Saturday, August 04, 2007

8/4/07 The two pools

Today the boys started a 4-class session of swim lessons at the same pool where I swim.

Gabriel really wanted to see a 50-meter pool, and when we arrived, he asked a lifeguard how deep it was. She assured him it was only 3-1/2 feet deep where he'd be swimming, mistaking his question as motivated by fear. No, Gabriel just likes to fish for big numbers. He wasn't impressed with 13-1/2 feet deep.

The boys got put into the same class, and it's small, so in theory, the teacher can adapt the instruction according to the kids' ability. In practice, both of them were given instruction at about the same level a brand-new 2-year-old might get.

The boys clung to the side until the teacher pulled them around in a slow semi-circle, saying "whee!" if they actually put their face in the water. Later, one of the lifeguards told me they'd bump Gabriel up a level, but really, I didn't see anything being taught for little kids that comes close to even Julian's level.

Then again, how would they ever know that he can jump in and swim across the pool taking his own breaths if they don't ask him to? Julian isn't about to volunteer that. And Gabriel does more than that in his Tuesday morning swim lessons -- he works hard, in fact.

We'll bring them back next week, but my guess is that this place is a bust for them too. Not to mention the inevitable complaints about being cold. They're very spoiled by the ultra-warm waters of the teaching pools oriented toward little kids.

Then this afternoon, we went to one of Dave's coworker's annual pool party, in her backyard.

There, we had vindication of sorts. I insisted on being in the water with the boys at first, quickly remembering that even last year, I felt comfortable enough just sitting by the edge and watching them. And this year, Gabriel had no compunction about jumping in the deep part and swimming across to get to a chair. Later, Dave played a game with the boys that involved them swimming -- really swimming -- to retrieve a frisbee.

Even though Dave's been the one taking them to (so far failure) swim lessons on Saturdays, he hasn't seen Gabriel really swim, and he was impressed. Even Julian, once he gets past his initial hesitation, is very comfortable jumping in and making progress toward a target using his arms and kicking.

For me, all the time and expense of swim lessons come together when I see them just....swimming. They're just having fun and playing, but they're both clearly using the skills and confidence they've gotten from swim lessons. Gabriel especially is old enough now that it's really sinking in (hmm, poor choice of words!), since he can follow instructions and remember and his lessons are more than just playtime. It's really gratifying to see them applying what they've learned in a fun context, without thinking about it or concentrating, just....swimming.

In fact, at what age do you stop being completely paranoid about water safety? Knee-jerk answer is to say "never," but really, at some point, you're going to let them swim without being in the water with them, then without being right by the side of the pool. I'm not there yet by any means -- a 5-year-old who doesn't quite make it across the pool and starts to panic can easily drown -- but today I certainly didn't worry watching Gabriel jump into water well over his head, even when I was too far away to rescue him quickly. (In fact, it's become more of a safety hazard for him to jump in where it's too shallow.)

I also saw Gabriel politely, but with clear irritation, ask (demand?) that another much older, bigger kid let go of the chair he was on, when the other kid playfully swam up to it and started spinning it around. "Can you let go of that right now please?" Gabriel insisted. I watched Julian in a similar situation, and he took the opposite approach, instead engaging into the other kids' game.

Katrina joined in the fun too, as did Dave. As soon as I brought her in, she immediately started smiling and flailing around in the water until another grownup approached me -- then she launched into her pitiful cry, clearly mistaking the other adult as a swim teacher. But after some time in the water, she relaxed around other grownups. She was so exuberant that it got hard to hold her, as she splashed and blew raspberries and laughed and tried to jump out of my arms into the water. No problem going underwater either, coming up smiles and raspberries.

I noticed that another 17-month-old toddler there howled wildly when her father attempted to get her to put her head near the water. Though I still firmly believe that kids who haven't had early swim lessons can quickly catch up, there is still a lot to be said for teaching babies. Katrina is a swim-lesson-cryer, unfortunately, but it's entirely related to being held by other adults. She is very, very comfortable in the water and really, really enjoys it.

I attempted a photo-op with all three, but to my surprise, the uncooperative one this time was Julian! And both boys grabbed Katrina so quickly and closely that they'd knock her off balance. So this was the best I could do.

