Saturday, June 09, 2007

6/9/07 No more training wheels?

This afternoon, we went to Portal Park for a Las Madres 2004 picnic. Father's Day picnic, as it turns out. I'm glad I semi-forgot about that, so that Dave didn't feel obligated to go. Time off from children alone at home is at a premium around here.

There were some games intended for the kids and grownups to do together. The boys didn't have a grownup, since I had to watch Katrina, but that didn't seem to phase them. Luckily, Betsy was able to corral them and tell them what to do. She even attempted to get Gabriel to play the role of father in one game! Clever!

In the end, they both got ribbons and were happy about that.

Later, Dave took the boys out bicycling. When they got home, they showed me a new development: Julian can ride without training wheels!!

Riding is one thing, of course, but stopping and starting is something else. He needs a lot of help for that, but still, he certainly gets the concept. When he looks where he's going, he can even steer.

Then we went to Willow Glen in the hopes of making it to an open house, at the same new Craftsman-y house I'd seen some weeks ago. The open house was supposed to close at 4:30, but apparently 4:25 is the new 4:30, as we and another couple were stymied by this new interpretation of time.

The plan was to go to the open house, then go out to an early dinner in downtown Willow Glen (an area in San Jose with a short main drag of a downtown with shops and restaurants). We went to Mio Vicino -- a poor choice, in retrospect. Dave and I have a soft spot for Mio Vicino, as our first date was at the one in Santa Clara, and we used to love the one in Campbell until it closed, but this one was different. Service was poor, food was slow, which is painfully magnified when your good-kid-time clock is ticking.

Katrina, incredibly, sat quietly in the high chair chewing on Corn Chex and bread for the 40 minutes it took to get our dinners. She has really been earning good-baby points lately.

Next time, we'll go to Willow Street Pizza, another place we have a soft spot for. Our first kiss was after a date at the one in Los Gatos. And the Willow St. Pizza in Willow Glen was always our kick-off point for our numerous trips to Big Sur the summer we were planning our wedding. Willow St. Pizza is more kid-suitable anyway.

Grand plans busted notwithstanding, at least we got our brood to bed early.


Friday, June 08, 2007

6/8/07 Katrina's weight check

Dave returned from a business trip tonight, mercifully ending my tenure as a single stay-at-home mom. And not a moment too soon.

There are stay-at-home moms. And there are single moms. But there are very few single stay-at-home moms. There's a reason for that.

Actually, the day went pretty well, all things considered. Though I got too little sleep last night, I was able to take a decent nap this morning, thanks to a sound baby nap and thanks to Julian playing on his own downstairs for two hours. I wasn't asleep all that time, so I listened in on him. Mostly he was singing along with two Sesame Street CDs, coloring, and riding his bike. He also spent some time making a "race number," which is drawing a number on a piece of paper, cutting it out, then taping it to his shirt. Interesting how he cut it out, considering his scissors are missing.

Katrina had another weight check appointment today. As is now usual, she was excited about the new situation, and thought the waiting room was all sorts of fun.

So, she weighs 14 lbs 4 oz (rounding up a fraction of an ounce), having put on 10 ounces in a month. She's still hanging onto the chart, barely, at 3rd percentile, but our pediatrician didn't think there was anything to worry about. One look at this beaming baby, and it's clear she's developing just fine.

The pediatrician also said the longest hive episode she'd heard of was two years (!), and said it's not uncommon for kids to have lengthy hive outbreaks that eventually go away and you never really know what caused it. Those usually aren't food allergies, and Katrina's hives fit that category (you know, that "one of those things, we have no idea" category). As we were getting into the car afterward, a centimeter-long white line raised up on her face amidst a dime-sized red blotch, as if to remind me that it's not quite over.

Julian was so good during Katrina's appointment, sitting quietly in a chair and flipping through a Parenting magazine. He was really, really good this morning, and that's saying a lot!

