Saturday, July 07, 2007

7/7/07 Strawberry Girl

Every night, I set out the kids' clothes for the next day. This is a selfish practice: the boys are more likely to get dressed quietly and quickly, if things are set out for them. And I can nudge Dave sleepily in the morning to get Katrina and dress her, so I can catch a few more minutes of valuable snoozes.

Betsy dropped off a few girl clothes with the Frog Hollow fruit yesterday (we're splitting a subscription this quarter, and she kindly brings me this delicious fruit every week), so I put the clothes on the stairs. By the time I got around to bringing them upstairs, Katrina was already in bed, so I set them by her door. Somehow only a checked romper made it there (one of the boys probably absconded with the pants, great).

However, this morning, the romper in front of Katrina's door prompted Dave to think I had intended that for her to wear. In fact, I'd meant to check its size and season, then store it with other like clothes.

So, today Katrina ended up in what happened to be perfect for a slightly chilly day, and also was just the right size. It's not normally my style: very pink, very girly, and with a collar, but it was indeed very cute on her, and I do like one-piece romper sorts of things.

I heard Dave calling her "Miss Strawberry" and figured it was a reference to her increasingly strawberry-blond hair, but then saw that this outfit has strawberry appliques. Aww.

Katrina loves this pop-up toy, though so far only knows how to pop things down. She gets very excited when I pop up the 5 animal toys, then one by one, she pushes them back down. She plays with this toy for a long time for a 9-month-old baby!

Every day, it still amazes me. This baby is the most delightful, happy, squealy, giggly, smiley, charming little thing. How did such a wonderful baby get foisted on such an un-wonderful mom who didn't even want another baby? Did the stork make a mistake on the address? Is this Mother Nature's way of making up for Gabriel's toddlerhood? (She already did that with Julian.) Or am I just taking another look at what every mother feels: that her baby is the most amazing, special, incredible being in the world?


Friday, July 06, 2007

7/6/07 Back to normal, whatever that is

A day of cleanup and recovery after the big family's fun, really, picking up coming across a little ponytail holder, or the leftover desserts (mmm), or ... a whole load of laundry?! Oops! Well, let's hear it for good ol' U.S. Post. Now I know what kind of underwear my brother-in-law wears.

Though I griped bitterly about my dysfunctional kitchen, I had fun having so many people here, and preparing food and snacks and cleaning up (we ran the dishwasher 3 times a day!). Still, I come away feeling that I didn't spend enough time with my niece and nephew. My mother is much better at the balancing act between hosting and visiting. I'm looking forward to getting more experience!

Kid reports:

Gabriel: Temperature last night, fine today. Not too terribly troublesome today, though given to hysterical pesty fits.

Julian: Bloody nose in the minivan on the way to Palo Alto to return the van. A little oversensitive and tired today, but mostly sweet.

Katrina: After an off day yesterday, today beaming and bouncing and full of giggles and silly scrunched-up nose laughing and tongue-sticking-out and many other adorable baby maneuvers. Still verrrry close to first crawling step, but hasn't happened yet.

And me...after days of fighting a migraine, I got to sleep early last night, slept late this morning (thanks Dave), but was still unbearably sleepy and tired and headachy all morning anyway. So I caved and took two Imitrex as prescribed, then went for a long run at Rancho this evening. My run was really too long for not having run for almost a week (Coyote -> Farm -> Rogue Valley -> Chamise -> Ravensbury -> Rogue Valley -> Farm -> Parking, appx. 5? miles), and I never got into an "ahh this feels great" groove. But I have high hopes that the endorphins will finish off what the drug started. A day without a headache would be such a boon. A weekend day, even!


(what's with blogger today, it won't let me enter a title?!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

7/5/07 Whoosh...and they're off

We had another full day together today, and it was time to get the kids OUT. So we trucked everyone to Ortega Park to check out the water feature, and whaddya know, ran into Stacey and Betsy & Co (well, & Kids). Of course, there's a playgroup there, I'd forgotten -- we got lucky and picked the time and place right!

Gabriel brought his rockets from Bonne Maman, a quick hit that attracted all the kids. Somehow, the pump got broken, then lost, while at the park.

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out in the backyard, the boys playing in a sprinkler (it was hot today), more photo session attempts, dinner, dessert, packing up, then saying goodbyes and then driving to the airport.