It was a lot of fun going to a party with other grownups -- and this year, lots of other kids -- but I was quickly reminded about the Stage we're in: crawling. It is SO cute, but SO inconvenient in these situations! Katrina really couldn't hang around outside; there were too many people, she could easily get stepped on, and all sorts of little things on the ground that just weren't good for her to have her hands in. I hung around inside the house with her, but even that was very limiting. A crawler is no longer content to sit placidly on a blanket or in a stroller, but there are a lot of places they can't just crawl around.

At the big pool this morning, as Dave was getting the boys dressed after their lesson, I brought Katrina in the stroller into the women's room with me while I got dressed (I snuck in a short swim during the boys' lessons). The floor was wet and full of hair and icky stuff, so there was no way I could let her crawl there either. As I quickly combed my hair and packed up my things, another woman there smiled at Katrina, then recognized me: "Oh I remember you, you were the pregnant one last summer!" The women I got to know a little all knew me as the one who was pregnant and miserable and found swimming to be an essential remedy. It was kind of fun, really, reconnecting with those same ladies -- with the baby there. They didn't even know if I'd had a boy or girl.

Boy, was everyone tired tonight from all the water time today! Katrina zonked early, Julian didn't even make it through dinner, Gabriel was unusually cooperative and efficient getting to bed. My turn.


Friday, August 03, 2007

8/3/07 Addition

This morning, Gabriel declared, "Mom, you need to learn plusses."

Er...I do?

"Yes you know, plus. Like, 16 plus 16."

Oh. Yes. Of course. Plusses. Which I need to learn. Right now. In between cutting up a mango, cooking oatmeal, and emptying the dishwasher.

"That's called addition, Gabriel. When you "plus" two numbers together, it's called addition."

"It IS?" he answered, fascinated. "So, 16 plus 16 is 22 -- that's dishin?"

Actually, it's 32.

"OK, Mom. So. Now I'll teach you dishin. What is...1 plus 1?" 2, I answered.

"What is 2 plus 2?" 4.

"4 plus 4?" 8.

"8 plus 8?" 16.

"16 plus 16?" 32.

"32 plus 32?" 64.

"64 plus 64?" 128.

"128 plus 128?" 256. "Oh! That's a really big number!" he exclaimed.

"Actually, it's 2 to the 8th, and now we're counting in powers of 2." (Chuckle from the dining room, where Dave was having breakfast.)

"Oh," he said, unimpressed. Julian made a face and the moment, mercifully, was over.

Good thing Gabriel, the future "silver engineer" (the kind that builds roads and bridges), was on the job today to rescue me from my arithmetical ignorance. Look out kindergarten, here he comes!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

8/2/07 The footstools

Every night, the boys argue over who gets which footstool to stand on to brush their teeth. The two plastic footstools are completely identical, bought at the same time, in the same place, are the same exact color, weight, shape, without any identifying marks (like sticker residue or scratches) to tell them apart.

So you know what they fight over?

Who gets the dry footstool.

See, climbing out of the bathtub, Julian still needs a footstool to step down onto. Dave sits on one footstool, and Julian's wet feet touch the other, thus creating a temporary distinction. And a few drops of water is enough to ignite a major row over the dry footstool every night.

I'd be tempted to quickly dry off the wet footstool before the argument erupted. But why? They'll simply find something else different about the footstools to argue about. They're that dedicated.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

8/1/07 Katrina's 9-month appt

Er...9-month? But isn't Katrina almost 10 months old? Yeah, well....lame Mom didn't actually make the appointment until after she was 9 months old. Behind as usual. The dog ate my homework and all that.

Baby's stats:

Weight: 16 lbs 8 oz (5th %ile)
Length: 27.75" (50th %ile)

Awesome job on the weight though -- that's over 2 pounds in two months! No more weight checks. She's still barely hanging on to being on the chart, but since she's in bounding good health, there's no concern.

Indeed, the conversation with the pediatrician was downright boring. There's just nothing to report. All developmental milestones are on the mark, she eats great, sleeps well, poops fine, has no unusual behaviors, and is basically a happy, joyful, completely healthy, if skinny, baby. She hasn't even really been sick, other than a sniffle or two way back when. The 3-week hive episode in May is the only thing of note, and like all pediatricians, this one shrugged it off too.

Katrina is delighted with her new crawling skill, and has been exploring every facet and every contour around her. What used to be an inaccessible blob is now a stack of magazines to pull down, a cabinet door to open, a wire to pull. She's also really really really trying to pull herself to a stand, but doesn't quite know how yet. (My plea to Mother Nature: Oh please please please give me an on-time walker this time around! I've earned it!)

