Saturday, January 05, 2008

1/5/08 The Party

Another wet, windy, miserable day! I love it.

I took The Three to the Y this morning, where one Childwatch lady exclaimed at just how well Katrina walks when she's pushing something around. Yeah, no kidding! She's 15 months old today. It's time, girl!

Then I took Julian to a little birthday party for one of his buddies from Tonya's. I thought it'd be nice to have some time alone with him, but mostly, I yakked with other moms while he played with the birthday boy (who refused to join the group for photos). I was struck by how the one girl there was so calm and quiet, and stuck close to her mother. It was fun, and Julian had a great time.

I'm mad at his friend Kyan's mom though, because she and her family are moving to San Diego this summer (that's Kyan in the orange jacket next to Julian). Not only am I going to miss her, but it sounds like paradise down there! Julian loves Kyan's mom, always giving her hugs and kisses, and he talked all the way back from this party about how he can't wait for Kyan's party. Kyan is a really sweet little boy; when he was a baby he'd crawl right up to me and sit in my lap, and I fell permanently in love with him.

Katrina had just gotten up from a nap when we got back, and she was an absolute disaster. I've only ever seen any of my babies in a state this bad a few times, and they were always sick. I have no idea what's wrong, though the recent slight fevers make an ear infection suspicious, though she showed no other signs of one.

And when she's unhappy, she is downright violent, flailing both arms at me with all the might her tiny limbs can muster. I tried taking her for a drive, since usually that busts her out of tantrums (oh god, can I use that word already?! aghh!), but she cried and screamed the whole way. I abandoned my plan and took her home -- it was too nasty to be out driving anyway.

Still having no idea what to do, and tiring of the relentless abuse, I gave her some Motrin, then let her suck water out of the dropper again and again. Anything for a few minutes' break from the crying! Then I took her into her room to get her satin blankie, just to comfort her, but she practically lunged for the crib. OK, whatever! I put her down, and she was calm, if not entirely quiet, for about two hours.

Then she was great the rest of the evening, and ate five containers of leftovers I had in the fridge as MREs* for her (mashed potatoes and broccoli, butternut squash, cream of wheat with banana, spaghetti, couscous and spinach, then yogurt).

It was interesting talking to the mom of the one girl at the party today. She mentioned that she had to get home, because her husband couldn't put their 2-year-old down for naps; and she'd also mentioned that her older daughter, who's almost 5, gets up at 4 or 5AM, which means mom is up too. By that measure, I'm really spoiled: the boys get up and usually don't bother us (though they've been waking Katrina, which is almost the same thing); and since 4 months old, anyone can put Katrina down.

It makes me think back to all the guilt that Dr. Sears and Mothering magazine lay on me about rocking and nursing babies to sleep -- what if my first baby had been like Katrina and just didn't do that? And frankly, doing those things with the first baby had lots of nice warm moments, but on balance, my memories of the whole sleep thing are painful almost to the point of bitterness. For every warm sweet "bonding" moment, there were hours of pacing a crying tired baby around in the middle of the night, and months of frustrating chronic sleep deprivation. I know it works well for some families -- certainly co-sleeping and no cribs and nursing to sleep did for my sister's family -- but next time a new mom expresses any angst about their baby learning to sleep on their own through some carefully monitored crying, I'll be all for it. I reject the guilt! And so does ornery Katrina, who now actually laughs sometimes when we walk in her room at naptime, thrilled to be lying down with her blankie.

Another event: we made to 15 months, but that's it. I'm done nursing. No more going through the motions; Katrina's hardly nursed for weeks now. I guess I'm supposed to feel sad about it, but now I'm wondering why I didn't stop this farce a long time ago. Another minor source of anxiety and conflict gone! Life improves step by step! And speaking of improving life step by step....!


