

Katrina had a hard time hanging on to naps today, and as a result, wasn't as smiley and joyful as usual. Let's hope for some joy tonight, in the form of deep long dreams of skating.


Friday, January 12, 2007

1/12/07 Katrina's hands

I did get one photo yesterday: Julian playing with his Architectural Blocks, on the couch. I found the symmetry in his work intriguing -- shouldn't a 3-year-old be making random weird things?

It's taken forever, but I finally finished putting together Katrina's new Exersaucer.

With some help from Gabriel, that is: he cut open the myriad of plastic bags for all the toys, then helped install them. I like having projects to do with him, and he loves it.

It helped that I'd had a long nap this morning, guiltily foregoing an aerobics class at the Y. But I've been building a sleep debt, and I was curious to see what Katrina would do if left to her own devices. The answer: sleep, for about two hours. Her awake times are now about 2 hours long, with about 4-5 "naps" during the day. Nighttime, on the other hand, we've been going a bit backward: her longest stretches are at most 4 hours, and she's started to wake up for reasons other than nursing. The last two nights, it's been for giant spitups, so I can't hold that against her.

Katrina's on the young side for an Exersaucer, but she's holding herself up well enough that it was worth trying for a few minutes.

Immediately the downside became obvious: the boys! She's still floppy enough that external motion of the saucer can jostle her excessively, and excessive jostling is exactly what older brothers are about. I had to institute a no-touch rule immediately, mostly for Julian, but he's far more likely to follow that rule if Gabriel has to also.

Still, she liked it! Like Gabriel as a baby (and unlike Julian), she's very welcoming to new situations. She especially liked being able to see Gabriel so close up.

The real treat came after a few minutes: Katrina put her hand on one of the toys and moved it. This is really the first time I've seen her attempt to manipulate something with her hands, and she did so with the typical visual disconnection of a 3-month-old. Still, there's no doubt that she was experimenting with using her hands.

(Later, she was sitting on Dave's lap as he held a take-out menu, and her hand feebly batted the menu juuust enough times that it was clear it wasn't entirely random. My baby is growing up!)

I got up to get something from the kitchen, and Gabriel faithfully watched her, wiping her mouth with great concern every time she drooled. Aww. His tenderness and deep concern for her are truly touching.

Here's a crummy camera video with a brief (don't blink!) capture of Katrina using her hands.

I'm never sure if these videos will work. They appear black at first, and I put the embedding code in again and again, and finally it works. It might just be a matter of waiting for Google video to process it, or perhaps I hit something just right. I don't know. This time, I'm not waiting, so apologies if the video box looks black.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

1/11/07 First skating class

Dave and I took an ice-skating class tonight! Since we needed Peggy anyway to put all 3 kids to bed, I somehow talked Dave into taking the class with me. He's in a different group, but we're on the ice at the same time. I was so excited to skate again, and it was so fun! We went to dinner at Benihana afterward.

As usual, Peggy had no trouble at all with all 3 kids. I didn't find time to pump today, so I left Katrina with formula. But Peggy said she hated it! I gotta get pumping. I hate pumping! But it's worth it to skate.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

1/10/07 Lincoln Logs

The boys both got Lincoln Log sets for Christmas this year, one from Uncle Ronan, and another from the Doudna grandparents. This toy is a huge hit, and has quickly ascended to among their favorites. And mine, since it provides hours of daily construction entertainment.

Gabriel has to follow the instructions precisely and build exactly, and I do mean exactly, what is in the drawings in the instructions. (In this photo, he built the "homestead" exactly as it is in the drawing, but facing away from the camera, unfortunately.)

Julian is a little more creative, or less bound to The Right Way, and happily stacks them however he likes. Unless Gabriel sees it that is. Gabriel sometimes hops with frustration that Julian isn't doing it right and will even go so far as to take apart Julian's work. I don't think he's being malicious; he just can't stand seeing things done "wrong"! But they both love making things with the logs and spend a lot of time doing so.

Good thing for the Lincoln Logs today. I couldn't let the boys play out back this afternoon, since it became a carpenter's workshop, with wood, sawdust and plugged-in power tools spread all over the patio. I hated having to pull them indoors, for their sake and for mine. I called to them from the deck to come in, but Gabriel refused, and then roped his sheeplike brother in: "Come on, Julian, just keep playing." This made me so mad! I ran to get my shoes and had to leave Katrina screaming to go out and reprimand Gabriel for his defiance and then drag him inside (Julian followed).

