Saturday, March 17, 2007

3/17/07 Three birds with one stone

Dave took the boys to Supercuts today for a haircut after Gabriel's gymnastics.

Julian came back with a variation of the bowl cut, about all you can do with his hair, but Gabriel came back with some stylin'!

I used to think this was dumb, but frankly, it's so cute and so funny I don't mind at all. And tomorrow the gel will be gone anyway.

Today I found a way to accomplish three things at once: 1) exercise; 2) give Dave a break after dealing with the boys all morning; and 3) pick up lunch! I took Julian and Katrina in the double jogging stroller and ran most of the way to and from Subway. Not the most pleasant of trips along busy Homestead Road, but it accomplished all three goals handily.

Back home, I parked the jogging stroller, then noticed its juxtaposition next to my beloved old BMW R65. My old life right next to my new life. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd be parking a double jogging stroller next to this bike, with two of my three children in it, I'd have said "No WAY!" (Not to mention if they'd told me who their father would be...!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Friday, March 16, 2007

3/16/07 Backyard afternoon

A beautiful warm afternoon today, so after naps we spent some time in the backyard. Katrina hung out on a blanket, content for about half an hour lying down, which is becoming increasingly rare. She wants to sit up and look around! I'm all for it.

The boys played with numerous things but the biggest hit was the blue spiky ball, a gift from Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan that I finally got around to blowing up. They had a great time bouncing on the blue ball and another big ball, then got into a game of throwing them on top of each other's heads.

Meantime, I tried chipping away at the heaps of junk that is our garage, a few minutes at a time between playing with Katrina, holding her, and making sure the boys weren't running over her (when the balls came out, I put her in the stroller). Now I have another carload to take to Good Will. I'm becoming a regular there, and it feels great.

Ah, the skills we moms develop. Try making and serving hard-boiled eggs while holding baby! Tonight, I sat Katrina in my lap and held her in place with my elbows as I peeled and sliced the eggs. Heaven forbid she actually sit back peacefully while I tackle this two-handed task.

Our time outdoors put us late for dinner, so I did an emergency bail-out dinner. In some ways, I felt like Bad Mom for not serving a well-balanced dinner, but in other ways, I felt like Good Mom that my bail-out dinner was tortellini (and, as it turns out, hard-boiled eggs, which both boys liked!) instead of pizza. Actually, I rarely serve them just pasta these days, and haven't fallen back on pizza in months. Not that there's anything wrong with pasta or pizza, but I've come to see just pasta as a junk-food dinner, whereas I used to see it as a healthy staple. Ironic from someone for who junk food is a staple.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

3/15/07 Park time

Aunt Stephanie sent this wonderful "Animal Boogie" song book and CD with illustrations and lyrics, that is absolutely adorable, and the boys LOVE it.

But you'd never know it looking at this boring video clip! The humor is in the inactivity -- this cute song that you're supposed to shake, stomp, leap and fly to, and the boys just sit like complete couch potatoes listening to it.

What you don't see is that they were running around, shouting and out of control before I put the music on -- then they scrambled up to the couch, opened the book, and listened intently, immobile, faithfully turning each page with each new verse.

This afternoon we had some much-needed quiet time when Julian and Katrina both took a nap. Gabriel entertained himself with the Animal Boogie book, quietly singing the song to himself as he read the book. I managed a candid capture of this sweet scene.

Gabriel really amazes me with his ability and desire to entertain himself. He'll play like this for hours, building things, reading, talking through stories he makes up. It actually makes me feel guilty, especially this week. I've been overwhelmed with a mounting sleep debt, a grouchy baby in the afternoon, plus other family worries back East, and really haven't been engaging Gabriel in the precious time we have alone together in the afternoons. Instead, I've been relying on his remarkable independence. I know this won't harm him long-term, but I feel an intense tug of wanting to make the most of our few remaining months together before he becomes a genuine schoolkid.