*MRE = "meals ready to eat", for military troops

Friday, January 04, 2008

1/4/08 The Storm

Nasty, nasty day! Perfect to curl up in front of a fire and read a book. Yeah, right. Gabriel's field trip was cancelled, alleviating my fear-visions of hearing about a school bus full of young children blown over in the storm....shudder.

I left work early and went home and engaged in some therapeutic scrapbooking (among other things). Cheaper than Prozac! Hmm, maybe not, this is scrapbooking we're talking about. I've been feeling a powerful urge to document and create photo memories lately; it comes in waves.

Then I braved the storm to go rescue my exceedingly silly daughter, who was in a terrific mood. Since it's Friday, normally I'd ask Melissa to bring her home, but I couldn't in good conscience ask Melissa to drive in this mess. She happily gobbled down some of Gavin's Favorite Turkey Burgers, making her signature guttural dinosaur sound when she threw a few pieces just for fun.

Great evening until a piercing, ear-splitting shriek from Julian triggered some nasty spears of pain in my head, a double earache, and a residual pounding headache. That kid...the best migraine-trigger there is (though I've been migraine-free for two months!!). I was completely ready to throw him outside into the storm if he did that again. Man!

Julian did have to go outside to take his shoes off, since they're always full of sand from Kids Inc. Dave said he should take them off on the back deck, since then the sand falls through the cracks. Gabriel piped in, earnestly and urgently, "No! Those aren't cracks -- it was built that way!"


Thursday, January 03, 2008

1/3/08 Back to it

Not so bad today. I thought it'd be a lot worse, though I missed Katrina.

When I picked her up, she was fussy and clingy, hands warm. At home, checked her: another slight temp! Depending on she's doing, Melissa said it was OK to bring her there tomorrow, if she's only a little under the weather.

Incredibly, it took me only an hour and 5 minutes to do the big pickup runaround today. And that's with rain, which notoriously slows down traffic.

Back at home, after a few bites of dinner, she pulled it together to play on this chair, standing up out of it -- then she took a step or two! Or was it just catching her balance from a stumble? In any case, looks like she'll make it to 15 months old and still be squarely a crawler.

Gabriel, for all his nonsense about not wanting to go to CDC Camp, had a great time at their field trip to the Tech Museum today. "It was awesome!" he said. It must have been, because he even told us about a few things he did there. He liked the earthquake simulator the best.

Snap Circuits continue to be the main driving force in his life at home. He's gone through most of the circuits in the book, and now he's trying to make up his own, and loves talking about them. He even puts them away when he's done because he doesn't want Katrina to get into them.

(I shamelessly play the Baby Card on the boys: "You'd better put that way, or Katrina will get into it!")

Julian has found new pleasure in being the First one to -- get this -- set the table! For the past week, Julian has set out the placemats and napkins and forks for dinner. I don't have the energy yet to make up chore charts and enforce them (not with Katrina demanding every scrap of spare attention as I'm preparing dinner), but I am making progress in getting the boys used to the idea that they have daily jobs. And not ones that earn them treats or privileges, though treats and privileges will be taken away if they don't do their chores (this is a family, not a democracy). In any case, for the moment, Julian is working for praise, and he can have all of that he wants.

Is it really Friday already tomorrow? Yay!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

1/2/08 The Sick Day

Oh brother, what a night. I haven't had one like that since Gabriel was a baby.

I thought Katrina would be the problem, though her temperature was gone by the time she went to bed. But it was Julian who kept getting up and saying his tummy hurt, and then he'd run to the toilet and prepare to throw up. Then he'd practically fall over from sleepiness, and then trot anxiously back to bed. I'd stay with him in the bathroom, then tuck him back into bed, and a few times stayed with him in his room until he settled down. Repeat this scenario about 15 times, resulting in less than an hours' consecutive sleep for me. At one point, he complained that his ear hurt too.

Then around 3:30am, Katrina woke up. She was making happy-chatty noises, but I was so on the alert for Julian that any sound had me springing out of bed. She woke up twice more, once crying at 5:30am. I checked her, found her blankie, and put her back to bed.

