Saturday, January 26, 2008

1/26/08 Stepping out

Katrina is really, really working on walking! Still crawling sometimes, still cruising a lot, still demanding assistance -- but more and more, she's braving the wild blue yonder of open air, taking halting steps, eyes wide open with concentration, fists clenched by her ears. She seems motivated partly by just not wanting to crawl anymore, though she does resort to it when she really wants to get somewhere.

Here she is negotiating a slight downslope.

I took Katrina to Diddam's today, and dared to set her down while I did some quick shopping for party favors. She's never been set free in a store before, so I was curious about her reaction. As if I had to wonder? She didn't waste a moment doing her stiff half-falling walk right out of sight, riveted by the endless new sights and countless shiny colorful things hanging on the walls and bins full of things to play with. No fear, no separation anxiety, no hesitation -- and no compunction about putting up a tremendous fuss when I retrieved her.

Tonight at dinner, a cute little conversation:

Julian: "Mommy, can you tell me about the prince?"
Mom: "What prince?"
Julian: "The prince! You know, the one at Collins."
Mom: "I don't know of any prince there."
Julian (impatient): "Yes, Mommy, the prince!"
Gabriel (contemptuous): "Dude! that's the princ-i-pal!"

Poor Julian didn't quite understand why I was laughing so hard.


Friday, January 25, 2008

1/25/08 The "Shoo-Sheff"

Julian agreed to be my sous-chef for dinner tonight, though he had a little trouble saying it. He started out as my "shoo-sheff," then "soup chef," then finally, something close to "sue sheff."

And he did an admirable job. I must say, I'm getting better and better at finding stuff for him to do. He cut open a bag of french fries (in teeny little bits of course!) and dumped them onto a cookie sheet. Then I had him "paint" slices of zucchini with olive oil (lending a whole new meaning to painting with oil). Then he sprinkled salt on the zucchini, as well as the steak I was grilling. Then he took handfuls of broccoli florets and put them into my (!brand!new!great!) steamer pan. I ran out of jobs appropriate for him by then. The bigger and heavier and more dangerous knife I'm holding, the more both boys want to use it.

My sports medicine podiatrist appointment today was anticlimactic, because my self-diagnosis was correct: tibialis-posterior tendonitis. There's no quick fix for overused tendons, but time, physical therapy, strengthening exercises, gradual re-introduction of use, adjusted insoles, and eventually, custom orthotics, should get me back on the trails again (yay!). The podiatrist himself is a marathoner, and when I briefly described my running ascension, he shook his head and mentioned something about too much too soon. This hit when I told him all my 9+ mile runs had included the PG&E trail, legendary among runners, and not many tackle it in their first 5 months! Those hills by themselves didn't cause the tendonitis, but apparently my tibialis muscle and its tendons weren't in the same condition as the rest of me.

(But really, was I ever in condition to run 10 miles? Mostly, it was angst and a need for accomplishment that pushed me. After all, my first time up the PG&E trail was minutes after I'd dropped my firstborn "baby" off for his first day of kindergarten. If that isn't angst, I don't know what is!)

I was determined not to leave the doctor's office with any unanswered questions, but of course, I still did. But the big ones were answered: how to help it, I can run again, it's not bruised or swollen (not trauma, in other words), swimming and elliptical won't injure or strengthen it, hills are fine, and the odd sensations I feel all around it are normal. My feet do pronate somewhat, nothing unusual, and it's possible that my right leg is a little longer, which would also explain my tricky right sacro-iliac joint. Mostly, I just ran too long too hard too soon.

Running all started with the Big Bunny Fun Run, Cupertino's 5K the day before Easter, so my goal is to rehabilitate until then (early April, over 2 months away), and that will be my first race and re-introduction back into running. I must do it gradually, but it is not going to be easy holding back, 'cause that runner's high thing is powerful stuff!

It rained all day here. I don't say that lightly, because that is a very rare occurrence. It had to be a day when I had a lot of driving to do, too.

