Saturday, May 12, 2007

5/12/07 10K day!

What a full, fun day!

I ran in my first 10K race today. It's really not a race for me (yet?), since my goal is still just to finish. And today, to keep up with Sonia!

Fortunately it was a flat course, and though I was winded around the 5th mile, it wasn't too bad, and I was able to keep up with Sonia. It was a lot of fun yakking with Sonia and her friend Aidymar.

Do feel free to skip this section, it's just reflection more for me than anyone else.

(In fact, from talking with these two terrific ladies, I came home and had a torrent of insight about the genesis of my new running habit. Sonia works at NASA, right where I worked one of my favorite jobs for 2 years. It's a great setup, they've developed and supported her career, and she has a lot of flexibility and job security. I've thought on and off over the years about going back to NASA and maybe pursuing the civil service. Aidymar's position in her career is much like mine was 6 years ago: having reached a satisfying level, considering a change, and ready to start a family. She said she asks herself about if she could quit work -- emotionally, it's such a huge part of who we are. I remember that, before my identity, self-definition, and desire to work was completely turned upside-down by a baby.

And so, it hit me soon after the race: this recent running habit is a catharsis for my life as a mom. With running, I'm on the steep part of a learning curve, where I most like to be. I have new challenges, new goals, new accomplishments when those new goals are met. I meet a whole new interesting set of people. I see places in a whole new light. I learn about a whole new world. I feel strong and in control and excited about the next step. This is exactly what I did when I threw myself into motorcycling and my career. (Dance is different; that's just always part of me, like writing, for better or worse.) I love feeling focused, challenged, productive, stretching myself.

Mom life doesn't lend itself well to that sort of satisfaction. Of course, momming has its own rewards, and the personal growth one achieves from child-raising is nothing short of heroic. But that development is externally driven. It happens to you, whether you like it or not. Running, motorcycling, graduate school -- these were all self-directed challenges, over which I had control in far I'd go, how much energy and heart I'd put into it. I need that kind of stimulation in my life, and gravitate toward it without even realizing it. This is really what's behind this new interest in running.)

Dave walked the 5K course with the boys and Katrina and the double stroller. Gabriel walked most of it, trading off with Julian for a spot in the stroller toward the end.

Of course, Gabriel was very excited to have his own number.

Katrina had a fabulous time, and was exuberant for the rest of the day!

Believe it or not, the 10K race wasn't the most thrilling thing that happened today. Few things could trump that, but another milestone did: Gabriel rode his bicycle without training wheels! He was SO excited to show me. He needs to practice in a larger area, but he gets the idea. Dave is convinced it was the razor scooter that taught him the balance.

Hive Report: DAY 5! Katrina is still breaking out in hives, all over her body, all day, though it's worse at night. At any given moment, she'll have a new red splotch or raised-up white mark. I sure wish this would stop!

Katrina had a grand time today playing with a package from Title Nine. She's starting early -- I too love getting packages from Title Nine!

Indeed, I was a poster child today for expensive outdoor and recreation catalogs, as every stitch of clothing I had on was from Athleta, Title Nine, Patagonia and REI. You know those novices who spend a ton of money loading up on expensive high-tech gear that their far more experienced and skilled counterparts forgo? Well, I'm one of them! I feel like I earned it today.


Friday, May 11, 2007

5/12/07 Mother's Day Tea

Today I had a very important date. Gabriel's pre-K class was holding a Mother's Day Tea, and all the moms were invited.

Invited? More like, required! Gabriel's teacher practically insisted I make it. It turns out, if I hadn't, Gabriel would have been the only kid without his mother there. The teacher waited until all the moms had arrived to start, and though one or two were late, they ALL arrived. I wonder what happens to kids who don't have mothers, or whose mothers are out of town on the date? They'd have felt very left out.

The Tea was very sweet. Mrs. Rosie, Gabriel's teacher, did a very nice job having the kids pamper us. The kids took their mom's hand and led us into the room. Then we all sat and listened to an audio book that was a conversation between a mother and a child, and the kids gave their moms a hug afterward. Then our child served us fruit, our choice of vanilla or chocolate cupcake, then poured us tea (cold). Gabriel had asked me yesterday what kind of cupcake I'd want, then this morning as he was leaving for school, he said, "I even remember what kind of cupcake you want -- vanilla!" Silly boy. I'm not picky when it comes to cupcakes.