Gabriel asked me today where the edge of the sky is.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

6/7/07 A rough bedtime

Just after watching an episode of Supernanny, and determining to be on my best Mom behavior, I completely lost it tonight.

As I was getting Katrina ready for bed, I called to the boys to get ready for their bath, and they mostly ignored me. After repeated asking, demanding, countdowning, flat-out ordering, and lots of rude and defiant talk back ("you can't order me around Mommy -- now STOP it" -- from Julian!), I picked Gabriel up and stuck him on his bed, hard, and he kicked me in the stomach. That earned him a hard smack on a conveniently bare bottom, and it all went downhill from there.

The low point came when the boys were shouting that they hated me and were demanding that I leave, and I lost my patience and did exactly that. I picked up a surprisingly calm Katrina, told them "Fine, I'm leaving then," and stalked downstairs. They followed me downstairs, naked, bawling and screaming and begging me not to leave. I'd gone too far, again. I knelt and started to hug them both, and was about to explain that I'd never leave them....and in the pinnacle of a turnaround moment, Katrina hurled ALL over -- all over her pajamas, my shirt, pants, and the floor. I had to drop everything and do some basic triage on the mess, with the boys still beside themselves. Great.

Later, I was trying to rinse shampoo lather off Gabriel's face, Katrina was working on a diaper change, Julian was sitting on the toilet crying for me to hold his hands, and I still had spitup all over me. Major overload. At times like this, I fall back on a most unlikely source of guidance: my first MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) class. Separate your hazards. Prioritize your immediate risk. Be aware of all potential threats, but deal with them one at a time.

So when all four of us need something, I have to pick one first, quickly. That's why I spent at least half an hour with my clothes clinging to me with spitup.

And Supernanny? Out the window. So much for my resolve not to lose my temper, not to react when they laugh at me, not to shout when they ignore me, not to scare them. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

At least we had a nice time reading before bed, and then I made sure to tell them both that I'd never ever leave them, because I'm their mommy. A lofty title I'm not sure I deserved tonight. (The movie line rings in my head: "...and don't give yourself pious airs about motherhood....why, a cat is a better mother than you!" Ooh, harsh.)

I had this afternoon alone with Gabriel, who went straight outside after we got home after I picked him up. I saw him sitting by his bicycle on the grass, and figured he was toying with the kickstand. A good half hour later, he was still there, hadn't budged, and was still staring at the fence.

I went outside to talk to him, and all he said was that he thinks we should paint the fence blue. Is this what keeps a 5-year-old's mind busy for over half an hour?!

Here's what kept him busy yesterday, a drawing of a train. These drawings take him a long time, as he is very meticulous and careful to stay within his own lines. But the fact that he's been drawing pictures at all is a fairly new, and intriguing, thing for him.

This day deserves to be retired.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

6/6/07 New Look

I've been wanting to change the look of this blog for a while, and tonight took two steps forward, one step back. The steps forward are the colors and width, but backward are the little rounded corner turds in the header. I know why that is, but don't feel like finding a workaround right now. Still, overall, I like this better. Let me know if you have trouble reading it.

Old posts will have fonts that look too small now, but for new posts, I won't always have to change the font.

6/6/07 The redhead?

If you didn't know better, at times you'd say Katrina has red hair! Well, strawberry blondish, anyway, depending on the light.

No matter what you call it, it is hard to believe she was born with black hair.

But it's also hard to believe it will persist, as the genetics are for dark hair. Still, could there be some recessive Irish characteristics manifesting themselves?

This modeling took place in a shopping cart at Trader Joe's this afternoon, where I pulled off a successful stock-up venture with all three kids. I love that Katrina can sit up in shopping carts now, since for the most part, the boys can't reach her (though I did have to pinch Julian's fingers to get him to quit pulling her feet after being told umpteen times to stop).

