Saturday, October 06, 2007

10/6/07 The Recovery

Today I took Gabriel to his school's festival and walk-a-thon, which was really a PTA fundraiser. They raised plenty of funds from me, in the form of a walk-a-thon pledge, tickets for food, games and drawings, and a T-shirt.

I didn't go through the whole thing of getting people to make a pledge for laps walked, and good thing, since we got there pretty late. But Gabriel did walk 3 laps, and enjoyed it.

Meantime, Katrina had a grand time looking and pointing at everyone and everything.

I'm happy to say that Julian was on a mission with Dave: Dump Day. Nothing, not even a festival, can compare with the honor of riding in the pickup truck with Dad to the dump.

Later, after dinner, we did our belated mini-family party for Katrina. She was very interested in the candle, but not at all in the cupcake! Even smearing frosting on her lips didn't do it.

Even more surprising than a one-year-old not eating their own birthday cake: Julian -- yes Julian didn't like the cupcakes. But Gabriel, who's so-so on sweets, did!

In fact, to earn the cupcakes, the boys only had to finish their broccoli. I didn't insist on more, since their tummies may still be recovering. Dinner was hamburgers (expensive seasoned ones from Whole Foods that were too grownup-tasting for kids), french fries, and broccoli. I had some lettuce out on a plate for the burgers, and Julian wanted some. He just sat and munched on lettuce like a little rabbit! Surprising for a 3-year-old, though this 3-year-old also eats raw cauliflower stems. He's a very flexible eater. And he didn't like cupcakes?!

Meantime, Gabriel wouldn't touch the lettuce. Except, he did. He put his hand on the pile, and Dave told him that now he had to put it on his plate, since handling food like that is bad table manners. Gabriel tolerated the lettuce on his plate for a few minutes, then he threw it on the floor. BIG no-no! So, Dave told him he now had to eat that lettuce if he wanted a cupcake. Though Gabriel did his usual resistance (closing his eyes and refusing to answer, claiming he didn't have to comply, hurling insults ("you're STUPID, Dad!"), the usual), I was too busy with Katrina to follow the drama. But, to my amazement, a few minutes later he was methodically chowing down the lettuce, determined to get a cupcake.

So, let's get this straight. The kid who wants to eat lettuce doesn't like the cupcake. The kid who has to eat lettuce likes the cupcake. And the kid for whom the cupcakes were made wouldn't have anything to do with them.

Well, one out of three ain't bad.


Friday, October 05, 2007

10/5/07 Katrina's birthday gets the heave-ho

What a mess. Last night before I went out, Julian threw up. Since this usually happens in sets of two, I prepared his bed for another one later, and wasn't disappointed. Except that my preparations were inadequate and I still had to dig up more bedding for him.

Done, right? Nope, just starting. 3am...Dave gets it, so violently that the sounds he made woke Gabriel, who started crying in fear of the "roaring" sounds. In the morning, Dave was feeling weak and achy, and said, "I don't think I'm going into work today." I had a pang of envy. Dads can do that.

Julian seemed OK, well enough to put up a fuss about getting dressed, crying loudly and whining until I had to send him upstairs until he got dressed. While I was dealing with that, Katrina was crying in the high chair, wanting full attention to her breakfast. I turned my attention back to her, only to find Gabriel standing over a new pile of partially digested food on the ground.

Three down!

Fortunately, Katrina was in pretty good shape, and I brought her to Melissa's, with Julian in tow. Back at home, I found that Dave had had another round with the porcelain god, and Gabriel was lying on the couch looking pale and unenergetic. I tended to my sick boys, and thanks in part to some taped PBS shows, I got a nap myself. (While the boys don't watch TV on a regular basis, when they're not feeling well enough to entertain themselves, I don't mind at all sticking in a tape and letting it go.)

After a few sips of Pedialyte, Gabriel lost it one more time, this time on the family room couch. That turned into a 45-minute cleanup job, including a lot of grumbling on my part about the supposed ease of slipcovers "just toss them in the wash." Hah! The afternoon went better, at least.

I took Julian and Katrina shopping at Whole Foods after picking her up from Melissa's, and took advantage of a pumpkin display there for a photo-op.

Then we opened a birthday gift from Bonne Maman and Papa Paul. I never understand why birthday gifts for a one-year-old get packed in peanuts! It was the softest stuffed bear I've ever felt. Why didn't they have things like that when I was a kid? Wow. Gabriel took an immediate liking to it, and Katrina dabbled around at it as well, when he let her.

Not the best video, but for the grandparents: here's the bear unveiling:

(Re-posted, this time from YouTube)

Thanks Bonne Maman and Papa Paul!!