You'd think I could ask the carpenter to work somewhere else, but I don't want to slow down the workers' progress in any way. Every day I get twice as tired as the day before of being under construction (an exponential progression!), of finding new dust on everything, of having men come into the house at 8am when I'm still in my skivvies. I just about blew my top tonight when Julian was taking a leak before bath, and lifting the toilet lid resulted in dust-covered fingers, and then dust on his little....well, you know. I couldn't even set their toothbrushes down on the sink counter, or open the toothpaste tube, or turn on the water, or turn on the light switch, without getting dust on my hands. It's everywhere! At least the work today was on final-punchlist items, though the painters still have a few days left.

Katrina has turned into one vocal baby! Lots of adorable -- and now loud -- sounds from her. Sometimes it sounds like she's watching a fireworks display with all the oohs and aahhs. She's having a grand time with her latest discovery, her hands, though so far they're the only thing she's figured out to put in her mouth.

Dave had to work late tonight, so I got to put all three kids to bed myself tonight. It was a lot easier when Katrina was younger! I did the entire process of getting the boys undressed, bathed, pajama'd, brushed, and read to, while holding her. She really, really needed her own bath and bedtime too, but I couldn't do the boys and the girl at the same time. That's going to be a recurring theme in our lives, I think!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

1/9/09 Julian goes to the park

Today I rebelled against my new Y habit. I needed to get some things done!

So I deposited a check at Schwab...a simple errand, right? No! I parked illegally right in front of the door, ran inside to grab an envelope, drove circles around the parking lot until Katrina was calm, stopped and filled out the envelope, drove more circles until she was calm again, then parked illegally again to zip in there and drop off the envelope...whew!

Then I took Julian and Katrina to the Ice Center in Cupertino to sign up for ice-skating classes (!). Starts Thursday! And Dave is taking the class with me!!!!

We still had some time, so I met up with my Las Madres group at a park with huge open fields of grass, to find all the kids sitting in a line watching a construction crew work on a play area. (Left to right: Erin, twins Kate & Allison (all three sisters), Julian, Gavin, Gina and Andrew.)

Then Julian and Andrew played together with a ball. I got their attention by holding the ball, then tossing it to them, catching the ball midair once (with the camera, that is). It was so sweet to see Julian and Andrew play together; they're getting to know each other and seemed to have a lot of fun (that's cutie-pie Kate in the background).

But the highlight of my day came in the form of inspiration by example.

First, some background: Dave got me a Beatles Love CD for Christmas, which is Beatles music remixed for a Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas. We talked about how if we didn't have kids, we'd got to Vegas for a weekend and see the show, what fun that'd be. I LOVE Cirque de Soleil and I LOVE the Beatles. But, that's impossible. We can't go to Vegas by ourselves for a weekend!

Or can we? I was floored when Kristi told me today that she and her husband did exactly that -- they went to Vegas for two days, without their THREE kids, and saw the Beatles Cirque de Soleil show!!! I couldn't believe it! Kristi was the first of our mom friends who had 3 kids (thanks to twins), so she's sort of a trailblazer. It can be done!! Especially if you have a reliable nanny you've known for years and who can take care of the kids overnight. Wow! Katrina's too young to consider that now, but in a year...? We're there!

Yesterday I took all 3 kids to The Smiling Frog, a wonderful used kids' clothing store right in Sunnyvale, and scored some great long-sleeved Gymboree shirts for the boys. Buying used clothes teaches you a lot about quality: these are heavy, strong, but still soft and look great after a lot of washings. And it's so nice to see Julian in a shirt that's not just a little too small for him, and not in a years-old hand-me-down.

Jeans are another story...two pairs of size 3 jeans I got for Julian turn out to be too big for him, and one of those is even too big for Gabriel. So if a used size 3 jeans falls off Gabriel, you can only imagine how the new size 4 jeans I just bought for him worked....forget it! Gabriel wore a new pair today, and they were just enormous -- falling off him, and cuffed twice. Didn't I try them on him at the store?! I did! And I still can't get it right! Julian's no heavyweight either. This problem gets worse every year, as they get taller and relatively skinnier. It won't be a problem for Katrina, since so far every store I see has 10 times more girl clothes than boy clothes. But I'll probably still get most of her clothes at the Smiling Frog, which is far more equitable toward boys than most clothing stores. If I buy her clothes at all that is. So far, hand-me-downs from friends and family for girl clothes demonstrate same favor as stores do.

Dust, dust and more dust. I am SO tired of construction! I never knew painters generated so much dust, but when they sand drywall, you get this fine stuff that flies around and settles on everything: doorknobs, drawer handles, the washer/dryer, dresser and table tops, light switches....even the walls are dusty and the boys' shirts always have smears of dust on them from going up and down the stairs. I've already spent a fair amount of time painstakingly wiping dust from the shutter louvers in the boys' room, and have hours ahead of me.

