Saturday, January 19, 2008

1/19/08 Boys in a box

Good thing we have all these high-tech expensive toys around to stimulate kids' minds and imaginations. I'd hate to think a simple cardboard box could do the same -- what would the toy and battery manufacturers do with themselves? This cardboard box was a boat, a house, a hiding place, a tunnel, and something for Katrina to shriek at her brothers to shoo them away from today. It was one busy box.

Its final contribution for the day was to provide an incentive for the boys to get undressed quickly, so they could jump out of it and "surprise" Dad, eliminating one step of persuasion to get ready for bath. Not much of a surprise with the nonstop giggling, but, it served its purpose.

It was finally nice, warm, and dry enough for the boys to play outside, inexplicably with a little plastic tricycle. I brought Katrina out, and when she spotted the tricycle, I swear her body started to shake. She THREW herself into a complete fit, wrestling and wriggling and screeching, reaching for the tricycle, as if her life depended on it. I kicked the boys off (sorry), and then she latched onto it like it was her lifeline.

Mostly, she ended up pushing it around in circles, but it wasn't long before she was climbing on and off it herself too, and kicking her legs around in circles as if to pedal (but she's nowhere close to reaching). We had to time the exit carefully, making sure everything was in place before Dave whisked her off into the car.

My goodness, I've seen toddlers want a toy before, but even for Katrina, this was exceptionally insistent. Maybe she will be into BMXing after all!

Dave took her and the boys on an errand, a HazMat day, to drop off some old paint cans at the dump. Easy enough, everyone stays in the car, baby's entertained just by being out, boys never miss a chance to go to the dump (and most importantly, Mom gets a nap).

But then, Dave took all three of them to Target! On a Saturday, no less. I know lots of Moms who'd be nervous about such a venture, but it's just about unheard of for a Dad. He didn't think much of it, and didn't have any problems, the boys were very good "helping" find things. I'll take a little credit for that; the boys are very used to walking and (sort of) behaving themselves, while Katrina hangs in the cart. But mostly, they're just pretty (sort of) good. And Dave -- not bad for a Dad! It's nice to know every so often you're doing something right. I just wish I knew what it was.

The Target trip was to get more booster seats for the boys, since we're about to do the Big Carseat shuffle. Boys in boosters from now on, yay! Katrina will get the Britax Marathon, forward-facing. In two weeks, Gabriel will turn 6 and won't even legally need a booster, but of course he'll still use one, he's such a shrimp. I weighed him a few days ago with just pajamas and Pull-Up (argh) -- 37 pounds. Pathetic!


Friday, January 18, 2008

1/18/08 The Mayhem

Gabriel had school off today, so he went with Katrina to Melissa's today. She brought them both back home in the afternoon, along with her son 7-year-old Jackson, and they stayed for a little while.

Even though Gabriel and Jack had had the whole afternoon together, they hadn't tired of running like crazy, shouting at the top of their lungs, jumping on the furniture, wrestling, and full-out horseplay. Julian joined in the fray, and it was complete, total, ear-splitting chaos for a while, as only boys can make together. Yeah, yeah, girls can play hard too, but piling up, picking each other up, holding each other upside-down, shaking each other, pushing, pulling, racing, grabbing, pouncing, total all-physical rough-housing -- it's all boy. No tea party here. I love it. (It's hard not to imagine wistfully if baby#3 had been a boy too....)

I did get them to calm down briefly by having them sit on the couch and make faces for the camera. Meanwhile, Katrina, not in the slightest bit intimidated by all the rough action around her, pushed herself up to a stand and walked unsteadily across the rug, to the joyful delight of all three boys.

Jackson spends every afternoon with Katrina, and he adores her. He carries her, he plays with her, says he loves her, he's on her all the time -- in fact, Melissa has the same trouble keeping him from bugging her as I do with her brothers. Who knew little boys liked baby girls so much?!

As my poor friends have endured me complaining doggedly about, I just can't let go of this ankle problem. It reminds me of when my right wrist got so painful for a while, from motorcycling and from too much mousing, that I started mousing left-handed, cut back on riding and used a throttle lock whenever I could. It took well over a year before it didn't bother me all the time, and the introduction of right-hand-specific mice got me using the mouse with my right hand again. Persistent, gradual, achy sort of pain from too much use. Tendons.