So the day wasn't a total loss, and so far, Katrina and I have seemed to escape this gastroenterological curse. We didn't have the mini family birthday party I'd wanted to do, and I'm making cupcakes for tomorrow. I can't miss an opportunity for that!

And it's neat not to be able to think anymore, "This time last year, I was pregnant!"


Thursday, October 04, 2007

10/4/07 Not-so-bad mom?

Today at the Y, I was standing at the sink in the bathroom putting my hair in a ponytail. After some minimal combing (which amounts to all my hair care for the day) up into a ponytail, I was at that critical stage when I need to find the barrette and secure the ponytail.

A mom came into the bathroom instructing her 4-year-old daughter to wash her hands, but my bag was on the one chair that kids can use to reach the sink. I recognized the urgency of the situation, but thought it could wait for the 3 seconds it'd take to finish my crucial once-a-day preening operation....nope. "Could she wash her hands there?" the mom asked me with slight annoyance, as if to say, "well, DUH, I have a child here, I shouldn't have to ask you to move!" I immediately complied, dropping my ponytail and my bag and its contents all over the floor. Not so much as even a thank you.

Now, I know that some people believe that the child-free don't recognize the priority children often have to take. And I'm sympathetic to maintaining momentum when your kid is being agreeable about washing their hands. But I'd have told my kids to wait for a moment while someone else finished at whatever resource is currently being occupied.

The real capper was then hearing the mom ask her daughter, "Do you want some lunch before school?" It was 12:30pm!! And she asks?! She gives her kid the option not to have lunch before school? That's the sort of thing that Moms strangle Dads for doing! I mean, I can sort of understand if school started at a weird in-between time like 11am, but isn't lunch a no-brainer for kids who start school....well, after lunch?

OK, so I certainly know better than to judge other mom's situations without context. Certainly I'm sure my actions, or inactions, have invited raised eyebrows or out-and-out criticism before. Still, this lady left me feeling like a supermom, or, at least, a normal considerate adult. Or maybe I was just extra-peeved at having had to re-do my ponytail.

What a waste of a baby-free day today. Katrina, strangely, was awake for about an hour and a half last night, crying on and off. I got up to check her numerous times, but as usual, she never wanted to be held and just cried and reached back for the crib if I picked her up. No stinkers in her diaper, no throwing up, nose OK, gave her an extra satin cloth to suck on...I couldn't find the answer. Eventually I had to just turn down the monitor and let her cry to sleep, which by then she did pretty fast.

But boy, I'm tired today. I can't shake it. No working out, no aggravation about a self-centered mom, no walks, no nap, no coffee, nothing can wrest me out of this relentless sleepiness. Uh-oh....I know what that means. I'm happy to say I've been migraine-free for enough days that I can't even remember exactly how many days. But my unending desire to curl up under a blanket in the dark could mean that's coming to an end.

I guess I'll do that after some cheesecake with my Good Mom friends tonight.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

10/3/07 Katrina's self-image

Katrina now loves to look at herself in mirrors, pointing excitedly and identifying herself as "da-da." It's very cute! Now it seems like every few days, she does something new in terms of pointing or speaking or putting them together. Pointing especially, she does it constantly, and it's getting a shade less random each time.

Here she is pointing at herself in the mirror and giggling:

No progress on the walking front though. I sure am looking forward to it though! For one, when she's walking, we can start losing the crotch-snapping onesies that complicate diaper changes. For another, she keeps crawling under chairs or tables and getting stuck and crying. And, of course, it's so cute! As I was reminded by Saul last Sunday, who's toddling around like a champ. And was so cute.

On the whole, we've never had battery-powered toys, with a few exceptions, like trains that have toot sounds in them. One toy, however, stands out as being a really, really good, a gift we got Gabriel was 9 months old. It's supposedly a language learner toy, though I really doubt it does anything to teach Spanish or French, but it's got lots to do, with different non-obnoxious sounds, some mechanical things to operate, and -- whooowee -- a volume control! Now it will see a third baby through at least a year of fun with it. Not to mention, older brothers.

Anyway, I pulled this toy out of the garage today to try to keep Katrina busy while making dinner, and she loved it. She was laughing and giggling so much playing with it that I tried to take some video. However, I captured something else too: Gabriel had been instructed to stay behind me and not touch the toy while I was taking the video. But notice how he sneaks in to play with it, taking advantage of the fact that I was occupied with the camera, then he does exactly what drives me crazy: takes over the toy. But Katrina takes it back, twice! That whole interaction is almost more interesting than her delight with it, which was hard to capture anyway.

