Saturday, September 22, 2007

9/22/07 A night out

Out to dinner tonight, Aldo Italian restaurant in Los Altos, HIGHLY recommended. Then to Sonia's house for a Parent's Night Out with the 2004 parents, desserts, appetizers, chatter. Fun, food, friends. Also HIGHLY recommended.


Friday, September 21, 2007

9/21/07 The Storm

Tonight we made a "pajama trip" to Redwood City to pick up Dave's car, and got to see a rare thing: thunder and lightning! Gabriel was thrilled and had all sorts of questions about what happens if lightning hits you, or the car, and thought we'd have to use flashlights when we got home. I wasn't crazy about driving in the dark and rain with all 3 kids in my car -- I so rarely drive at night these days! And those conditions reveal my slightly compromised eyesight.

But that wasn't the worst storm. This morning, I was walking down a city street and saw some sort of supernatural entity approaching, something that was going to strike me. I grabbed a tree, knowing that I'd get hit harder for resisting, and I was. I was surrounded by wind, mist, flashes of light -- and fear. Then the tree branch I was holding onto broke off, and I was swept into the air with a sickening lurch. I was being pulled from inside out as I freefalled toward the pavement....

....then I woke up with a start. Again. That was worse than the standard taking-a-final-exam-without-studying nightmare, which I'd also just had, with the twist of spilling soymilk all over my exam, and not even knowing what class it was for.

The image of hurtling toward great pain from the clutches of an evil storm haunted me all day. But I knew what it meant right away. This is a new pattern, but a consistent enough one now that it all points to: migraine alert. Disturbing, violent, terrifying dreams, something I haven't experienced since childhood, when the subway trains came barreling down the stairs at home in Brooklyn and carried me away.

And sure enough, the first few jabs of pain started as soon as I sat up. I took an Imitrex and went through the morning motions (including dropping Katrina off at Melissa's and going for a very short run at Fremont Older), then took as long a nap as I could before having to be Mom again. I can still feel the pressure and intense sleepiness, but it doesn't feel like it's going to be a bad one this time. I think the key is taking the Imitrex immediately, though I don't like to pull the trigger too soon since I really don't like how it makes me feel.

At least my children were relatively rewarding today, with the exception of one Julian meltdown before dinner. I succeeded in grocery-shopping and then picking up Gabriel from school this afternoon, though that meant Katrina didn't wind down for a nap until 4pm.

The boys played (mostly) happily together outside until it started to rain, when Gabriel came in very excited and told me with great gravity that it was raining. So I told him to get the garage key, open the door and put away the bicycles and tricycles right away! He took this errand very seriously, as just like his Dad, protecting vehicles is of utmost importance. I just love that I can ask him to do stuff like that now, and it's actually a genuine help. Kids -- way cool.

After his errand, Gabriel described to me very seriously his working on his bicycle. He was SO sincere and likes trying to talk technical so much that I had to try to get him to describe his work again. It wasn't as good the second time, but here he is anyway.

Meantime, baby sister did a fabulous job tonight of feeding herself. I hawked over her to prevent a huge cleanup job, but she dug into her dinner of rice, broccoli and chicken with great enthusiasm, and succeeded many times in scooping food onto the spoon and actually getting it into her mouth. The times she did send food flying everywhere, she got the best reinforcement possible: unabashed peals of laughter from her brothers, which made her beam and smile and giggle and think Oh! Boy! I gotta do that Again!

As a comparison with her brothers at this age with the same skill (spooning and eating food):

Gabriel: not a prayer, no clue, refused to try.
Julian: almost there, and delighted to accept help and learn how.
Katrina: stellar efforts, but SCREEEECHES if you try to help her (like taking the spoon just to turn it right-side up again).

I didn't like running with a camera last week: it's distracting to stop and take photos, and it bounces around. But I'm sorry I didn't have one today. Fremont Older Open Space Preserve has one of the best views of the Bay Area I've ever seen (Hunter's Point), and it's pretty easy to get to. Today's filtered light and cloud formations, a precursor to the lightning storm that skirted us tonight, also made for good photo conditions.