Yesterday afternoon, I was playing with Katrina on our bed, and singing with Julian: "There were five in the bed and the little one said, 'Roll over, Roll over,' so they all rolled over and one fell out!" At the word "out," I'd give her a tiny nudge so she'd complete a rollover, which sent Julian into peals of laughter, and made her laugh too. We did this many times, and at the time I noticed that Julian has gotten really good at singing along.

Today in music class, we did that same song, and I was absolutely amazed at Katrina's reaction. She flailed her arms and smiled and made gurgly noises -- I swear she recognized it from our games yesterday! Is that possible at 5 months old?! She was very engaged and happy in music class today, but definitely responded to the Roll Over song.

Someone also observed in music class today that she's "weight-bearing." I hadn't heard that term before, but indeed, she'll support herself standing for a minute now, of course with help balancing by holding her hands. That's new as of a few days ago. It won't be long before the predictions of early walking will start to pour in, but we have her older older brother as a perfect counterexample to that. Gabriel was weight-bearing starting at around 2 months old, and was standing quite well around 7 months old, with help balancing. Did that mean skipping crawling, and early walking?! Hah! Not even close!

Unfortunately, driving back from music class, Katrina fell asleep in the car. I think my great luck with transferring my first two babies from the car to a crib is shot here, because even fast asleep, she still will not rest her head on my shoulder. What is wrong with this baby?! So of course she wakes up, and that was it. No morning nap at all. Urgh!! So I putzed around at home, cursing my plight, then decided to drag us all to Trader Joe's.

On the way, impulsively, I drove by a nearby park to see if the 2004 Las Madres group still has Thursday morning playgroup there. Yes! Talk about turning water into wine -- a chore I was dreading turned into a delightful visit and park play.

Julian had loads of fun playing with Andrew and Gina. Every time I looked for him, he was running happily after one of them, laughing his head off. Ultimately he played with Andrew more, as few kids can keep up with Gina for long.

Meantime, Katrina lounged happily in the stroller with her feet in the air, smiling at everything.

It made me feel guilty yet again, since both Julian and Katrina had a grand time being outside. When Gabriel was a baby, I took him to parks all the time. Now it's a downright rare occasion. I've got to change that, especially since the parks around here are so, so good. Maybe fewer scheduled activities and more park playgroups

I also got to practice photographing one of my favorite faces, belonging to this amazingly agreeable baby with the most compelling eyes. I'm just in love with this little guy.

It wasn't as hard an afternoon as they've been this week, even though I had a big deadline because of skating tonight. I made some breakthroughs in practice today, marvelling at how skating reminds me of my high school gymnastics days when you're working on a particular move, have an epiphany followed by the joy of "I DID IT!!" Dance is a little more incremental, you don't have specific tricks that you either do or don't do. Today the tiniest weight shift turned a clumsy flailing into a passable 3-point turn (I think that's what it's called), in which you transition from skating forward to backward, on one foot. Now if I can mirror that to the other one foot...!

Only a few grownup skating classes left in this session. Wah! I'm just getting started! But I'm also getting anxious to take dance again, and swim. Dare I think about my future in increments of more than five minutes?


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

3/14/07 Motivating Julian

Skating Day! Julian picked up where he left off last week, both in skating and in whining and complaining. I backed off trying to get him to skate on his own, as he seems to need the security of holding my hand, or even just my finger. So mostly I tried to just keep him moving and skating to get more comfortable.

And, I found the key -- then another one! One key was to make songs up, such as the "march march march" song, to which we pick up our feet (and as a result, skate) as we sing. "The Snail and The Mouse" from Music Together was also a great song game ("slowwwly slowwlly...quicklyquickly!").

The other major key to Julian was the plastic balls the teachers spread out on the ice to chase and kick, which he loved to do. It's not easy to kick a ball from an ice skates, as my tailbone discovered painfully today!! But Julian was pretty good at it, and after kicking a ball, he'd instinctively chase after it, forgetting about the skating part. He was actually gliding for several feet at a time in his pursuit of the ball, which is more than Gabriel ever did in 6 classes.

