Saturday, October 13, 2007

10/13/07 The Grape Fiend

Melissa had told me she'd given Katrina grapes (cut into safe quarters, of course) and that she loved the grapes, but I hadn't seen it for myself. Katrina overall doesn't seem to like cold moist smooth foods, which pretty much rules out most fruit.

On a lark I tried some grape slices this afternoon, and oh my, look out! She could not get enough of them, cramming them into her mouth as fast as her clumsy baby fingers could grasp them, then pointing back to the cutting board and wah-ing for more.

I think I have a new way of keeping her happy sitting in the high chair now!


Friday, October 12, 2007

10/12/07 3-way play

We almost didn't make it to pick Gabriel up from school today (messed-up baby naps), but I'm glad we pulled it off. First, Gabriel had to push the stroller, which is as much about doing something with wheels as it was amusing his little sister, which he did admirably.

We had some fun moments this afternoon with all three playing together. One of those involved the boys making up a noisy song to try to attract Katrina's attention and get her to chase them. But she was more interested in a book.

Finally, the melee pays off, and they run away giggling with Katrina in tepid pursuit.

Later I decided to see how much I could get away with assigning menial baby-care tasks to Gabriel. Turns out, he's just fine at getting her out of the high chair, and she goes right along for the ride!

It rained much of the afternoon here, a rare event. I went running this morning and enjoyed constantly moving cloud formations and some sun, escaping any precipitation (though mud building up on the bottom of my shoes made them feel so heavy it felt like they would fall off!). It felt especially good to be ensconced at home on a rainy afternoon, all my children around me, and knowing I'd had my time outside.

My inner indoorsy sort of hopes for a rainy weekend!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

10/11/07 The Grownup Kid

This morning, he got up, got dressed, went downstairs, poured himself some cereal and milk, had breakfast, put his shoes on, and was all ready to go at 8am.

Gabriel, that is. Not Dave, the adult, but Gabriel, the kid. I'm loving this!

I left a bowl and glass out for him last night, and talked to him about getting his own cereal in the morning, and he did exactly that. I also left out a bowl and glass for Julian, since there's a good chance he'd want to do the same thing, and that Gabriel would either help him or hinder him, either of which could result in Julian having breakfast, or the boys getting into a huge fight and ending in a huge mess. As it turned out, Julian just putzed around in his room, but that could be different tomorrow.

I met up with my Mom friends for our old hike at Rancho San Antonio this morning. We let the kids out at the farm, and they walked and ran most of the way back. Julian and Allison explored a puddle, and Julian and Andrew fell for the old trick of waiting until I count to 3 before running off together (and I take a photo at "2" while they're still holding).

Oh my gosh these boys are cute!

We met with our architect this afternoon to pin down some details, and made some really nice tweaks to the design. And I have enough now to take to a kitchen designer. Yippee! I'm starting to get nervous about how much this is going to cost, but I don't see an alternative. The design is necessary and wonderful, it has to happen. It's the finishes (fixtures, tile, cabinets, flooring etc) that can really bleed a project.

Katrina was in rare form tonight, playing happily and watching Dad & brothers playing baseball outside while I made dinner. Then we all sat down to dinner together, and incredibly, she ate! No fuss, no pushing away, no spitting out, no tricks, no distractions (unless you count all the obnoxious noises the boys were making). She quietly opened her mouth and accepted numerous bites of rice and chicken. I didn't even bother pushing a vegetable, I was so relieved. Before bedtime, she even nursed peacefully. Life is so much better this way.

I haven't had a good long run at Rancho in a while. It was so glorious there today. Tomorrow morning when I'll take a now-familiar 7-mile route. I can't wait!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10/10/07 Julian writes his name

I guess Julian wanted a "race number" on his bicycle, because he found a pencil and a paper and wrote his name and the number "1". This is the first time I've seen him apply this knowledge of his own volition, working it into his play. Good for him!

Poor little guy has an infection in his....little guy. He complained about it bothering him today, and when he went to the bathroom before going to pick up Gabriel, sure enough, it's purplish and swollen and very very sensitive. Dave took him to the pediatrician, who said it's an infection from something caught in there, and gave him an antibiotic. I sure wish it didn't come to that; but you just can't refuse any medicine when your little guy's little guy looks so bad.

Katrina, in a perfect example of getting herself stuck. She stood up on a chair under the dining-room table, then wasn't able to get out from under the table because a lip blocked her forehead. Naturally, she cried. More and more she wants to reach for things while standing up, and reach up higher -- I think half of her grumpiness comes from really, really wanting to walk and not knowing what to do.

At least I got her to eat tonight, sort of, in three short sessions, some of it standing up outside, some of it sitting down in the backyard, some of it actually in the high chair (ooh!). It's all coming back now: I had to do some of this with Gabriel, none of it with Julian; but if this persists, she certainly "takes the cake" as the fussiest eater.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

10/9/07 The Draw

Today after picking up Gabriel from school, I took all three kids to a medical center for Katrina to have her blood drawn to test for a peanut allergy. I was delighted with how well-behaved the boys were -- and helpful, as now Gabriel is strong enough to open and hold the numerous doors one has to pass through in a medical center, reducing my stroller struggles.

