Saturday, May 05, 2007

5/5/07 Gabriel calls the police

A busy day, with no photos, again.

A typical conflict with Gabriel today escalated into a pretty funny scene. I asked him to pick up his school supplies, and he refused, claiming Julian had gotten them out (this is a new thing: the boys blame each other). I warned him he'd better put them away, he refused. So I picked them up, put them into their box, and threw it into the garbage.

Gabriel was so outraged that he threatened in bloodcurdling tones that he'd call the police and they'd put me in jail. "Yeah!" chimed in Julian, "they'll give Mommy a bad ticket!". Gabriel carried out his threat, pulling up a barstool to get the phone handset, turning it on, and then trying to dial something. (This is why I wouldn't dare teach him to call 911.)

So I went with it. I took the phone from him and said "Fine, Gabriel, you want to call the police? We'll call them. And you know what the police will say?" I had their riveted attention now. "The police will say that little boys must listen to their mother." Gabriel didn't buy it, and again demanded the police be called. So I let him hear the dial tone, and then I "dialed" the police.

Exit Mom, enter Bob Newhart. "Hello, police?"

The boys were mortified.

"Gabriel wants you to come here to put me in jail! ....Oh, mm-hmmm. (listening), I thought so. I'll tell him." And I put my hand over the mouthpiece and told Gabriel, "See, the policeman says you have to listen to your mother."

Then I got back on the phone and pretended to listen some more, then said, "No, no, I don't think you have to come here. Gabriel will listen, you don't need to put him in jail. I'm sure he'll be very good, that's OK, he's being good. You don't need to come, I'll tell him. Thank you. Good-bye, police!" And I hung up.

Wide-eyed, they looked to me for an explanation. "I told the policeman not to come because you boys are going to be very good and listen to me and do what I say now, right?" Julian just looked at me. Then, incredibly, Gabriel burst into tears! "I don't want to go to jail!" he bawled.

It was all I could do not to roll on the floor with laughter. Guilty laughter, since scaring the cr*p out of your kids is generally considered to be poor form. But geez, he started it!

I hugged Gabriel and assured him the police weren't coming, that policemen were our friends, that they have little boys and girls too and that they know that little boys and girls have to listen to their mothers and fathers. I played up every positive aspect there was, and it was all forgotten within a few minutes. Knowing Gabriel, the lesson itself was forgotten too, and he'll be right back to his rude demanding talk tomorrow.

Julian remembered it, and asked me about it at various points throughout the day. He's much more like his cousin Aidan, absorbing and remembering an incident and asking about it later. (Of course, I wouldn't dream of pulling a stunt like that with imaginative Aidan.)

It was an odd day, with highs such as a rollerblading workshop in the morning, and a long run at Rancho San Antonio in the afternoon, and a low point so sad I can't bring myself to write about it. But it was capped off by a surprise visit from Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan tonight. No day can possibly be bad that involves the world's greatest in-laws.


Friday, May 04, 2007

5/4/07 3's the key

I made a few enlightening discoveries today, of the "well DUH" variety. Three, in fact.

3 kids puts you over the edge. Not the 3rd child in particular, but the combination of the three.

3-year-olds put you over the edge. Even a "good" 3-year-old.

3-hour naps by said 3-year-old keep you teetering on the edge, a milk-spill or pants-pee away from being put over it, but still, just barely still on it. It gets you down from 3 to 2 children for a few hours. And life begins again. And then ends again when said 3-year-old wakes up. Around 3:00, eerily enough.

Usually blogs by people I don't know don't hold much interest for me. But my Mom friends have pointed me to one that is absolutely hilarious:
Dooce. The author is a SAHM (read her bio for a different expansion of that acronym that, unusual for me, I found hysterical) who has a 3-year-old. It was this line from a recent post that Stacey originally pointed me to, that now rings in my head daily: "Three is the opposite of A DISTINCTLY LIKABLE HUMAN BEING." I'm sure I broke a copyright law by "reprinting" that, so I'll point you to the entire text: Acting her age.