I tried to capture a video, but it was pretty hard since he wouldn't let me let go of his hand, and because after he kicks the ball, he scrambles after it!

The balls gave me a pang of guilt that we were doing what I wanted to do (skate), not what he loves to do (soccer). Nevertheless, I'm having far more fun with Julian in skating than I did with Gabriel, whose resistance was a lot harder to chip away with distracting games.

Toward the end of the class, Julian got tired and started complaining a lot, so I got him to sit on a bench for a few minutes while I skated upright to work the kinks out of my back, which had been leaning over for almost an hour helping him skate.

After skating, I dropped Julian back off at Tonya's. Katrina was napping, so I left her with Tonya for the remaining hour. Perfect! I zipped off to the Y and did some treadmill time and a curtailed workout before zooming back to Tonya's to pick up Julian and Katrina, then Gabriel. I am so loving the Y, especially that it's just minutes away from everything.

I arrived home tired, sweaty, hungry, and completely overloaded with all three of them needing something from me. It's amazing how we lower our standards as moms. In the old days, I wouldn't have dreamed of getting changed into regular clothes without taking a shower first. Nowadays, I'm grateful just to get changed at all!

I'm sorry to say that hard afternoons have become a trend I dread. Thankfully Katrina took a decent nap this afternoon, allowing me to get a few little things done, but come dinner-making bath-bedtime, it was all hard labor. She's not quite ready for bed, but is also grouchy enough that I either have to carry her or listen to her cry, which is intensely stressful. I had to either carry her, or quickly rush around packing all two-handed chores into the few minutes I might have before she starts to fuss.

At least the boys were pretty good tonight. Dave had to work late again, so it was the third night in a row of putting all three to bed single-handedly. I've got to do something differently, that shouldn't be such a heavy load.

Weird kid comment of the day: Gabriel: "Mommy, I wish I had four ears!"

Funny kid comment of the day: Gabriel again, echoing me, said laughingly to Katrina, who'd started to fuss after a long period of being happy, "Do you have something in your diaper I should know about?!"


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

3/13/07 Katrina rolls over

Katrina spends virtually no time lying on the floor, as so many babies do, for fear (mine) of getting trampled by her brothers. And she doesn't last long lying on a bed, she always starts to cry or fuss. So she hasn't rolled over yet, though I think she could.

And she did! I put her on her tummy today, which I've only done a handful of times, and she pushed up and rolled easily to her back.

Also in the mobility department: this morning I found her in the crib turned a full 180 degrees.

Katrina and Julian went to Tonya's this morning so Dave and I could meet with our estate lawyers and finalize our trust documents. She did great, taking what would be her longest nap of the day on Tonya's bed.

But at home in the afternoon, she took only a short snooze and woke up grumpy at 3pm. This made me dread the rest of the afternoon, as she requires constant attention and carrying -- standing up, of course. Fortunately today there were times she'd let me sit down, and I got to talk on the phone and do a little Web-surfing, but dinner-making and putting boys to bed was all one-handed while carrying baby again.

After dinner, I sat in the family room to protect Katrina while she played on the floor and practiced sitting up (which will go a long ways toward making my life easier). Gabriel and Julian had to join in the tummy time.

Sweet kid comment of the day: Gabriel, talking about Katrina: "I just love her SO much!"

I hope he still feels that way she really gets mobile and starts getting into his Stuff.


Monday, March 12, 2007

3/12/07 Girl, Interrupted

So-so morning led to a traumatic afternoon.

Morning badness was Katrina's much-too-short nap, and hence mine as well. I went to bed very late last night and was counting on at least a half-hour snooze during Katrina's morning nap. But she napped barely that long, not long enough for me.

I made up for it with a good workout at the Y. It's funny, I used to not like working out on my own, but nowadays I feel so pressed for time that I can make better use of every instant if I can direct the workout myself. I wish I could alternate hard-workout days of running, weights, pushups and abs with a nice gooey yoga or Pilates class every day. I try not to think about dance classes.

