Saturday, September 29, 2007

9/29/07 Katrina's first word?

I say: "Blah!"

She says: "bah!"

I think that counts!

She's also pointing all over the place at....well, everything and nothing. So far we're never quite sure what she means, though clearly something is spinning through that baby brain.

Fascinating, this human language development thing. And it all starts with a "bah!"


Friday, September 28, 2007

9/28/07 The Moonlight Run

Running at night? Yup! Tonight Sonia and I ran the Palo Alto Moonlight Run, the 10K. Not surprisingly, it was dark! But popular, and a lot of fun.

Spent the morning with Gabriel, helping him with his "Student of the Week" poster. That was fun too.

And now, my well-deserved bath will be fun.

p.s. The race results:

(26 out of 97 for my age group of women 40-49, in 58:52 -- so I met my under-one-hour goal!)

DivP Place Name Age Location Time Pace Bib
10K Run F 40-49
26 443 Noemi Doudna 44 Sunnyvale 58:52 9:28 482

Thursday, September 27, 2007

9/27/07 Picking up

Welcome Back Parents Night.
Back to School Night.
PTA Family Picnic.
Chicken Dance.
Fall Festival.
PE Day.
Library Book Day.
Friday Folder.
Weekly Homework.
Reading Log.
Sharing Day.
Student of the Week.
PTA donation.
School donation.
Class donation.
Classroom supplies donation.
Fall fundraiser.
Volunteer Days.
Halloween Parade.
Parent-teacher meeting days.
Reflections Program art contest.
Early Tuesdays.
Kindergarten Half Days.
No school on Staff Learning Day....

Oh Lordy, revive me! And that's just from a few weeks for one kindergartner, at a relatively undemanding school (no required classroom aiding, for instance), and for me, a mom who's avoiding involvement as much as possible, unlike my Good Mom friends who volunteer and fundraise and pick up their children from school.

No wonder I feel like I have a day off tomorrow. It simply can't be done without Google Calendar.

Gabriel's school district is closed tomorrow for one of several special learning days for the teachers. Tomorrow's Staff Learning Day is to discuss three approaches to teaching social studies: text path, digital path, and active path. I am not making this up.

I had another day alone with Julian today, since Katrina was at Tonya's all day for the last time, a remnant from the summer. Or is it? I couldn't believe how much I got done today, much of which revealed how behind I've gotten on other things. This darned running habit so far sucks up all my baby-free time on MWF mornings. I'm not sure how "real" runners with full-time jobs juggle this; "real" runs take a lot of time. Maybe I'm just too slow. Anyway, I think I'll keep Katrina at Tonya's for another month, since we're on notice from our architect to start picking "finishes," which means flooring, sinks, countertops, windows, etc, now, and that's a lot of work, time and shopping. None of which mixes very well with an almost-toddler.

Though Julian and I had a great time together most of the day, I wasn't a very fun date in the afternoon while I was on the phone with USAA talking remodel financing. He was grateful for the nap and I had a tough time waking him to go get his siblings.

Earlier in the day, as we were leaving the Y, he happily grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said, "I just love you SO much Mom!" Awww.

Gabriel is Student of the Week in his class next week, so by Monday we need to put together a poster, with photos, magazine clippings, drawings, lists of likes and'd be fun except that I'm looking forward to Katrina's party on Sunday instead. It's meant to be small and simple and low-key, but I still plan to prepare some food and decorations and have fun trying to make a Kat-erpillar cake. And I'd have fun helping Gabriel make his poster too. Is too much kid fun in one weekend possible?

Gabriel wanted to pick up Katrina, so I put him in her arms and then took some pictures.

He quickly found out that she's not all that much fun to hold, being squirmy and grabby and pretty heavy for him (about half his weight!). But he got a kick out of it and wanted to again right away. "I might drop her though...."

Still, I think these photos will go well on his Student Of The Week poster. Gabriel's teacher said kids love hearing about other kids' families, and the first thing Gabriel said was that he wanted to put a picture of Katrina on his poster. One of the CDC staff told me that he's been talking about her birthday next week too, and confirmed that he never mentions his brother!

