Saturday, March 10, 2007

3/10/07 Scrap Day!

Despite too little, and too-interrupted, sleep last night, I was excited about going to scrapbook with my Mom friends today. It was great looking at other people's ideas, from Betsy's clean and simple style, to Kristi's straightforward but decorated with flair pages, to Lacy's famous masterpieces. And we had enough yak time to yak about things other than our kids!

I worked on a labor-intensive but simple page that's downright goofy. It's fun to do those sometimes. This page doesn't need journaling to explain that it's about Gabriel's 5th birthday. Hmm, but it could use a birthday cake embellishment!

Our sitter worked out great. We've used Danielle once before, in 2005, but we only had the two boys then. Danielle is Kristi's nanny, so she's already an expert at three kids. She reported that Katrina was great, didn't cry much, ate well, went to sleep easily. Whew. She took the boys out bicycling and had an episode in which Gabriel got out of sight, for which he got a very stern talking-to by Dad later. Danielle had no trouble with all the things involved in the care and feeding and entertainment of little kids, and she takes it all in stride, much like Peggy. Such a calming influence is a wonderful trait in a sitter. In a person, really. I've often wondered what it would be like to be a calm cool cucumber, instead of the scatterbrained, hyper, compulsive stressball that I am.

Dave went for a motorcycle ride! First lunch in Boulder Creek with Kevin, then the old 100-Mile Classic. He reported that Tunitas Creek Road is still a highlight. Ah, we had many, many rides tearing down that road, rocking over every bump and hole and patch. If I was in good form, he couldn't shake me, and I'd be right with him around the tight corners. Our most fun roads were often the exact opposite of what sport-riders look for: trashy, bumpy, tight, where 30mph is fast. Skyline Boulevard? Mere transit, a highway to get to the good stuff. Maybe the way to meld my two lives is to retro-scrap some of my old moto-life. Someday.


Friday, March 09, 2007

3/9/07 Katrina gets a new sweater

Some goodies in the mail today. Look at this beautiful, adorable sweater from Bonne Maman!

You can't see it in the photo so well, but it has some lovely detail, including a triangle-border collar, and some triangle details on the sleeves and bottom hem, made out of contrasting garter stitch. And the color...I love it! I love these strong colors on Katrina. Gabriel was very excited by the flower buttons: "I've never seen buttons like that before!" And isn't Katrina just unbelievably cute in it. Thanks Bonne Maman!

Katrina woke up twice last night, then was up for good at 6:15am. Urgh. This made for an exhausting morning, making me use my baby-free Friday morning to catch up on sleep. But that's as good a reason as any, I suppose.

Another photo for another long-overdue thank-you note. I'm not sure this is the one I'll use, but it sure is a cute picture. Katrina LOVES this soft kitty from Wendy, something of an in-law relation to us. How sweet of Wendy to get our third baby the same sort of ultra-soft toy that Aunt Brittany would have picked. Julius the monkey is still Julian's absolute favorite.

Gabriel helped me practice Katrina on the bottle yesterday, quickly discovering that bottle-feeding is uncomfortable and boring. I agree. But at least she's taking the bottle, with formula, reliably now. One other downside to formula: bad baby breath. Blah!

Funny kid comment of the yesterday: After music class, I strapped Julian into the car, then sat down in the front passenger seat in front of him, to nurse Katrina. Julian asked me why I was sitting there and I explained that I was feeding the baby. Unsatisfied, he asked again, "But who's going to drive the car?"


Thursday, March 08, 2007

3/8/07 The Conspiracy

After putting away toys to get the boys to pee and wash hands for dinner, they were very upset and angry with me. It's SO funny to listen to them conspire about my punishment:

"Let's throw a rock at Mommy."
"Yeah, throw a rock at her head."
"I know, we'll kill Mommy."
"Or give her a black circle!" (as opposed to a gold star, like on a chart)
"Let's take her toys away."
"Yeah, we'll take her stuff."
"Yeah, we'll hide her stuff!!"

"And then put her on timeout!"

It's all I can do not to burst out laughing.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

3/7/07 Julian's first skating

Today I took Julian to an ice skating class!

He was typically reluctant and hesitant at first, and then later complained and cried and claimed he was scared. He even fell on purpose a few times, just to make the point. In the end, we left the ice with him crying and crying, saying he was scared.

BUT -- the one thing he was really good at was the actual skating!! To my surprise, despite his clumsiness, hesitance and younger age as compared to Gabriel, he actually was a lot better at balancing and propelling himself than Gabriel was when we did this class a year ago. Julian refused to use the little plastic chairs they give the kids to push around to get a feel for the ice, and instead held my hand while he picked up his feet and pretty much skated. He was even pulling me along at one point, without realizing it.