But I did one other thing today I'm really excited about, to my surprise. On complete impulse, and based on a little email note Betsy sent the 2006 group, I signed me and Katrina up for Music Together!! I have NO IDEA how on earth I'm going to fit this in, but I almost don't care. I miss doing things like that, and I always liked active ways to spend time together, when I have no other distractions or temptations. And, the teacher is my all-time favorite, and it'll be fun to be in another MT class with Betsy again, we've done this many times over the years. And, most of all, Katrina will probably love it (though I'm not looking forward to when the instruments get put away....) I can't wait until next Thursday! (Oh yeah, Mom, you know how you're going to be all tired from just having flown in the night before....?!)

I've been an aunt for 6 years today!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

1/24/08 Peer influence?

Gabriel declared today he no longer wanted sandwiches for lunch. "OK, what would you like?" I asked. "Rice!" he answered.

I picked up Katrina from Tonya's today, and got to talk to her briefly. Or tried through Katrina's screeching. But, Tonya would have none of it: "uh-uh, not OK, nooo screaming." To my amazement, Katrina indeed did stop, and started to pout and cry. OK, I guess it's not too soon to start introducing gentle directions! It didn't last long, but she did respond.

More walking today -- more crawling, and more screaming to be walked, but definitely getting a little more confident. Here's another common thing I'm told that's not true for any of my babies: "Once they start walking, that's it, they're done with crawling within a few days!" Oh, if only. The transition for us has never been less than 6 weeks!

Coffee, cheesecake and chit-chat with friends tonight!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1/23/08 The New Piano

Katrina insisted on being walked out to the car today, and Melissa kindly obliged her. Earlier in the day, Melissa walked her out also, but had to pick her up at one point, and the screaming that ensued had Melissa worried that neighbors would come running! Just as she was telling me about that, it was time to pick Katrina up to put her in the car, and Melissa's neighbors got a repeat.

Seriously, you'd think we were torturing the child for all the fuss she puts up, except that it's angry screaming, not sad or fearful. I know this is a theme I keep pounding in, but it's pretty hard not to think of "demanding SCREECH" when I think of Katrina.

Actually, she's really not crawling much anymore. She still doesn't walk much unsupported either, which doesn't leave her with a whole lot of choiced! She either pushes something in front of her, cruises on walls or furniture, shrieks for assistance, or, in a pinch, gets down on all fours briefly.

Tonight she was pushing a footstool around and was actually running behind it -- not just faster than walking, but clearly a different gait. Didn't anyone tell her that you can't run before you walk?

(At least one of us is running around here. My calves, arches, spots under my anklebones, and every obscure connecting tissue I never knew I had below my knees are all telling me loud and clear to stop everything. I went swimming this morning, and I'm even having doubts about that. What is going on here?!)

We did the Big Reveal tonight! The boys got to see the new piano. It was an even bigger hit than I expected -- all three launched right into a huge fight over it. Gabriel wasted no time getting started, immediately translating his songs from the little piano (whose keys are marked) to the "real" piano. Julian got a turn, and Gabriel was counting minutes until his turn again.

Dave showed him how to play Mary Had A Little Lamb with more than one finger, and it wasn't long before he was playing it smoothly and quickly -- and very, very, VERY proud of himself. You'd think we'd just put him in Oz or something, the way he's acting about this new world of piano playing. I should know better by now than to ever underestimate Gabriel, but he's surprising both of us with his drive and gripping interest. Julian also loves it, but in his calmer and more childlike, playful way.

Katrina....oh my. Well, I could just cut-and-paste from tens of other posts, but I'll have to say it again: she FLIPPED when she saw the piano. Like with the tricycle, her whole body shook as she screamed and waggled every limb madly for it. She was desperate to play on it, and she did get a turn, but the brouhahah picked right back up again when we had to pry her away to give her impatient brothers a turn.