I sort of hope it rains tomorrow. I like rainy days. And two, I hope it gets it out of its system for an outdoor party we're looking forward to on Sunday.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

9/20/07 Julian's big day

Another nice day alone with Julian, though they're soon to end since Katrina's Thursdays at Tonya's will last only through September.

First we went to Rancho San Antonio to resurrect our old hikes with mom friends -- and kid friends! Photos at the end.

Then to home to pick up Dad, then to Redwood City to drop off Dad's car at the Subaru dealership.

Home again, lunch, Bed Bath and Beyond, then to Aidan's house so I could chat with Aidan's mom about her new kitchen. Meantime, Aidan and Julian played Foosball and watched some Smurfs, though Julian was terrified of Aidan's two big friendly dogs.

Then home again, played some Lead Belly, hung out, then the big scramble to pick up the other two. The second Gabriel was home, Julian turned on the Brat switch and was banished to the living room for bothering Katrina. My blood pressure goes through the roof as soon as Katrina's back around, and the boys are bugging her. What a difference from the day alone with just Julian -- it's amazing how much easier it is with one kid!

Still, overall the evening went well. I think. 'Cause I went out to yak with my mom friends and have coffee and cheesecake!

Julian had a great time at Rancho this morning with Allison, Kate and Andrew. First, the Farm, looking at animals.

Climbing on a tree trunk.

The Bossman. Julian made up games and got Kate and Allison to follow him or imitate him in stopping, starting, sitting and general silliness. I think he really liked playing without being bossed around by his older brother!

Andrew and Kate and Allison making up their own games on the logs.

It was a nice day being a one-child mom!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

9/19/07 Teeth!

Boy, you leave your baby for just a few hours and poof -- something changes!

Katrina went to Melissa's this morning, allowing me a nice relaxed run at my favorite -- well, only -- park. When I picked her up, I got a few nice surprises. To start, she didn't cry when she saw me. That's a first. She's stopped crying when I leave her in the Y Childwatch, but she always cries when she sees me again, and same at Tonya's. Not this time.

Melissa told me Katrina had had a good nap, a good lunch, and a lot of fun playing, laughing, reaching out and giving things to Melissa, and was very cuddly. Cuddly?! My girl? Are we talking about the same baby?!

But most significantly, Melissa noticed two teeth poking through on the bottom. Sure enough, there are the tiny stubs of teeth! I swear I didn't see them yesterday.

Melissa also gave me a written checklist report of her naps, eating, diapers, etc., just like in full-service daycares. While I don't need that anymore, not being a paranoid first-timer, I still appreciate it. Other than driving back home in the morning in rush-hour traffic, I'm delighted with the care Katrina is getting. (I've known Melissa pretty much as long as I've known Tonya; they're friends and Melissa has helped Tonya many times, has trained to be a preschool teacher, and now is starting her own family daycare.)

But, so much for patting myself on the back for picking up Gabriel so many days from school. Four days in a row, Katrina hasn't taken an afternoon nap. One of those days was Sunday, and that could have been a fluke. But the weekdays this week, she hasn't either. Today, I was determined to get her down for an afternoon nap, and did so, at about 2:15. Which meant: no picking up Gabriel.

Now that I think about it, no wonder. I was picking up Gabriel right before her nap, so she got the intensely fun stimulation of all the parents and kids at the school, not to mention the joy and energy of being with her brothers together again. Then the hullaballoo of getting everyone into the car at school, and out of the car again at home. Plus, 3pm is on the late side anyway, and she gets a second wind. I might as well have been injecting her with caffeine!

Here she is today right after her afternoon nap, happy chatty:

I'm not sure what to do. Not picking up Gabriel from school meant that at 5pm, Katrina was just waking up, and Julian was still asleep. He hasn't napped in days and it shows, so I let him go (he woke up just shy of 6pm, and he still went to bed without trouble at 8:30!). But when I have a chicken roasting in the oven, baby is entering her highest-maintenance neediest time of the day, and 3-year-old is taking a much-needed nap, I really really really don't want to haul everyone out to go get Gabriel. Luckily today Dave was able to get him before 6pm, but I can't count on that every day. I've got to fix this!

