Saturday, March 24, 2007

3/24/07 Gabriel and Julian go to the mall

A confluence of several events put us at a most unlikely place this afternoon: a mall. And Vallco, at that, my alltime least favorite mall!

Those events were:

1) Dave had to work this afternoon
2) Katrina woke up early from a nap
3) Julian never took a nap
4) I got to (had to) sleep this morning, then went to the Y and ran while Dave played with Katrina, putting me in great shape for the afternoon
5) The Smiling Frog closes at 4 on Saturdays (which I found out only after getting everyone out of the car, argh)
6) It is well past time to get the boys new shoes and sandals anyway.

Even more shocking than me taking three kids to a mall on a nice Saturday afternoon was that it was actually a good experience. Imagine that!

First, as soon as we entered the mall, we came across a small corner store that hosts a model train club, which is open two Saturday afternoons a month, and it was open. The boys loved seeing the model trains and tracks and all the equipment. Incredibly, they cooperated about leaving when it was time to go.

Next, we found the Howard's shoe store very quickly and easily. I was impressed with the setup, which has a big column in the middle of the store with a circular bench around it -- plenty of seating and perfect for trying shoes on kids. The guy there was a huge help, measuring the boys' feet and giving me good direct advice on sandals and regular shoes. He had a helper go back and get shoes, talking to me all along, so the usual dreadful wait while someone rummages around in the back was eliminated. It was effective: we left with 4 more pairs of shoes, and $192 fewer dollars, in the space of under 15 minutes. But, the guy was right that now, especially at Gabriel's age, they're much harder on shoes, and don't outgrow them as fast, which is exactly why I'd decided it was time to take them to a real shoe store. They also got Silly Putty gifts from the shoe store, which they both loved.

Then, we passed by Mrs. Field's Cookies. Always a big hit with me.

Finally, since Vallco is half-deserted, I didn't mind the boys being rambunctious and running in the empty hallways, and didn't feel like I had to lecture them constantly about not running, shouting or pushing each other. The other day at Whole Foods, at the meat counter, a woman caught my attention and informed me the boys were fighting. As I tried to deal with them, the butcher had a question for me, and I was being completely torn in two directions. After I was done at the meat counter, I kneeled down and talked sternly to the boys about the rules, but to little avail. It's especially stressful at Whole Foods, which is always crowded and has narrow aisles. Not to mention I'm always carrying Katrina at the time too. So today at the mall having nice wide empty halls, and no streets or parking lots as we went from place to place, was something of a relief. Unfortunately for Vallco, what I liked best about it was its emptiness, not usually a good thing for a mall.

Katrina was practically not a factor at all on today's excursions, calmly watching everything from her perch in the stroller or in my hip carrier. Just like Gabriel as a baby: get me out of the house, I got places to go, things to see!

Too bad I thought I'd forgotten my camera at the mall today, only to discover later I had it in my purse all along...argh!

I got some photos of the boys playing out back in their new sneakers anyway.

The next step in our day didn't go so well. I called Dave at work and suggested we go straight to Outback for dinner, since I had everyone in the car anyway. It was only 5:45, we might get there before it gets packed....nope! We checked in for a 25-30 minute wait!

Since I had to nurse Katrina anyway, we decided to stick out the wait. (I hate waiting at restaurants, especially with the kids.) Nope -- boys too rambunctious, running and getting out of sight or too close to parking lots, not listening, etc. Bail!! I'd looked forward to not cooking and cleaning tonight. At least we had some nice fresh pork chops from Whole Foods -- hard-won chops at that.

We saw a neat sight this evening east toward San Jose: a blimp. It was pretty far, but I think I saw GoodYear on it (not sure though). The boys were fascinated, and watched it from our bedroom balcony until it gradually drifted out of sight.

Later, when they were playing out back with chalk, I was floored to see that Gabriel had drawn a blimp in chalk, along with his and Julian's name with the graffiti-like touch of arrows (Zeke would be proud). He explained that he put the lines under the blimp so it wouldn't fall when it landed.

Believe it or not, this is the first thing I've ever seen Gabriel draw of his own volition. He was very proud and insisted I take a picture of him with it.

I found a great way to get some "me" time in tonight: skating. Yes, I went back to the mall after all kids were in bed, where the ice rink is, and tried to practice. The Saturday night public session is mostly little kids (shouldn't they be in bed?!) and socializing teenagers, but I was able to get in a decent skate. If nothing else, all the people flying around me forces me to learn extra control.

Running, shopping, dinner, skating....a packed, but good day, which is about to be topped off with a nice warm bath.


