Saturday, March 08, 2008

3/8/08 Hunt Day

Lots of looking for stuff today!

First, I took the kids to the Las Madres 2004 group's Easter party. It was in a lovely setting at a church, with an indoor and outdoor play area, a large auditorium for lunch and storytime, and a wonderful courtyard inbetween for egg hunting.

Katrina played in this Fred-Flintstone car for over half an hour, then had a great time toodling around the courtyard. A little separation anxiety would be nice, as she had no compunction about going far away and out of sight, and screeched when I brought her back.

Meantime, the boys listened to the storytime, with some help from bunny ears, and then went on the egg hunt with the rest of the group.

Katrina didn't get the concept of hunting for eggs, but she had a good time putting eggs in and out of a basket. She was edgy and demanding, so we left right after the egg hunt. (She fell asleep in the car in about 5 minutes, and went on to a 3-hour nap at home!)

After Katrina's nap, we went on our first letterbox hunt! It happened that the very first letterbox that showed up when I looked on Atlas Quest was one I recognized as Stacey's first letterbox plant. And, it was at Rancho San Antonio, where I haven't been since my ankle troubles started. This was just too perfect. I had a simple letterboxing kit ready (a logbook, a stamp, an inkpad and a pen), and off we all went!

The main reason to do this was met immediately: the boys had a great time running around. I wasn't sure how I'd feel going back to Rancho while still injured -- would I feel overwhelmingly sad about missing running? Or glad to be back? Overall, happier than sad, and still cautiously optimistic that I'll be back.

Anyway, I knew the trail where we were headed well, and we had fun following the clue (though Julian was afraid there would be bears). We found the letterbox without too much trouble, and the boys were thrilled!

I had high hopes that Katrina wouldn't be a liability, but she really was. I'm glad Dave was there to keep her occupied while the boys and I attended to the business of stamping the letterbox's logbook, and then stamping our own logbook (with the stamp stashed in the letterbox). Katrina pushed the jogging stroller around while Dave kept an eye on her, as she screeched if we stopped for even a moment (and boy did she put up a fuss going back in the stroller). I'm going to love letterboxing, but I'm not going to love having her with us on our excursions until she's older.

We carefully tucked the letterbox back away and headed back, satisfied with a job well done. Julian, still concerned about bears, was holding my hand, and said happily, "I love you so much Mom -- so much, I wish I had another!" Uhh, thanks, I think. After some more talking, it seemed that the gender imbalance of our family had him concerned, so he thought we needed another Mom.

As it turns out, I got my chance to run after all, because Gabriel got way, way ahead of us, and I went after him (it happened I was wearing an old pair of running shoes, with inserts). It was about 3/10 of a mile, and I'm still waiting to see how my tendons react. The short run was a disaster for the migraine (day 3), triggering new waves of pain, and also showed me how I'm quickly losing the running condition I was in. Cursed ankles! Gabriel's shrug when confronted about running out of sight was more annoying than the offense itself. That kid has no remorse.

We made an impromptu visit to our friend Kevin, and his fiance Angela's, house. It's huge, new and beautiful. Should we have....? Oh never mind.

We had Grand Plans to night-train the boys tonight, together! The bedwetting alarm is here, and we'd talked to both boys about wearing underpants tonight. But our plans went afoul on numerous counts. First, Julian was really, really tired -- too tired to talk him up about it. Next, we realized we don't have enough pee pads to change in the middle of the night for both of them. So, one boy a time, starting with Gabriel. We thought. But Gabriel refused to put on the alarm. He just doesn't care. Actually, he does care -- he doesn't want to night-train. Good old Gabriel, finding yet another case in which most methods don't apply -- all the bedwetting advice assumes the kid wants to night-train. He shrugged and said almost with a laugh that he'd just wear Pull-Ups for another year. Wanting to night-train is an essential component of success, so we'll work on Julian first.

A rich and full Saturday, just how I like them.


Friday, March 07, 2008

3/7/08 Migraine

subject says it all. And on a sleepover night, too.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

3/6/08 The Fun Thursday

I like my Thursdays. Especially the part where I blow off work twice.

Music class is really fun. It's fun for me anyway, but even more fun since Katrina really loves it. The first half of the class, she "sits" on my lap (sort of), then the second half she gets up and walks around a lot, "dancing," and today saying "yayyy!" a lot. Now when the teacher brings a bag back out to put away sticks or eggs, Katrina heads right over to make her contribution.

Then, skating. Such a treat to spend time alone with Julian, and he really enjoys it too. During practice time before his lesson, he seemed like he'd gone backward, being almost timid and doing a lot of hands-on-knees to prevent falling. I'm glad he has a class without me, because then he tries a lot harder, and does much better without thinking I'll be there to rescue him.

Today his class had to skate all the way across the short end of the rink. And he did!

Looking at it now, he's actually doing pretty well! He listens and takes instruction well, and is clearly improving in his class. And perhaps because he's not an obvious natural athletic talent, I'm especially proud of him.