Then we got gifts: a card, a paper flower each kid made (out of coffee filters, if I'm not mistaken), and a wrapped gift that was a photo of our child holding an "I love you Mom!" sign. The photo was framed in decorated popsicle sticks. Mrs. Rosie told me Gabriel was very careful and meticulous about gluing the flower embellishments on the frame. My little scrapbooker-in-training!

It was a nice diversion to the morning, and a nice way to spend some time alone with my firstborn son. Even though Gabriel is really not a sensitive kid, it doesn't mean he can't be disappointed. He didn't talk about the Tea with me during the week at all, and knowing him he wouldn't have acted sad if I hadn't gone. But Mrs. Rosie assured me it was important to him, and he was excited about me coming. It's tricky with him, since he doesn't show how he feels much, but he's still just a kid who needs his mother just like any other kid.

After naps this afternoon, the boys played on the floor with Katrina.

Awww, how sweet, Julian giving Katrina a toy. Uh-huh. Here's a behind-the-scenes view of the real story behind this apparently tender moment:

Camera -- red filter on that face....Sound -- turn volume up to max...OK -- cue Mom...and...action!:"



Later, Julian was serenading Katrina with a Music Together song, one I find kind of dorky, but that is actually very sweet and meant to give kids confidence in their parents ("Who says they're gonna come back, your Mommy does that's who..."). I tried to capture this sweet scene on camera-video, but instead got a truer snapshot of life in the Doudna zoo: Gabriel being a distracting pest.

Day 4! Katrina is still breaking out in hives.

This morning, I thought it was slowing down, but this evening, the welts, splotches, raised white bumps and scratches raged on. I talked to the advice nurse again, and she said it's not unusual for a hive episode to last 5-7 days. Also, 75% of episodes like this, we never know what caused it. She didn't think an allergist would test a baby as young as Katrina, but an allergist I called said they would. I've made the appointment (for late June unfortunately), and will consult Katrina's regular doctor in a few weeks for her next weight check. (The advice nurse, while talking about Benadryl dosages for her, was pretty surprised when I told her my full-term 7-month-old hadn't even cracked 14 pounds!)

Summer. Shorts time. And yet another struggle to find new clothes to fit the boys.

I bought a whole bunch of shorts at Target yesterday, hoping to find some that don't need taking-in at the waist. Not one pair I bought was larger than a 2T, and some were as small as 18 months. About half of what I bought fit, sort of. Gabriel and Julian had a grand time demonstrating how well they fit when I asked them to jump up and down, and they found that the shorts fell right off them. Then they thought that was funny and helped along with their hands, but still, you can see in this video that it doesn't take much for shorts to fall off Gabriel. These are a 24-month size!!

Another video capture, from yesterday: Katrina in a fit of raspberries. Just being silly.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

5/10/07 Day 3 of hives

A good day in some ways, not so good in others.

First, the bad news. I woke up tired from a too-late night, and with some nasty stomach trouble. Tonya is still recovering from the flu, so while normally she'd have taken Julian today at last notice, today she wasn't able to. So instead, I asked Kids Inc to keep Gabriel all day. While he's my lowest-maintenance child right now, he's still a major factor in my highest-maintenance situation, which is the boys together.

Julian was pretty good today, once his brother and father weren't around to impress with obnoxiousness. He's definitely going to be the boy in the class who dips a girl's braids into inkwells if he likes her.

Julian played a lot on his own today, making me feel pretty guilty. I made it up to him a little by playing "Make 'Em Laugh" on DVD a few times. It held Katrina's interest too, though I think the humor is lost on her.

But the other thing about today: HIVES. More and more, coming and going constantly. Poor baby! Fortunately, they still don't bother her. But today, even a slight scratch on her face (from her own fingernails) would raise up and be surrounded by a red welt. One moment her face would be fine, the next, someone would ask me if she's OK, and I'd look at her and find a big red splotch around her eyes.

Three days, and counting, of hives. If this is a food allergic reaction, then it's major! I'm really thinking I should have her tested, even if the hives stop tomorrow.

Despite the fact that I felt so bad -- or really, because I felt so bad -- I took the kids to the Y today for a half-hearted workout. Then, on to Target for some overdue stocking up on the piles and piles of diapers and Pull-Ups we still use around here. Can't we get one kid off of incontinence products?! I'm starting to want to work on night-training Julian, though he doesn't even make it through naps dry.

Katrina sat in the cart, though I used my wonderful hip carrier (from my sister) for extra cushioning. She chewed on its strap, oblivious to the constant eruptions on her arms, face and torso.

