Saturday, May 19, 2007

5/19/07 Disco Boys!

I took the boys disco dancing this afternoon! Baby Loves Disco is some organization that gets nightclubs to put on an event during the day for kids, with (quieter) disco music, snacks, and lots of places to play. Julian danced one or two songs with me,but otherwise, the boys mostly played in the tents and tunnels, and sat and read books, while I danced and chatted with other moms. It was fun!

Then I took the boys to
an open house in Willow Glen, an area in San Jose. I've started collecting ideas and resources for the major, MAJOR downstairs remodeling project -- so major, that Dave and I talked about it again last night, and it might be worth moving instead.

So if we were to move, I'd want to fix a few things about our current situation that can't be fixed in a remodel, such as that I really don't like our neighborhood. It's a good safe one, but it's a little isolated, I don't like walking around here, and there are no parks or shops to walk to. Willow Glen has all sorts of houses, lots of mature trees, lots of parks and places to walk around....but then, it also doesn't have what we've come accustomed to here. Here at Parnell Place, we have a large lot, a lot of space between houses, a very quiet street, and we're very close to the highway. And we've customized this house a lot already -- I'm not ready to leave our underfloor hydronic radiant heat!

But it's worth seeing what's out there, and how much it costs (a LOT). The house we saw today wouldn't work (tiny yard), despite the gorgeous kitchen (drool). The small bedrooms upstairs in our current house is another reason to move, but the upstairs non-master bedrooms were no bigger than the boys' room is now.

Julian fell asleep in the car on the way to Willow Glen, and I left him in the car while Gabriel and I quickly toured the house. Then Gabriel fell asleep on the way home. Once again -- watching me dance puts them to sleep!


Friday, May 18, 2007

5/18/07 Day 11

Still breaking out in hives. Still slowing down; now you have to look for them sometimes, but then other times, several hives appear in one area. This is the 11th day!!

What a relief today. Katrina took a 2-1/2 hour afternoon nap, and was in a great mood afterward, and both her brothers took naps too. This made everyone happy, and in the case of a certain un-named child, even made him pleasant and adorable again. Sleep is the best remedy for three-year-old-ness.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

5/17/07 Positive discipline

Katrina needed some outdoor time today, so she sat outside watching her brothers buzz around this afternoon. Gabriel thought her little heart shirt was "adorable."

Thanks in part to Julian not always napping, her brothers buzz around outdoors together a lot -- enough that today our next-door neighbor asked me as nicely as anyone could possibly ask, to start working on the boys not to scream and shout so much. I well understand! I gave my neighbor carte blanche to tell the boys himself if he needs to, and also brought the boys over to talk to our neighbor directly, and promised him I'd start working on them not to shout so much. I'm skeptical it'll have much effect on the boys right away, but at least our neighbor knows we're trying.

I went to a "positive discipline" parenting talk tonight, having coached myself ahead of time to think in terms of "normal" kids (Julian) instead of looking for answers for my extra-hard-head (Gabriel), for whom there are no answers.

Most of the good advice I've heard before, and do make some effort to implement already, but hearing it again will help me think in those terms some more. For instance, if possible, I should try more to put things in terms of what they can do, instead of what they can't. Such as, "show me how you draw with the crayons," if they're throwing them. If nothing else, at least I'll have gone through the motions, then will feel completely justified in my usual course of action: "STOP THROWING THOSE CRAYONS RIGHT NOW OR THEY'LL GO STRAIGHT INTO THE GARBAGE DO YOU UNDERSTAND DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!!!!!!!"

But this talk also included advice that I've come to take issue with more and more over the years, about offering kids choices to prevent battles and give them a sense of control. Of course, we all do that when it's appropriate, and there's no point making a fight out of something that doesn't need to be. But there are times that there are absolutes, that kids just have to do what you say because you told them.

The classic example is about clothing battles. The positive-discipline advice is to let them pick their own clothes. So what if they go to the grocery store in their PJs or wear their Halloween costumes every day for two weeks? Yeah, OK, so what? That's not a conflict yet. That's too easy. It's incomplete.

The problem arises when the parent has to decide for the kid what they're going to wear for a certain occasion. The speaker had a good answer for that: prepare the kid ahead of time, don't create on-the-spot battles about things kids usually have control over.

But once again, there wasn't a good answer for what happens when the kid just has to do -- or wear -- what you say. I remembered the time that Gabriel absolutely refused to get dressed after a swim lesson. That wasn't about what to wear, it was about wearing clothes at all. Actually, it wasn't even about that, it was about creating conflict, as is always the case with him. Gabriel stood in front of the whole swim school stark naked, cold and only slightly embarrassed, while Julian had lunch, for over half an hour. Eventually he had to get in the car and I was going to take him to Tonya's. He had to put clothes on. Non-negotiable. What does positive discipline have to say about that?