So some targeted Googling today turned this up: Tibialis Posterior Tendinitis. It, and all articles on it I've found since, describe my ankle troubles to a T. Yeah, T, as in, Tendinitis. And, Tenacious. It's not going to go away easily. But, there are ways to prevent and treat it, and it's going to mean always keeping an eye on it and always backing off when it flares up. Of course, I'll let the doctor diagnose it himself next week, but until then, I'll Treat it Tenderly. I'd rather break my leg! That heals!

Before Melissa and the mayhem arrived, I had a few minutes alone with Julian, who only slightly willingly sort of posed for the camera. I was actually trying to get a good picture of his beautiful pout, but that's only going to happen candidly. Still, I love his smile even more.

It's actually a really bad picture. He's so cute in real life. And that mouth...!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

1/17/08 The Upcoming Holiday

Julian announced at dinner tonight that Martha Luther King is coming on Monday.

A little slice of life here while I'm making dinner, though this is calm since I'm able to take video. Katrina trying to horn in on Gabriel's Snap Circuits, and he gently keeps her away, and succeeds in redirecting her attention to a book (I caught this scene at the tail end, she'd been trying for some time):

Hmm, I took that to illustrate her vocal disapproval of the restraint, but now what I really notice is how Gabriel handles her. He's actually smiling the whole time as he puts his body between her and his beloved Snap Circuits to keep her away -- believe me, Julian doesn't get this kind treatment!

Ironically, not much later after I took that video, both the piano and the Snap Circuits -- the two mainstays of entertainment around here -- got angrily confiscated to the garage after escalating through the whole ladder of heads-up/ask/tell/remind/warn/insist/timer/countdown/NOW/THAT'S*IT!* that the boys set the table.

Melissa said Katrina walked a lot more today, yay! It's still mostly a game, but more and more she's using two feet to get from one wall to another, occasionally taking unsupported steps inbetween. Could she be the earliest give-up-crawler of The Three? Oh, please yes!

I "walked" Katrina to get to the car, while she held one finger, and this was a daunting experience for her. She gets tripped up by plants in the way, uneven spots in the pavement, the slope of the driveway. But when I try to pick her up to expedite the process? Screeching, arm-flailing, back-arching, full-body-and-soul protest. NO WAY MOM, I'm gonna do it myself! Hey, I'm all for it.

Another random "accident" in the mini-potty tonight before bath too. A few more and it won't be so random anymore.

I went out for a Mom's Night Out tonight, something I haven't done for a while. That was great, so nice to catch up with other moms and be in the mom world again. Work has proven to be an odd source of calm and stability, but while I need some of that in life, it's never been my hallmark. It's nice to stay in touch with -- maybe even stay in -- the far more chaotic and less predictable kid life. Of course, hanging out with moms when our kids are in bed is the best of both worlds!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1/16/08 Katrina in the bathroom

Sigh. It's time. Every toddler at some point discovers how to flush the toilet and then becomes obsessed and flushes it again and again and again and SCREECHES when you block it or pull them away...ok, maybe not the screeching part. But, it's Katrina's turn for the Flush Phase. The flusher is now her new BFF*. But not before doing some damage to the carefully arranged bathroom cabinet.

In other bathroom news, Katrina objected strongly to being sat on the mini-potty before her bath, just on principle. I grabbed a book, and her energy was instantly plunged into "boo? boo?" and pointing to the strange figures in a Dr. Seuss book and making sounds at them. Then, she looked down, pointed to her tummy, and said, "bee? bee?" Whaddya know, there in the potty was quite a substantial amount of "bee?". Goodie! I tried to praise her, but she was right back to the book. Eventually these random accidents converge into doing it on purpose.

Now if only the boys would stop having not-so-random accidents at night. Or even in their sleep! Yesterday, Julian insisted he was tired of naps. Today, he napped so soundly that he didn't wake up when he had to pee, and he came home in his emergency pants. Sigh.

Left work early and came home to exercise a little, as doing a pretend aerobics class in my living room is the only convenient cardio I can get these days. Too bad I'm such a lousy aerobics choreographer. But even a few minutes of movement does wonders for my mood, though much of my movement took on a suspicious resemblance to running.