Gabriel's Bonne Maman is visiting next week, and he can't wait to show her what he can play. He asked me today if she can play a really long song without making a mistake, and I smiled at the question as I know she's smiling reading this. I told him that every piano player makes mistakes sometimes, but yes, absolutely, she can play long songs without making mistakes. "Oh!" he said excitedly, "I wonder if she can play chords!" He was beside himself when I told him that not only can she play chords, but she can play them with both hands! (My mother is a skilled pianist who takes lessons and performs and plays for hours every day and even has her own piano studio. So yes, she can play chords.)

Oh my, is Bonne Maman going to have a great time showing her fascinated grandsons how to play. And there's a long precedent for that. (Photo from August 2004, when Julian was 7 months old and Gabriel was 2-1/2.)

Welcome to our world, piano!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1/22/08 The Jam Session

The little piano is becoming an increasing source of contention around here. Katrina's contention, that is.

It's one thing to make the boys take turns, but Katrina will have none of it. She crawls right up to it and screech-orders her brothers away from it, and I have to intervene (reluctantly) and try to distract her. Not easy. Occasionally the boys will release it, then she can bang to her heart's content. But she's learning -- she no longer just bangs on it, and actually uses individual fingers to press the notes.

The screechy demands are coming fast and furious now. Maybe since I'm not subject to them all day, I can be amused by them. No gentle wilting flower, this one.

Gabriel wanted to play "moostick" together (he still can't say "music"!) tonight with me. How could I resist such an invitation? So I put Julian and Katrina to bed first, then instead of a book, we played moostick together. First, we tuned this beautiful Melody Harp that Julian got for Christmas, then I played the harp, following Gabriel playing Happy Birthday on the piano. He got such a kick out of this, and so did I. What a wonderful way to spend time together, I really enjoyed this! We went on for quite a while before I realized it was almost 9pm and way past his bedtime.

Gabriel said this morning he didn't want to go to school, he was tired of it, as though it were soccer or something. Sorry kid, that's your job now.

The pain in my ankles continues, and I haven't even been doing anything to aggravate it. It changes all the time, manifests itself in different ways, at different times of day, in different places. It's fine to walk on, and if it weren't from running, I'd be puzzled what these twinges are about and that would be that. But I know the pain would blow up full-scale if I tried to run at all. I'm getting downright depressed about it, as the injury just keeps getting worse, and I'm terrified I'll have to give up running completely. I was just getting started! Maybe this new fascination would have "run its course," but right now I miss the trails so much it hurts even to look in the direction of the hills. Given how inclined I am to form new interests, I'm sure something will fill the void. Maybe piano.


Monday, January 21, 2008

1/21/08 One - count'em - one - pickup!

Today, ALL THREE went to Melissa's. I dropped off ALL THREE in ONE PLACE, then later, picked up ALL THREE from ONE PLACE. Ah, a taste of what life could be! It was Martin Luther King day, and even Kids Inc was closed, but of course, life goes on in the world of corporate high-tech, so I went to work.

There's a Y about 3 minute from Melissa's, and it's in the group of 6 or so that I can use with my membership, so I went there this morning to get in a little workout before work. I'm not sure this works so well; I have to take a shower afterward, and I'm sleepy and tired all day. Exercise wakes me up later in the day, but not in the dreaded morning! Still, it's nice to have it all over with, and by the time I'm done, traffic has died down and I can get way the heck to the other side of San Jose without too much traffic impediment.

Rainy, windy, cold day today. And poor Melissa, stuck inside with my three! But they all did great. I'd told her to let loose the movies and videos; a rainy day off is the time for that (folks are generally reluctant to do so with kids they know don't watch a lot of TV at home, so I assured her: go for it!). Melissa said Katrina was very feisty and demanding today, and I said, "today?" A lot of it is that she wants to walk, but won't do it herself. And, she's very possessive of certain toys she's come to think of as her own at Melissa's; she protects her property with a shriek reminiscent of a car alarm if heaven forbid a brother comes over to investigate. But she throws the same energy into a giggle fit too, so it balances out.

