Saturday, July 21, 2007

7/21/07 An afternoon out

Dave and I went to downtown Los Gatos this afternoon, shopped, had dinner at The California Cafe (outstanding!). Peggy had no trouble with all 3, as usual.

Very early start tomorrow morning for me -- I'm running in the Wharf-to-Wharf 10K race in Santa Cruz. It's supposed to be a great time!


Friday, July 20, 2007

7/20/07 Free Friday

I like having nothing scheduled to do on Fridays. Though, that can lead to...doing nothing.

It's not like there is any shortage of things to do. The Las Madres Cupertino 2004 group has a playdate. The Cupertino 2006 group has a playdates. My favorite long-time weights class is at noon, at my old gym. And there are frequently special events or friends looking for playdates.

But with a twice-a-day napping baby, I like never having to rush the beginning of a nap, or prematurely ending one. I like being able to follow impulses, stretch out a good moment, not be stuck with weird slices of time too short to start something new, but too long not to do anything.

So today, all we did was go to the Y and Whole Foods between baby's two naps. Grocery-shopping with the boys wasn't much fun; they were constantly pushing the limits and being rambunctious and obnoxious. One woman looked at me sympathetically as the boys were throwing themselves on the floor shouting "BUTT BUTT PEE PEE!!" and said, "at least you got your girl!" For once, I agreed. It was hard not to be grateful for Katrina, sitting so peacefully and sweetly and adorably in the cart, while the boys spun in circles.

So after naps (everyone's nap -- all three at once, whee-haw!) we took some photos outside. It's been a while since I got a shot of all three, though it was hard to get Julian to cooperate.

The boys spent some time picking flowers..."for you Mom!"

Happily, two mornings in a row of 7am baby wakeup. Yay!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

7/19/07 Training

Whew. Navigational error led to a much longer run than I'd meant tonight. But Upper Wildcat Canyon was absolutely lovely. All told, over 7 miles. Guess I'm ready for a 10K this Sunday.

8) Parking -> Lower Meadow (SW) -> Farm -> Rogue Valley ->
Upper Rogue Valley (w) -> Upper Rogue Valley (E) ->
Upper High Meadow (W) -> Upper Wildcat Canyon (SW -> E) ->
Wildcat Loop Trail (NE) -> Coyote -> Equestrian Parking -> Parking

Results for route: 1EF3MLKR6STUWV21
Route Miles Up Down
1E 0.30 15 0
EF 0.54 40 0
F3 0.17 30 0
3M 0.31 25 0
ML 0.69 125 0
LK 0.51 75 0
KR 1.00 400 0
R6 0.32 60 0
6S 1.37 0 450
ST 0.12 0 20
TU 0.53 0 180
UW 0.25 50 0
WV 0.67 120 0
V2 0.51 0 195
21 0.29 30 0

Total Distance = 7.58 Miles, 970 feet of climbing

Met with another architect today. Nice guy, positive, open. I'm glad to have the problem of two good choices. But unless there are any horrible surprises in the architects' proposals, I'm pretty sure I know who we'll use.

Also saw the "headache clinic" psychologist today, to talk about lifestyle triggers for migraines. I didn't like him at all. He was looking for low-hanging fruit, and sounded almost like he was reading from a script. Lots of canned, even silly advice, and glossing over the big things (like the newly emerged pattern of Monday Migraines). Some focus on the obvious that I don't get enough sleep now, though no explanation for the first 25 years of migraines. He so wanted to me to say that the little daily things in life stress me out and cause migraines, but overall, I rated my life as pretty low-stress. Sure is easy to see it that way when all kids are in daycare! But really, a putzy 3-year-old isn't true stress. Cancer, bankruptcy, divorce -- that's stress.

I fended off a migraine last Monday with an Imitrex, and have been headache-free all week! What a difference!!!

But now, after tonight's run, the rest of me is pretty achy. In a good way. Ah.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

7/18/07 "Katrina can crawl!"

"Katrina can crawl!"

So announced a very proud older brother (Julian) to all the workers at Gabriel's daycare/daycamp today.