Gabriel, by comparison, held onto the chair for dear life, and it was very hard to break him of it later. Gabriel was a lot tougher about the whole thing, never crying, never saying he was scared, but refused to give up the chair. Julian was much more willing to follow instructions, and when he did, he actually skated far better than Gabriel did, and that's being a year younger than his usually more athletic older brother was.

I told Julian many, many times how great he did and how proud I was of him and how fun it was, so I'm hoping that's his main memory of it for next week.

Funny kid comment of the day: I told Julian that we were going skating, "just you and me." He pondered this quietly for a moment, then said, "Mommy, your name is 'me' and my name is 'you'!"

I had to wake Katrina from a sound morning nap to take her to Tonya's for the skating, but she did fine there. Later in the afternoon, I managed the ideal nap scenario: I went from getting Julian down for a nap, straight from his room across the hall into Katrina's room, and put her down for a nap. They started their naps at exactly the same time, which allowed me to take one too. When I got up, Gabriel had fallen asleep on the floor too. All four of us at once. Wow.

Even more wow: I got Katrina to take a bottle today! Of formula! From me!! Major progress!!! It actually felt strange feeding her from a bottle. I almost felt...well, jealous and left out. Ironic, because I've really been working at the bottle to gain some freedom, but at the same time, I have a visceral emotional response of "wah, my baby doesn't need me."

Katrina went to bed late last night, around 9:30pm, but as a result, slept through until 6:15am. A good thing! If being woken up in a single-digit hour can ever be considered a good thing....

Once again, a challenging evening: baby needs bath, nursing and bedtime smack dab when I need to be preparing dinner. I can pre-prepare dinner to some extent, but there's no getting around the major work happening on eithe side of 6pm or so. But once again, who am I to complain about a baby who wants to go to bed?

Especially one so adorable in this Gymboree toile-ish outfit?

Gabriel: tough, no whining, but stubborn and unwilling to try skating without the chair. Julian: wimpy but more talented. Will Katrina once again fall smack dab inbetween? I'll let you know in another 3 years!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

3/6/07 T-shirt weather

I took this picture specifically to make our cold-snap and snowbound East Coast family jealous:

The boys played outside today after picking Gabriel up from pre-K, and a disastrous trip to Home Depot. Taking 3 kids to Home Depot is bad enough, but since I knew the boys would be all over Katrina again, I put her out of reach in the backpack. Turns out, the boys turned their boisterous attention to each other, and got scolded once by a Home Depot manager (actually he was probably scolding me, as I was frantically searching for the right-sized screw and trying to hold off on reprimanding the boys again for fear of diluting what little control I had left).

At least they got their energy out playing ball in the backyard, on this mild day, just short of being out-and-out-warm.

Katrina got to try another cute shortie outfit today, courtesy of another diaper blowout.

She's decent at supporting herself standing up, once again in between her brothers: Gabriel at this age could hold onto something and stay standing, Julian couldn't stand at all until much much older.

I had very simple goals today. Get in a shower, and pump a little so Katrina can practice the bottle. Incredibly, I met those goals, but it wasn't easy. The shower was only possible because Gabriel entertained Katrina in the Exersaucer and was on the alert to tell me if she started crying.

On top of it, I got a short much-needed nap this morning, while Julian played downstairs with his new connect-the-dot book. And I got in a deep workout at the Y too. Nap, workout, doesn't get much better than that in my limited daily life.

I keep thinking about ordering a workout DVD I've seen on an infomercial: Hip-Hop Abs. It looks like a lot of fun, and exactly what I need for those days I can't get to the Y. But something on the infomercial really annoys me. They interview people who've gone through the program and who tout its effectiveness, and one of those people is a 40-year-old woman. This is supposed to illustrate just how amazing this program is: it even works on someone as ancient as 40!! Miracles! We can revive the dead! I mean, really! What on earth about being in your 40s limits your ability to work out or be, or get, fit?

Of course, time does take its toll: my skin, my body shape, my hair -- all of it says 40s. And that's fine. I don't deny getting older or the accompanying changes. But this underlying implication that you fall off the face of the earth after 40 is really irritating.

Even a recent letter to the SJ Mercury News supporting older parents damned itself, by saying "Sure, a 60-year-old might not be able to keep up with his 3-year-old's soccer class, but..." What?! Why on earth can't a 60-year-old keep up with a 3-year-old? It's a given when you're 30 that you can keep up with a 3-year-old, just because you're young. But it's not a given that just because you're older, you can't. I have no intention of being outrun by a 3-year-old when I'm 60.