Friday, March 23, 2007

3/23/07 Friday Night Fun

W-2. 1099-OID. ESPP. NQSO. K-1. Box 8. Specified Private Activity Bond Interest.



did I say I was having fun with this?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

3/22/07 The dreaded afternoon

This morning after (our last!) music class, I took Julian and Katrina to Portal Park again. I have almost no photos of me and Katrina, so asked Kristi to take some, and she got a couple great ones!

These are scrappers. (That's a term I just made up for photos worth scrapbooking.) Thank you Kristi!

But once again, a nice morning yielded to a rough afternoon. Katrina was in desperate need of a long, solid nap, but woke up barely 30 minutes into an afternoon nap, crying and miserable. I checked her diaper, went through the usual futile motions of soothing, and put her back down, wide awake and screaming. I didn't know what else to do. So I anxiously paced and listened intently. More screaming. Julian was oddly cooperative about taking a nap, so I got him ready and read him a book, trying to disguise my tension and frustration. Still screaming.

The trouble with letting a baby cry, aside from the fact that it's intensely stressful and upsetting, is that you just don't know if it's gone too far, or if it's about to be effective. You invest so much effort into enduring it; for all you know the baby is about to give up. Or, for all you know, you should have gotten the baby a long time ago since it's hopeless and you hate yourself. But, of course, Katrina renders most options moot, since pretty much nothing I can do will soothe her. I can work hard at distracting her, but I didn't have the emotional energy to bounce her around for the next four hours.

Finally, after 50 minutes, she slowed down and finally settled down, for a good hour and a half. I was almost nervous to go see her when she woke up, feeling guilty and traumatized, but I was greeted with a beautiful beaming smile, of a happy baby who'd gotten a good nap. If only she could have told me two hours earlier that I'd end up stumbling upon the right thing.....

Man, babies can be hard. Shouldn't I be an expert by now? It seems the more experienced I am, the worse I am at it.

After the hard-won afternoon nap and a good long deep nursing, I have what has become one of my favorite parts of the day: playing with her on my bed, alone, with no little boys buzzing around. She's smiley and cooey and makes all sorts of sweet sounds, and I have fun making up ways to make her laugh. So afternoons are not entirely a bust.

Yesterday, Gabriel and I had fun helping Katrina practice sitting up. I put her on the floor with my legs on either side of her, then Gabriel and I counted how long she'd stay up until she started to topple. We got up to 10 once!

This message brought to you courtesy of the remaining few minutes of post-afternoon-nap baby happiness, and a small plastic bowl that's quite fun to chew on.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

3/21/07 Julian's no-hands skating

Julian. My little skater! I just can't believe how well he's doing!

Today he forgot a few times to keep a death grip on my hand, starting with a game in which he runs -- yes runs after me. Which, of course, is very funny. Of course, on ice skates, if you run, you'll end up gliding a bit too.

Then I'd somehow forget to hold on to him, or I'd make him skate a little to me to get to my hand. But if he needed it, I gave it to him right away, since mostly he needs to build confidence.

Then there were the balls again, and it was no end of fun to throw them into the goal. This clip I took at the end of the class, when he was pooped out and complaining, he was skating much better than this before. And while holding my hand, Julian was skating fast enough that I had to push off to keep up with him. Indeed, it's safe to say that while holding my hand, he skated as fast, if not faster, than Dave does!

HMMM I wonder what combines the principles of soccer with ice skating....HMMMMM.....

I put snowpants on him today, which I think increased his confidence and comfort. Then again, it also backfired because then it was fun to fall on purpose, which is hard on my back to pick him up those extra times. He still can't get back up himself.

Before and after skating this morning, I had an hour to do things at home. This is how pathetic my life has gotten: I'm actually enjoying doing our taxes and a long-overdue review of our finances and budget. After all the remodeling expense, that's a bit of a downer, but I like getting a handle on it instead of it all being a big fuzz in my head. It's great to dig into a project and feel productive again.

Katrina spent the morning at Tonya's, first looking intently at everyone, then napping until I picked her up. Yay!

This is how hard my afternoons at home have been: though most people are horrified when I tell them I almost always grocery-shop with all three kids, the truth is, shopping with all three is actually easier than being at home! So after picking Gabriel up today, I took my little drinking-problems-waiting-to-happen to Trader Joe's, then a produce store next to TJ's, then to PW. Believe it or not, that was better than braving all afternoon at home. Not a peep out of Katrina the whole time.

I have a way of keeping the boys under control, sort of, at TJs. I made them both grocery lists, then gave them each a bag to carry. While in TJs, Gabriel complained aloud, "Mommy, it's hard to run carrying this bag!". Ohhh, REALLY? I answered absently, "Funny that...some people might say I planned it that way," drawing laughs and smiles from people around me.

Someone asked me today if they were twins. Probably because they both had on red sweatshirts.