Though I'm always compelled to qualify Julian's misdeeds with "at least it's nothing like what Gabriel can dish out," 3 is still his worst phase in life so far, and the worst that any of our 3 are in now. We should be grateful that it's Julian who's in his worst place, not Gabriel, but still. Today's afternoon without Julian gave me a choice insight into why I've been so insane the past few days: it's because of the three-year-old, not the carry-me-all-day baby. Life sure is a lot easier without three (3 children and 3-year-old). I know, I know, life isn't supposed to be easy. But who said it's supposed to be hard?

Julian didn't intend to take a nap today, but he fell asleep during the (get this:) three minute trip picking up Gabriel. So I carried him up to his bed, where he slept soundly, and let me be a mom of 2 for 3 hours. For half that time, Katrina took a nap too, so I was down to one. The first One, in fact. Who, incredibly, despite recent unbearable rudeness and obstinance, now ranks as our easiest one. Of all the three to be the easy one. Gabriel.

So I pinned on my Good Mom badge and sat down and played a game with Gabriel, "Travel Blokus" that one of the boys was given by one of our family members in one of the days during the Christmas-birthday blitz. (My best recollection is that it was from the Engels, or maybe Bonne Maman, and I think it was to Gabriel.) I made a few half-hearted stabs at "teaching moments" during the game, but mostly, I just wanted to interact and play with him. He really enjoyed it. And so did I. And that's what we're here for, right?

After the game, I asked him to "help" me with my closet project, that is creeping along at a snail's pace. My goal had been to finish it during my precious baby-free time this morning, but once again, I was stymied by another dentist appointment, a phone-call-prohibitive excess of Novacaine, and some sort of neck crick that has me sitting like I have a pole up my backside. Yet I managed to finish screwing in shelf supports and slap some paint on them, an important milestone.

Trouble with projects like this is, the more you do, the more you realize needs to get done. And I'm not talking about the closet.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

5/3/07 Room to grow

Today we went to "Erin's house" for a little birthday gathering for Danielle, who's cared for Erin since just before Erin's twin sisters were born. A perfect excuse for some kid backyard play, mom-yak-time, and pizza and cupcakes. It doesn't get more wholesome than that.

Julian with Erin, Kate and Quinton.

I didn't get the shot where he was sitting at the table with only the girls, entertaining Kate by showing her half-chewed mouthfuls of food, complete with vomit sound effects. According to Kate, this performance was hilarious.

Katrina got to experience her first piece of furniture dedicated to the function of high-chair-ness (as opposed to the portable strap-on type she and her brothers have had to stoop to). As you can see, there's quite a bit of room to grow.

"Room To Grow." That's Katrina, all right. RTG. The story of her short life. I think that'll be a title for a scrapbook page.

Katrina didn't do so well at her weight check appointment today. She's 13 lbs 10 oz, having put on a mere 2 oz ("essentially nothing" said the doc) since her 6-month appointment, and that's with eating solids 2-3 times a day, no eating issues, no illnesses. She's slid from 10th percentile to 5th, and is close to falling off the chart. Even Gabriel waited until 9 months old to do that.

Fortunately, our pediatricians are not alarmists, and since all other health indicators and developmental milestones are fine, the pediatrician said it's almost certainly just genetics, especially with a brother who had the same pattern. If her growth rate (and I do emphasize rate since her actual weight is within normal bounds) continues to drop off, in a few months they might consider some testing, as there can be other reasons babies don't put on weight. But the odds of that are very low.

Offhand I believe Katrina is the healthiest of the bunch so far in life, despite -- or perhaps because of? -- her increased exposure. Perhaps because of her petiteness, I realized today that I perceive her as being more fragile than Gabriel or Julian at this age. I doubt she really is, but I don't think I'm as rough with her. Also, I'm not sure I'd still say she's an ultra-energetic baby anymore, with a lot more calm moments. Still very wiggly to hold though.

Though I doubt I deserve it, I need more time off from children and babies. I'm just not a good mom some days. Many some days. Some days I lose my patience with the boys so easily that I can't stand to look at myself in the mirror. Today was like that, even though I had a fair amount of grownup time: an hour at the Y this afternoon, and a nice coffee-cheesecake-catchup with Betsy.