My friends who are still in their 20s and 30s, take note! Don't buy it! You'll turn 40 someday too, and there is absolutely no reason you can't be fit and energetic and completely yourself. It's actually quite light here on the dark side!

OK, rant over. I guess I have extra energy for it after running a mile on the treadmill today. A mile! Me! A sworn treadmill-hater and non-runner! Turns out, I'm motivated by distance, not time. I'm still not crazy about the treadmill, but I sure like how much stronger I feel. I'm gonna need it. Let's see if I still have the energy for this same rant when I'm 50!


Monday, March 05, 2007

3/5/07 A balmy day

It's getting warmer!

I'm so looking forward to T-shirt weather, for numerous reasons. Believe it or not, one of the main reasons is Julian's painful putziness. Some days, every step of a wash-hands process requires a countdown: go into the bathroom, get on the footstool, roll up sleeves, turn on the water, put hands under the water, hold hands out for soap, rub hands together, rinse, etc. "FIVE...FOUR..THREE...TWO...ONE!" That's me, counting down countless times, with increasing irritation each time. T-shirt weather means one step, and one countdown, eliminated: no sleeve-rolling-up. Yay.

This morning, I experienced something I haven't in weeks: I got to wake up when I needed to, not when something -- well someone else woke me. Katrina needed a morning nap by 8am, and I gladly lay down then too...and napped until I darned well felt like waking up. I woke up slightly, then lay partly awake with my eyes closed, dozed off again, then opened my eyes and looked around the room, and let my mind ramp up gradually, then stood up and walked around slowly, taking my time getting dressed. What a treat! So different from being jolted awake and forced to jump up and walk while bogged down by grogginess, every time I'm awakened. Katrina woke up at 11:15, having had a solid 3-hour morning nap. Wow.

I hated to waste my sleep windfall on a necessity, but that's how it is on migraine days. Starting last night, I've been fighting a bad headache, and wasn't able to feel completely good when I finally got up today. Still, needing the sleep and not getting it with a headache makes for a horrible day. And all told, today was pretty good.

Katrina's morning nap pretty much killed the rest of her napping today, unfortunately. After a curtailed half-hour afternoon nap, she needed a lot of attention and holding. Which I don't mind, but it gets to be a strain when ALL I can do is carry around a slightly grumpy baby.

This is becoming a bit of a dilemma: she needs the most attention (holding, nursing, bath, bedtime) right when I need to be busy preparing dinner, often before Dave gets home. Today there was no choice, I didn't even try to start dinner before Dave got home at 6:30. But that meant a late bedtime for boys -- and girl. Well, we'll figure it out.

Afternoon amusement included being watched over by big brother while I went to get Katrina some more clothes after a big blowout. Gabriel just loves lying with her and playing, and as long as Julian isn't around, he's usually very careful (though I did have to admonish him again about putting his finger in her ear).

Since it was so nice out, I put on a cute little shorts-thing that I'd been eyeing for a while. I love bare baby legs! (Perhaps almost as much as bare little-boy arms that eliminate the need for a countdown for sleeve-rolling for hand-washing.)

She had a grand time ripping the tissue paper off a gift she got from Bonne Maman today. Inside was an adorable purple corduroy dress with a matching bottom-thing (what are those called, a diaper-cover I guess).

Katrina did well trying to sit up, though I was holding her for most of this. Still, several times I had to let go of her, and she sat solidly for a few seconds.

Bonne Maman also sent some wonderful activity books for the boys (thank you Bonne Maman!). Gabriel loves a challenging aircraft-sticker book, and Julian did his first dot-to-dot tonight, from 1 to 10. I was surprised that he caught on right away, and had no trouble doing it -- except staying interested, that is.

Such a contrast between the two boys. Julian grasped the dot-to-dot concept more quickly, and is much better at the drawing part, but will only work at it 5-10 minutes at a time. Gabriel took much longer to understand it, and he was older, and was much shakier in drawing the lines. But he latched onto the task like a bulldog, working at it for hours, and soon demanding to know why the numbers stopped at 50.

I spent a lot of time alone with baby this afternoon while boys napped, and I like that -- time alone with your baby, especially when there are other kids in the house, is precious time. But after baby was in bed, I had fun tonight working on the new activity books with the boys too. That too is precious time. It certainly seems precious now that all three are in bed. That's the most precious time of all!

