Friday, November 02, 2007

11/02/07 The non-escaper

Katrina, trying to crawl away to "escape," giggling away (until Gabriel butts in asking me to help him open a Halloween candy):

But she's not a very fast crawler, even compared to Julian, who was a pretty normal crawler. Neither come close to their turbo-crawler older brother.

One thing I like about the new school schedule is that it makes weekends seem more like weekends now. And Friday nights seem more like Friday nights. Very unlike the early days of baby-raising when all the days ran together into one big blur.

Julian's last day at Tonya's was today! That means no more Susan preschool, which in many ways is a shame. Today she had them make musical instruments, out of cups and paper-towel-rolls (the cardboard middle, what ARE those things called?!) and wax paper. So creative! The location, price and hours at Kids Inc can't be beat, but I do wish they had some "enrichment programs," especially music. I'm going to look into a Saturday music class for Julian.

Of course, we're not done with Tonya's by any means. There will come a day when all three will be too old to go there, and that will be the only sad thing about that for me! For now, there are still sleepovers, and when Katrina is two (or before then if Tonya has room for an "infant"), Tonya will remain an essential part of our kid-raising lives.

Cold tally: 2 and 3. Katrina: coughing and sniffly. Gabriel: hoarse but otherwise not slowed down at all. Dave, Julian and myself: so far so good.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

11/1/07 The book hound

Short one tonight, went out for Coffee tonight with mom friends...

Katrina is fanatic about this book today, crying furiously when I dared attempt to persuade her to leave it behind at home (she went to Tonya's today). Heaven forbid I pry her determined little fingers off it long enough to thread her arm through the carseat strap!

Books and drawing at the moment are her absolute favorite things to do. Well, indoors, that is. Pointing and gasping at birds is still tops.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10/31/07 All Halloween's done! And a rousing success, if exhausting.

Halloween was packed with parties, costumes and pizza this year. I've lost count of how many times I helped the boys with their costumes! And today was no different. Gabriel's school put all the kindergartners on the AM schedule, and had a big Halloween day. Then in the afternoon, we went to a Halloween party at Dave's company, complete with jumphouses, face-painters and skits. And tonight, of course, trick-or-treating. Or, around here, known as the Annual Meeting Of The Neighbors. We've had at least 3 new neighbors that I know about, and haven't met any of them, until tonight when I met one of them.

Julian let me do a little more clown face-painting today, though I couldn't dissaude him from a brown nose. We were going to a company party after all! Katrina was screeching and impossible at the party, until I pulled her out of the stroller and let her try to push it around. Then she made the same exact sounds, only this time, they were happy ones. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

Julian was surprisingly enthusiastic about the bounce house at Dave's party, even when Gabriel tackled and pinned him numerous times.

Gabriel's interpretation of a beanbag toss. He seems to think he's the beanbag. And Katrina got her first chocolate tonight. She applauded!

The Halloween family!

To top off all the fun festivities, today, after 16 despairing days, the most persistent migraine I've ever had in my life finally gave way to the characteristic burst of energy and insomnia that marks the end. Or pause. The odds are very high that another one will strike before another 16 days has elapsed. I hope I have enough good headache-free days to build up some emotional reserves before that happens. Today counted for a lot.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

10/30/07 Haunted house

I was so bummed yesterday afternoon that I couldn't make a Halloween haunted gingerbread house kit with the boys during Katrina's nap, because of this horrible migraine (16 days now!). It was bad again today, but it cycles on and off, and I was lucky that in the late afternoon, it wound down enough to give me enough energy to make the house after all.

I had a moment of being truly physically pulled between my two lives though, as I was trying to mix the icing, and having Katrina tugging on my legs, crying. I squashed a pulse of irritation at a grumpy baby literally pulling me away from little-kid life. But, it passed quickly; I put her down for a nap and we were able to get to work. She never actually went to sleep, but at least she was out from underfoot for the hour we needed.