There's really no reason I couldn't go back to work full-time and put them all in childcare. Millions of people do it all the time. Most Dads do it without a second thought. So why don't I? Wouldn't I be happier? Or would guilt and the sense of failure drown out the relief? Shouldn't I be able to take this? I'm their mother for Pete's sake. I'm supposed to adore them, be devoted to their health and joy, relish every instant with them, guide them thoughtfully with just the right touch of freedom to explore. Why is it so much easier to do that when I'm away from them? Why can I love them so completely when I'm looking at a picture, yet be so quickly irritated when I see the same scene in real life? What is wrong with me?! Maybe I'm just not cut out for the day-in-day-outs of little children, yet I love them fiercely. Just like my own dad.

I think I'll do what I often do when wracked with guilt and ambivalence: sneak into the boys' room as they're sleeping, and give them a hug and a kiss, so I can love them at their most lovable. Then tuck their blankets around them even if they don't need it.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

5/2/07 Katrina's Glamour Don't

Not a good start this morning. What "morning"? When was my morning? At 2:30am when Katrina woke up? At 6:30am when Katrina woke up again? Or at 8:15am when I was late for a dentist appointment after dropping off a rude, putzy and foul-mouthed pre-kindergartener at school?

Katrina has been grouchy and not sleeping well these past few days. And, she has a red-dot rash all over her torso, front and back. It's not bumpy, and it comes and goes, but now it's been here for over 48 hours. It so happens that she has a weight check pediatrician appointment tomorrow, so I can ask about it then.

Today in swim class, Katrina went under the water and came back up without a peep! Indeed, she was making goofy happy faces. I let her stay under a little longer this time, and again, no problem. I have to remember that she's older than when her brothers started; this was old hat to them by this age.

She cried when the teacher came over though, showing all signs of separation anxiety. This ultra-un-cuddly baby almost wraps her arms around my neck then! I guess I can thank him for that! But she calms down quickly enough, especially if there is a little boy around to see. It could be my imagination, but it almost seems as though she is calmed by seeing the activity and mayhem of little boys, a very familiar thing to her.

Once again this afternoon, I didn't want to spend a single baby-nap minute getting Julian down for a nap. As it turned out, I had a lot of baby-free nap minutes: 2-1/2 hours' worth, in fact. Boy, was she tired. I love swim class days!

But, even better, after playing fairly well together in the backyard all afternoon, the boys came inside and then sat quietly in the living room, watching me dance and attempt to re-create "Hip Hop Abs." to disco. Turns out, I have no hidden skills as a video instructor. But, loud music, flailing limbs and crusty dance maneuvers were enough to put both boys to sleep, voluntarily and simultaneously. They each crawled sleepily onto a couch, pulled a blanket over themselves, and faded away.

So I quickly snuck into the office to get in some scrapbooking. Heeheeheee. My guilty pleasure. Like hiding in a closet for a quick swig of cooking brandy. But my substance of choice is Hermafix.

This is what happens when at 6:30am, you groggily beg a man to grab the long-sleeved flowered onesie sitting on the dresser and then pick any pants out of baby's drawer. Just dress the little critter so I can snooze a few precious more minutes, thank you sooo muccchhhhh...zzzzzz.... What are the odds he'll pick the one striped pair of pants out of at least 6 or 7 solid-color ones?

The result is this fashion faux pas.

Vintage-toned floral with bright-pastel stripes! Oh, the indignity! To make matters worse, Mom didn't bother changing me!

Dinner was prepared tonight for the first time with Katrina sitting up in the family room! Still, she needs a Boppy backup to prevent...well, a head Bop, in the less-and-less likely event of a tumble.

Of course, the fallacy in thinking I could chop vegetables in peace while she happily munches on toys was quickly revealed. Oh, but for those pesky brothers!

Every few seconds, I had to crane my head around the corner to bark yet another contrary order: "stop that!" "not allowed!" "one more time and....". I can't wait to attend a "positive discipline" talk in a few weeks. Just how are you supposed to be positive when your baby is in constant peril from zealous love?

At least I got a few photos, and these were not staged. But it was mere minutes later that I had no choice but to carry her around again, for her protection from her brothers. And for their protection from me.