But this afternoon....Katrina's much-needed afternoon nap lasted barely 20 minutes, and she was a mess all day. So was I. I was in no mood to carry her around for hours, but that's exactly what ended up happening. By the time I made dinner for the boys, one-handed and one-hipped, my elbows and wrists felt swollen and my back felt like it was going to break in half.

Then a huge blowout with Gabriel. These are almost more emotionally upsetting to me now, since I'm not used to feeling so angry and out of control with him anymore. But the simplest thing escalates and turns into a huge fight, and I just hate how I react and how I feel. I knew the real problem was that I was way tired and needed time off from baby, but couldn't find a way out. I ended up putting in earplugs just to reduce stimuli, desperate for small ways to reduce stress. I felt so guilty when Gabriel later tried sweetly to help calm and entertain Katrina.

I managed to pass some decent time outdoors with Katrina this afternoon, bracing myself for the long haul to bedtime.

She likes grabbing rattles and shaking them around, sometimes startling herself!

Don't be fooled by this smile, it was one of only a few today.

Finally, baby went to bed, though she had to cry to sleep despite my best efforts.

Then I put the boys to bed (Dave had to work late) and actually had a great time making up games to get them to cooperate with the steps in the bedtime process. Things like, we all sit down in a circle and touched our feet so we made a star (making it easy to get pajama bottoms on all at once), or marching in a circle in the room and then I suddenly break away (got them right into the bathroom for bath), and Simon Says for teeth-brushing. They laughed their heads off through the whole thing. Music to my frazzled ears.

It's a safe bet tomorrow will be a better day.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

3/11/07 Migraine Madness

It was a spectacular day outside today.

While sitting outside holding Katrina and talking on the phone, Gabriel came up to me with some wilted oxalis flowers and said, "Here Mom, these flowers are for you," and then with a second handful, "and these are for Katrina." Moments later, Julian followed as well with flowers for us. Awww. My boys.

Then it got "too quiet" and I had to go investigate. Turns out, the boys were out front collecting more flowers in the dump truck. They're not allowed out front by themselves, but my sternness instantly melted away when they looked up at me with innocent eyes and said they were just collecting flowers for me and Katrina. I'm such a sucker for a good line!

I tried to do some things in the garage while Katrina happily hung out in the stroller and engaged in her favorite activity: watching her brothers' antics.

Unfortunately, migraine pain took over. Even outdoors, where I can usually overcome the pressure, I couldn't function. Standing, talking, moving -- just being hurt too much. I begged Dave to put off his afternoon chores and watch over the kids (who'd since scattered) so I could rest. Even 20 minutes would make a huge difference.

There's a lot that suggests that my migraines are hormonal, but it's never that simple. Yesterday, Kristi put a bug in my head to pursue food allergy testing. This builds on other suggestions and exploration I've been doing lately anyway, such as Steph's mother-in-law's success with kicking headaches with diet changes. Since Steph has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I've been thinking a lot about food and what I eat, and sometimes challenging myself to model my diet after her ultra-strict one, and attempting to educate myself along the way. Though I now see my Starbucks scones as a huge indulgence instead of a daily entitlement, so far all I've done is confuse myself.

Trouble is, when I don't actually have a migraine, I don't even want to think about them. And when I do have one, I can't think at all.

Sleep report check-in: Katrina's been waking up once or twice a night lately, partly because she has a slight cold. But last night, a first occurred: I didn't nurse her at a wakeup. She'd nursed 3 hours earlier, but she's 5 months old now and hardly starving. That wakeup was not for hunger. And indeed, after picking her up, trying to calm and cuddle (futile, as usual, as she responds with a rigid back and flailing limbs), making sure there was no spitup or diaper failure, I put her back down and she went back to sleep. That was a lot better than being awake for 15 minutes nursing. No more nursing for wakeups that aren't hunger wakeups.

I managed to squeeze in some photos of all three kids today.

Then a few closeups of Katrina. She isn't photogenic at all -- she's even cuter in real life! (just kidding, these really are pretty good shots of her).

Which one do you think is the cutest? I could spend all day looking and deciding.