Licking the beaters is always fun, despite the Goth effect resulting from the black icing:

So I assembled the house, put on enough icing to get started sticking decorative candies, and let the boys go to town. It was a lot of fun, we laughed a lot, and I enjoyed making silly suggestions and running with ideas they had (such as one side of the roof black, and one side orange, then the stripes) and working together with them. This, to me, is the pinnacle of what makes motherhood fun!

Gabriel couldn't get over how different our house looked from the perfect example on the box, and asked me again and again why ours didn't look like that. He just wouldn't accept that the haunted house in the photo was done by professionals with better tools and that it'd be no fun to try to make ours perfect. To him, it must be perfect!

Can you tell I'm a boy mom? This scene struck me today. Katrina dressed in stripes and jeans, holding a toy car. If it wasn't for the little hairclip doing an inadequate job of keeping her bangs out of her face, and the pink Robeez, you'd never know she was a girl!

She loves pushing cars around though. This little school bus was one I got at a used-clothing store when Gabriel was a baby, because I saw a 12-month-old girl pushing it around and loving it (and her mom didn't buy it!). At the time, I figured that's what 12-month-olds do, but Gabriel didn't push things around until he was much older. Katrina, being completely normal and typical, does.

A sampling of what the boys do together in the afternoon in the backyard, and why I can't let Katrina outside to play without being 2 feet away from her. They're hazardous on their bikes out there! Note Gabriel's nice slide at the end, which he's not supposed to do because he's wearing his tires out too fast.

This video is really dull, but that's the point: nice, quiet, peaceful. What astounding good fortune I have! While it's not always like this, it's still quite common that my three darlings quietly read together.

Katrina ooh'd and ahh'd this baby book from Bonne Maman and Papa Paul, given to her when she was a newborn. There she is at one month old looking at it, and now she's old enough to sit and flip the pages, and loves it!

More happy dull: Julian "reading" to Katrina. He's memorized this book, but was having fun joking around with silly words to amuse her. Nothing makes him happier than making her laugh, though she was taking this book very seriously.

[ drat, YouTube started site maintenance just as I was uploading ]

This afternoon, I went to my OB's office to pick up a sample birth-control pill pack, to see if they might help manage my migraines. I explained to the boys that we were going to the doctor to get "medicine" for my headaches, and Gabriel asked why I had them. I said I didn't know, then he said, "Maybe it's because you don't eat enough food." That was an interesting comment, because I have wondered a lot if it could be food-related. Though the food-allergy testing didn't yield anything, that doesn't rule out some sort of food-related triggering.

Since Katrina was born, my eating habits have changed drastically -- but mostly for the better! Baking kick notwithstanding, my junk-food intake has gone way down, I cook a lot more, and we have a lot more fresh things. But Gabriel rarely sees me sit down and eat. I never have breakfast with them home, and at dinner, I'm IN SERVICE and never sitting for more than a few minutes, even if Katrina is happily playing in the family room. I guess he's fallen for my brainwashing that eating their dinner will keep them healthy and strong. If only it were that simple for me.

Another fun time this afternoon was rehearsing Happy Birthday to sing to cousin Remi, who turns 3 today. (Good luck with that one, Aunt Stephanie...boy, I am so done with 3!) Then we called Remi and sang together. Yesterday, the boys wrote (Gabriel) and colored (Julian, to obliteration) a card for their cousin, and helped me wrap a gift. We sent it off today, late as usual. I live by the premise "better late than never."

Though the day was marred by headache again, I'll remember it as being a really fun, warm, happy one.


10/30/07 Earthquake!

I was all set to write a light and cheerful down'n'homey post, all about our nice family day, until....

....8:04 pm. Katrina and Julian in the bath, Gabriel about to get in. The washer was in spin cycle, and started to shake the house. Too much. That's odd, I thought with sudden alarm, I'm only washing Halloween costumes on the "delicate" cycle. Then I looked around and saw the surreal movement of the walls, the windows, and everything else my imagination and perceptions have rolled up into faulty memories. But I was here for Loma Prieta in 1989, so I knew it was for real.

Normally not a big deal. But Dave was out to dinner, and I was alone with three naked children on a second story, with few good options for a quick exit. If the narrow odds came through and this really was a nasty one, we were in a bad spot.