Gabriel had a field trip to Boomers today, a park in Livermore (a good 45 minutes away, in the East Bay). He must have had fun, because he actually talked about it, telling me about the bumper boats and the mini golf.

And he was very ... er, energetic tonight when he got home, completely hyping up Julian too. It's really becoming a problem, how noisy and obnoxious the boys are during dinner, making it impossible for Dave and I to exchange even a few words. Kicking them out of the dining room does nothing; they scream and complain and then don't eat and then run around like mad, disturbing us even more and not learning a thing out of it. Supernanny, what are we to do?!

Thank goodness for bedtime. And for beautiful healthy babies.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

7/31/07 The $240 Dip

No kids today! Tonya's vacation is over! Yayyyy!

Since it's been getting dark earlier and earlier in the evening, I went running this morning right after dropping Gabriel off after his swim class.

Urgh, I am so not a morning runner. I wheezed my way up the hills, then counted my various ills down the hills (knee, stitches, feeling tired). But afterward, I only remembered it as being very pleasant, mostly because I just love being outdoors, on trails and surrounded by trees, seeing different terrain, hills, canyons, open scrubby areas, scurrying lizards, rewarding views.

After a tough hot run, I really wanted to stretch -- in water. We belong to a community pool in our neighborhood, which costs us $60 a quarter. $240 a year! We've stuck with it over the years to support the neighborhood, but that sure is expensive sentiment. Especially since we hardly ever use the pool.

But I used our community pool today, for the first time this year. For about 15 minutes, I jumped and splashed and flipped and just played in the water, stretching gently with every movement. Boy, did that feel good! Even if it did cost $240.

But I didn't get all this childcare this summer just to indulge myself. My real purpose is to pursue our long-overdue downstairs remodel. And a big step was made there today. Dave came home for lunch, and we met with our new architect to sign a contract and go over the basics of the project. In a few weeks, she'll have a few designs for us to mull over.

I can't believe how different this is already shaping up to be than our upstairs remodel. I'm not wheel-spinning or fretting so much about how to pull all the pieces together, since this time, we have completely competent help and guidance. I'm delighted to let go of my inner control freak, and focus my energy instead on collecting What I Want, and let someone who knows what they're doing Put It All Together.

I went right to Borders after our productive meeting, to gather kitchen & bath magazines. I can't wait to spend some quality time with them and a stack of sticky notes.

Kids. Oh yes, children! That is what my life is about, isn't it? Not running, swimming and remodeling.

Picking up The Three after a nice day of being a grownup is always a bit of a shock, but it takes only an instant to kick back into Mom/Cook/Cleaner/Organizer/Traffic Controller/Servant mode. Nothing like trying to make dinner, feed baby, and keep happily reunited brothers from spinning themselves into a frenzy all at the same time.

Gabriel was fascinated when I told him about the lady who's going to draw us a new house, he wants to know alllll about how it's going to be built. Julian says he doesn't want to go to Tonya's, he wants to go back to daycamp, poor guy. (I think I will sign him up for one more daycamp week before summer's over, but there's no getting around it: Tonya's is where his preschool is, so there he's going.) Katrina...boy, is she a noisy baby! She's getting more and more opinionated, like about holding something, or being somewhere, about trying to do something and not being able to. The toddler years are just around the corner!

And me...always happy to have time off, always a little guilty about how much I enjoy it, and always relieved and glad to have them all with me again.


Today's run, according to Rancho Runner:

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

Results for route: 1EF3MNPR6STUWV21
Route Miles Up Down
1E 0.30 15 0
EF 0.54 40 0
F3 0.17 30 0
3M 0.31 25 0
MN 0.04 10 0
NP 0.96 460 0
PR 0.18 135 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 = 6.56 Miles, 975 feet of climbing

Monday, July 30, 2007

7/30/07 Creepy crawly

I wish "Boris the Spider" by The Who would quit ringing in my head. It's sort of a dark-sounding song. I don't like it very much.

But the chorus sung in falsetto "creepy-crawly-creepy-crawly-creepycreepycrawlycrawly..." just begs to be heard when I watch tiny little Katrina making her way stealthily across a room...

...and straight to the stairs!