Happy Birthday Bonne Maman! And Katrina is 5 months old today!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

3/4/07 Gabriel and Julian go to a birthday party

Today we dropped off (yes, dropped off!) Gabriel and Julian at Gavin and Cassie's joint birthday party. I actually wanted to go, but Katrina was taking a solid morning nap, from which I finally woke her up to go. I really wanted to see Andy Z, a popular local kids' musician that Stacey hired for the party. I'd heard a lot about him, but never had had a chance to see him.

We arrived at the tail end of the music fun, and I could see in just a few seconds why Andy Z is so popular. He is really, really good! I liked his songs, the way he engaged the kids, the fun boisterous atmosphere. I'm definitely going to be looking out for his concerts and making a much grander effort to get to them now.

Gabriel was pretty funny in just standing and concentrating on him though. He did go around in circles and play along with the other kids too, but much of the time I saw, he was like Julian in Music Together: utterly stationary.

Meantime, birthday boy Gavin ran laps around the room.

Then of course, there are Stacey's cake masterpieces. She made a panda cake for Cassie's 3rd birthday, and a spiderman cake for Gavin's 5th, and they were both perfect works of art.

Yes folks, she decorates these herself. Really astounding perfect detail. And quite yummy too!

It was a gorgeous, downright balmy warm day, perfect to enjoy the Ryder family's beautiful and diverse backyard. A perfect day and place for a really wonderful birthday party. I can't possibly provide such an idyllic setting, nor can I come close to Stacey's talent in cake decorating, but there's no doubt in my mind after my Chuck E Cheese trauma that a home-baked party is the way to go.

Katrina was in a terrific mood when we got home from the party; she clearly got a kick out of being in a new place and surrounded by so many fun things to watch. She spent the first 15 minutes of our time there spitting up again and again and again, almost completely occupying me with wiping up her bib (she went through two in that time) and everything around her. I swear that girl makes yogurt in her tummy out of breastmilk and then regurgitates it.

Much of the rest of the time, she happily hung out in the stroller, taking it all in, while I chatted with friends and took care of the boys. When we got home, she was all smiles and giggles and cute baby sounds.

The warm day gave me a pang of lament for having another summer in which I can't just go outside when I feel like it and do things in the garage or attend to our long-neglected landscape. Having a babe-in-arms limits life in many ways, but for some reason the tug to get involved in non-baby-compatible projects outdoors is especially strong. I still remember both days when I had a sense of liberation with Gabriel and Julian, both when they were about 18 months old, when they were able to just walk around and hang out while I did things outside. I know it'll come again. And I'll probably think it happened in a snap when it does.


3/4/07 Eyes

It was a lot harder to get these pictures than I thought, and I'm still not happy with them, but here they are. All five of us have different-colored eyes, though the photo-taking revealed that mine and Julian's are more similar than I'd thought.

Dad. Straight-on pure blue:

Mom. Dark grayish-drabish green around the edges, brown around the pupil:

Gabriel. Straight-on pure brown:

Julian. Dark grayish-blueish, with brown around the pupil:

Katrina. Bluish-grayish, most similar to Uncle Ronan:

What I really get out of this exercise is: Don't take closeups of grownups' faces and put them next to kids' faces, it'll peg your vanity meter.

Here's what I learned in high school about eye color genetics. Each person carries two eye color genes, one from each parent. A brown gene is dominant -- if you have one, it will override your other gene, and your eyes will be brown. So, brown+brown = brown, and brown+blue = brown. The only way to have blue eyes is have two blue genes (blue+blue = blue).

So how is it that two parents with brown eyes can have a blue-eyed child? If you're brown+blue, your eyes will be brown, but you can pass that blue gene on to your child. If your child's other gene from the other parent is also blue, then he'll have blue eyes. If both parents have blue eyes, then no one has any brown gene and everyone has blue eyes. Probably. It's really not that straightforward. I'm told that a brown-eyed child from two blue-eyed parents is possible but rare. More likely, geneticists are covering up for the milkman.

Of course, this is a gross and crude oversimplification of the complex science of eye color genetics. And of course there's much more than brown and blue -- indeed, just in our family of five, only Dave and Gabriel have clearly brown or blue eyes.

But if you believe these basics, for us to have a son with brown eyes means I do have a brown gene, and hence, brown eyes, even though my eyes don't look entirely brown like Gabriel's. I wonder if Julian is the same way. All three of our kids could have offspring with blue eyes, since they all carry a blue gene from Dave.

Congratulations to any of you who are still reading this. Forgive me this strange fascination. It's not the only one, I'm sorry to say, but I'll try to spare you my handedness-orientation ramblings for a few months.