Well, sort of crawl. It's the very bare minimum you'd call crawling, but I think she's met my criteria of moving all four limbs, before sliding to her tummy and reaching out for whatever it is she's aiming for.

Like this:

Dresses on babies don't make a lot of sense, especially on crawlers. And overly pink ones with gag-me-now cutesy sayings are so not my thing. But, I put this on Katrina today to take a photo for a thank-you note, and I have to admit, it's cute on her.

But it's also going to have to get put away, as she was kneeling/stepping on it.

Tonight Gabriel was faced with a new force: Calm Mom.

He got in trouble at dinner for scratching his fork along the table, and was escorted out of the dining room and told to sit at the kitchen counter. You know, the "natural consequence" that Positive Parenting assumes ends an encounter.

Of course, with Gabriel, it only starts there.

He got up without asking to be excused, then deflected an instruction to go sit back down by doing it so slowly that he essentially wasn't doing it. He got a warning, failed that, then ran down a countdown (defiantly declaring, "countdowns don't work on me!"). So then, The Consequence was implemented: his trains got put away.

You should have heard the hollering -- I'm sure our neighbors did. But this time, the only hollering came from him as he begged and cried for his trains: "I'M SITTING! I'M SITTING!! I'M BEING GOOD!!! NOOOO! STOP!!! STOOOOPPPP!!!!" He seemed downright rattled watching his two parents silently -- yes silently packing up his favorite toy and putting it into the garage. But as he did his utmost to get a reaction, nothing.

Naturally in Gabriel-land, things are far from over. (Take that, Positive Parenting.)

Within minutes, he had gone to the garage to rescue his trains. He was busted and escorted to his room immediately -- but he went, and with little physical force required on my part. He screamed and hurled insults, but he was actually more compliant than usual, and all I had to do was hold his hand up the stairs, instead of prying him off the banisters.

With each escalation, I'm thinking, "Oh, YEAH! Game's UP, kid!! This sh*t is working!! Cool!"

Once in his room, newly-empowered-Mom kneeled and talked to him for a few minutes. I recognized his rage and frustration, and listened to him declare indignantly how unfair it was. Following Positive Parenting instructions, I said things like, "Seems really unfair, doesn't it? Kids have to do what grownups say. I know, that makes you mad. Well, here's the way to get your trains back. Tomorrow, you...(etc)." I didn't back down, didn't draw it out, just let him express himself, reminded him what he'd done wrong, and told him I was sure he'd do it right the next time. He needed the attention and acknowledgement.

But, not done yet.

He demanded a time until he had to stay in his room, as usual trying to open the door for another fight ("No Mom, 15 minutes is TOO LONG, I'm only staying for TEN"), but I didn't react or tell him, "You stay here or ELSE..." More insults, threats and claims of disobedience as I walked downstairs. But he stayed.

We both knew: I'd won.

Hah! Yay!

Julian met up with Calm Mom yesterday too, but he crumpled almost immediately. Oh my, did he cry and hug me hard when I got him out of time-out. His attempts to imitate Gabriel's resistance are downright comical. Annoying, to be sure, but he just wasn't born with the backbone for the full-on knock-down drag-outs that his older brother can dish out. But maybe it's thanks to older brother that I'm finding new backbone too.

I've tried all this before. What's different now? I'm not sure. Nine days of migraine then getting scary sick made me stop and think a lot, about many things.

I think I'm more motivated because I know they won't respect me if I lose my temper, and that there will come a time -- not too far off -- that they will be more physically powerful than me, and I need to establish that respect now. Some nice boosts and tips from Betsy have helped, as have watching how my sister calmly deflects most indiscretions. And, of course, SuperNanny's sound bite: stay calm, you'll have more control.

Maybe it's also that I've reconciled that Positive Parenting techniques aren't necessarily mutually exclusive of more traditional methods, even if Positive Parenting thinks so. Its stance against spanking seems to assume that parents spank as a matter of course, as a first response, and that merely distracting a toddler is a comparable course of action. But few parents want to spank, and only do so when they feel there's no alternative. Positive Parenting rules it out entirely, offering alternatives that are sound, but only useful at a much lower escalation level.