Though it's a daunting task, I get some consolation from spending time upstairs and trying to get it under control. Slowly, I'm moving the boys' things into their room, and preparing our room to be livable (such as wiping the ubiquitous dust out of our medicine cabinet and setting up the shelves). Slowly I'm trying to reclaim the upper half of our lives, literally.

Tomorrow, back to the Y!


Monday, January 08, 2007

1/8/07 Technical difficulties

Neither our DSL nor cable Internet works consistently or reliably at all now. On top of it, I'm getting so many spam bounces (from spamees who've been spammed by someone forging as a return address) that downloading email keeps timing out. What a pain!

Our stairwell is still a construction project: dirty, dusty, covered in tape and paper. The main painter contractor arrived today to check it out, and told me he thought that since there was still some carpentry to do, he'd have his guy wait until it was done to finish the hallway. NOOOOO!!!!!! We can't order carpet, install our stained-glass window, or clean thoroughly and really live up there when we have to pass through the construction zone every time we go upstairs! He said OK, he'll have his guy work tomorrow. He hasn't been here the past two days, so I will be very bummed if he doesn't show up tomorrow. We have to make progress on this, I am really getting depressed about it.

At least children were really good today, thanks in part to a nice long Julian nap. Gabriel was in a good cooperative mood, and typical of Gabriel, when he sets his mind to something, he does it with intensity and focus, including being great.

Katrina has been making all sorts of adorable new noises, and loud ones! I caught a little of it today, not the best example though since she got distracted by her own hands.

(More problems -- I can't get the embedding to work right. Here's a link:)
Katrina talks and then gets distracted by her hands

She reminds me of Gabriel at 3 months old, lying under a tree and shouting and yipping at it. But the similarity ends there -- I also remember doing our taxes with Gabriel sitting on my lap at 2-1/2 months old. No way would I attempt that with Miss Wiggles!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

1/7/07 Reconnaissance

This Sunday's grand outing was to check out Chuck E Cheese for Gabriel's birthday party. I felt a twang as we drove past a lovely park to go inside a dark, crowded, noisy place. What are we -- and apparently the rest of Cupertino -- doing here? First answer: looking for parking.

Once we got in, the first two rides we tried, the boys were afraid of (chickens!). The first three games we tried were broken, and two stole our tokens before we realized it. We found one that worked and that wasn't swarmed by kids, but it was just a dumb fishing video game, not nearly as interesting or challenging as what they've both mastered on

I hunted down a rare employee in a striped shirt to complain to about the broken games, and he was able to fix one that involved driving a little truck on a road. That kept Gabriel busy for a while.

I'll grit my teeth and stick it out for his birthday party, but this sort of place is not my thing, and I'll be looking for alternatives next year! (Oh yeah, who's the party for again?!)

I tried my wonderful new train cake pan again, this time carefully following the instructions on how to prepare the pan (though I don't have "Wondra" flour), and using a cake recipe that came with the pan. My train cake still looks nothing like the picture on the box, but it's a big improvement over my first attempt!

Katrina is now clasping her hands, looking down at them (crosseyed), and then very carefully putting them in her mouth as she watches. Right on time for a 3-month-old. How do babies know when to start doing stuff like that? Who gives them the schedule? It's amazing.

She and her brothers are interacting more and more now. They make faces at her, and she responds with little yips and howls and huge smiles. They can't get enough of her. There actually are times now that I ask Gabriel to go over and entertain her, a task he eagerly tackles! Julian, I never ask, as he needs a lot more supervision, but much of the time I think he's being too rough, she just smiles at him. It's so interesting how babies attract little kids. Toddlers in the Y's childwatch also seem completely delighted when they look at Katrina and she beams at them.

I've been hoping for weeks to get a photo of all five of us, and today I found a short window when everyone was awake and in a decent mood. But that was only the first obstacle. Once I have everyone outside and the camera set up, then I have to get Gabriel to join us, mostly by pretending I don't want to strangle him for refusing to cooperate, and then cheerily taking pictures without him. Finally, he joined us.

Then I had the problem that the sun was moving and rapidly depleting my shady spot, and sure enough, someone always managed to get bright sun on their face. But moving the sun seems almost an easier problem than getting Dave to look natural in photos. And I'm not so photogenic either. Finally, the camera was too close and not everyone was in focus.

But at least I have it documented that all five of us were in the same place at the same time at least once so far this year!