Back to the grind tomorrow. It's not so bad now, actually. At least, it seems like that today when I only had one -- ONE! -- pickup.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

1/20/08 The drizzly park

Katrina was ALL set this morning to raid the pantry. No half-baked plan here.

Another not-so-half-baked plan was to go to the park this morning, for an all-years Las Madres park date. The skies had their own ideas, and drizzled on us for a while, but it cleared up just enough so that we weren't actively getting wet. It was chilly though; I was cold, and increasingly concerned that Katrina was underdressed. The weather kept away most of the moms who'd planned to come, leaving only a few of us die-hards (uh-huh, yeah, that's me, the park die-hard).

Katrina has had very little park time as compared to her brothers, so it was a nice treat -- for me, really! -- to take her on a weekend. She was grouchy before we left, but she "warmed" (brr) right up when we arrived: cruising along stone walls, sitting and playing in sand, looking at the sky. I didn't get a photo of her in the swing with Julian pushing her; probably because swing shots are hard to get, and I was too busy yapping anyway.

Don't be fooled by these photos of her standing, 'cause that's all she was doing: standing. No walking. No crawling, either, which presented a problem when I got tired of holding her hands to walk her around. She still wanted to "walk" and let me -- and the rest of Santa Clara County -- know in no uncertain terms of her disapproval when I dared depart from her prescribed activity.

Meantime, Dylan very happily, and athletically, crawled around the grass, the wood chips, up steps and down slides, rubber hills, stairs, having a grand old time. He's clearly very comfortable with parks, as he goes to them a whole lot more (~guilt~).

I'd have taken more photos of the boys, but they were busy with Gina and Andrew and Gavin and Cassie playing a game of keep-away from the grownups. Any time one of us approached, camera in hand, they'd burst from their "hiding" spot, shrieking with laughter, and run away.

Julian's always glad to play with Cassie, though today he got the bonus of Cassie's dad too, who, for some reason I missed, he followed around like a puppy dog "helping" track down the other kids.

Katrina was ready to go before the boys were, but she discovered this little tree sprig and that bought another 10 minutes or so. She was tired and grouchy and went straight down for a nap when we got home.

Despite the blustery weather, and all the park time, the boys spent the much of afternoon playing out back!

Dave got Gabriel's birthday piano today .... but after talking about it, we decided not to make it a birthday present after all. As it is, certain gifts they must share: books, CDs, DVDs. The latter two especially: you can't *not* share music or a movie. The piano...well, if it's "Gabriel's", does that mean that if Julian takes piano lessons, he has to get one of his own too? What if Gabriel loses interest and Julian doesn't? What about Katrina in a few years? At this premature stage of their musical careers, it doesn't make sense to designate something like a piano as belonging to one child. Pianos in particular are family sorts of instruments. So, I rephrase: we have a new family practice piano, just a little electronic one with 61 keys, but adequate enough to start simple group lessons if the boys are so inclined.

Just for fun, I tried to show Gabriel and Julian how to do a simple scale, and right away their differing personalities revealed themselves. Gabriel resisted instruction, claiming he already knew how, wanting to do it his own way, though he did make a decent effort. Julian, who'd just watched Gabriel's "lesson," was much more open to suggestion, welcomes the guidance, and is more anxious to please. Also, his finger coordination is better; he could summon his 4th and 5th fingers separately, whereas Gabriel's smaller fingers are more like mine (which are practically glued together). But Gabriel is the one banging away at the little piano all the time; he's long since mastered all the songs in the little songbook, and now is experimenting with things like playing a song with two notes in unison with two fingers. Gabriel is more likely to actually practice and take on the hard work of learning an instrument, and might actually listen to guidance from someone other than Mom. With Julian, it's a social event; for Gabriel, it's a technical one.

But this piano fancy has all come about during rainy times that have ruled out BMXing. Let's see if music can survive beautiful weather and the call of the hills!