Then it took just under an hour to go pick everyone up, and that was with the additional time of getting the boys to go pee (another bathroom reference) before getting into the car. They always have to go when I pick them up, which isn't a problem for the usual 2-minute trip home, but today I picked them up first, then made the trek with them to Melissa's to get Katrina. I didn't want to go into traffic for half an hour with them strapped down and unable to do The Dance to shake it off (until I get tired of the wiggling and order them to go stand in the bathroom) at home as they usually do. But even with that extra step, doing the pickups from home didn't cost me any extra time as compared to doing them from work, and the sanity savings of going home first is huge.

I'm getting too good at this though. Dave got home at 6:45, and I had all three kids fed, kitchen cleaned up, Gabriel had finished his homework, and Dave's dinner was minutes from being on the table -- without touching the kitchen until I walked in the door with all three of them. Pretty soon, we'll start expecting this level of efficiency!

I do find tiny optimizations in the strangest places though. Lately I've been wearing socks to bed, and I like to put on clean I figure, why not wear the socks I'm going to put on in the morning anyway? That saves me 12.5 seconds of taking off my sleeping-socks and putting on my day-socks!

Now if only I could learn to blog shorter....


*BFF: hip-speak, stands for Best Friend Forever

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1/15/08 The Picture

Today when I picked Gabriel up from the CDC, a boy came up to me, steady eye contact the whole way, and handed me a brown paper. On it was a very nice drawing of Henry the engine, and written the name "Gabriel." Apparently this boy, who I've never seen or heard of, drew Gabriel a picture, and made sure it got home by handing it to me! His demeanor was so deliberate, not shy, not proud, just very directed. I made as big a deal of it as I could while Katrina was crawling around on the floor picking up chokables.

So Gabriel decided to repay the boy in kind, by drawing him a train picture. Gabriel put the boy's name on it (asking me how to spell it, as if I'll ever know -- I couldn't even say it!), then signed it "From Gabriel" above his name.

How sweet! Isn't this more the sort of thing little girls do? The kid seemed really, really nice. Gabriel said he was a first-grader.

Today I left work early to go home and tackle the huge stack of To Dos that just can't get done with kids around, or even after they're in bed. I had about an hour and a half (which normally I'd have spent some of at work running), then zipped back into my car for the mad pickup scramble. But it wasn't so mad at all. Even though I was "working" at home -- not paid work, but office sorts of things (not scrapbooking, unfortunately!), having that time at home before the dinner rush made a huge difference. I really, really need that transition time between work and home, it really energizes me and makes me look forward to dealing with the kids and dinner and homework and screechy baby all at the same time. I'll bet it'd be even better if I did some scrapbooking instead of filling out forms, writing checks and making phone calls.

But one phone call I made was to a sports medicine doctor who specializes in podiatry! I can't wait for my appointment next week. It gives me some hope. I notice I have more time during the week now that I'm not running, but so what? I feel like I'm losing touch with Rancho San Antonio -- I was there so often that I'd notice the foliage growing, the new moss spots, the leaves turning, the flowers blooming. It's going to look completely different by the time I get back there! I'll bet the creeks are even flowing at the canyon bottom.

I also made Katrina's 15-month pediatrician appointment today. "How old is the child?" they ask. "Errr....15-1/2 months?" I answer sheepishly. "Don't you mean you want to schedule the 18-month appointment?" "" "Didn't she already have her 15-month appointment?" ALRIGHT ALREADY! Not only don't I take my kids to the park on the weekends like Good Moms I know, but I don't even make pediatricians' appointments on time! AGGH!

As if this baby needs to see a doctor. She is the picture of health, bursting with energy and life. BUT STILL NOT WALKING!!!!!!!!!!!! She did boost herself out of the little blue chair tonight and "play" walkies for a few steps, but that was it. She still doesn't get it that two feet is a perfectly reasonable way to get from point A to point B. WITHOUT pushing a footstool.

Then again, who needs to stand when I'm so busy rummaging around the toy shelf?

Whatever ailed her a few weeks ago, for a few weeks, is past, and she's in a great place: giggly and silly and full of fun sounds. She laughs hard with her brothers, but also doesn't hesitate to stand up to them or try to take something from them, which they take entirely in stride -- even when she crawls up to them with the express intent of pushing them away!