But it wasn't sad saying goodbye. We had such a nice visit that I feel uplifted and warm and connected, not torn apart. I so, so wish I could see the Engels more often than once a year, but I'm so happy that we have that.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

7/4/07 Happy Birthday USA

Today we did the unthinkable in the suburbs: hang out in the front yard. Andreas, my most crafty brother-in-law, set up a swing on the magnolia tree, and the kids took turns begging grownups to push (though Aidan and Gabriel figured out they could push each other). I'm sure the passerby or two found this scene quite odd.

Remi and Katrina will never have a sister or a younger brother, both things my sister and I had, so they'll have to settle for a girl cousine instead, something my sister and I never had (well, one, Perrine, but she was raised in France and we didn't see much of her). Quite a reasonable substitute. They both have October birthdays, and are just under two years apart in age.
Bonne Maman with her granddaughters.

Bonne Maman loves dresses on little girls, and sewed quite a few for her own little girls many, many years -- well, decades -- ago. And it was a nice hot day, perfect to pull out a cool dress from the closet. Remi's dress was a gift from Bonne Maman (Garnet Hill), and Katrina's dress is a hand-me-down from Remi.

Speaking of dresses, yesterday, Stephanie (also very crafty) modeled for us the first dress she made on her interlock sewing machine. When she came out in the dress, Remi ran up to her and said, "Mommy, Mommy, you look like a princess!" Aww.

Meantime, the boys spent a fair amount of time playing and climbing in the trees, Gabriel largely inspired by Aidan. Here they are playing SpyKids and being Very Serious.
Julian's putting on a wimp hat for this visit -- no rides at Happy Hollow yesterday, didn't want to swing, didn't want to climb trees, and tonight was afraid of the fireworks at Creekside. But he's very cooperative about posing for photos.

We've been having no end of fun planning and preparing meals, and I'm not being sarcastic! Stephanie's dietary limitations due to diabetes have been something of an inspiration. Not to mention, the idea of trucking everyone to a restaurant seems unimaginable -- and despite our 8-seater minivan, we'd still have to take two vehicles! So we've been planning and preparing major meals and making big trips to Whole Foods every day.

Healthy, organic and diabetic-friendly doesn't entirely rule out yummies though. Tonight I baked some chocolate-chip cookies, but not your ordinary chocolate-chip cookies: I used 1/3 the sugar, spelt flour, and bittersweet (73% cacao) chocolate "chips" (more like disks). And oh my are they good. My sister might even be able to eat one.

And, I've discovered that the boys like soynut butter as a substitute for peanut butter. Or, I should say, they don't notice the difference if it looks like a peanut butter sandwich and I "forget" to mention that it's not peanut butter. Why is this important if they're not allergic to peanuts? Because 1) they have a cousin who is peanut-allergic; 2) they have a sister who might be peanut-allergic; and 3) Gabriel's summer camp/daycare, Collins CDC, is peanut-free due to a highly allergic child, so handy-dandy peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for bag lunches are out. But soynut butter -- in. And just as handy and dandy.

Fireworks at Creekside Park tonight -- crowded, but there really is no bad seat. We even found parking nearby and made it in time for the show. Aidan, imagination on full tilt at all times, "conducted" the fireworks show, with very convincing hand gestures and sounds. That was the best show.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

7/3/07 Happy Hollow

What a great afternoon! Me and Steph and Mom took all five kids to Happy Hollow this afternoon -- a perfect time, since it wasn't crowded at all. We first walked around the zoo, then went to the park where we had snacks and rode on a few rides.

Feeding animals in the zoo was a favorite, and the merry-go-round in the park got several go-rounds. Remi especially was all smiles on her painted horse. Julian would have nothing at all to do with the merry-go-round, Gabriel went along with it so he could look at the mechanism in the ceiling, and Aidan as usual was just happy.

Unfortunately, my sister's camera didn't have its card, and my camera's battery died! So I didn't get any photos of our excursion on Danny the Dragon, a "train" that winds around various sites and displays. But I really enjoyed that one, mostly because Julian was scared and wanted to sit on my lap. So I had nothing else to do for 10 minutes except hug him.

Katrina hung in for most of the trip, and I deliberately sacrificed her afternoon nap for the event, though she did take a short snooze in the stroller. She loved being out there, and especially liked watching the fish merry-go-round. Next to her younger older brother, who once again, was scared of the ride.