The only thing about her being in the cart, especially the narrow ones at Trader Joe's, is remembering the time that Gabriel climbed up the side of one and toppled the cart, with Julian in the seat. It wouldn't be hard for one of the boys to climb up there in the seconds I have my head turned to pick something off a shelf. ~Shudder~

We had an unexpected substitute swim teacher today: Gina!! I was thrilled! Julian started the class again half-heartedly crying and protesting, and finished it by swimming across the short side of the pool completely unassisted, delighted with himself. Good boy! Katrina didn't cry at all, and is getting pretty good at jumping off the side now. My little fishies.

I talked to a mom in playtime with one son just a few weeks younger than Julian. Somehow she commented that she didn't want her son to be an only child, but it wasn't working out. Partly, she said, I'm old. I can usually trump "old" moms on age, but it turns out that she and I are just a few months apart in age. It's a story I come across so often: secondary infertility, often, but not always, with a mom of my generation. These stories always give me pause, because as shellshocked as I still am about having another baby, my story is one so many people would love to live. Some moms are encouraged by my story, others are disheartened by it, and I feel uncomfortably, futilely guilty by the latter. Something so profound and life-changing we have no control over. We can't trade, compromise, negotiate, switch; like swapping a purple coat for a red one. I got a baby. Someone else who dearly wants one didn't. How did that happen?

Dave is in San Diego on a business trip until Friday night, so I'm playing single parent for the week. I'm playing up the pros, such as dinner at 5:30. That works great.


6/5/07 The gift

I had this afternoon alone with Gabriel today, a dull prospect for him since I was bent on getting things done in the office.

I don't know what got into him, but he decided to draw a picture of me and him walking up a mountain, along a river. It took him a long time, and he proudly showed it to me afterward. I made a big fuss over it, then told him he should sign and date it. This occupied him for another 15 minutes as he meticulously wrote "June 5 2007 Tuesday Gabriel".

I'd love to show you the picture he drew, but instead, he insisted on wrapping it as a present. I tried to dissuade him, since I really did want to see the picture, but Gabriel isn't known for being easily sidetracked. I relented and let him at it, with wrapping paper, scotch tape and scissors. This kept him busy for another 15 minutes or so.

Then my present needed a tag. He went about his work, coming into the office to ask me how to spell my name, then how to spell "From," even though he could spell it himself when I pressed him.

Finally, he was done, and reappeared to present me with my "birthday gift." I told him, "Gabriel, you didn't have to spell my name, you could have written 'Mom'!". To which he answered, ever so logically, "But every kids' mother's name is Mom -- then you wouldn't know who the present is for!"

I don't dare unwrap the thing, he seems to like this present so much. I'm hoping he'll forget about it so that I can stash the picture, as the glimpse I got of it is truly very sweet.

Katrina is 8 months old today! What a milestone -- we've now had a baby out-of-utero for the same amount of time, almost to the day, that the baby was in-utero. Lemme tell you, it's a whole lot more fun having the baby out! (well, of course, of course I mean provided the baby really has been inside you for 8 months, apologies to preemie-moms).

She's still in a wonderful place, just charming and delightful....and very tolerant of brother antics. I tried to capture a moment in which Julian was making her crack up aloud, but the camera and Gabriel distracted her. Instead, I captured a moment of what I constantly endure the boys doing to her, never knowing when they're about to go too far, grabbing her hands and feet, bouncing around -- and Katrina constantly undermining my warnings and corrections to the boys by smiling at them and rarely complaining.

It's funny, when I have the afternoon alone with my 5-year-old, I feel more in touch as a mom. This is where I belong, with little kids who I can just tell to get out of the car and close the door behind them, who can carry things, put things away, that I can talk to and interact with. I feel like I'm living in a past world when I'm carrying a baby around, almost as much as when I see a pregnant woman or a single woman or a college student. It's such an enigma. On the one hand, I have this beautiful, fabulously rewarding, outgoing, charming, sweet baby. On the other hand, I feel much more in my element when I'm with my 5-year-old almost-kindergartner, who is those things only in moments. Even as my connection with my role as kid-mom strengthens, so does my love for my baby, if not my love for my role as baby-mom. Yet when I'm alone with her, on all appearances I'm a highly engaged baby-mom, probably because this particular baby is so engaging and irresistable. Even I can't help it. It's like Mother Nature is taunting me, teasing me for any ambivalence I have about having a baby in my life. But Mom Nature's joke won't last long, because babyhood doesn't either.


p.s. that's odd, blogger's option to change font face, is missing today, though changing font size is still there. Bug or feature?