So I'm not taking a whack on the bottom out of the escalation chain -- I'm just adding links to that chain before it gets to that. Knowing that the "tool," if you will, of a smart smack is still ultimately available, turns positive parenting into the first (and 2nd and 3rd and nth) line of defense, rather than the only one. That takes the pressure off. And so Calm Mom has been born.

Can I keep this up? It's only been a few days -- headache-free ones, in fact. The real test is when the inevitable migraine returns. Or I might have just hit a patch when the stars are aligned properly and the boys are just being agreeable.

Certainly Julian took his sweet pill this morning, giving everyone (even a mock-reluctant Gabriel) a hug and kiss before parting ways this morning. When Julian wants to be amiable and adorable, there's no stopping him. I just love that boy.

And speaking of no stopping, those boys are gonna learn fast to put stuff away, because here comes baby!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

7/17/07 The Architect

Today I had a meeting with an architect who could be someone I'd meet at a Las Madres event. She has two small kids and parents right in my neighborhood who watch them, and works partly from home, and mostly on her own hours.

But aside from relating to potty-training issues, I was blown away by her competence, her professionalism, her practicality, her attention to detail, her knowledge, the questions she asked, the ideas she offered, the positive attitude, her organized and clear approach to the whole process. Now this is more like it! No resistance, no offering red-herring ideas, no know-it-all attitude. Finally, a break. I'm looking forward to this project all of a sudden!

I'm meeting with another architect this coming Thursday, and if he's better, it'll be a miracle. Exactly what this house needs. But I think this house's miracle was found today.

Yesterday, Gabriel asked me, "Where does the universe end?"

I don't know about the universe, but I can answer that the world ends when your baby consistently wakes up around 6am. Which Katrina did again today. Without the crows. Ouch.

Looks like I'm training for a 10K after all, this coming Sunday. When will I ever "train" more than a week ahead of time?! Tonight I squeaked in a run at Rancho San Antonio, but these night squeaks are going to end soon. The sun setting earlier makes a serious difference. I like the hills, it's like interval training and doesn't let you get into too much of a lull. Yeah, no lulls needed around here, right?

Kids all in daycare today (otherwise productive 2.5-hour meeting with architect would never have happened!), boys surprisingly well-behaved tonight. And so was I.


p.s. Tonight's route:

6) Parking -> Lower Meadow (SW) -> Mora -> Ravensbury ->
Chamise (W) -> Rogue Valley (E) -> Farm -> Coyote ->
Equestrian Parking -> Parking

Results for route: 1EF8HJ7LM3UWV21
Route Miles Up Down
1E 0.30 15 0
EF 0.54 40 0
F8 0.60 255 30
8H 0.37 0 110
HJ 0.05 10 0
J7 0.60 120 0
7L 0.20 0 75
LM 0.69 0 125
M3 0.31 0 25
3U 0.15 20 0
UW 0.25 50 0
WV 0.67 120 0
V2 0.51 0 195
21 0.29 30 0

Total Distance = 5.53 Miles, 660 feet of climbing

Monday, July 16, 2007

7/16/07 Marvelous Monday

I couldn't believe I heard myself tell Dave when he got home today, "We've been having a really good day." I brace myself for Mondays, when I have all 3 kids and so often, a migraine, but today was relaxed and full of fun.

I need to learn to write less. I have blog bog. It's really not necessary to run down the whole day, every day, is it? Seems it is, to me. So today I'm trying short sections. As always, I fail on the "short" part.

The Lunch Menu

Harvest Grain Chicken Salad...A savory blend of Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa, simmered in chicken broth, with diced chicken bits sauteed in teriyaki.

Black forest Ham and Alpine Lace swiss cheese, with a smattering of organic mayonnaise, on seven-grain bread.

Would you believe, this was Katrina's lunch today?

The grains and chicken were dinner leftovers, and the ham-and-cheese sandwich was what Gabriel didn't finish from his lunch. After Katrina devoured the grains and chicken, I spooned off baby-bite-size slices from Gabriel's sandwich. She LOVED the ham and cheese sandwich!