Oh No. Gabriel was absolutely impossible with stairs as a crawler. I used to carry a gate in my car for going to houses with ungated stairs, so that I wasn't constantly carrying him back down, protesting more and more each time. It got really hard after a while. Katrina's instant attraction to stairs makes me nervous about a repeat. Oh No!

She's still pretty slow, but she's having no end of fun with this crawling thing. A whole new world has opened up! And, just like Gabriel (a phrase I find myself using frighteningly frequently), she likes to crawl away, up, over, and into things.

Like to the stairs.

Then to the sliding door to the patio.

Then to the big bag of powdery, toxic grout the tilers left on the floor today.

Then into Julian's Special Bin of just his things that no one's allowed to touch.

Then into Gabriel's Special Bin of just his things that no one's allowed to touch.

Then to the thumb-pulls for the basement trapdoor, with the half-sphere recess filled with dirt, dust and crumbs.

Then to any garbage can.

Then to the prized new coloring book one or other brother left on the floor, perfect for shredding and tearing the careful artwork.

Then to a Lego assembly, perfect for shaking and pulling off tiny little bits (mmm, tasty).

And to anything other than a basket of nice, safe, soft baby toys.

"Creepy crawly creepy crawly...."


Sunday, July 29, 2007

7/29/07 A nice party

Sunday! I get to sleep late day!

Well, until 9am, since we had a party to go to at 11am. But I overslept -- yes, overslept -- to 9:40am. Ahhh. How often does a mom of three young children get to say that?! By the time I got downstairs, everyone, even my famously food-incompetent husband, had had breakfast, and Katrina was already down for her morning nap.

I trucked everyone to a nearby park for a nice, small, low-key birthday party for Andrew, one of the usual suspects in the White family. That was really nice, hanging out quietly (where "quietly" is a relative term), chatting with other moms & dads. Everyone there had peers of their generation to play with, even Katrina and Dylan. Note to self: small is better when it comes to birthday parties!

(I didn't get a photo of Julian and Andrew playing, but there was some chase game going on between the two at some least, Julian thought so. Andrew, I'm not so sure was enjoying it!)

As we were leaving the park, before we'd even gotten into the car, Julian called out, "I had fun, Mommy!" That warms my heart. I hope Andrew agreed.

Dave was at work when we got home, but the afternoon went swimmingly, thanks to Katrina taking a nap this time. Whew!

And, since Dave was at work, I started the kids' dinner at about 4:30pm. Everyone was sitting down to dinner by 5pm. That works so, so well -- why can't I pull that off every day?

The boys were promised an extra TV show if they cleaned up the family room before dinner, and Gabriel even got a gold star for being extra-special good and helpful cleaning up. I put the gold star on his hand, but Gabriel insisted on drawing himself a chart to put the gold star on.

Note that I said "kids' dinner." Katrina had mac'n'cheese with the other two, thought I mixed in some chicken with hers (the boys got peas too), then topped her off with yogurt and fruit. She loves the mac'n'cheese so much that I eventually just get tired of feeding it to her and need a change!

Recalling that our lives are made far easier when the boys are separated, I was able to avert a major Julian resistance tonight by offering to give him a bath downstairs "just you and me." When there's no Dad or Brother to impress, he's far more cooperative. I spiked his hair up after his bath, and he had fun laughing and mashing the spike back down. All he had to do was wait 5 minutes for his hair to dry, as then it's stick-straight again.

Speaking of straight hair, Katrina's early signs of curl are completely gone. Looks like she's going to get every girl's worst nightmare: straight, fine, limp, bodyless hair. A lifetime of perms, mousse, wild cuts, expensive products, damaging appliances, according to numerous straight-fine-haired friends I've had over the years. That's OK for Julian, but it's unfair: Gabriel got The Hair.

Katrina has suddenly made a drastic improvement in her crawling, even from this morning. Tonight she was easily travelling from one end of the room to another, yakking and "ahhhh-ahhhh!"-ing the whole way. She's also entered that door-fascination phase, and is due to close herself into a room at any moment.

I'm delighted that she's mobile, but nervous about how this will affect her relationship with her brothers. When Gabriel finds something of his disturbed, he demands, WHY DID YOU DO THAT, JULIAN?! He immediately softens when I suggest that Katrina might have done it...but for how much longer?

But overall, crawling is a win. And while I could do without 8-1/2 months of it this time around, it is unbearably cute. Looks like my brief respite back into the days of sitting peacefully on a blanket in the park with my baby are numbered.