Since I'd already resigned myself to skip work today, I slept as late as Katrina would let me, which turned out to be until about 8am. But when Julian woke up after 9am, he seemed to have made a full recovery! After a hearty breakfast, he cheerfully went to preschool/daycare.

Gabriel, who slept through the whole thing, went to CDC Camp, which is childcare covering non-school days that are work days for most parents. Except those with sick babies.

What sick baby? Katrina had no temperature today, though she was grouchy. Then again, she's often grouchy anyway. I took her to a lovely park where two other mom friends were going today too, and was all set up to have a nice gabfest, but Katrina had other ideas. She kept crying and pulling on me, wanting to be picked up, then squirming out of my arms.

She had some fun though, showing new interest in her pal Dylan. Aren't they cute....Dylan happily climbed and crawled around this rock and the sand and play structures, being the sweet and happy and easygoing baby he is.

Well, that was the fantasy. This was the reality. I bailed and took Ms. Fuss-Fuss home, where she got a so-so lunch and a nice long nap.

(Indeed, Dylan is the third 3rd-baby I know who fits that 3rd-baby stereotype of being the easiest. I'm waiting for some of these patterns to hold true: "The second is more outgoing and confident and develops sooner because they have to be to keep up with the older sibling." Bzzt. "The third is the most easygoing, go with the flow, because of all the activity around them." Bzzt. "The first..."-- oh, god, never mind.)

But even with a relentlessly demanding baby today, I liked the variety in my day. I liked being outside on a beautiful day. I liked exchanging snippets with other moms between attempts at buoying Katrina's mood. I liked working on small projects a bit at a time, even if the most I actually accomplished was replacing a light bulb. I liked starting dinner early, being able to stop and start and not be on such a critical time path. Katrina's fussiness forbade any momentum-gathering, but the time pressure wasn't there. Dave's fighting a cold, so he came home early and picked up the boys, and we were all sitting to dinner at 6:15pm. And, dinner included a yummy stuffed chicken that took some time to prepare and an hour to roast. Just not possible on work days.

I don't know, grass is greener? Since when do I feel that I should relish every moment of babyhood? Doesn't being pulled in 100 directions and having to drop what I'm doing at any given time drive me crazy? Did I enjoy my full-time-Mom day so much because I know I'm going back to work tomorrow? Or have I really crossed over, truly put my career side behind me?

I mulled over these questions in the back of my head as I got Katrina ready for her bath. She was suddenly in a great mood, so I played with her on our bed for a while. She made up a game in which she puts her head on the bed and looks out between her legs, then sticks her hands out and wiggles her fingers. Then I'd tickle her behind her knees and she'd tumble over laughing. It was so fun to see her giggling and being silly, and I stretched it out as long as I could. Then she crawled onto me, I thought to start a fuss, and I'll be darned if she didn't put her arms on my neck and give me a kiss! If that isn't a big clue to the answer, I don't know what is.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

1/1/200*** 8 *** !!

Happy New Year!

And it was. A beautiful crisp day, perfect for BMXing.

For some reason, Julian couldn't be persuaded to ride on the bumps today, though he loved racing up and down the stop-start plateau.
Other bikers and observing Dads were impressed by his ability, since his eensy bike really stands out. Some other kids much older and bigger than him struggled to get up to the top. It doesn't take long for any kid to learn though.

I say observing Dads because Moms watching are about as rare as girls riding the course.

Bigger older kids than Gabriel also have bikes with smaller wheels than Gabriel, and I see those bigger kids hop on and off with great ease, and they need to do that sometimes to handle a sudden stop on a hill. But Gabriel absolutely can't be persuaded to use a smaller bike now.

He can barely touch the ground, but that's not the problem -- he can't easily hop on and off as you need to for BMXing. Ah well, all in good time.