She took a much-too-short nap this afternoon, though Julian took it upon himself to curl up on the couch with a blanket and take a nap (you can see him in the background). This resulted in some Resolve to clean the couch. Great. (See aforementioned note about incontinence products.)

Yesterday, I had my long-awaited appointment with a migraine specialist doctor. My first objective was met, as he gave me a common prescription drug for migraines, Imitrex. But overall I thought his questions and approach were pretty canned, and he really didn't explain much about migraines themselves. Still, I'm prepared for the next onslaught. Since it seems I'm actually only a moderate sufferer, as migraine suffering goes, I'm optimistic that I'll respond well to the Imitrex.

The funny thing was one of the questionnaires I filled out. It asked questions to get a snapshot of how migraines affected the last 2 months of your life: "How many days of work did you miss?" and "How many days were you unable to perform home duties?" and "How many family or social functions did you miss?" Obviously, this quiz isn't targeted to full-time moms, 'cause the answer for all is: ZERO. We don't miss work! We don't skip home duties! We don't miss family functions! Migraines or not, those just aren't options! That quiz must have been written by and intended for men, who can drop everything, leave work, go home and stay in bed as long as they feel like it. They might believe that they "can't" miss work, but blowing a deadline or missing a meeting is a whole different order of "can't" than children going hungry.

And no stomach trouble is keeping me making the most of my few baby-free hours tomorrow morning. That, I truly can't miss.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

5/9/07 Hive day

Gabriel and Julian like drawing "Random House," based on the house icon on books published by Random House. Today, Gabriel embellished his a little. Free-hand drawing something is very, very rare for him, though he was following an example.


Katrina was still breaking out in hives this morning, so I took her to the pediatrician. Probably not contagious, probably a food allergy. To what?! She hasn't tried anything new, except yogurt, and this latest bout of rash started before the yogurt. Still, allergens build up and then -- hives. That's what happened with Julian's reaction to amoxicillin. It started after he was done with a 10-day round of it, and the second round he'd had.

So, the nurse suggested I stop eating nuts and peanut butter, at least for a few weeks, to see if that's what this is about. The length of the hive episode suggest it's not a food allergy, but today at Tonya's, after eating nice safe prunes and cereal, she broke out again. Tonight's carrots had no new effect though.

Fortunately, she doesn't seem bothered by them. But I am. If this continues, I'm taking her to an allergist to see what it's about. I admit to some selfishness on my part. I like my peanut butter!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

5/8/07 Katrina and the wave

Warm today -- a regular heat wave! Katrina was comfy in a cute sleeveless romper. A hand-me down, of course.

Which allowed me to see the rash and hives that were ebbing and flowing on and off her torso all day.

Could it be the yogurt? She had a rash last week, pre-yogurt, but no hives. And the hives weren't immediately after the yogurt, as you'd expect from a food allergy, but who knows? So, I'm stopping the yogurt for a while.

Today we had a power outage, a cable TV outage AND cable Internet outage. I guess if they all had to happen, it's just as well they happened all at the same time. As it turns out, the problems were all around the same pole, so it might not be a coincidence. Still....enough is enough. We have such frequent power problems that I have flashlights at the ready in just about every room. That's what we get for living right down the road from a gigantic multi-acre PG&E maintenance facility.

At least one person had a good time: Gabriel was beside himself with fascination with the electrical issues we were having, taking the electrical diagram Dave drew to explain the problem to PG&E with him everywhere, including to school. He was really psyched when the guys in the big blue truck carrying all the tools showed up, and peppered the hapless PG&E repair guy with questions like "What color is the neutral wire in this country?"

To top off having my day dominated by dealing with guys fixing stuff out back, I scooted out for a last-minute chiropractor appointment, to deal with this ongoing crick in my neck, AND we have to clean up tonight for the cleaners tomorrow. So I'd better quit bloggin' and get floggin'!


Monday, May 07, 2007

5/7/07 Balmy day

(No photos today...feel free to go read a worthier blog. I won't be insulted. I know my marginal photography is still more interesting than my writing!)

Tonya closed today, so I was on with Julian & Katrina this morning. That means: gym daycare, this time at Supreme Court, my longtime gym in Sunnyvale. I took my old power weights class, which kicked my sorry rear end once again.

Decent afternoon, mostly because Gabriel took a defiance nap. Meaning, he ran upstairs to make a big ruckus, and I chased him and scolded him to go downstairs lest he wake baby, and he claimed he was up there to take a nap. And he proved it to me. Nyah! So THERE Mom! Boy, did he ever show me -- he was asleep in his bed for hours!