Third day in a row of picking Gabriel up right from school, though I had to stretch Katrina a bit to make that happen. I think I'm converging on a pattern now: I always use the CDC in the morning; it turns out that dropping Gabriel off at 10:30 is astoundingly inconvenient every day. But I really really like having him home in the afternoons. I like having everyone home, actually, and I think I can foresee that when I go back to work, I'm still going to want to have everyone -- including me -- home after school. After-school activities, sure, but at the moment, I'm thinking that avoiding 6pm pickups and starting dinner and homework and all that so late seems like the thing to avoid. Most of the moms I know do it though! Then again, I know a whole lot of super Supermoms, and it seems I'm just not one of them. As though that's some sort of new insight! Hah!

Fortunately, on the whole, other than keeping the boys off of Katrina and her toys, it's fun having them all home together. And, today I joined the PTA (well, gave them money, anyway), and maybe I can start to get to know other parents to help out with the future toddler-afternoon-nap problem.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

10/1/07 Sleepless Tuesday

I don't know what my problem was last night, but I just couldn't stay asleep. I woke up again and again and again, and got increasingly fretful about knowing I'd be wasted today. And I was.

But the worst indignity was what was ringing in my head: the bubbly hold music from Bank of America. I'd spent over an hour on the phone with BofA yesterday, with numerous different departments, mostly on hold, and listened to the hold music so much that I couldn't get it out of my head. Ugh!

At least today I had a group of angelic children. I took Julian and Katrina to the Y, then home for lunch and naps, then picked up Gabriel, then to the grocery store where the boys were really, really well-behaved and helpful and Katrina delightedly pointed to darned near everything. Gabriel even said in the car on the way home, "Mom, that was a fun adventure!" Back at home, they all played in the backyard for a while, I chatted with my Dad on the phone, then Katrina took a late second nap while I prepared dinner.

Tonight's big job is to clean up for the cleaners, and then hopefully an early bedtime. I always get sucked into fun stuff, not to mention overdue work, in the office late at night, but hopefully the WWII movie that arrived from Netflix today will entice me upstairs early.

Uh-oh. Julian just lost his post-dinner cookies because of bathroom talk at the table, and now Gabriel is demanding justice on behalf his brother (or is it on behalf of the cookies?). I know where it's going from here.


Monday, October 01, 2007

10/01/07 Chatty Katty

"Ah-BAH-bah!" "mmm-bah!" "mm-ah!" "BAH-ba-ba-babababa...!" "ya-ba-ba BAH ba!"

Katrina, nonstop chatter today. I mean, really. YAKYAKYAK!!! She's as bad as I am!

But, it's getting more directed too. She's imitating "bah" and "mmm" sorts of sounds now, reminding me that the rate at which they acquire "words" is really telling. I remember now that Julian didn't start talking particularly early, but I remember being blown away by how quickly he acquired words and sounds.

Tonight as I was cleaning up, I heard Katrina rustling around for quite a while, and finally went to check on what she was up to. I found her holding a crayon and moving it along a pad of paper in a pretty close imitation of attempting actual writing.

This is one of those nebulous reasons I like picking Gabriel up at school: seeing what's posted outside his classroom. Today it was a bunch of colored-in sneakers, to mark an upcoming festival and walk-a-thon this weekend (something for which I'm sure we've already missed deadlines and not prepaid for something or other).

Gabriel has some very artistic classmates. Actually, he did a really nice job on his sneaker!

It cracks me up that he always insists on writing in his last name also, so as not to confuse him with any other Gabriel (which there isn't!).

I chatted briefly with his teacher, who told me that he had fun showing off his Student Of The Week poster. She said he did a great job and that he made sure everyone understood that the mixer he was holding in a picture was real.

Meantime, I also saw Gabriel showing off Katrina to a classmate, talking about her and playing with her excitedly. His classmates are universally delighted by her, especially the boys!

Gabriel also seems very happy when I pick him up; I can hear him exclaiming, "Oh GOOD, my Mom's here!" and he runs outside to give me a hug, and jumps up and down and says, "I love being picked up!" or "I'm so glad I'm going home now!" Yet I don't have that much guilt about his CDC afternoons, because he clearly enjoys that too and pretty much acts the same way when I pick him up from there, except that first I have to wrestle him away from some fun project.

Maybe it's because of the MWF morning daycare for Katrina, or maybe it's just because she's in a good phase now, but the feeling of constant demand and pressure from dealing with a pre-toddler has faded tremendously. For now, I've hit upon a good balance of doing things that have to be done anyway (shopping, cooking, laundry etc), and still interacting and playing with her, and doing other things during her naps.

The only remaining barrier to being able to turn my head for a moment is Julian, who relentlessly pesters her, blocks her, plays with her toys, hugs her, grabs her feet, pushes her sippy-cup into her face, bats her head with balloons or books, shows her toys and yanks them away and generally annoys her (and ME) in a thousand different ways. Most of the time, she's fine, but I'm never sure when he's going to go too far, and he so often disrupts a perfectly happy state. So, much of the time they're both around, he ends up banished to the living room or upstairs.