Controlling, barely, my freaked-out-ness, yet keeping the boys on the ball, I whisked a protesting Katrina out of the bath and into a towel, pulled Julian out with one arm, and rushed us all downstairs to the front door. There we waited for a few minutes, with Katrina crying and wiggling and objecting greatly. It was quiet. And still. I started to think I was overreacting. Maybe it really was just the washer! But our still-swinging chandelier in the dining room confirmed it.

Kids being kids, they all recovered immediately, and we went about our evening business. I put Katrina right to bed, bathed the boys quickly and then told them we could go downstairs and look on the Internet about the quake. Gabriel peppered me with questions, reaching hard to understand why rocks would slip underground. He was very focused on finding out the number of the earthquake. 5.6, as it turned out, centered in San Jose about 10 miles from us. Not a big deal, and Gabriel took it all in stride, though Julian had lots of questions about dinosaurs stomping by!

5.6, Alum Rock, San Jose

It does remind me, however, how very, very unprepared we are for a major disaster.


Monday, October 29, 2007

10/29/07 Katrina's goofy sounds

It's hard to capture, but Katrina makes the funniest "b-bl-b-bl-b-bl" sounds these days. Here's a short clip of it before it turned to Fuss:

She also made her first stab at sarcasm, applauding me when I correctly identified a crayon:

She is always in the craft area, playing with crayons and making a credible attempt to draw, though she doesn't put enough pressure on a crayon to make a mark.

We got a flyer today from Gabriel's teacher that tells of an assignment due in a month: "Create a poster that represents a culture/country. You may choose your own culture/country or learn about a different one." The teacher explains: "This year I've given the option of exploring a country/culture other than your own. Last year, the majority of my students were from the same country and most posters were very similar." I love it. Only in Cupertino! Gabriel could safely do his poster about the USA and be the only one! Heh, he could pull quite the prank and do one about India. Dave said he should do it about the Island of Sodor.

Bad headache afternoon again, but much better evening. My OB is prescribing a birth control pill to see if that helps, a common migraine-controlling strategy. I'm really baffled why they've gotten so, so bad in the past year. Could it be related to new eating habits? My eating habits have changed drastically in the past year, but for the better, by most measures (baking kick notwithstanding). That's IT! That must be the answer! Pizza deprivation! Insufficient donuts! Lack of Cheetos! And to think, I've been taking magnesium supplements. Pshaw. It's a french-fry deficiency!

I had a nice, interesting run at Fremont Older Space Preserve today, exploring the Stevens Creek/Tony Look Trail. It's much more a hiking trail than a running one, being very narrow in spots with lots of steep dropoffs, and some parts steep enough that erosion-controlling (I assume) logs acted like steps. Just what I needed running up a hill: steps! Still, I loved how the terrain changed between open, scrubby and desert-y, and denser, moister, forested areas. It was a perfect running morning: cool and overcast on and off, but warm enough to run in shorts and tank top, and to smell the beautiful sweet scents of fall in the air.

As much as I miss dance, I really have come to love the free thinking and working through things in my mind I can do while running, whereas dance classes take a lot of concentration. That was good in its own way too, but if I need to give something some thought, I wait until I'm out running and mull through it. It's so peaceful, preparing me for the un-peace awaiting me when my dear children are all re-united. But by then, I look forward to it.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

10/28/07 Halloween weekend

It should have been a free-wheeling, fun weekend, as much as it can be with a sometimes ornery baby. It had all the makings of an even joyful weekend, except for one life-altering detail: migraine. This one just won't go away, and drags down everything I try to do. Much of the weekend is a fog, but I have photos to look back on moments as good ones.

Saturday morning, I took Katrina to a "demolition sale," which is a sale held at a house that will soon be demolished. People arrive with tools to haul off any usable scrap they can find: flooring, windows, light fixtures...and in our case, a plastic playhouse. With Katrina in the backpack, I took a quick survey and decided that despite a few chewed-on spots, it was worth $75 to us. Slapped a "sold" sticker on it, and told them Dave would be back with the pickup later.