That reminds me, I saw a very, very unusual behavior for Katrina this afternoon as we were leaving Melissa's: she pouted and cried. Melissa was shocked too -- she never does that! Oh she cries, but pouting first, then sobbing sadly with tears streaming down her face is unheard of. Usually her crying is frustrated and angry and without tears, accompanied by flailing protesting arms, bordering more on a fit. But sad crying? She got over it quickly in the car, and by the time we arrived to pick up Gabriel, she was pointing happily out the window announcing "Boooo!" whenever she saw a bird.

Julian thinks I hug him too hard, so whenever he tells me not to, I ask him to show me how to hug him the right way. And he comes up and hugs me almost without touching me. Then I ask him to show me the wrong way, and he wraps his arms around my neck like a python. Then I tell him I'm still not sure, and to show me again, and he hugs me again. And again. I can't believe he still falls for this, but I'll milk it for all it's worth. Lots and lots of Julian hugs...nothing's better.


Monday, January 14, 2008

1/14/08 The I words

Gabriel's kindergarten class, like so many, does a Letter of the Week. They practice writing the letter in upper and lower case, and write and come up with words that start with the letter.

Last week, it was the letter I. Look at what Gabriel came up with for the first two 'I' words.

Then see how lazy he got for the other ones. His rendition of Iggy the Iguana isn't exactly inspiring either.

The sad thing is, many of his classmates probably did the same thing. Good going, Stevie, now that's marketing!

His poor, poor teacher.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

1/13/08 The Piano

I got to sleep late this morning -- yay! Thanks, Dad. I needed it. I had a lot of wine last night.

I needed it. I'm seriously bummed about my failing ankles. I went for a short tentative run last Friday with the new Superfeet insoles, but around mile 3, my left ankle started to hurt. Later, both ankles gave me constant twinges and reminders of their inherent weakness.

But not all hope is lost. A friend at work is a serious runner, and she gave me the name of her podiatrist. She'd had serious foot problems that not only meant no running (and she's always in shape for a half-marathon), but constant foot pain too. She said prescription custom orthotics and other treatments gave her her life back. That's a strong enough endorsement for me. I'm calling the guy pronto! She and another runner friend gave me names of sports medicine doctors as well. So I have a lot of resources.

If I get through this, I will make a marathon my new goal. I had no ambitions for marathon training before, but now that faulty ankles might mean not even having the option, I'm going to make it a goal.

Speaking of chronic problems, something you might all have noticed missing is constant complaints about migraines. Since starting the "Seasonique" pill, I've had one day of a mild migraine in 2-1/2 months, and that's it. A "prodrome" feeling here and there (the irrational sleepiness), but no more days and days of oppressive pain. It could also be the drastically altered sleep schedule due to work, but I doubt it. Clearly whatever torments the vascular system in my head is hormonal.

But enough about me. Let's talk about the kids! I'm happy to report that Katrina has been really fun, and funny, lately. Dare I say, even, delightful to have around? That's a big leap! She's been playing very happily, finding joy in the simplest things, often involving motion. Pushing footstools is a favorite, but so is climbing into anything that rocks or moves, like this little rocking chair we got from the Doudna grandparents some years ago.

Another fun thing she does, fun to her anyway, is lie on her back and just play, kicking her legs around like she's an upturned cockroach.

Today at Whole Foods, she was getting tired of waiting and it was approaching naptime, and she let out some of her characteristic protest screeches. Every time, people around us jumped, and twice, someone twirled around angrily to see what was causing this piercing racket, and then settled down when they saw it was just a baby. Even when she's in a really good place in life, she lets her opinion be known LOUDLY and PAINFULLY.

I thought Gabriel's interest in the piano would have waned by now, but it only seems to be accelerating. He skipped book-reading tonight in favor of practicing, though he's already memorized most of the songs in the book, plus one I showed him (Happy Birthday). He makes up his own a little too, and I'll be darned if I don't hear him play something very close to the opening sequence in the Eagles song "Desperado"!

But most of what he does is along the lines of Mary Has A Little Lamb:

If he's really interested in piano, I'll happily put him into lessons....but I will not be happy about having to bug him to practice every day. So whenever he asks about piano lessons (every 10 minutes or so), we talk about practicing. I tell him stories of when I took piano lessons and never fooled my teachers that I didn't practice all week, until just before the lesson. I think it'd be great if he really wanted to play -- and it doesn't have to be now, we can try also when he's older and more likely to practice.

Who knows, maybe I'd take up piano again too if I can't run. Sniff.