Even though my stress level and blood pressure go through the roof when all three are together (mostly because Julian kicks into Pest mode to impress Gabriel), something inside me feels more content, at home, complete, when I have all three of them together. When I have just Julian and Katrina, as I often do these days, it's like something's missing, like I'm just keeping busy until Gabriel gets home and life begins again for real. Of course, a 3-year-old and an almost-1-year-old is a pretty full complement of children, who deserve my full enthusiasm and attention to pre-toddler and post-toddler life. But with Gabriel in school, doing his own thing, sometimes it feels a little like we're hovering around the edges until he's back in the mix. Then when he's back, the circuit is complete, the ring is lit, the power is on. With his being in school, it's like he's the pulse of the family, as though his activities and schedule and ups and downs in the day and week drive the mood for the rest of us. Such as: a day off for him feeling like a day off for me.

Katrina news: she likes pushing wheeled vehicles around now, and Gabriel is unusually generous about loaning her his beloved Passenger Train.

And, she's starting to point! We're not sure at what yet, but she seems to understand that us asking "Where's....?" in a sing-songy questioning tone means to look around and point randomly. It's a start. Well, semi-point, with an open hand, like her older older brother did, but much earlier, which means, right on time. Pointing is a distinct language-development milestone, and since her babbling and sounds haven't really moved much beyond the initial "blah-blah-blah," (again, like her brother), the pointing is a good sign that language is developing normally. And it's fun.

Heh, I couldn't resist digging this up. Two short videos of Julian at almost exactly the same age.

Julian's "vocabulary" at almost 12 months old:

Julian says Mama:

Even he didn't have much of a vocabulary yet, but his responsiveness, clarity and understanding of the back-and-forth of "conversation" almost shocks me now, as Katrina is nothing like that (not for talking, anyway, though she will get into a fine spitting contest if so invited). And he was a lot calmer, sweeter and cuddlier to hold! Oh my little angel, what happened?! Then again, who'd ever have guessed that we'd be saying that Gabriel is the easiest one of the bunch?


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

9/26/07 Katrina the stand-up comic

Oh BOY is it funny to stand up in a shopping cart at Target when Mom's back is turned and Mom didn't know you can do that. And then do it over and over again, guffawing and giggling the whole way, especially as you're about to dive over the side, making so hard for Mom to shop that she ends up grabbing the wrong size Pull-Ups because she doesn't dare turn her head for more than a second and then making her grumble something about dialing a cell phone while driving being easier and safer than shopping during your stand-up routine. Yuk yuk!

But it's not funny at all to have the cart's strap put around your chest so can't do it anymore. Then you cry and scream your head off and make everyone stare and tsk-tsk under their breath about what a Bad Mother that sour-faced impatient old woman over there must be, so Mom has to carry you and push the cart with one hand and steer it with nudges from her foot until she gets tired of that and puts you back in the cart and then you just pop up to a stand all over again. Bonus: you're so distracting and annoying that she can't keep track of your brother either and holds up the checkout line while she looks for him and forgets things and you wriggle out of her arms and grab the cart and pull it onto her foot while she's trying to pay and you grab the pen and the card and punch the buttons and then Mom's hair and earrings and think that's especially funny and send her into a harried discombulated frantic tizzy.

All from a simple trip to Target! Imagine what you can do at Whole Foods now! Hee hee!

A regular Kathy Griffin, that one.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9/25/07 A day in the life

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my....well, no. Full-time Moms often don't even get *that* far.

Got to get you into my life:

Nurse baby, bug 3-year-old to get dressed, get breakfast into both of them. To the Y, home for snack & naps (mine & baby), shower, baby's up, lunch, pick up schoolkid, grocery-shop at Whole Foods, unpack groceries, get really really REALLY mad at 3yr-old for bothering baby for the millionth time, bake cookies, baby down for nap #2, get a few things done in the kitchen, scan schoolkid's school photo while starting emergency quick kid-dinner.