When Katrina and I got home, Dave had the boys out at a swim lesson, leaving two balloons unguarded from the innocent and joyful attention of a baby. Katrina had a great time playing with these balloons, that were losing just enough helium to be at floor level but still bouncy.

Boy, were the boys psyched about the new playhouse! They wasted no time climbing up top, where Julian got stuck. We should have our friend Eric tell them about the time he and a pal climbed a cliff and ended up getting rescued by helicopter. Up is easier than down, boys!

At least he's wearing a helmet. They're having a grand time with the playhouse.

Meantime, Katrina hunted birds.

Then we got all three into the car with a bag full of jammies and favorite stuffed animals, and all three went to Tonya's for a Saturday sleepover! Katrina wasn't the only baby there; Blake, 4 weeks older, has been going to sleepovers for months. Tonya said Katrina did just fine, went right to bed and slept all night with no problems. She's known as an "easy baby" when it comes to sleep. I can't complain about that!

I wish we could have made more of the night though. Dave and I went out to dinner, but I couldn't stop thinking about a hot bath, big frumpy sweats and a pint of ice cream. We watched a movie at home, but I had to fight to stay awake, and gladly surrendered when I could finally lay my throbbing head down. And that was the best day out of the last 13 I've had, as headache-days go.

Then today, Sunday, we had two Halloween events. One was another fabulously well-organized halloween party by our 2004 group, including trick-or-treating at little stations where grownups sat down and handed out treats.

Betsy and I get to enjoy our "celebrity status" for a little while longer as the seasoned moms-of-three; two more are expecting their third, and they're always very anxious to get the scoop from those of us who live it! I sure wish I could be more helpful, but the best experience I can offer is to say that it gets more variable and unpredictable. Going from 0 to 1 babies was a big shock to all of us, 1 to 2 really solidified our lives as "parents," but 2 to 3 seems to vary more from family to family. The personalities and family dynamic factors in much more now, since the older kids are old enough to have a much bigger impact on how things work. This could be why 1->2 was so hard (Gabriel was two), but 2->3 has in many ways been easier (Gabriel is five).

Later, we went Webb Ranch for a pumpkin patch outing, since our favorite one with the train is now closed for good. This is a nice farm, with berry-picking and a fruit stand and Christmas trees.

And lots of Halloween activities, including a haunted house and a jump house. Guess who actually went into a jump house and stayed for quite a while!

Meantime, Gabriel and the other kindergartners (plus some younger siblings gamely keeping up) ran up and down the hill.

Incredibly, we had successful group photo-op. We were all shocked at how cooperative and hammy the kids were! (Look for Julian hiding behind his new BFFs disguised as ladybugs.)

Katrina and Dylan made the best of the situation, for a few seconds, anyway.

I skipped the traditional pizza dinner out afterward though, since dealing with wiggly Katrina at a crowded restaurant would have been miserable. When she's new mantra. My life will change drastically. But for now, I have to keep little creepy-crawler's fingers safe from getting stepped on.

Still, dinner-making at home was torture, even though I had a yummy chicken parmesan all ready to go. Every move excruciating, every step a calculated risk. I'm getting deeply resentful of the drain these headaches have on my life, and what a huge waste of time they are. When I was finally ready to sit down to dinner and try to relax for a few minutes, Katrina needed to go to bed RIGHTNOW, so back on duty again for another half hour.

Despite my growing despair, I couldn't help but laugh with her in the bathtub. It's very very funny for a bath toy to fall off my head, and just as funny when she manages to repeat the game herself. She was being so cute and joyful, it was a very nice time during a very awful time. These are the coping strategies I have to develop: push through the fog to make a point of remembering the moment, to have something good to think about later when the devastating pain surges again.

Speaking of something good to think about....aww, aren't they cute. I think this photo will have to do as *The*Halloween*Photo* even though the boys aren't standing. (When Gabriel doesn't want to sit for a photo, I can often get him to do it anyway by telling him I need him to take care of Katrina. And it's very difficult to get a photo without her in the middle, because both boys want to sit next to her!)

Long after the headache passes, photos like this will help me remember these times as nothing but fun and friends.