The boys begged me tonight for squash -- yes, squash. "But only the mushy kind," clarified Gabriel. Meaning, baby food. Fine, boys! They willingly polished off pureed butternut squash that I didn't feel like freezing anyway. Another good reason to make your own baby food: quantity. And getting your 3- and 5-year-old to gorge on vegetable puree like it's pudding. Suckers!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

5/1/07 Evening BBQ

Dave went to Tuesday dinner tonight, so I was off the hook for husband-feeding tonight. Good timing, since instead, I took my brood to a birthday barbeque for a mom in my 2004 Mom's group at a nearby park this evening. Ostensibly, the idea was to grill dinner and eat at the park, but I knew better than that. I couldn't imagine playing waitress to the boys in a park and taking care of Katrina. So before we left, I whipped up (cue cheery 1960s Swanson's ad music) a convenient yet nutritious dinner of fridge leftovers, told a baldfaced lie to prompt the boys to clamber into the car, both wailing like banshees for fear of being left behind (the depth of my enjoyment of this scene matched that of their distress), and off we were. Like a herd of turtles, as Dad would say.

I was the most outnumbered parent there, so I got some help from Kate. Her husband teaches yoga (how cool is that!) and they have one beautiful little girl. You can't tell from the photo, but Kate and Yoga Husband are British. You can tell from the photo that she's very, very nice and I always enjoy talking to her.

Katrina's Bonne-Maman-knit sweater from got all the proper fawning-over, and I unabashedly directed its admirers to the triangle details on the sleeves and collar and bragged about the textile skills of my family. Sonia's younger son Lucas took a liking to the buttons and pulled one until it's now held by 2 inches of thread!

Of course, I'm no fool. When baked goods are involved, I always have an ulterior motive.

The 2004 group has a very cool mom who's getting into cake decorating, and she welcomes the opportunity to practice. (You can't tell from the photo, but the cake-decorating mom is Canadian.) A birthday: a perfect excuse to whip up the usual homemade lopsided half-frosted cake, right? Not! Mary did whip this up quickly, but the results are gorgeous. this bow was her first. she uses cake mixes, but always adds things to them, for a very very tasty full cake. This was a streudel spice cake. Gabriel was very polite asking for some. I wasn't.

Getting all three kids to bed is definitely easier now that Katrina's sitting up so much better. Whew.


Monday, April 30, 2007

4/30/07 Katrina's first Cheerio

Katrina's been sitting up so much better! I'm psyched. I still can't quite leave her without a Boppy, but she's not tumbling every few minutes anymore.

So I tried her first Cheerio today!

Well, really a Joe's O. My Mom likes them better than genuine Cheerios, so, what the hey. Clearly, another Trader Joe's convert.

I'd forgotten how hard it is to pick up a dry Cheerio, and then, if you're a baby, how easy it is to lose it.

Katrina dug into the task with focus reminiscent of her older brother, never getting frustrated, just working doggedly at it until she'd lost it entirely. I only gave her one at first, then realized it's much easier for a brand-new-picker-upper to have multiple targets.

Actually eating one was another matter; she never got that far and wouldn't accept one when I helped it to her mouth. But she wasn't in the best mood this afternoon, from a sorely inadequate afternoon nap, so wasn't all that psyched about new experiences.

Once again though, she put on her Sweet face and perked up when Dave got home. Do we have a Daddy's Girl in the making? I'd be delighted.

Julian had an unusual nap today -- he fell asleep in the car while we were picking up Gabriel, and I actually successfully transferred him to the living-room couch. This success was entirely about keeping his pesty brother at bay, as Gabriel full of high spirits and revved up for an afternoon of fraternal torment. And indeed, later, Gabriel spent some time in his room, banished for unmercifully bullying Julian.

Even worse, after three times touching Katrina's face (a serious misdeed), I forbade Gabriel to touch her at all for the rest of the day. He means well, but he is just too rough to be sticking his filthy fingers on her face, or grabbing her ears to pull her head toward him for a kiss. And he just doesn't listen to me.

I made some progress on my closet project this morning, making efficient use of my baby-free morning. I had a thousand other things to do, but I needed to spend some baby-free time away from the office. It felt good to dig my hands into a project.

