Saturday, April 21, 2007

4/21/07 Sporting goods

A weekend day! I actually felt like today was a Saturday, distinct from the weekdays. This escapes most full-time-stay-at-home Moms, especially since the weekend means childcare is closed!

After soccer this morning, Dave took the boys to Big 5 Sporting Goods to get them better shin guards and soccer socks, even though Julian isn't taking a soccer class right now.

Julian's guards are "a shade of red," according to Dave. Yeah, I call that shade "fuschia," otherwise known as "pink." It doesn't matter though; turns out you're supposed to wear the socks over the guards. And his socks really are red.

The boys thought it would be great fun not to pose for pictures with their new shin guards, so I got some action shots of them avoiding a photo session by riding tricycles madly in circles. Turns out, I think these pics are cuter anyway.

Poor Julian, what he has to endure in life. Gabriel just won't quit bugging him! Such as ramming his tricycle into the back of Julian's.

Then we all went to REI to get a better bicycle helmet for Julian, and one for me. Julian picked out a bright pink one (it seems he's into fuschia), thinking it was one for him, but it so happened it was a "Universal Women's" size that fit me fine. So now I have a helmet that will make me very easy to find in a crowd. (Note that I don't have a bicycle, but I do have a rollerblading workshop coming up.)

There was an incredible intersection of naps this afternoon that meant all five of us were asleep at the same time for about 15 minutes. Which was the extent of my nap, thanks to a very minor dry cough that's juuust enough to wake me up and keep me from easily falling asleep again. No matter though; I extricated myself from a very comfy snuggle-up with Dave, went downstairs and tucked a pillow under Gabriel's head (he'd fallen asleep on the floor), and then enjoyed some very rare quiet time in the house.

It wasn't long before I was joined by Katrina, and her fairly early wakeup gave me an idea: can I take her out in the jogging stroller to explore the running at the Sunnyvale Baylands park? I had a lot to do to get myself and her ready first, and during that time we had a brief but nice visit from the entire White family, to return our borrowed pickup truck. Gabriel and Gina wasted no time embarking on their usual chaos. Meantime, it started to sprinkle and was getting cold -- too risky to take baby out in the stroller right next to the bay.

But I had set myself to go running, even though it was 5:30, getting dark, sprinkling rain and threatening more. I was even running-dressed in a wonderful new pair of capris I got from Athleta today -- a rare find that are actually short enough to be capri-length on me.

At the last minute, I decided to try running a familar route: the hike at Rancho San Antonio I've walked many, many times with my mom friends. The steep uphill ("Butt-Buster Bluff") at the beginning is a whole lot easier when you're not pushing a jogging stroller, carrying a baby on your back, pregnant, or some combination thereof! Betsy and Sonia are right: unpaved running is absolutely the way to go. The outdoor run felt great, and the clouds held out for me, but it was pouring rain when I pulled into our driveway.

I didn't love the tight crampy feeling in my legs later though. I made up for that by discovering that the "Hi" setting on my new whirlpool tub is actually less noisy and buzzy-vibrating than "Lo," and was actually quite nice. I remember when we were planning our new bathroom, we got the suggestion many times to skip the tub: "Who really takes baths, anyway?" Me!

If today was really a Saturday, will tomorrow really be a Sunday?


Friday, April 20, 2007

4/20/07 A classic baby toy

Does it get any cuter than this? It's so fun to smile at my brother making funny faces behind the camera when Mom is trying to get some video of me spinning this toy.

(Not sure why the embedding isn't working. If it's not, try this link:
Katrina smiles and plays

Today I brought out one of my (!) favorite baby toys, one that you can't get anymore in an analog version. We were handed down one of these, then I found a newer generation one for $1 at a garage sale, so we had two. Both of which I gave away with all our baby stuff, because we weren't having any more babies! Then Bonne Maman found this one in Pennsylvania.

It's got lots of things to spin, press, boing, turn and move from side to side, and it's a terrific baby entertainer.

Unfortunately, the new versions of these are all battery-powered light-flashing obnoxious-electronic-noise-making irritants. Not only are they really annoying to grownups, but their top claim of being "educational" for infants is foiled by the utter predictability of the electronics. You push this button, a light flashes. You turn this knob, tones emit. You always get exactly the same response.