That's just the big stuff, not the picking up, emails, phone calls, laundry, putting things away, etc. When I'm 64, will it be easier?

Then sneak in a quick blog entry before dinner 'cause Mom's going out tonight to be a grownup and catch up with one of my best longtime friends. Who will be the victim of most of the cookies.

And I say goodbye....


Monday, September 24, 2007

9/24/07 Pantry Pest

This is how I got dinner cleaned up tonight.

Not to mention the opportunity to re-organize my mess of a Tupperware cabinet.

Gabriel said something so interesting today about a friend in school. There's a girl, Hadas, in his class who was also in his Kids Inc class, from Israel. Which explains why some weeks back he said he wanted to learn Hebrew. I asked him who he had lunch with today, and he said in his best well duh Mom voice, "Hadas, as I always do," then said that he helped her cut up broccoli and cauliflower from her hot lunch, using a "real knife."

I asked him if she speaks English well, since I thought I remembered from Kids Inc that she was a new English learner, and he said "Yeah!", then, "I especially like the sound of her voice."

I tried to probe him on what about her voice he liked, but he said it was too hard to describe (fair enough) and repeated sweetly, "I just really like her voice." (Oh! I'll bet I know now! He probably means her accent. Always assume the most literal interpretation.)

Gabriel and Julian got kids' Sudoku books for party favors last Sunday, and they both love them. I showed Gabriel how to do it, and he immediately applied his characteristic focus to the book, methodically tackling each puzzle one by one. (Julian doesn't understand it, but wants to and so asked Gabriel to teach him today!)

Gabriel understands the Sudoku rules, but describing them is a little harder:

(I know Bonne Maman will be happy about this, since she's a big Sudoku fan.)

Unfortunately, I was seething by the end of that video because Julian was flapping his Sudoku book on Katrina's head when she was trapped in the high chair. He has me on a hair-trigger now because he constantly bothers her: blocking her path, grabbing her hands, stepping on her feet, taking toys away.

They did sort-of play together happily for a few minutes today, but she's getting to the point where she screeches when she sees him. Mostly, he's not trying to be mean, but he's menacing anyway and it infuriates me. I'm constantly sending him out of the room so that I can turn my head and know she'll be safe. Pest!

Leave it to Gabriel to turn around a great idea. He really, really, really wants Snap Circuits, so I had the bright idea to use them as an incentive to night-train. We told him that if he keeps his Pull-ups dry for 5 nights in a row, we'll get him Snap Circuits. He enthusiastically said "OK!" though I was silently skeptical.

So, last night around 2am, I woke up to hear Julian crying, and found Gabriel standing over Julian's bed, with Julian lying on his bed crying, something about pooping in his Pull-Up. Which he hadn't done, but I guess he was worried about it or something. I took him to the bathroom, where he cleared up his concern without incident.

But Gabriel's pajamas were soaked, and he didn't want to change them because he thought this meant that now he wouldn't get Snap Circuits! I talked him into changing his pajamas, assuring him that the deal was still in place, and he did so, but he cried sadly about Snap Circuits through the whole process. (In case you're new to Gabriel-land, crying sadly is not in his usual repertoire.)

Katrina's doing great with spooning food herself, though she consistently holds the spoon non-ideally, if you're an 11-month-old baby that is. And HEAVEN FORBID you try to turn it around for her! Oh, the calamity! The offense!

It helps to use the yummy Greek yogurt from TJ's that is so thick it doesn't drip.

(The pans down to her feet were an attempt to catch her wiggling her feet in delight, since she LOVES spooning her own food, but she stopped whenever I moved the camera.)

More photos of Katrina exploring the kitchen. She's a lot sneakier about it than her brothers were, but thankfully not quite as energetic or thorough as Gabriel was.