I stopped making baby food for Julian when he was 11 months old. Looks like I'll be putting away my blender even sooner this time.

Scrapbooking as the Key to Better Parenting

I might have got it now. A confluence of events have greatly improved things around here: a few bad blowouts with Gabriel, getting so sick life stopped dead in its tracks, thinking more about the "positive parenting" techniques, and reciting stay calm, you'll have more control.

I've really been working at being more consistent, giving ONE warning, and without raising or sternifying my voice, to avoid default reactions. I know the big fight is always around the corner, but if the approach is different, maybe I can find a path around it.

And I think I see an improvement! Even the biggest bugaboo, washing hands before dinner, is going better. I stop what I'm doing, kneel down, pull the boys together, and then tell them very clearly with full attention, "It's now time to go pee and wash hands before dinner. Let's do this without screaming, without countdowns, without any putzing around, OK?" I do still have to remind them, but as long as I'm willing to accept some playing on the way to the bathroom, three nights in a row, they've both ended up doing this without much trouble.

Same thing with them bugging Katrina, another serious trigger for me, as mothers' hackles tend to rise when their baby is being swarmed. ONE warning, then they have to get off the rug, then to the living room, then to their room; and each time, I make it sound like I too am sad that they have to go, rather than talking sternly to them. I don't know yet if they respond better without me yelling, but I sure feel better.

Thinking about it, even though I might have "good" reasons why it's harder for me (short-tempered nature, chronic migraines, Gabriel), it doesn't matter to them. A grade of B with an excuse just isn't as good as an A, fair or not. The boyfriend who misses your birthday with a "good reason" just isn't the same as the one who got there. There really are no excuses. One way or another, their experience is what matters, regardless of my reasons behind it. A 3-year-old doesn't care about migraines. He cares about a strong, in-control mother.

So what does that have to do with scrapbooking?

For some time now, any baby-free time I've had, I've felt like I have to spend it working: dealing with the house remodel, my Dad's affairs, our own logistics. And, when I have had some time, a headache puts a serious damper on free-flowing ideas. But there's no getting around it, I need a creative outlet, the chance to concentrate, to produce, explore, create. Most of my life my creative urges have manifested themselves in textiles and writing, but now I have paper crafting too.

Last Friday, I was too sick to do much else, so I sat and did some scrapbooking. I can't believe how much better I feel for having done my monthly "photo album" page for May, rearranged a scattered and hastily assembled old photo album, and started a few decorative projects.

These are not indulgences. They're necessary for sanity and happiness -- and additional patience for little children. I'm not going to underestimate that again.

Planets by Gabriel

A few days ago, I pulled out some paints to paint a cheap picture frame (still hasn't happened of course). Gabriel saw this and got it in his head to paint, so I found some kid watercolors, set him up in our makeshift craft area (I love my two $2.99 vinyl tablecloths for this) and let him at it.

He was so proud of the result that he bugged me for two days to frame it. So today I had him write the title, his name and the date on the back, then I stuck it in one of those cheap acrylic box frames, with two sheets of colored paper behind it.

And I love it!

I've been lamenting the lack of artwork around here, and not only am I thrilled to have some homegrown decoration, but I genuinely like it. It's abstract and colorful, a painting of the sun and planets.

Gabriel said today that when he grows up, he's going to be an artist. Well, this is the first sign in that direction, and I'd be very proud. Surprised, to be sure, but very proud!

Crawl to stand

Katrina is still sooo close to her first crawl step. She gets on all fours, rocks, gets three out of four limbs moving, then slides to her tummy and reaches her arm out, scratching her fingers towards whatever it is she's trying to get to. Everything but a crawl.

Now, she's adding standing to that. I can stand her against something, and she'll hold up for a few seconds. And now, she's trying to pull herself up. Long ways off, but it's another little smidgeon of progress. Go baby go!