The speaker's answer, as is so often the case, was essentially that it was negotiable: "Well, so put him in the car and take him to daycare naked, so what?" No! Not good enough! I said he had to get dressed, he has to get dressed! "Let him suffer the consequences and learn from it." No! First, I'LL suffer the consequences, not him. Second, he won't learn from this. And Third, HE HAS TO DO WHAT I SAY BY GOLLY!!!! I just flat-out disagree that only safety issues are non-negotiable.

So what happened to my self-coaching that I was going to think of this in terms of Julian?

Well, though Julian is a lot more responsive to classic discipline, I still think that the advice to give choices sidesteps the problems I actually have. I can empower them and give them control all I want, but even with Julian, the problem usually starts where the advice stops. "Save timeouts for egregious behavior." That's fine, but the assumption is that the egregious behavior stops with the timeout. With Julian, the battle has juuust begun, though at least Julian will ultimately back down. I come away again thinking the speaker must have raised girls.

And, of course, there are no pat answers for what to do with a pesty 3-year-old.

Who I never tire of looking at. Whose innocent wide-eyed face is easy to conjure with a voice of mystery and anticipation. Who repeats without fail your answer, with a question inflection, to his often-insightful queries. Who sings all the time, songs he knows, songs he makes up. Who colors or digs for an hour at a time, still sitting with his relentlessly adorable crossed feet. Who always wants to give Mommy a hug and a kiss, and with his full pouty lips is the best kisser I know. Who I love dearly.

Maybe I got something out of the positive discipline talk after all.


p.s. Day 10 of hives! Slowing way down, thank goodness, but still, the tiniest scratch turns red and gets raised up. Advice nurse assures me this is still within normal range, but do get baby tested for allergies. You better believe I will!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

5/16/07 3-year-old for sale

Male, caucasian, dark gray-blue eyes, straight light-brown hair, 31 lbs, 37" tall. Often very cute. Sometimes well-behaved. Suffers from age affliction and associated pest behavior. Verbal skills extraordinary in matters of refusal, resistance, provokation and impertinence. Remarkable vocal ability, both in decibel level and high frequency. Exceptional procrastination and excuse-generating skills. Occasional courtesy a bonus! Comes with carseat and toy monkey. Price negotiable, looking to move fast. No refunds until 4th birthday.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

5/15/07 Gabriel rides a two-wheeler

Gabriel totally gets riding his bicycle without training wheels!

He made a huge leap today. At first, I was giving him a push to get him started, then he'd pedal a few yards, then put his feet down to stop Fred-Flintstone-style. But Katrina was napping and I had things to do in the house, so guiltily left him to his own devices.

Next thing I knew, he was riding laps around the backyard:

He had one big crash that I didn't see. It must have been bad, since he came inside crying hard. That's very unlike him. In fact, earlier in the day, he'd crashed a tricycle and got a nice scrape on his arm, and came in to inform me matter-of-factly that he needed a band-aid. The bicycle crash must have scared him pretty good. I hope so, because I don't see a whole lot of healthy fear with the bicycle at the moment!

Katrina: DAY 8 of body-covering hives!! But we didn't skip her make-up swim lesson. The hives have slowed down considerably, but see for yourself what "slowed down" means. These photos were taken at a fairly calm hive moment; they pick up after she's been eating, in water, crying, or sometimes after waking up.

She wasn't crazy about the swim class again, though did fine in playtime. The week off really shows, especially on this once-a-week swim class schedule. The twice-a-week-for-three-weeks schedule worked well for the boys, I think. Learn by immersion (hah). Sink or swim (hah hah).

Katrina woke up at 5:30am today, her first wakeup. She needed attention: a leg was caught in the crib slats, and she had a big poop. But mercifully, she went back to sleep until 8:00AM! after nursing. What a difference that makes to my whole day! And hers -- she took two 2-hour naps today. And was happy all day. Now that's more like it, baby!

I still can't believe it. My little boy...riding a bicycle, going to kindergarten. He's really growing up! (note to self: this isn't the time to complain about the lack of night-training....)


Monday, May 14, 2007

5/14/07 New Yorkers visit

I had a nice visit from my uncle Andre and his friend Stephanie today!