(Anyone who knew me 6 years ago knows that I was an avid motorcyclist and advocate for short beginning riders. In time and over many miles, I overcame the beginner thing, and that's how I overcame the short thing and learned to handle tall motorcycles without having my feet flat on the ground. It brings me back a little to see my sons stretching to reach the ground, though when they're full-grown, they will have the height and strength I never had.)

On the way to the BMX park, I saw a decked-out motorcyclist on a brand-new shiny-red Kawasaki, clearly geared up for a fun ride. I'm almost certain this rider came from the court next to our house, and the rider looked decidedly female (full gear makes it tricky to tell). I think it was our serious-cyclist neighbor three doors down. It makes sense; interest in two-wheeled vehicles often crosses over. My heart sailed and sank all at the same time as I saw her tooling down the street, full of promise and anticipation of the twisty trashy mountain roads ahead. I WANNA GO TOO!

But you have to walk before you can run -- or ride, as the case may be. Katrina practiced being walked around a little, but she seems to have hit a wall with actually doing it herself.

Then again, her reluctance might have been explained by rosy cheeks and a burning forehead after her nap. 101.1 fever, great.

More importantly, her appetite was off and she was obviously uncomfortable and grumpy. Still, she showed no noticeable decline in energy or attitude, but as is typical of her, she reached her limit suddenly and then crashed hard. She was almost screaming when I put her to bed at 6:45pm. No sad whimpers from this one, it's ALL ON.

I can't say I'm entirely heartbroken about not going to work tomorrow, even with a sick baby at home.


Monday, December 31, 2007

12/31/07 New things on New Year's Eve

This morning while I took a nap (really, an extension of nighttime sleep), Dave took The Three to run an errand for me, and while "walking" Katrina outside, he decided to run them on another errand: Katrina's first pair of shoes!

It helps that there's a really good Stride-Rite shoe store in the half-vacant mall nearby which has really good service. So Katrina got some good shoes, unlike the $8 jobbies I always picked in 20 seconds for the boys at Target when they were babies. They said she has "petite" feet (surprise), size 3-1/2W.

They are really cute, and don't seem to hamper her pushing footstools around. When she's supported, she walks really really well - she just doesn't seem to get that she can do it herself.

Hmmm...what happened here? Or rather, who happened here?

One unexpected, believe it or not, side-effect of Katrina's name is that referring to her path of destruction as a "hurricane" just isn't funny. Even "tornado" is pushing it. (Unexpected? what am I, stupid? Hello, Katrina? Well, in my feeble defense, when you're pregnant with what will be an innocent gooey little newborn, it's easy to forget that they'll make messes that are naturally described in storm terms.)

Already breaking the no-shoes-on-beds rule.

Katrina's latest thing is kissing things: Blankets, stuffed animals, pictures of animals in books. Here she is sizing up Julius the monkey, orienting him just so and insisting on eye contact before he gets the ol' smackeroo.

The Kiss (short):

But I accidentally captured a moment I only realized later is interesting, since it's otherwise a boring video. Katrina reaches for a (covered) electrical outlet, and I give her a gentle admonishment. Then she looks right at me, clearly understanding, and bites Julius in protest!

Then she throws herself down on the bed and pretends to be doing something else, but her glance back at the outlet tells you she's playing some sort of game. I don't need this passive-aggressive cr*p already!

It reminds me very vaguely of what is still my all-time favorite video clip, when my nephew Aidan was 23 months old. He's eating cereal, and deliberately tests my sister by banging his spoon on the bowl. Aidan looks right at her and makes certain she's noticed his infraction ("see that?). He knows exactly what she'll do (take the bowl away), and says as much, then even does it for her. It's fascinating. His testing is much more benevolent than Katrina's quiet lashing out, but they both have an element of "oh YEAH?"

(No preview pane on this Quicktime movie, but it works.)

It also strikes me how well he was speaking ("I'm going to see Scout," (their cat)) and how well he was pedalling a tricycle, and he wasn't even two. And so polite!