Swim class

Our only outing (yay) today was Julian and Katrina's swim class. It's official: I have a cryer. Katrina is fine in the water until teacher Gina comes over, at which point her face scrunches up and she bursts into her squeaky, high-pitched cry.

So today we tried me moving away completely while Gina worked with Katrina. Predictably, she calmed right down until she saw me again.

Then if I snuck around really fast, I could try to get a photo of Gina and Julian and Katrina before baby saw me and started to cry. Not easy. This was the best I could do.

Meantime, I got to take photos of Julian "diving" into the water. He had a great time today. He's much more confident now, so swim class is all fun for him now, even if he spends a lot of it spinning in the water, lost.

Watching Julian swim and remembering how Gabriel was at his age is a perfect snapshot of the differences in their personalities. Gabriel was so directed, he jumped in and purposefully made it to the other side. Julian is more random; he jumps in happily now, but sometimes makes it, other times plays around, other times just spins around and seems to forget what he was doing.

Gabriel insisted on another photo of all three of them with their monogrammed towels. The problem with the last photo, he said, was that he wasn't sitting next to Katrina. "That wasn't fair Mom." Julian insisted that their names show.

I see my concept of short sections has only served to lengthen this entry. I've got to do something about this. Then again, a calm and peaceful day deserves the extra inches.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

7/15/07 The crows are the culprit

Seasonally, we get visits from huge flocks of crows who swarm nearby trees, squawk their heads off for about 5 minutes, then fly away. One such flock is doing this on the west side of our house every morning -- at daybreak. Just long enough to wake up Katrina. Then we're all up.

By the way, daybreak is just before 6am. I know this. Three mornings in a row I know this. Those darned birds!

I took the boys to the Cupertino Fountains today, planning to take Katrina tooo, but at the last minute, she needed nap#2 for the day. The boys really needed to get out, and I sensed that Dave really needed to get them out.

It was nice to have some time alone with them. I ran around with them for a while, including "racing" across a lawn. I'm mean. I don't let them win.

While there, I asked Gabriel to read a sign posted by the fountains, just to see if he could. And, other than reading "safety" as "safely," he read the whole thing, uncoached.

Drat, the audio sucks (windy), but the sign says...

...well, I'll tell you what the sign says, the same way I tried to tell Dave about it. I told Dave:

Me: "He totally read a sign that said, 'Please no pets or....darn, what did that sign say...oh yeah, for health and safely -- "
Dave: "Safely?"
Me: "Well, that's how he read 'safety'. Umm, oh yeah, 'Please no pets or..."
Gabriel: "No pets or other animals in the fountain area!"
Me (stunned): "!! Oh! Yes, that IS what the sign said!"
Gabriel: "No Mom, you forgot: 'For public health and safely [sic], please no pets or other animals in the fountain area.'"
Me (speechless): "...duhhhhh..."

I was going to say I was impressed that he could read it, but remember it?? Considering how much of day-to-day life 5-year-olds forget....! (like putting shoes away). And a little concerned that I couldn't remember it.

Katrina woke up from her afternoon nap too early again, so I decided to make the most of the afternoon and take her running. This time, I headed north to the bay, hoping to find a flat unpaved trail suitable for a jogging stroller. And I did -- there are loops off the S.F. Bay trail that go around some water treatment ponds in Sunnyvale. The idea was that it would be an easy re-introduction back to exercise after that downright scary 24 hours when I was so, so sick.

(I go quickly through some yoga poses before and after running, it's the best way to stretch without a bar or mat, I find.)

But there was one element I hadn't counted on: wind. Whew! Not the same kind of toughness as the steep hills at Rancho San Antonio, but definitely harder to get through pushing a jogging stroller with a huge canopy that acts as a sail.

Windy and sunny meant the canopy was down over Katrina for most of the run. I'd check her sometimes and find her hat down over her face, but most of the time, I'd peek under the canopy and be greeted by a beamy sunshiny smile. She loves to get outside.

Though overall I prefer the wooded -- and yes, hilly! -- trails at Rancho San Antonio, this was a nice contrast. It's also a wonderful area for seeing birdlife. Nice quiet birds.