Monday, June 04, 2007

6/4/07 The Impatience

This evening, I was making a mad dash for the Y, having focused all my energies from about 4:30pm on to getting kids fed, kitchen cleaned, baby nursed, clothes prepared for tomorrow, and everything taken care of to do so. I had to be back by 8:30 so that Dave could get dinner, and was finally ready to leave around 7pm. My time was ticking, so I said a quick goodbye to the boys, who ignored me, then got into my car.

"Wait!" I heard imploringly. "Mommy!!" I got out, quelling my irritation. "Where are you going?" I explained again, gave them each a quick hug, then ran back into my car.

"WAIT!!! MOMM-MY!!!!!" Argh!! Now what?!! "I want to give you a hug and a kiss!" Oh, OK. I can't complain about those after all. Brushing aside a flash of guilt from curtailing this moment of affection, I gave them both the prescribed hugs and kisses, then ran back into my car. Quickly, I started to pull out of the driveway.

"WAAIIIIITTT!!! Mommy! Mommy!!!!"

@&$&#@!*! Come on! Another round of hugs and kisses. Mwah, hug, kiss, pat on the bottom, go play. BYE!

Back in my car. Close the door. Snap on seatbelt. Car in gear, pull forward as fast as politely possible, down the driveway, just about to make my escape....


Screeeech!. Slam on the brakes. Car in neutral. Put on emergency brake. Unsnap seatbelt. Dash out of the car, leave it running, door open. Run back to the backyard gate, seriously annoyed now.

WHAT!!! I demand.

Gabriel said, "I just wanted to tell you something."

NOT NOW!!! I turn to leave. Then:

"Mom -- I love you!"

I looked back at two innocent faces standing there wide-eyed, waiting to see the impact of this unexpected, and apparently sincere, declaration. Julian then piped in too: "yeah, Mommy, I love you too."

My energy for escape drained instantly, the urgency to leave replaced with guilt, a smart smack on my conscience, and a wave of love and affection. I kneeled down and gave my sons long hugs and kisses and told them, completely from the heart, how much I loved them too. I stayed with them until they were kissed out and ready to do their own thing. Then, one more kiss each, one more pat on the bottom, and I was off to do mine.

And I did, smiling the whole way.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

6/3/07 A do-nothing day

It was so nice out today. Why didn't I get out, or better yet, take kids out, to do something? Well, I guess because I got to sleep late -- really late (like 10:30am!), and that was such a nice feeling. How rare to get up feeling like I actually got up on my own terms and got enough sleep! Many thanks to Dave for that treat.

Still, this set us up for a late day. Katrina also woke up unusually late, which is nice, but it also meant she only ended up taking one nap today (gah!). And that nap was ended by a screaming Julian screaming that he didn't need a nap. Uh-huh.

With Julian and Katrina tag-teaming naps, and Gabriel happily outside helping Dave with yardwork (digging out a sprinkler head is still prime entertainment for 5-year-olds), there wasn't much point to taking kids out anyway. Still, I felt bad for not making a trip to a park with Gabriel's new bicycle happen, or take the boys to the Y to swim.

But if you have to have a baby who only took one nap today, at least it was one who was happy and cheerful and very willing to play with her brothers' toys. And whose brothers are far too willing to play with her. I had to banish Julian to another room several times for incessantly grabbing her feet or hands.

I did an experiment on Katrina today: I showed her a small toy, got her interested in it, then put it inside a box with a hinged lid that she can easily open. Would she go after the toy now that it was out of sight? Nope! Not yet! Just wondering.