Believe it or not, this photo is progress, since the closet is now completely empty, of Stuff and of white wire shelving and all the hardware to hang it. (How unlike me not to have gotten a true "before" photo.) My Plan is to put in a solid shelf (no more wire shelves, I hate them) shelf all the way around, tall enough to put bookshelves in, and a rod to hang things on one of the sides of the closet. We don't need 8 feet to hang coats, we barely have 2 feet's worth. We do need lots and lots of shelves. We don't need over half of what was stored in this closet. That's what this project is about: more Storage for less Stuff.

I went swimming tonight, partly to relieve a neck crick I got from attempting chinups at the Y yesterday. It's like taking a drug to counteract the side-effects of another drug. Maybe there really is something to this getting old stuff.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

4/29/07 Belly Dance

This morning, I watched a "Bellydance fitness fusion" show on KCSM, a public TV station. I was riveted. The teacher is stunningly beautiful, and she and the demonstrators all have solid, full bodies -- no waify ballet bunheads here. I was particularly amazed watching a segment in which the dancers sit on the floor in 2nd position (a straddle) and do exercises for the...ah, rear end. Holy Booty Batman! I've never seen gluteals move like that before. Left boom, right boom, undulate. Move over, Beyonce and J.Lo, you've been out-bunned. I gotta try that!

It was an unusual Sunday for us. Dave took Gabriel to
Pacific Coast Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay, a car, truck, airplane, motorcycle, and even motorized unicycle show. This left me with Julian and Katrina all day, with a home improvement project burning to happen. Hah.

After Katrina's much-too-short morning nap, I took Julian and Katrina to the Y, figuring I'd get a few minutes off today and do some weights.

And what do you think I came across happening at the Y? A bellydance class!! I don't believe in fate, but what a fabulous coincidence.

The class had already started, but after hovering shyly outside watching for a few minutes, I couldn't resist. I gathered myself and joined. This is one thing about years of experience in dance classes: humiliation, intimidation, inadequacy, feeling completely lost -- all part of the experience. Every dancer has left a class in tears at some point, and every dancer develops survival strategies and a thick skin. So even though I was completely out of my element, I knew how to survive. I positioned myself to best see the teacher, and then picked out the best dancer in the class to follow.

(The best dancer in the class, who'd clearly bellydanced before, was also the largest lady. But one's eye would be drawn to her first out of the whole group because of her powerful and graceful movement. Indeed, this time I felt like the waiflike ballerina, almost wishing I had more hips.)

What a cool way to move! It's like this gushingly open, sensual, earthy way of celebrating a full body. It didn't come naturally; I felt impeded by years of working for exacting placement, rather than knowing how to just let it go and flow. I was especially psyched when the class did those buns exercises sitting on the floor, though somehow it looked a whoooole lot different than what the teacher in the video did!

Alas, that was the last fun I'd have for the day. Katrina's afternoon nap was also much too short, leaving me just enough time to cut up a huge bowl of yummy fruit (the one Sunday morning tradition I couldn't forego), have a few blueberry yogurt pancakes, and that was it. So much for my closet project. She was impossible, not letting me sit down, let alone sit her down. She took a third micro-nap in the evening, that helped.

Julian played alone much of the day, mostly outside. I felt a little bad about that, but every time I checked him, he was always happily absorbed in something (including getting some "em em" from the neighbors...I sure wish I knew how to put a stop to that!). It's so rare that he gets to play unfettered, without someone -- Gabriel -- pushing him, getting in his way, taking toys, distracting him, ordering him around, taking over a game.

That said, when Dave and Gabriel got home and the boys were reunited tonight, they kicked right into gear, clearly happy to be together again. But that caused instant trouble too (such as spooning peas into their milk glasses). Dave commented that the most tiring and annoying situation for him is the boys together, and I agree. Katrina wore me out today with being endlessly fussy (I'm happy to say that's on the rare side these days), but I don't feel anger toward her or anything as I so often do when the boys are together. It was nice that when Dave got home, he was happy to relax sitting on the couch holding her, and she was at her most relaxed and sweet of the day when (almost) cuddling in Dad's arms.

No photos today, but it was again a nice warm day. Shorts for Julian, a cute short romper for Katrina, capris for me. It's nice looking at chubby (well, relatively) kid legs again.