It wouldn't have been the end of the world to take two cars today, but I'm glad we did it all together in the minivan. I'll take as much all together time as I can get.


Monday, July 02, 2007

7/2/07 The hang-out day

Good thing we went out of our way to rent an 8-seater Toyota Sienna minivan, 'cause today we all went...


I even bailed on Katrina's swim lesson.

Let's see. I had a headache (it's Monday, after all). Julian had a temperature. Katrina had a late nap. Gabriel had a big timeout in his room for being too bossy and obnoxious and not letting anyone else play in the tent and tunnel. Everyone else was having fun. I thought about getting us all to Happy Hollow, but it just didn't work. But the day worked well anyway.

My brother-in-law with pruners is a lot like my niece with scissors: be prepared for a lot of clippings. Wow! He spent all day trimming our out-of-control trees and single-handedly increased property values on our block by 10%.

Gabriel declared that he and Remi were friends now. They spent some time playing together in the borrowed tent and tunnel, and apparently a permanent bond has been formed.

Julian was out of it much of the day, napping in the afternoon and fighting a fever the rest of the day, though he seemed fine this evening.

Aidan spent the day outdoors, much of it with his dad watching the arboreal surgery, and much of it hunting bugs.

Bonne Maman made a wonderful blueberry pie with LOTS of help from grandchildren!

Uncle Andreas roughhoused and ran around with all four kids tonight, with baby Katrina watching in fascination. She adoresUncle Andreas, beaming at him all throughout dinner. Julian yesterday said his tummy hurt, and he wanted a hug from Uncle Andreas. Gabriel follows Uncle Andreas around like a puppy dog, peppering him with question after question. I guess they must have been talking about planets, because I failed a quiz from Gabriel: "Which planet has no helium?"

Remi continues to test Aunt Noemi. "Aunt Noemi, where's my mommy?" she asks ever so sweetly as I'm frantically cleaning and preparing dinner. "She's in the backyard with Katrina, sweetie," I answer. Not satisfied, Remi asks again, "can you help me find her?" "She's right in the backyard," I reply, pointing to the door that she's been through 1000 times. "Can you show me where she is?" I'd have gladly played along had I not been up to my elbows in soap suds, but at the moment was unable to play the game. Aunt Noemi fails the test, again.

Katrina's mommy hasn't had much time to make full-on baby food, so Katrina's been getting more and more chopped-up "whatever's around." Tonight it was quinoa and broccoli, for instance. Everyone who feeds her declares that Katrina is a really good eater.

Indeed, the question keeps coming up: is there anything wrong with this baby? She hardly ever cries, sleeps well, eats well, smiles at people all the time, is content for long periods of time....but, she does retain one baby-flaw: she doesn't put her head on your shoulder and cuddle. I love how gentle and interested her cousin Aidan is in her.

Stephanie and I went to the Y together tonight. A rare treat for the sisters to have some time alone together. It's funny, the first years of our lives were dominated by time together, and now, thanks to our own children, we almost never can anymore. It's remarkable that we've come full circle and can share this child-raising experience together.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

7/1/07 The test

This morning, my niece, Remi, claimed she'd injured her toe.

"Aunt Noemi, I need a band-aid! Can you get me a band-aid?" Knowing full well what her real intent with a box of band-aids was, and having just sat down to breakfast after working since 6:30am on kitchen and breakfast prep and cleanup, I wasn't about to get up to indulge her. "I'll look in a few minutes, Remi." She moved away, but reappeared in a few minutes and asked again for a band-aid. I put her off again. And then once more. When I was done with breakfast, I found some real kid stickers for my niece, and figured it was all over.

Later, at the table again, Remi sat across from me in her mother's lap. She was eyeing me carefully, waiting for a moment. Then, still wearing her disarming smile, she put out her finger, looked right at me and said slowly and deliberately, "I know you have a band-aid."

She might as well have been an undercover agent whispering to a suspect that his cover has been blown and to quietly leave the building before this gun hidden in his coat goes off, see? This is one sneaky little girl!

Lots of photos today, including from our foray to the Morgan Hill Aquatics Center, but it's too late, I'm too tired, stayed up too long yakking with my sister and brother-in-law, and have had too much port to bother uploading.