But with the old-fashioned mechanical one, how you handle the controls affects how it responds. You spin it a little, it turns a little. You hold the knob all the way to the side, you get a bigger boing. You push it harder, it makes a bigger squeak sound. And all the infinite variations inbetween. Not just ON-OFF poles, but the entire scale inbetween. Even though we live in digital Silicon Valley, the truth is, most of our world is still analog. Especially a baby's world.

Not that I'm bent on toys being "educational," and I'll spare you that rant for now -- but the mechanical analog toys are far far more fun. And yes, representative of the real world. Which, mercifully, doesn't always tone and flash back at you.

This same toy was Gabriel's longtime favorite, since it had so much stuff to spin. It's sort of poignant now to see him showing it to his little sister. (And, slightly annoying that he keeps taking over!)

(Not sure why the embedding isn't working. If it's not, try this link:
Gabriel shows Katrina how to spin

Gabriel is allowed to make tunnels over Katrina -- instead of jump over her! (Hmm, am I a hypocrite, or have I gained some Mom paranoia? I let him jump over Julian as a baby! 'Course the delta in size, weight and speed between Gabriel and Julian when Julian was a baby is a far cry from Gabriel and Katrina now. Still, am I being sexist here?)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? Please don't drop that on my head!

Of course, the strap is often the most interesting -- and tasty -- part.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

4/19/07 Baby food

I remember now why I ended up making most of my baby food for the first two. It wasn't for the top reasons usually cited, such as that the food is healthier (I don't exactly keep a sterile kitchen), or more convenient (it's not) or cheaper (heck no). In fact, making food takes preparation, cooking, and a lot of water and cleanup. But that's true of food I make for everyone else too.

My main reason? Baby food I make just tastes a whole lot better.

Pears are one thing I recall being worth buying in jars, since you can spend $10 on a huge heavy bag of pears and puree it down to a thimbleful. But yesterday I tasted some Earth's Best jarred pears -- yeccchh! Mostly water! Katrina knew the difference too, as I'd been giving her some flavorful fresh mango, ran out, then resorted to the jarred pear. She ate it, but she lost her enthusiasm.

Today I had a pear that was less than perfectly crisp. I'm picky about pears, I like them very firm and if they're soft in the slightest, out it goes. But this was perfect for baby, so I steamed it, peeled it, and zapped it up in my mini-food-processor. YUM. It was so good. (Note to self: it was a Comice pear, not a variety I usually see, but Whole Foods happened to have it. Mm.)

The boys have suddenly developed an interest in baby food, and are constantly pleading with me to try Katrina's. I just smile and spare them the reminder that a few weeks ago, they'd have nothing at all to do with yams or prunes. Today I relented and let them both taste the pear puree, and both liked it so much that the only way I could stop them from hurling insults at me and conspiring to give me a "bad ticket" for not giving them more, was to let them take turns feeding it to Katrina.

Oh dear! They were all over that!!

Before I knew it, Gabriel had thrust the spoon all the way in poor baby's mouth. Katrina didn't cry though, she just gave me a wide-eyed puzzled face, like, "HELP! What are you letting them DO to me?!"

After some instruction, they did fine, and got a huge kick out of feeding her. Gabriel beamed, "Finally! I fed her!" I hope I haven't opened a can of worms here, as when it comes to Katrina, he is less than gracious when not permitted to "help."

(He asks me if he can carry her...! I don't know, maybe if she's in a ceiling-mounted harness, like they use to spot gymnasts....)

Once again, Katrina took a far longer nap than I expected (2-1/2 hours!!), so I ended up not getting Julian down for a nap. When she woke up, I let Julian watch a slideshow of photos on my computer while I nursed her. ("That's Cousin Aidan!" he exclaimed excitedly, "I love Cousin Aidan!") Seems he needed a nap after all, as I found him asleep in my office chair!

Meantime, Gabriel was on timeout for kicking Julian in the face with his hard sneaker, resulting in a big bump and a bloody nose and a lot of wailing. "FINE. I DON'T CARE. Do you want me to put you in jail? You're a BRAT" Gabriel retorted as he dragged his feet into timeout. (Who are these children who actually feel bad about injuring their brother?!) A few minutes later, I found him asleep on the floor, and stuck a baby blanket under his head, conflicted about adding to his comfort after such a severe infraction. Later, he rearranged the blanket on top of him.

