Saturday, January 12, 2008

1/12/08 The Afternoon Out

Dave and I met with our most excellent kitchen designer this afternoon. I'm psyched. Really psyched. Most of the details are done, down to the silverware drawer. I can't wait!

Then we went out to dinner. Tangerine cheesecake with raspberry compote. Mm-MM!

This morning Gabriel observed that Bear (his beloved stuffed teddy bear of 2 years) is getting smaller.


Friday, January 11, 2008

1/11/08 The Giggles

Busy night, getting ready for kitchen designer meeting tomorrow.

Do I starve my children?

I went appliance-shopping again (gah!), and was struck by a conversation I seem to hear every time I'm there, about placing the fridge and microwave in the kitchen so that kids can grab snacks easily. Quite often, the conversation is about little kids who can't reach things in fridges yet.

Do I starve my children? They never, ever get snacks for themselves. Indeed, they hardly ever snack. If it's been a long time between meals, then I'll make them something, but that never involves the microwave (and often involves coercion). What "snacks" have to be heated? That's cooking!

When they're older, they probably will want to make their own snacks, but by then they'll be able to reach things themselves. Heck, Gabriel makes his own cereal in the morning now. What am I missing? I swear the skinniness is genetic, I don't underfeed them, but snacking so far isn't a big part of their fooding -- certainly not enough that I need to take that into account in the kitchen (though it happens it would work if they turned into snackers).

Speaking of eating, as Katrina chowed her way through a wide variety of carbs, her brothers wanted to play. Usually I shoo them away, but she was almost done, and they were all having a great time. Gabriel was letting her "bite" his nose, and Julian somehow gets her to scratch his teeth (which makes for much duller video). In any case, it was a nice moment of the boys swarming their baby sister, as opposed to the other 99% of the time when it's relentless and annoying!

What is life like when you don't plan to up-end your kitchen?


Thursday, January 10, 2008

1/10/08 The Call

Julian had something he wanted to call Uncle Ronan about on his "iPhone," (a wooden block), but once he was on the spot, it slipped away.

Gabriel made this cute "snowman soup" from a gift packet his teacher gave all the kids, which was a package of hot chocolate, with marshmallows, hershey's kisses, candy canes for stirring, and a little poem. A nice little reminiscence of the holidays.

I went to REI after work today in search of Superfeet insoles, which several runners have told me they never run without. It appears my feet pronate (fall inward at the arch) somewhat, and this could be causing my ankle problems. Funny, I never had feet or ankle problems from years of dance, with shoes that have no support whatsoever. I'll run on the insoles tomorrow and see.

But do note: the World-Wide Conspiracy Against Size 6-1/2 is alive and well -- what size range do you think was missing in the Superfeet insoles for women? What else?! I had to get a men's version.

I got really, really lucky. For one, it's been raining a lot this week, coinciding with my ankle recovery. Perfect. For another, I lost track of time at REI this afternoon, and panicked when I saw it was 5:25pm when I was checking out. I knew I'd have to call Dave immediately and beg him to go get the boys, because 35 minutes to pick up all 3 wasn't nearly enough (even though I was only a few minutes from Melissa's). Turns out, when I got in my car and put on my headset, Dave was calling me to offer to pick up the boys. Whew! I think I used up a year's worth of karma on that one!

Dinner was courtesy Trader Joe's and reheated leftovers. So many kitchens now have two ovens...but on major re-heat days, I often need two microwaves. Is that ultra-super-spoiled or what?!

Katrina was in an exuberant mood tonight. Boy, when she's happy, she really pours it on. And when she's not...oh brother. Today when I picked her up, she saw me and started twisting her torso back and forth with her arms out -- a full-body pushing-away of the arms to object to my interrupting her book! She recovered, and made the most adorable baby sounds in the car, clapping when a song was over. Then at home she was full of squeaks and giggles as she pushed around footstools. No progress on walking though.

I was glad to see my children tonight. I had an intensely stressful evening last night, and today as well (handling some of my Dad's affairs), and it was a relief to be brought back to earth with the familiar ins and outs of children ("put your shoes away!" "pick that up RIGHTNOW!" "go finish your homework!"), mostly it was being with them, talking with them, humoring Julian's phone calls, stepping around Katrina and the footstools in the kitchen. Everything they do, even the annoying things, is striving toward making their own mark, growing, learning, embracing the world with a fresh perspective, with energy and eagerness, full of joy and optimism and promise. This is why I had kids; to stay in touch with the future, to be surrounded by youth and its surprises and delights. Sometimes it's staggering to think how deeply I love them.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

1/9/08 The Misunderstanding

I have a new one-tolerance (as opposed to "zero") policy with Gabriel abusing Julian: one incident gets one warning, then one more, he goes straight to his room. I don't bother verifying; Julian's scccrreeeeEEECH of pain, preceded by Gabriel's bloodcurdling scolding (gee I wonder where he gets that from), is enough. They fight over Julian's piano, overall a good thing -- Gabriel loves to "learn" to play the songs and memorize them, but when Julian tries to play with his own birthday present, it often comes to blows.