Anyway, our excursions made for a much better afternoon, and let me try out
a recipe for chicken patties that I saw Rachael Ray making on the Food network. Ironic that I really enjoy watching cooking shows when I'm running on the treadmill! My new increased food awareness and interest has sparked a rare cooking kick. And while I had a few flops tonight, the chicken patties themselves were really good, and best of all, the boys loved them!

I'm glad I watched Rachael Ray make them, it's actually much more instructive than just reading the recipe. For instance, she mixed the fresh herbs, spices and yogurt all in the food processor, instead of in a separate bowl as the recipe says. Handy. And, she suggested parsley as a substitute for cilantro, much appreciated by those of us who find that
cilantro tastes like soap.

I'm having fun watching the new season of Dancing with the Stars. You'd think I'd be all over that, given how much I love dance, but ballroom is my second least favorite kind of dance (next to modern). It's just too glitzy for me. But, I appreciate the athleticism, and I have to give the celebrities credit for putting themselves out there. Image and ego is everything to people in the public eye, and they really are taking chances with that. To my surprise, my favorite female dancer so far is, hands-down, Laila Ali. She has a kick-ass gorgeous body, and she is far and away the most graceful. For men, while three of them are really pretty good dancers (the speed-skater guy Apolo almost shockingly), I have to say I liked watching John Ratzenberger (best known as Cliff on Cheers) the best. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but looked like he was having a great time and just seemed to have a good gamely spirit about him.

I mentally prepared myself all day to go to the Y tonight, and did, despite the time challenges of a labor-intensive dinner with a lot of cleanup, and then taking the whole family to Redwood City to drop off my car for service. But I made it at 9:15pm and closed the place down at 10pm. I like this new habit. It might even help me start liking myself again.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

3/20/07 Thunder!

My grand plans for taking Julian and Katrina to the park this morning were foiled by rain -- and thunder! Gabriel talked abut the thunder later, very excited by it. It's a rare occurrence here.

Afternoons have gotten hard enough that today, when Katrina went down for a nap, I didn't spend any precious baby-free moments working on Julian's nap, figuring she'd be up in about 40 minutes anyway. I needed to make the most of every second.

Sure enough, 35 minutes into the nap, she woke up crying. But, she was crying in such a way that made me think she'd go back to sleep, and she did. Incredibly, she wound up taking a nearly 2-hour afternoon nap, a major blessing. She was still crabby and demanding afterward, but at least I had a little less crabby and demanding time. And some good time too.

Meantime, not napping Julian was a huge mistake. He and Gabriel drove me crazy, fighting, bugging each other, bugging Katrina, not listening to me, and countless timeouts. Between Gabriel's defiance, Julian's screaming and Katrina's grumpiness, today was downright traumatic. I was really an awful person today; shouting, snapping at seemingly the tiniest thing, barely able to crack a smile at the numerous cute and fun things kids always do.

At 4:30pm I couldn't take it anymore, and demanded to Julian that he go upstairs for a nap. To my amazement, he immediately cooperated. His attitude went from petulant and obnoxious to agreeable and sweet as soon as he realized he'd get some one-on-one time with me reading to him. This only intensified my guilt.

I really have to do something drastically different. I'm not doing anyone any good being so stressed and on edge, and the boys are picking up my snappy manner. It's intensely stressful for me having to carry a baby around all afternoon -- even just sitting down is met with wiggles and cries. My wrists and elbows feel swollen by the end of an afternoon. And that's with a light baby. I don't know how Lacy does it.

My guess is that much of Katrina's afternoon misery is simply boredom. Gabriel was much the same way, needing to get out a lot, but since he was my first baby, I could make quick baby-entertainment trips. Going to Trader Joe's counted. With the other two in tow, it's a lot harder to do such things without it turning into a huge production, especially with Julian napping.

Meantime, I need to prepare myself : practice some deep breathing, and find ways to gather myself for more hours of walking around carrying a grumpy baby while constantly nagging the boys to quit fighting, keep their hands out of each other's faces, stop fighting, leave Katrina alone, no fighting, and once and for all do NOT grab Katrina's feet when I'm carrying her! And STOP FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight I went to the Y again, mostly for stress management and stretching, since I really did a number on myself yesterday and am a little sore. Relief turned to disappointment when I realized the pool was open, and not crowded. That's exactly what I needed, a swim! Next time. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe thinking about going to the Y will help keep me from flying off the handle. I'm going to need a lot of strength for another afternoon like today.

This morning there were a few fun moments, though every few seconds during this sibling-love scene were peppered with, "let go of her hands let go of her hands let go of her hands LET GO OF HER HANDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" She's usually fine, but I'm never sure when Gabriel or Julian are going to go too far.