Before I had a chance to signal "Nooo--OOOOOO!", a kind lady at the lab offered the boys lollipops while we were waiting. Fortunately, the lollipops didn't cause the trouble I anticipated ("I WANT IT **NOW***!!!), but I sure as heck wasn't going to deal with being handed a sticky lollipop with a hasty, "Here Mommy, hold this," when I had a wiggly baby-almost-toddler to keep under control. Not to mention losing my door-holder help. Nope, the boys had to wait until they got home, where they sat at the dining room table with a plate in front of them for the lollipop. Mean old me. I really hate lollipops.

But look at that little sneak eyeing her brother's lollipop!

Calculators are the toy of the week around here. At first, I thought Julian was just playing around when I'd hear him say, "9 plus 5 is...14!" and then "8 plus 9 is....17!" and then "4 plus 8 is...12!" -- Hmm, he's getting all of these right, what gives? Seems Dave taught him how to add using his calculator yesterday, and he took right to it.

Someone overheard this at Gabriel's school today, and seemed impressed that a 3-year-old could operate a calculator, and I restrained myself from the temptation to say that his brother was reading analog clocks at this age. I must remember: for me it's just mom-chatter, but Julian needs his own moments and attention. Comparisons are inevitable, but don't do it in front of them, especially when there's a good chance Julian will live in his older brother's intense shadow as it is. Don't pigeonhole them, don't put their achievements into the context of the others. I read it in "Siblings Without Rivalry."

Anyway, Julian is having no end of fun with this new skill, and Gabriel of course has to jump into it too with his calculator. Katrina also likes playing with a calculator, though hers doesn't work.

I managed to get a lopsided photo of all three of them with their calculators while waiting for Katrina's blood draw. (Calculators have long been one of my favorite cheap portable toys, the $3 kind from Rite-Aid.)

Oh yes, the blood draw. Unfortunately, Katrina doesn't have Mom's ugly bulging veins, the kind that only, and every, phlebotomist would love. I had to pin down every little limb while they rooted with a needle looking for a tiny baby vein, until they finally hit paydirt. She screamed her feeble best, but didn't put up much of a fight. She's really not very strong, even for a 12-month-old.

I was actually more concerned about the boys, and I told them several times that Katrina would cry but it would be very short and that she would be fine. Another kid who was having some more involved procedure was REALLY screaming, so Katrina's wails were tiny and short-lived in comparison. Thanks kid, and sorry. So while the boys looked very concerned,they didn't get upset or anything. And Katrina forgot all about it by the time we got back into the waiting room.

I felt good about my kit'n'kaboodle driving home, as they happily chatted to each other and the boys made Katrina laugh. That good feeling swung wildly the other way when I had to face what has become a dreadful job: feeding Katrina. It used to fun and easy, but now? She immediately waves away anything I offer her, fusses, cries, and is completely impossible. But then, she won't play happily either and is fussy and miserable and, of course, hungry. This just drives me crazy, it is SUCH a pain!

Once again today, I tried everything, including putting her up to the table without the tray, and this was good for a few bites (I knew she was hungry). I tried giving her something to drink between each bite, and apparently, milk has some palate-cleansing properties, enough to prompt her into a few more bites. But then, just as I think we're getting somewhere, she starts to spit stuff out. Dinner, same thing; a few bites, then, "how DARE you present me with this swill!" All normal stuff of course, for toddlers. TODDLERS! ARGH!

I'm about ready to wean her, too. Nursing has become a miserable exercise in abuse and pain. She yanks her mouth off me, pinches me with her hard little gums, pounds me with her arms, grabs the skin on my neck, pulls my hair, tries to stick her fingers up my nose, then for all my trouble, cries when she's done. The occasional moment when she's calm and serene make up for it, but those are so occasional now that on balance, it's not fun.

Complain, complain, complain. Alas, but now she's in bed, and I can look at pictures of her and remember what a beautiful, spritely, funny baby she is and love her completely. Swing, swang, swung.

I'm trying something new with Gabriel tomorrow: I left him out a bowl and a glass, and told him to just get his own cereal in the morning. He's quite capable of pouring milk, and does so very, very carefully. So, why not serve himself his own breakfast? I should probably leave two bowls out, since the odds are good he'll do it for Julian too. Though Julian can pour his own milk quite competently as well. Uh-oh, I can already see myself sprinting down the stairs tomorrow at 6:30am to break up a milk fight.


Monday, October 08, 2007

10/8/07 The Code

A productive child-free morning for me, perhaps since I didn't go running first thing and wipe myself out. I had to wait for a house appraiser for our remodel line-of-credit loan, so got all sorts of Official Office Ordering done. Then I went for a short run, which turned into a sprint as I saw how late I was going to be to pick up Julian! In the end, only 8 minutes late, but these days, I try really really hard never to be late.

I made the mecca to Trader Joe's after picking up the younger two. Julian was very proud of himself helping me at TJ's, so I extended the honor by letting him help me unpack groceries. Hey, I might be on to something here!