Neighbors would be nice. We actually have a neighbor just a few houses away, so close the baby monitor would probably work from there, who also has a daughter at Collins kindergarten (not in Gabriel's class though). But I have no idea what the mom's schedule is, don't remember her name (one of those elaborate and lovely Indian names) and pretty much have only talked to them at Halloween. The house across the street sold recently, but I've never seen who moved in there. I think they have kids since I've glimpsed a tricycle in the garage.

Are we doing the right thing by staying here? Sometimes I wonder. But how do you find something as nebulous and intangible as "neighborhood" and "community?" Well, for how, our little community of three will have to do. And you know, our new neighbors might appreciate a welcome wagon visit from us.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9/18/07 Accomplishments

It's nothing short of miraculous when I accomplish as much as I did today. Not only did I trim Julian's fingernails, but I actually changed a light bulb. A 3-way one, no less!

That's probably worth more than grocery-shopping with all 3 kids after picking Gabriel up from school. It helped that I relented and let the boys ride in one of those car carts, despite numerous past bad experiences. Though it was super heavy with all 3 kids in it, it worked well. The boys didn't fight, and they stayed put the whole time. As we were loading up the car, I realized why: Gabriel had strapped him and Julian in, and they couldn't unstrap!

Later in the afternoon, I attempted to put Katrina down for a nap. While she was still chattering away, Betsy arrived with her clan'o'3, taking vengeance on me for pawning off so many baked goods on her. (I was the lucky recipient of some Mexican Monkey Cake, which was fabulously rich and moist and .... fabulous!) Ironically, Julian had just been saying this morning that he wanted a playdate with Gina. And here she was!

The boys and Gina had a grand time playing together, while Andrew doggedly worked on Julian's bicycle.

Eventually I brought Katrina down too, and she just loved playing on the deck, watching the other kids and interacting with Dylan (all of 6 weeks her junior) as much as babies their age interact.

I had to give up on Katrina's nap, after 45 minutes of chatter and 15 minutes of crying. This worries me. I'm OK with her dropping one nap already, but not if her only nap starts at 10am. 12 noon is too early for a baby her age to wake up and then make it all the way to bedtime, though actually, she sort of did. I had to bail on a plan for us all to go to Tuesday dinner, and she was ultra-high-maintenance from about 5:30 on. Fortunately, Dave took the boys to dinner, and I got a little quiet time after putting her to bed.

This morning worked unusually well though. I took Julian and Katrina to the Y, worked out for just about an hour, then brought them home for Katrina's nap, and mine. (For 4 days now a migraine has been looming, but hasn't materialized...I'm never sure when the floodgates will open!) Julian played quietly downstairs for the better part of two hours by himself! I'm glad and guilty about that. Then, lunch, Gabriel pickup (early on Tuesdays), Trader Joe's, and home. If Katrina really is shifting to one nap a day, then her nap will conflict with both Julian's and Gabriel's pickups. Argh!

I see lots of moms with sleeping toddlers in strollers going to pick up older children at school, but I just can't see that happening. They must have some other help or support, 'cause even when Katrina is at her best, she can be full-on demanding, especially in the evening when I need my hands free the most. I shudder to think about making dinner while she's overtired. The other parents waiting at Gabriel's school recognize her now, and always tell me how happy and friendly she is. And she is, making eye contact with anyone she can, beaming at them and showing off. But this happy behavior is easily matched in amplitude with screechy, miserable, demanding behavior later. Despite appearances, she's not the mellowest most easygoing baby in the world. (I think Dylan is in the running for that honor.)

Someday this will all seem so far away and remote. I'm way overdue for an update with my high school friend Andrea, who I believe sent her oldest daughter to college this month. College. And here I am fretting about kindergarten! Then again, working life around toddler naps isn't a foreign concept to Andrea, who remarried and had a baby at age 43 also, just like me. I should call her, so she can remind me that really, enjoy it, it does fly by.

Meantime, I'm just happy the uplight floor lamp in the living room works now.