A crummy camera-capture:

I can't believe I'd ever think this, but sometimes I can't help but to wish that Katrina's brothers loved her just a little less. Please let me forget I ever said that. I hope they will.


Monday, March 19, 2007

3/19/07 Early appointment

A ** 7:30 ** AM doctor's appointment? That meant I left before even seeing Katrina this morning, unless you count her 4am wakeup. (At which she drank heartily and went right back to sleep, so I can forgive her.)

Results of allergy testing: Zip. No food or airborne allergies, except a mild reaction to "mold mix," whatever that is. And no explanation for my strange reaction to fruit juices, which I've solved for decades by, surprise, not drinking fruit juices. Taa-daa.

I also had blood drawn for other tests for food sensitivities, including gluten, and those results should come back in a week. But there doesn't appear to be any low-hanging fruit (no pun intended) to solve migraines with dietary changes.

The only interesting thing that came out of it is my description of chronic and long-lasting bronchitis and coughing (which actually hasn't flared in over a year), and the allergy doc thinks that it could be a mild form of asthma, even though pulmonary function testing last year yielded nothing.

Obnoxious kid comment of the day: Gabriel, on his way to his room for relentless torture of his younger brother, to me, "Stupid pig!" Trouble is, my coming down hard on him for that only shows him how offensive it is. Note to self: LAUGH at him as though he said something silly, like the time he said, with all the venom he could muster, funny kid comment of the distant past: "I'm going to compare you!"

Another rough afternoon with a baby who didn't nap enough and required nonstop carrying and entertaining. I should be a better mom who appreciates my healthy, beautiful, perfect, vigorous, lively baby; not a resentful, frustrated, stressful shell of a woman who snaps at her kids and can't put two thoughts together and frequently finds herself in a room and having no idea why she went in there.

After dinner and baby bedtime, I zoomed off to the Y, where I took it all out on the treadmill, then did weights, stretching, and abs. My energy now exceeds my time; I could have spent another half hour there, pounding my body to revive my spirit. And it worked.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

3/18/07 Sunday Park Day

Today the Cupertino Las Madres groups of all birthyears met for a Sunday playdate at Portal Park, one of my favorite parks. It's closeby, shaded, and has lots of nice hilly grassy areas. On the downside, the bathrooms are far away, and the street is close enough to make moms with fast toddlers nervous.

It's especially fun to go to the park when there are playmates there. Especially the usual suspects: Gina and Andrew, though today Andrew mostly tried to keep up with Gina and Gabriel. Gabriel recognized "Gina's car" as we were parking, and was very happy she was there.

Katrina has her own White family playmate now: Dylan, though both babies are far too young to be very aware of each other yet. They're only 6 weeks apart in age, enough that it still makes a difference at this age, but not for long.

It was nice to (sort of) sit on blankets in the shade with our immobile babies and yak, though I only got away with this because Betsy got up a lot to track down the older kids, and because other moms who were standing could give us periodic reports on the whereabouts of the other kids.

I didn't get a picture, but Julian and another little boy found a fountain and soaked themselves so completely that they both went home in underpants, Julian in only underpants!

Gabriel and Gina were up to their usual antics, running all over the park and play structures. And into a tree to look over a fence at a neighbor's pool. Now that I think about it, I've never seen Gabriel climb a tree!

He then said he was scared and climbed down with no further complaint, to which Gina responded, "I'm NEVER scared to climb trees!" Indeed, Gina is the far superior climber.

For me to get these photos, Betsy kindly looked after Katrina.

Not long after the tree, the kids found the sand.

Gabriel was in another area playing with some other kids' trucks. I always ask the attending mom if he caused any trouble, as he's usually very intent on playing with trucks in the sand, but they always assure me he's been very polite.

A nice time at the park gave way to a lousy, difficult afternoon at home. Katrina took less than a half-hour nap, and was grouchy and demanding all afternoon. Finally at 5:00pm, I couldn't take any more, and neither could she, so I put her down for...what, a late nap? Early bed? I wasn't sure. She fussed for about 10 minutes, then zonk.

I woke her up out of a sound sleep at 7:30pm, not daring to call that bedtime. She was happy and playful for a long time, and then went to bed for real at 10pm. Not our best night for following routines!

Gabriel attempted underpants again last night, and thanks to Dave waking him up twice last night, he was dry this morning. So he's in underpants again tonight, but I'm not holding my breath. In retrospect, our last attempt to do this was when we were sleeping downstairs during the remodel, significantly adding to the pain-in-the-rear-end factor to getting up to wake him. So hopefully now being a few steps away from his room will help.

Strange kid comment of the day: Julian: "Mommy, do we have guns in the house?" Then Julian made a gun out of Megablocks and "killed" me.