These past few days, Katrina has been absolutely brimming with energy and joy. She makes all sorts of funny sounds, flails her arms and legs, reaches aggressively for everything, smiles and laughs at the slightest provocation. She's really been sweet and fun, with only fussy moments at obvious times ("I'm hungry," "I'm tired," etc.) I think good solid naps are responsible for this clear sailing. Good, solid, long, uninterrupted, regular naps. I can't imagine.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

4/18/07 Katrina's first swim class

Katrina had her first swim class today!

At first, she was really happy, smiling and obviously excited by this new venture.

Before the lesson, she wouldn't take her eyes off the pool, not even for a photo with Mom.

She wasn't crazy about the teacher though, and cried pitifully when he took her. I was able to distract her, but then the crying started in earnest.

So I figured I'd just pull her out early. But she recovered and then happily hung out for all of playtime.

Then she was all funny faces and raspberries after the lesson. Just like her older older brother was (though he didn't cry): energized by, and happy about, this new fun experience.

Julian, meantime, sat down in a chair and pretty much didn't budge the entire 45 minutes we were there, including getting myself and Katrina changed before and after the lesson. I hadn't been sure what to do with him (Tonya's closed this week for spring break, or he'd be at preschool), but decided to risk it and hope he'd be good and sit -- and he was great.

I wish I could say the same for later. Julian's screaming has really become a problem, and I have absolutely no idea how to get him to stop. No amount of timeouts, sending him upstairs or outside, or taking something away, or whispering back to him, or anything, will stop it happening. Even something expected and benign like, "Julian! Time to go pee and wash hands before dinner!!" can elicit a shriek, out of which you can barely discern a "No!" At least when Gabriel anticipates that Julian is going to get in big trouble, he turns on Angel mode. Uh-huh. Mr Angel. Surrrre.

We spent some time hanging out in the family room this evening, with Katrina practicing her sitting -- and piano playing! Her grandmother is a pianist, so she has good genes for it. Is this how it starts? Of course, it'd be a lot easier to practice without my brothers distracting me!

This led to a capture of the kids hanging out together, just a few typical moments around here, nothing special. It's very sweet, but I have to stay very close to keep baby from getting mushed. Well, by Julian, anyway. Gabriel is actually very careful, and in this little clip, he even protects Katrina from Julian, pushing his head away.

I went out with two friends tonight, to talk about sort-of business, and of course, catch up on our kids and cheesecake. But not necessarily in that order.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


What a world we live in. Violence. Mayhem. Cruelty. Threats. The risk of injury or pain at any corner turned. Land mines strewn across seemingly harmless ground. Senseless screaming.

And that's just my house!

Actually, it feels tacky to joke about violence on the day after a horrendous shooting massacre. The world is so full of wrong. I do wish some days that I could find solace in a peaceful household. But, in a way, I find solace in a chaotic, crazy, kid-driven household instead. With kids, life goes on, regardless.

We plodded along our day with little incident. We went to the park this morning, where Julian played ball with Rylan and Quinton.

Katrina really needed a nap after the park, so I bailed on a much-overdue trip to Trader Joe's, picked Gabriel up early, took them all home and put her down.

She woke up when both boys were asleep, grouchy, so I fed her. She eats so eagerly, three times today, that I'm really wondering how it is that babies technically don't need anything but breastmilk for the first year of their lives. You'd never know it to see how excited she gets when the first spoonful of food approaches.

Gabriel had made himself comfortable on the couch, as he often does. Dave came home early, not feeling well, and lay down to rest too. Oh, how I envy the ability to do just take off of work and lie down when you need to! Soon, Katrina needed nap #3 for the day, so I had a rare few moments when the entire family, except me, was asleep.

Tomorrow is Katrina's first swim lesson!


Monday, April 16, 2007

4/16/07 M is for....


Anyone else getting tired of hearing about this? Me too. It's back, in full force, with intense pressure, photophobia, noise sensitivity, weird smells, stomach pain, and inability to concentrate. I'm not sure it ever really went away, though yesterday was relatively headache-free except around bedtime. Technically then I count this as Day 8. At least I got a brief break for about 10 minutes on a treadmill (out of 15).