Monday, September 17, 2007

9/17/07 The Child-free Morning

This morning, I dropped Katrina off at Melissa's house for the first of many MWF mornings. Getting there wasn't so bad, but getting back meant rush-hour traffic. It'll take some time to tweak the route. Then, Julian at Tonya's all day, Gabriel at school/CDC all day, meant Dave and I had the morning to ourselves for our annual anniversary day off together. We had a nice relaxed breakfast, then walked around downtown Menlo Park collecting business cards for restaurants for future dinners out. I counted no less than four, maybe five, upscale baby/kids' stores in downtown Menlo Park!

After picking up Katrina, we attemped one outing with her, to a kitchen remodeling place, to get an idea of what's available for countertop surfaces. She didn't last long, but I did see a desk area with a monitor that I can well envision in our new kitchen/family room, for "family central." I want that!

Gabriel got sent to his room for the rest of the night after dinner, for being excruciatingly rude ("You make my dinner RIGHT NOW Mommy") after being sent to the living room for hitting Julian. That didn't get him out of his homework though, so Dave set him up with his homework in his room, sitting on a laundry basket and leaning against a shelf.

An hour later, I checked on him, and he was just finishing up his homework -- the entire week's worth. He'd read the instructions on each page himself, and just plowed through and did it. It wasn't until I after I started telling him how great that was that I realized the danger: I hate to give him the impression that homework is a bad thing and that it's something to get over with! Well, he'll figure that out soon enough.

Unfortunately, his obnoxiousness continued into the bed-bath time. I don't even need to know what he did to deserve this, but he lost his bedtime story. While Dave was reading to Julian in another room, I heard impact noises from upstairs, and found Gabriel hysterical in his room, hurling sharp-cornered plastic grid pieces at his door, making numerous deep triangular gouges in the expensive new wood door. This is at least the third time he's done this, so you can well imagine that his rear end now has a few gouges in it too.

I tried making sour cream mashed red potatoes for dinner tonight, based on a watching a few minutes of Quick Fix Meals on Food network tonight. No one liked them except me, and I don't like mashed potatoes! They were actually really good, I thought. Sigh. Another cooking experiment down the drain. Well, Katrina might come through for me tomorrow, I saved some of them for her (she'd already had dinner and so didn't try them). Yesterday I tried making omelettes for the first time, with some success. Dave liked them, Julian tried them, Gabriel took a few bites, and Katrina finished the rest.

Tomorrow, back to the New Normal.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

9/16/07 The Family Hike

The boys were being unbearable at home this morning, so by early afternoon, when Katrina was up from her morning nap, it was time to get them OUT. Dave agreed, and joined us for a hike at Rancho San Antonio. I was actually thinking of going somewhere else, but figured that a double jogging stroller and walking 5-year-old didn't make for ideal experimental conditions. Besides, Gabriel remembered our hikes and wanted to see Coyote Trail.

It worked; I was so glad to see Gabriel running off a lot of steam, and his enthusiasm for the views and seeing things around us was contagious. Of course, he was bent on knowing the numbers: how many miles we'd gone, how far a hill was, how fast we were going.

Then Julian wanted to run also, and surprised me with his energy for running, since usually he peters out pretty fast. Katrina didn't cause much trouble, as long as she had a water bottle to suck on.

Julian was so tired later that he was absolutely impossible; the tiniest thing setting him off, getting into total meltdowns and then unexpectedly falling asleep on the living room floor, to where he'd been banished for a while. Many days he doesn't need an afternoon nap, but if he goes too many days in a row without one, this sort of thing happens. He went to bed early without a bath, willingly.

This has been the best weekend I've had in a long time, and that's with having spent a lot of time with the kids....indeed, I daresay because I spent so much time with them. Katrina's been charming lately, still demanding, but really funny and cute and not too fussy; and I get a nice lift from doing active sorts of things that are fun for little kids to do too. I guess there's a lot more of this in store for us!

Katrina modeling Dad's hat.

Butt-Buster Bluff (the "tail" end of Coyote Trail's steep starter hill)

At one point, both boys got tired enough that they both wanted to ride, so for a short distance, the jogging stroller held all three! (Watch that wheel Gabriel....I want grandchildren someday!)

Then, Julian wanted out and took over for a while.

Ah, my funny little boys. How I do love them.

Today is also our 7th wedding anniversary! Who has time to itch?!