Katrina loves climbing into the cradle that Grandpa Jim made for Gabriel when he was born. She stands up in and rocks it, which you'd think would really test the stability of a non-walker, but, no problem! She even puts a blanket over her head?! (Ever tried to balance with your eyes closed, or put your head back while standing on your toes on one foot? A dance exercise, and not an easy one -- what you see is very important to your balance.)

Though it looks like she could fall out at any moment (and you can see where I move suddenly to catch her if so.) She also makes a whole lot of cute-baby sounds.

Poor Julian....said he wasn't feeling well at dinner, then lay down on the couch and fell asleep "reading" a book. Pull-Up and straight to bed for him.

Too bad, because Gabriel got to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on YouTube (separated into chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3). We tried to buy the DVD on Christmas Eve, but, predictably, Borders was out of them. But duh, how retro (DVD? buy?!) -- why didn't we think of YouTube?

Gabriel was full of adorable questions tonight at dinner, as timing worked so that I had some time alone with him in the dining room. He wanted to know why cookies are called cookies, when they're not using in cooking (I didn't get into the finer points of cookie-crumb pie crusts). I told him that in England, they call cookies "biscuits." "Biscuits!" he said with surprise. Then, "What language do they speak in England?"

Since Julian had already gone to bed, I decided it was high time to teach Gabriel to take a shower! Other than having some trouble with the sticky shower faucet and the heavy shampoo bottle, he did great and was an eager student. (When does the modesty switch get flipped for boys? It won't be long before he doesn't want his mommy to see him naked anymore!)

Hmm, I wonder if I'll wake up around midnight to the sound of firecrackers and wonder what that darned noise is about, as happened last year? The sure mark of an old fuddy-duddy parent!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

12/30/07 The Wish

This morning, I went to downtown Los Gatos to finally pick up my new running shoes I'd ordered (because I had to special-order size 6-1/2, of course, confirming the World-Wide Conspiracy Against Size 6-1/2). The kids needed to get out, so despite some genuine leaving without Julian, he pulled it together in time to join us (shoeless at first).

As we were driving, Gabriel was playing with Katrina, fawning over her as he often does. Then he said happily, "This is great Mom. I SO wished for a girl. And my wish came true!"

Once I got my running shoes, I couldn't resist a little detour to Williams-Sonoma, which proved to be fruitful for the kids. Samples of freshly-baked lemon-poppyseed muffins, marshmallows and jellybeans went over very well! (In the end, I left without the All-Clad steamer insert and saucepan I'd gone to check out -- the steamer insert looks perfect, but I just don't know where I'm going to store another saucepan.)

Then we checked out the Los Gatos farmer's market, where I got some dates and some Hachiya persimmons for a persimmon-ginger coffee cake recipe I'd like to try. Hachiyas are "persimmon non grata" in grocery stores these days, so they were quite a find. The kids all had a great time running and being strolled along the sidewalks of Los Gatos. Gabriel especially was fascinated to hear that all three of them were born in there (though not at the farmer's market, can you imagine?!).

A cold front moved in fast while we were there, so we hightailed it home and stayed mostly burrowed in for the rest of the day. Except for a short run at Rancho for me; I haven't run for a week, and it really showed. I had a hard time keeping myself going on a 6-mile run with moderate climbing; a far cry from the much tougher and longer route I did last time. Ah well, some days are like that.

It was fun today going out with all three of them on Sunday morning, reminding me of the habit I had with the boys until I was so sick with Katrina's pregnancy. And now, Katrina doesn't need a nap AT 10AM RIGHTNOW like she used to, so it frees up the morning. In fact, in general it seems like she makes big leaps in maturity every day. In some ways, having 3 kids is harder now than it was when she was a baby, but it's more fun too. I think I'll see that multiply when she's old enough to really interact and play and enjoy doing things together with her brothers on their level. Or beyond it!