Ah, I forgot...the day started off with a longish run at Rancho San Antonio (a 7-mile route with moderate climbing), and it was positively glorious there today. It had rained, so the air was crisp and cool in the shade, but there were warm wonderful fresh breezes that carried a tiny hint of Indian summer. Part of me will never feel like I'm a Californian, despite living here for almost 20 years, but mornings like today make it hard to imagine ever leaving. Just me and the trail, the trees, the scurrying lizards, the sun and the sweet scents of the coming autumn...a wonderful peaceful spirit-lifting morning.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

9/23/07 The Dragon

Today I took the boys to a triple birthday party, for Erin, Allison and Kate. Erin's birthday is only a few weeks after her twin sisters' birthday, so their parents combined it into one big mondo party.

And what a party it was! Lots of great kid food, a jump house, and the unexpected hit of the party: the fabulous face painter. At first, neither Gabriel nor Julian would have anything to do with it, but eventually, Gabriel decided he wanted it and waited patiently for about half an hour. Meantime, he chatted with other kids and hung out and had fun, so nothing was lost.

Julian almost went into the jump house, especially when he saw his new buds Kate and Allison joyfully and fearlessly bouncing around. I volunteered to take him in, he got his shoes off and I climbed in, but at the last minute, he bailed. He's never liked jump houses, even now, when he's pushing 4!

When we got home, Gabriel wanted to tell his cousin Aidan about his dragon face, so we practiced a new skill: phone manners. He called Dave last Friday, but first we rehearsed the routine, as we did again today. After rehearsing, he got the phone, turned it on, dialed as I recited the phone number (and today that included a little tutorial about area codes), and then prepared to talk...except that we mostly got answering machines. After leaving messages all around about his face painting, we got Aunt Laura live, and he was thrilled to tell her all about it.

This morning, Gabriel also helped me make Dad's scrambled eggs for breakfast. I let him do more and more things, realizing that I'm really underestimating what a 5-1/2-year-old can do. Some of what I have him do is inspired by hearing about kids younger than he is doing them (such as cracking eggs), and some of it is inspired by envisioning the day when Gabriel makes the scrambled eggs entirely on his own!! That'll have to wait until he can reach the stove though.

Meantime, he can get the eggs from the fridge, take them out of the carton, put the carton back, get a bowl, and (with me hawking over him), crack the eggs and open them and dump the contents into the bowl and throw away the shells. Then he can pour the milk in (next time he can measure it himself too), season the eggs, and mix it up with a whisk. I love his enthusiasm for helping me, and I love teaching him and working with him. We laugh a lot together. Who knows, maybe he'll be a chef someday! (And if he ever is, people will start to wonder who his father really is....)

I was glad to be outside today for a party, distracted and in the outside air, and without the intense effort of keeping a crawling baby from being stepped on. (Katrina had a grand time with Dad at home, including a trip to a nearby playground and about 50 trips down a slide, Dad reports.) For the 3rd day, I've been skirting a bad migraine, without too much pain yet, but with other symptoms that are increasingly disturbing: nightmares, sharp irritability, even depression. I went through many hours yesterday of feeling despondent and hopeless about my life, while at the same time knowing I don't actually see it that way. It's a little like what amputees report feeling with phantom pain in a lost limb: they feel pain in their missing foot even though they know their foot doesn't actually hurt. It's frightening to wonder if someday the feeling of depression will overpower the rationale.

Still, I'm grateful that having fun and being outdoors (which has a distinct physical effect) alleviates the pressure and strange feelings from a migraine, even if it doesn't make it go away. There are times, and today was one of them, that the instant I set foot indoors I'm struck with the pressure, as though I just dove 20 feet underwater.

Some photos from today.

Julian goofing, and the cake! Wow! Made by a woman in the 2004 group who is apparently starting a cake-decorating business, and, well, Wow!

Gabriel chatting with Erin before his face-painting turn; Erin is describing to him what she's going to get.

The Dragon Face! Note the forked tongue. Wow!

The Devil made me do it!

Some more facial artwork.

Erin's best friend Maya, who it turns out knew Gabriel from Kids Inc. And, one of the twin birthday girls doing her best model-pouty-face (my favorite photo of the day).

Congratulations to the birthday girls' parents for retiring the Terrible Twos -- twice!