Of course, bothering Katrina by putting toys in her face and then snatching them away is daily-required S.O.P.

We picked Gabriel up from school, and then the boys played together all afternoon, for hours outside. After Katrina's nap, she joined them, she wasn't sure what to make of this last streak of sunlight I stuck her in as a photographic lark. Speaking of larks, she was actually looking for birds.

Meanwhile, the boys had been occupied spinning the wheels on Julian's bicycle for at least half an hour. They'd seen Dave do this, looking for the master link, and even took turns on each side of the bicycle.

Katrina found this very amusing....

...and tried to get in on the action. That was far less amusing, as I imagined the spinning spokes ripping off her tiny fingers. Mom moved fast after seeing her lunge joyfully for the wheel in the camera screen.

I moved her to the front wheel, where the main hazard was the bike falling over on her. Yeah, not the safest baby play, but I couldn't resist the moment, with all three of them playing with the same thing. To think about the effort people go through to babyproof a house. Windows? Stairs? Sharp edges? Pshaw! How about brothers and spinning bicycle wheels and a mom who looks blithely on? OK, I removed her from the situation a few moments later.

Julian succeeds in their quest for the master link, while Katrina looks on and tries to participate.

Katrina was no fun at "dinner" once again. Offers of food were met only with an irritated hand wave and push-away. Not holding her, not taking her outside, not sitting down (heaven FORBID she sit in the nice handy convenient back-saving high chair), not favorite foods, not new ones, nothing. Not one bite of dinner for baby. Cumulatively, that means nothing, but in a particular evening, a hungry 12-month-old makes for a major bummer, dude. I was very, very happy to see her go to bed.

Meantime, Dave found something he thought, correctly, was right up Gabriel's alley. Today's Wall Street Journal "column 4" article (usually a human-interest story) was about someone who's trying to keep Morse Code alive. The headline was in Morse Code, and Dave explained it to Gabriel. Then, Dave printed out a translation sheet for Gabriel, and set him about the task of writing out the regular (er, duh, what is the right way to describe our alphabet...?) letters. Which he did, with great enthusiasm.

Then Gabriel wanted to write his own message in Morse Code, and did so! It's hard to tell what he wrote; something about asking a question "do you like carrots well?"

Another spectacular Indian-Summery sort of day here. Much cooler here than in Chicago, where the Chicago Marathon was cancelled yesterday halfway through the race due to excessive heat. One person died, and numerous others taken to the emergency room. I can't imagine having that much determination to keep running when my body is on the verge of collapse. Oh wait, isn't that what motherhood is all about?


Sunday, October 07, 2007

10/7/07 The day's rewards

Being a parent has many rewarding, wonderful, warm moments; and even more frustrating, infuriating, exhausting ones. Some days my baby delights me; other days my baby drives me crazy. Today was both of those sorts of days.

Dave took Gabriel and Julian to All-Italian Day in Alameda, so I was looking forward to a morning alone with Katrina. Despite not feeling well, it was a pretty good morning with her, and I took her to Rancho San Antonio for short run. It was a glorious day here today, warm and fresh and indian-summery.

A short snooze in the jogging stroller meant no morning nap for her, but she was adorable, making really cute sounds and smiling a lot. Getting her to eat some lunch took a lot of work; finally I fed her bits of soynut-butter sandwich sitting on my lap outside while she pointed at birds.

After her nap, forget it. She had good moments, but was mostly demanding, fussy, climbing on me, crying, insisting on being held, and mostly refusing to eat, for the rest of the day. It was really exhausting and un-fun for her to cry EVERY time I set her down, and pushing away every bit of food I offered her. I tried holding her, I tried bringing her outside, I tried giving her something she could pick up herself, I tried giving her a spoon, I tried numerous different foods, I tried everything. Not only did I fail, but it made me tired and resentful -- can't I just sit and feed you and have you accept it and not cry and fuss in hunger later?!

I started to wish in despair for my old life back. Actually, not even my old life, just some semblance of a life now. I just wanted to put brother's clothes out without her crying incessantly. Thank goodness Dave was in good enough shape today help me, and I was so grateful to hand her off for bedtime. I don't think I even looked at her again after handing her to him.

The boys earned their one half-hour TV show today, and I let them watch a second half-hour too, by cleaning up the family room fairly promptly. Still, they can putz around all night cleaning up, so I set a time: TV starts at 6:55pm, with or without you! And they weren't ready by the appointed time, so the first 8 minutes or so of Curious George went on behind closed doors as they finally hustled to clean up. They were so cute watching, each clutching their stuffed animals. Afterward, they pounced on me together for the goodnight hug and kiss, and I let them think they'd wrestled me down as I hugged and kissed them and pretended to try to get up while they giggled with glee.

Those moments of wrestling with the boys will only last another few years, so I really do appreciate those. The moments of fussy, whiny, demanding baby on the other hand.....feels like it'll last forever. But all it will take is one little "ah-ba-ba-ba" in that little baby voice to make up for it.