Tonight, Gabriel got sent to his room for a second offense, and is so often the case, it didn't stop there. While I was making dinner, I had to run up the stairs numerous times to check on unsettling noises. One time I found two boxes of toys scattered about his room, and I told him he had to clean them up now....then realizing the impracticality of enforcing "now" (I had all four burners going on the stove!), I changed my story to that he couldn't go downstairs until he'd cleaned them up.

A few minutes later, he was downstairs. I was furious -- I hadn't let him out yet! I dragged him up in a rage. But his outraged-innocent response was genuine: "You said I could come downstairs when I cleaned it up!"

Hmm! Busted on a language subtlety. I meant he couldn't come back downstairs until I said so, as was the case to begin with, but now there was an additional condition: he'd have to have cleaned up the toys. But he took it to mean that cleaning up the toys was all he'd have to do to earn himself the right to go back down. (In retrospect, that'd have been a good exit strategy, if I'd thought of it.)

As it was, I had to give him an apology, a hug, and then a stern warning about pushing, kicking, pinching, scratching or generally injuring Julian again.

It struck me again how ordered Gabriel is: being banished and then dragged up the stairs didn't make him cry, but the injustice had him nearly in tears. This is why, at least for now, asking him what happened when there's a problem is effective. When he's innocent, he really acts it.

(As a side note: much brother-bashing goes on around here ignored, that's just part of life. But there are blatant offenses on one end of the huge gray zone called "boys will be boys," and those are punishable. I've seen handprints, teethmarks, red welts, long scratches and countless other Gabriel-inflicted injuries on Julian over the years. I look forward to the day when Julian is bigger and heavier than his brother and gives him a sound beating-up, but I'm losing confidence that'll ever happen.)

Speaking of troublesome...Katrina! Actually, she was full of wiggles and giggles this morning, just about jumping out of her skin with laughing and raspberries and overall silliness. But she's started genuine tantrums too: throwing herself on the floor and flailing her arms if she doesn't get her way (like having crayons taken away when she starts to throw them).

When I picked her up from Melissa's today, Katrina had her whole heart and soul wrapped up in this book, and I had to plan carefully to pick her up and go, because I knew she'd throw her whole body into a fierce protest. Fortunately, she and Melissa have a "game" of Melissa "chasing" Katrina as I carry her to the car, and that turns her energy from furious to joyful.

I keep telling myself that if she's going to turn into a Gabriel, that's overall a good thing. Or will be in another 2-1/2 years. Meantime, I could use some guidance from William Safire.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

1/8/08 The un-sick day

Melissa called me at work today to tell me Katrina was acting very strange, and not good. Lots of clinging, crying, screaming even...and cuddling. Cuddling?! She must not be feeling well! Katrina even fell asleep in Melissa's arms, after refusing to take a nap, then woke up about 15 minutes later screaming. After last week's fleeting fevers, and Saturday's inexplicable screaming fit, it was time to be seen.

One thing I love abour our pediatrician's office is how reliably we can get last-minute appointments.

One thing I really don't like about our pediatrician's office is how we have to wait so, so, so long in the examining room.

I called at 10:30am, got an appointment for 11:30am, arrived at 11:25am. We were checked in immediately by the nurse, weighed and partially undressed Katrina. Doctor will be right with you. Uh-huh. So we wait in the examining room. The small examining room. Baby playing on the narrow examining table, Mom standing vigilantly in front to keep her from diving off. No toys. Cold floor with paper clips and who knows what else on it. Low drawers, garbage cans, rolling footstools -- all sorts of stuff crawling babies can get into trouble with.

A tormentuous and aggravating and exhausting 40 minutes later, the doctor shows up, and spends five minutes with us. No ear infection, lungs clear, all looks OK. Indeed, Katrina had mercifully been in a great mood, and amused herself pulling on my work badge and playing with a zipper on my vest. We're not supposed to feed them in the rooms, but we'd been there a long time, and Cheerios that Melissa had thoughtfully sent along with us bought me another 5 minutes.

Note to self: from now on, ask the nurse if we can wait in the waiting room, which is spacious, has toys, windows, a fish tank, carpet, comfortable chairs and magazines for bored moms. Why do we have to spend all that time entertaining half-dressed toddlers in the cold examining room? It's torture!