Come to think of it, though Julian acts up a lot when Gabriel's around, he also ignores Katrina a lot more too, so having Gabriel around is a big help. That is, unless Gabriel starts to play with her with Julian around, in which case, she gets the full brunt of brothers and it's only a matter of minutes before I'm barking orders at them. But Gabriel with Katrina alone is increasingly a big asset, as his genuine affection and caring and interest in her is unbounded, and more and more I can ask him to take care of her, watch her and report to me. This will be a big help in upcoming toddlerhood!

Wow, I still need to write about Katrina's party yesterday. Another post!


Sunday, September 30, 2007

9/30/07 Katrina's first party

Katrina's birthday party was so much fun!

I'm sold on small, directed parties now. I should have been since Day One, since the very first birthday party we attended years ago was one with just 3 other babies (including Gabriel), and it was perfect.

This time, my main goal was to enjoy my baby without dealing with her brothers, and pretty much force that on my friends too, even if it meant risking some grumpy husbands.

We had a very nice group of five babies and moms, including me and Katrina. All the babies except Saul go or went to Tonya's, so Katrina "knows" most of them. Two walkers (Veronica and Saul), one verrry close (Blake), and two crawlers.

I've long since learned that it's very difficult to get good party photos, so I didn't really try all that hard. Here's the best group shot I got:

From left to right: Veronica (15 months), Blake (13 months), Saul (14 months), Dylan (10 months), Katrina (12 months!).

So, we had a nice low-key gathering with just moms and babies. I had a great time preparing food and making the cake, which the party was partly just a fun excuse to do! The babies tried out new foods and old, we moms compared notes on the usual things about babies and sleep, feeding, talking; and juggling work, exercise and keeping up with home life. I was the only mom who doesn't work, so I was particularly interested to hear how the full-time working moms do it all. It's not easy any way you look at it, and that includes for the one part-time working mom too (Betsy).

The babies all got along just fine, and there was enough to do that there weren't any toy conflicts or anything (though toy conflicts at this age seem like nothing after seeing the boys get into a knock-down-drag-out over a footstool!)

Then, of course, the best part: cake time! While Katrina was interested in this strange fiery anacondan face, she would have nothing to do at all with actually eating it.

She stabbed inquisitively at the thing and fussed, perturbed by the feeling of the frosting on her fingers. I had to forcibly smear some on her lips to get her to try it, but once the sweet stuff made contact with her tongue, she was just fine with it -- eating and smearing.

Veronica's mom asked me how I do things differently with the third baby, and the big difference is that it's exactly that sort of thing that I can't do now. In Gabriel's early days, it was much easier to hang out with just us and our babies, with each new thing being an exciting piece of news to share. I'm really glad I got to enjoy that again, and I think the full-time working moms who haven't done a lot of that enjoyed it too.

A great way to start my baby's 2nd year. Thanks Moms!


9/30/07 Party Prep

Friday, Gabriel and I worked on his poster for "Student of the Week." They're supposed to describe their likes and dislikes, put in pictures, magazine clippings, drawings, and write anything they like about themselves. The teacher said other kids love seeing things about families and to try to include things about families.

Gabriel took this all very literally, and after picking some photos, could not be persuaded not to use ALL the photos I printed for him, nor to do any sort of drawing or decoration or write anything besides some likes and dislikes.

The most interesting thing was that we had to think hard to come up with a "dislike!"

Last night I got sucked into some overdue office work, so didn't have as much time as I wanted to play with making a caterpillar cake. Once again, it just looks so darned "homemade," but I guess if I wanted a professional appearance, I'd buy it.

I learned something about food coloring. The good stuff that comes in a gel makes for much brighter and more vibrant colors, but it gets all over everything, as I learned the first time I rinsed off the knife I used to pull some out of the teeny canister and eensy splatters I'd never have noticed without the coloring were everywhere. Black is an especially bad color, and it didn't even make the frosting very black, though it did a good job coloring anyone consuming it. From now on, I'll keep the frosting uncolored and decorate the cake with candies instead!

This morning, the boys were bent on planting seeds, and so dug a hole and asked me for some seeds. I cut up an apple and put seeds in cups for each of them and they "planted" the seeds. Then they just sat down and looked at the hole and talked together about how often to water the seeds! Our next-door neighbor got involved and gave them some flower seeds to plant too. Naturally, no construction project is complete without the ubiquitous helmets.

Dave scooted the boys out for a movie and a pumpkin-patch jump house (even Julian went in a small jump house for a few minutes!) this morning, while I enjoyed some time to finish up preparing for Katrina's party during a perfectly-timed baby nap. More on that in a few.