That left Julian on his own to happily follow me around while I worked a little on my closet project. He loves to "help," so I found little "jobs" for him to do. He spent at least half an hour polishing a plastic closet rod with a paper towel, after thoroughly measuring it.

Even though the boys distract me when I'm working on something, and I'm forever searching for where I set down a drill bit or pencil as I get interrupted to get someone a drink or wipe a rear end, I have to say, I like the company. It's fun chatting with them as I go about my work, and especially fun if I can get them involved somehow -- but not too involved!

Katrina got her first yogurt today, some yummy Trader Joe's Greek yogurt mixed in with her pears & cereal. No reaction, yay! Yogurt of all things makes me nervous, since I still remember Steph's frantic email about Aidan's first yogurt, leading to years of working around a strong dairy allergy.

Katrina is also starting the early stages of babbling, saying "yah-yah-yah-yah." It's like she's practicing coordinating mouth movement with sound-making. It's very cute.

I went running at Rancho San Antonio tonight again, on a new trail for me: the infamous PG&E Trail. Well, part of it. It lives up to its rep: it's steep and has a lot of uphill, with a lovely view of the valley at the top (at least, the top I got to). I cut over to the Wildcat trail, then ran the very familiar Coyote trail, or old hike trail, back to the parking lot. All told, it took me 55 minutes and I am wiped out.

Did I mention, I decided (tonight, really!) that I'm running in
The Human Race this coming Saturday? Turns out, Dave will be here this weekend, so he and the boys will walk the 5K while I run the 10K with Katrina. I'm only attempting the 10K because my secret weapon will be there: my unflappable friend Sonia. So, my extended runs at Rancho so far have been to feel out if I could survive a 10K (6.2 miles), and now I guess I'm officially training for it, whether or not I can survive the race itself. Nothing like 5 days' notice to train for a race! This is becoming a bad habit!

I mused how this new running habit has a lot in common with my old inclinations in motorcycling. I loved poring over maps, finding new roads, and particularly enjoyed wooded, narrow, curvy trails (though the trails I've run on so far would be trivial to ride on a motorcycle). I don't like what running does to my hips and knees, and no doubt other joints will soon join in the chorus of complaints, but I love this way of exploring trails, experiencing the outdoors, sensing the breezes, smelling the flora, feeling the earth change beneath me; just like I did on my poor forgotten BMW motorcycles. There's a mountain biker just dying to come out.

We're having a little heat wave here. It stayed toasty even into the evening. I love it!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

5/6/07 A day of visits

This turned into one of the fullest, busiest days we've had in a long time! And it was great!

The morning started with a visit from longtime friend Jim Franklin, this year's Sheepranch Pooh-bah. Jim flew in from Boston to preside over the couch-sitting, tale-telling, song-warbling and, oh yeah, motorcycle-riding event, and since I'm not going, I wanted to see him. So he joined us for our usual Sunday morning breakfast shindig, which got even shindiggier when I had someone else to bake for and cut fresh fruit for.

Next stop: Gina's birthday party. Gina takes the candle-blowing birthday-song-singing very, very seriously. I barely saw the boys; Gabriel was off playing in the jump house and Julian mostly hung around the sand and fountain area. (Note that sand and fountains, when combined, make for "volcanos" and very wet very sandy children.) I like park parties -- I'm sure they're a lot of work, but I always enjoy them. (And Betsy always has the yummiest cake!)

Back at home, Laura and Ryan came by for the afternoon!! Ryan's doing a photo shoot in Sonoma, so Laura joined him for the weekend, and unbelievably lucky for us, they managed to squeeze in a visit. Yay!

The boys were beside themselves, but of course, Katrina hasn't met her aunt and uncle since she was a brand-new newborn. She's got stranger anxiety now; you can't just hand her to a new person anymore (I'm certain I still could with Gabriel at this age), but it took only a few minutes for her to be smiling and making her signature "euh!" sound to them.

Ryan is a professional photographer who not only likes to apply his profession to fun, but is also really, really good at it. Even at photographing babies and little kids, not something he (or most non-parents) do on a regular basis.

He got lots of great pictures, but this one is my favorite.

It's so, so fun when they're here. Not just for the kids, but for us too. (Note to self: stop taking closeups with someone so photogenic as Laura!)

For the record, we did not deliberately match our shirts. Maybe because it was a nice warm day, we were both in a watermelon-shade mood. I can't think of a better color for such a nice Sunday.