With a onesie and diaper, Katrina weighed 20 lbs 5 oz. It's carseat turnaround time!

I actually didn't mind too much having to take a day off work, though I wish I could have worked a little more. Katrina was in fabulous shape all afternoon, being silly and playing very happily and generally exhibiting the good side of her joie de vivre and energy.

She ate a ton of dinner and then spent the balance of the evening pushing around this little wagon and screeching at her brothers when they dared stand in her way. The boys engaged in the new order around here: Gabriel and the Snap Circuits, Julian and the little (now horribly out-of-tune) piano.

The catch-all for mysterious baby ailments is "teething." I guess that's all we have to go on.


Monday, January 07, 2008

1/7/08 The Ankles

I was hoping to run into another contractor at work today, who comes in sporadically, and who is a very serious runner. If he was there, I hoped to have an opening (as he's often tied up) to ask him if my painful ankles, worse this morning, were a common running injury. Not only was he there, but I had the opening: he hobbled in with a cast -- broken ankle! He twisted it on a rock while running and actually broke it.

Some Web-surfing and talking to him about ankles says that there is hope: gel orthotics and shoe inserts that conform to your foot, sports medicine doctors, certain types of stretches, and knowing when to lay off can all help. I found today that my ankles were the least bothersome after sneaking to the back loading dock and doing a few weights exercises, including lunges. If the answer is movement and stretching, I'm all for it.

Katrina was in a dazzling mood this morning, and also when I picked her up this afternoon, full of raspberries and squeaks and giggle fits. Melissa reported that she wasn't like that all day; crying after falling and hitting her forehead and refusing to practice walking after that. That is most decidedly not like Gabriel.

She was downright violent in rejecting her second course of dinner, one I know she likes (spaghetti). But she downed the whole thing after I brought her outside and let her point at things in the dark sky and watch a pickup truck park on our street. That reminds me of having to feed Gabriel on the front porch when he was a baby, taking advantage of the outdoors to distract him.

And it reminds me that I never had to do that with Julian. I can thank Katrina for making Julian's babyhood seem idyllic, even though his babyhood coincided with Gabriel's twos-hood, the worst, and so not idyllic, period of our baby-raising lives so far. But there was a reason I called Julian "Angel Baby."

Gabriel has been so focused on Julian's piano and the little music book that yesterday he was practically begging me to sign him up for "real" piano lessons. The way he tackles the music book reminds me of his foray into Morse Code, like he likes translating symbols. I'd toyed with the idea of signing Julian up for some sort of music class, but Gabriel? Hmm! At the moment, none of them have any scheduled activities; I'm reluctant to make the commitment when our lives are due to turn upside-down in a few months.

Besides, I'm selfish, and right now with work overwhelming my weekdays, the weekends have to work around my trips to the Y and running. My ankles may have a different plan though.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

1/6/08 First Steps

FINALLY! Some real actual steps, not just foot re-positioning!

Katrina did this a few times tonight, and I was able to get this on video because of the telltale impish joyful expression right before she attempted some walking steps, like it was a game. "Dum-de-dum, maybe I'll just try out this walking thing for the heck of it, not like I need to or anything, no hurry." More and and more, she wants to carry things around, leading to more walking attempts, but tonight for the first time she focused on the walking itself, just as a fun thing to do. Exactly like Gabriel.

Speaking of steps, a dreadful thing has gelled for me: ankle pain. It's consistent now when I run, and was enough today to deter me from lengthening my route at Rancho San Antonio, something I never back down from. I'm already doing everything right: excellent new running shoes, soft trails (especially with all the rain we've had), stretching carefully before and after a run. These measures have held off lower back, hip and knee problems, all of which I've been expecting, but ankles? I'm not daring to get bummed about it yet. What on earth would I do with myself if I had to give up running?

This morning we had a late big breakfast -- and look who joined us at the table! Katrina was grouchy and difficult again this morning, but strips of English Muffin kept her calm for quite a while, aided by much distraction from brothers very happy to have her there. I really hope this impending walking improves her outlook on life, because right now she has way too many periods of being impossible. But alas, such is life with crawling 15-month-olds (well, two of mine, anyway, one of them was never impossible).

I went to Trader Joe's after running today -- me and 100,000 other people. The lines went into the aisles at every register (and it still moved pretty fast), and the workers were scrambling to keep the shelves stocked. My cashier exclaimed how busy it was, and I heard myself telling him the answer: Next week is a full workweek, school's back in session, and we're all here stocking up. Batten down the hatches, the new year is blowing in for real now!