Thank goodness then that Katrina took a nice 2-1/2 hour nap! And she was in a terrific mood when she woke up.

Her naps have gotten reliable enough now that I'm going to start insisting Julian take one too. I've been lax about it, since I hate to spend one instant of my baby-free time doing something I can do while she's up (put Julian to nap that is). But with a reliable 2+ hour nap, there's leeway now.

So I didn't even attempt to get Julian down, and the boys played together out back all afternoon. This involved climbing on the garbage cans over the deck rail, going to the back storage area and climbing over our stored stacks of bricks, and drawing with chalk on the deck -- none of which are allowed. Still, for the most part, they played together pretty well, with only one injury (a scratch on Julian's cheek, for which of course I can't get a straight story as to its origin).

I attempted a photo session with all three; this was the best of the bunch. It's hard enough getting the boys to take it all seriously, and get all three to look up, no one blink or look away....but then Katrina kept spitting up prunes all over her white shirt and all over the boys' hands and clothes. Naturally this gastric volcano had to occur during the one five-minute interval of the day when I could get the boys to sit still with her for a photo session.

I'm going to attempt an early-to-bed tonight, though that might only result in more hours spent lying awake with a vice grip on my head.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

4/15/07 To the hills

I was in the mood to test myself running outdoors today, on an unpaved trail. That and the fact that the Y's Childwatch closed at 12:30, and our usual big Sunday breakfast had us running much too late to make it there.

That meant taking Katrina in the single jogging stroller somehwere, since Dave was working hard putting and throwing away some leftover construction stuff in our yard, including a trip to the dump. (I'm beside myself! It looks so much better!)

I didn't want to circle Rancho San Antonio's parking lot in the usual frustrating weekend search for parking, so asked my longtime pal Paul to show me his favorite trail at the nearby Fremont Older Space Preserve. I figured we'd hike it, though he usually mountain-bikes it, and I'd see if it was suitable for running. He wasn't so sure it would even be good for hiking with a stroller, since it's steep and narrow. But, lacking any other ideas on short notice, I figured I'd try it.

First thing I did upon arrival was circle the parking lot looking for parking. Now really. Don't I know by now that if parking is hard in one place, it's bound to be just as hard in a similar, nearby place?! Then Paul had to look for parking too. I guess it's a good thing that outdoor resources in the Bay Area are so popular.

Turns out, steepness wasn't an issue, but narrowness definitely was -- especially since the trails are also used by mountain bikes. An oncoming mountain bike flying around a blind corner would have to make a quick stop for a jogging stroller to move over. There was no way a double stroller would have made it, and even with the single, there were some dropoffs that would have concerned me if I were the acrophobic type. In the end, it looks like a great place for a challenging run, when I'm ready for challenging runs, but not with any sort of jogging stroller.

Still, views were lovely, though Katrina missed the best parts with a curtailed afternoon nap. She didn't make so much as a mew the entire hike, mostly just looking around. It was a much rougher hike than any of my babies in strollers have endured, but, she had no problem.

I'm delighted to report that last night, I only nursed Katrina once, around 4am. She did wake up crying around midnight, and when I checked her, she had no blankets on, and her ankles were freezing. So I picked her up, held her (I'm such a sucker for punishment; I still hold out hope that some day she'll relax on my shoulder and actually sort of hug me back instead of rigidly trying to escape), sniffed her bottom, and then put her back down, this time wrapping her up in the blankets. She was asleep before I got back to bed. Around 4am, she nursed like her life depended on it.

I was up anyway, enduring another awful night of sleep, due to a new reason: my eyes contracted whatever Gabriel had last week: red, goopy, itchy eyes. But mine got worse than I've seen anyone's so far, with puffiness all around, especially my eyelids. I woke up numerous times last night with tears streaming down my face. Fortunately, I have a prescription antibiotic from a previous episode, and that seems to be helping. Today my eyes are clear, but the puffiness remains. I look absolutely awful.

But even though I had to get up twice last night to pry my goop-dried eyes open, there was a new sensation: normal. That is, my head wasn't pounding. I was really tired this morning, but my head was clear. I'd actually started to forget what it was like for the worst thing about mornings is seeing yourself in the mirror.

Next week: spring break! Meaning: Tonya's closed! I get to really be a full-time mom now!