Uncle Andre is visiting Stephanie from New York, where they knew each other from work. She's a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker who's been living in San Francisco for the past 3 years, having moved there from Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. It's one thing to move from New York for your husband's great job opportunity, but entirely another when the job is at Apple! Doh! Needless to say, he has tremendous job demands, on top of a long commute. Not only is Stephanie a misplaced New Yorker, discovering that living in a city doesn't make it New York, but she's also an Apple Widow. We have a lot in common; I wish we had had more time to talk. It was also nice seeing my uncle again, I don't see him often. His sense of humor is reminiscent of my brother's.

Since uncle Andre and Stephanie left around 2pm, I didn't bother getting Julian down for a nap. After extolling the virtues of city life with my guests, I happily indulged in one of the advantages of suburban life, which was the boys playing out back all afternoon. They came in to scarf the remainder of the crackers and fruit I had for our guests, but other than that, they were outside for over 5 hours, digging, playing baseball, sweeping, riding the scooter.

They were both absolutely filthy by the end of it, and Julian had lost a sandal. He looks like a little ragamuffin!

Katrina...she's giving people the impression of being a sweet, mellow baby. And actually, she has so many moments like that these days, it's hard to argue. She was charming for our guests, latching on to my uncle and beaming her big smile at him.

She spent the morning at Tonya's, a good thing because I was in desperate need of more sleep before my guests arrived, after she got me up at freakin' 5:30AM today. AGAIN! She slept through the night, as she's been doing from time to time.....but now can we step it up to sleeping through the morning?

One thing about Katrina though: it is trivial to get her down to sleep. All you do is put her in the crib and give her the satin blanket. She grabs the blankie, rolls over to her side, starts sucking the blanket, and then settles down to sleep. Naps, bedtime, in her crib, in the pack'n'play at Tonya' And it's been that way for months now. What a difference from our first baby, when getting him to sleep at this age was a huge ordeal, and continued to be well into toddlerhood.

Day 7 of hives!! Katrina's hives are slowing down, but still, at any moment, it's easy to find raised white marks and red splotches and welts on her. She's not as covered anymore, and they're not as fast and furious, but if today's hives were the first we'd seen, we'd think it was major. WTF?!

I've made enough progress on my closet project to start moving shelves in. Yay! That'll only take, what, 5 weeks? Ugh! I've got to get this done before family visits in July! Projects? Progress? Momentum? Completion? Not compatible with Mom life!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

5/13/07 Mother's Day!

This morning, not only did I get to sleep late (well, after Katrina woke Dave and I up at 5:30am, errgh), but then I got to take a shower. In the morning!. And then I got dressed at my leisure, without anyone crying or asking me details about my underwear ("Mommy, why are you putting on two hats instead of a shirt?") What a treat!

Then we all went to a nice restaurant nearby that was having a mother's day buffet. Dave thought of this and made the reservation himself, that was the nicest part of all. There was a tremendous selection of lunch and breakfast food, and a room devoted to desserts (and I guess that was also the best place for the omelette station). The dessert room had an actual chocolate fountain -- melted chocolate coursing down across three tiers, with fruit and wooden skewers to douse the fruit in the chocolate. Decadent!

Katrina woke up much, much too early today: 5:30am. Ugh! And then twice during the night. I really wish I could reclaim my mornings and not be completely dead to the world and hating my existence and counting seconds until I can go back to sleep. I don't get over it until the afternoon, so I'm very unproductive in the morning. Today was a nice break. Thanks, Dad!

Day 6 of hives!!! I think they're slowing down, but not much. Katrina still gets raised bumps all over her, literally head to toe. She wore an overalls outfit today, so I couldn't see her torso easily, but when I did, it wasn't completely covered as it has been. But then, I'd button her back up and discover a fresh set of welts on her feet.

Last week, we went to Midori, our favorite Japanese restaurant, and she munched a little on some tofu before spitting it out with distate. Could this be a soy reaction? The hives started the day after I gave her the yogurt. Is it possible the rash she had the day before the yogurt was unrelated, and that the hives really are a dairy allergy?

The advice nurse assured me that 5-7 days of hives isn't unusual, but really, has anyone ever gone through this?! Six days of breaking out in hives from a spoonful or two of yogurt mixed into fruit and cereal?!! I know it's nothing to worry about, and she doesn't seem uncomfortable from them, but it's still upsetting to see these nasty things all over this tiny helpless baby, new ones all the time.

I remember as a kid asking my mother about Mother's Day, then Father's Day, and then the inevitable, "When is Kids' Day?". She answered, "EVERY day is kids' day." I was very unsatisfied with that answer. Today, I got asked that exact same question, by Gabriel. I knew exactly how he'd feel about my answer. But I still handed down to him the same one I got: "Every day is Kids' Day," but added, "I know it doesn't seem like it to you, huh?" He just looked at me, puzzled.

Here's to moms all over! We had our day -- back to Kids' Day tomorrow!