A major black cloud on the day was again feeling unbearably, relentlessly, irrationally tired and sleepy and....wait, did I say irrationally sleepy? Like, violently tired? Bzz, that's a flag. Happily in the past 4 months this has been a fairly infrequent occurrence, but I daresay I'm fighting off a migraine. The pressure, the strange perceptions, the sounds in my ears...that's all migraine stuff. Plus a minor headache. The actual pain hasn't hit hard yet, but all the surrounding elements make for a very uncomfortable day.

Which, thanks to delightful activities with my children, I'll remember as a really good one.

3/6/08 (happy 75th birthday grandpa Jim!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

3/5/08 Zoom to Zumba

I managed to get everything done (everyone fed and clothed for tomorrow) tonight in time to zoom out to catch a popular pass-only Zumba class at the Y. Last week, I looked in on the Wednesday class and the teacher looked fabulous, and I've been looking forward to it for days.

Me and 34 other people, it turns out. The passes go out at 7:15 for a 7:45 class, and they're gone within minutes. I had long since missed my chance when I arrived at 7:25. Fooey.

I consoled myself with an ordinary workout, including 15 forced minutes on the elliptical. Want to slow down -- even reverse -- time? The secret fountain of youth! Go on the elliptical! Minutes take hours. GOD what a drag.

My ankle tendons still bother me on and off all the time, but the achiness and buzzy feeling keeps travelling downward. Now it's almost at my arches. Something's happening, so I'm going to hold out a few more weeks (?) before I attempt running again. I'm not willing to let go of running yet.

Katrina's 17 months old today! Melissa said she was really happy and energetic today. The weather's been getting much nicer, and that combined with walking means a lot more outdoors time, and she loves it. Indoors, her latest trick is to push cars along the floor and say "choo choo!"

Katrina's following instructions now too, like if I tell her to throw something into the garbage, she'll do it. I haven't tried without gesturing yet. I found a video (which I'd upload if YouTube weren't doing site maintenance) of Gabriel at 14 months old, getting his jacket when I suggested he did, without gesturing. I learned later that this was an important sign that his receptive language was developing normally; it was only his expressive language that was delayed. Still, it's interesting that Gabriel learned to follow instructions quite a bit sooner. I like the video because he's so enthusiastic and joyful, doing his goofy bear-crawl to get to the jacket. It's amazing how much of the Gabriel I know now I can see in his 14-month-old self.

Here's Katrina's 17-month-old self nibbling on a snow pea. These days her mouth doesn't see a lot of green, so I had to get a photo.

Approaching the Golden Age of 18 months! So far, 16 has been one of her best, and despite some new demanding screeches and behaviors (Melissa said Katrina actually pushed on Melissa's cheek to get Melissa to turn her head back to continue a game of peek-a-boo!), 17 overall is looking pretty good too.

3/5/08 (happy birthday bonne maman!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

3/4/08 The Dance

I wish I'd caught this on video, a most heartwarming moment: Gabriel was singing "A Farmer in the Dell," and Katrina started "dancing" to it! It was more adorable than you can imagine!

I've been thinking more and more about the summer, and can't wait now! Even though we have no solid plans yet. It will really feel like a summer this time, because school's out. I need to start planning a trip back East, over July 4. Maybe I should tell my family back East about it first. (In the old days, it'd have been with a letter. Then a phone call. Then email. Now, they have to read about it on a blog!)

Stacey and her kids are really into letterboxing. It sounds like so much fun! That sort of thing will be a whole lot easier to do when I don't have to tote Katrina around in a jogging stroller. She can walk now, but she's still just a 17-month-old (tomorrow!) toddler, who's slow, clumsy, and verrry opinionated about directions. That'll be a lot of fun to do with all of them when she's older, and curiosity might get the better of me before then to take the boys.

She got her 15-month-old shots today (sigh, yes, we're way behind). 22 lbs with diaper and onesie. Dave took her and didn't make note of the ounces, figuring her clothes made up for it. Dads.

Got a new cell phone battery today, it's charging now. Sorry all, I'm back on the air tomorrow, adding my voice to the airwaves from the most un-PC location of my car!


3/3/08 The Late Shift

I went into work tonight, from 9pm-11pm. Sounds crazy? I got more done in two hours than I did all day. Not just because it was dead-quiet. Not just because there was no one around to ask questions of. Not just because driving there took 12 minutes with no traffic. No, because I wasn't tired. I was able to work when my mind was "on", when I could concentrate, rather than struggle all morning to stay awake and to think straight.

That's the main thing that's just not working about this current arrangement. In theory, it's great that I get to work at 8am, but in practice, I am so sleepy and draggy and have such a hard time pulling my thoughts together that it's actually painful. (And I shouldn't need to remind anyone that "go to bed earlier" just isn't in this equation; of course I'd do the obvious if it worked.)

I joke about it, but it's completely true, and really not that funny: I am a night person through and through. It's really a problem when the rest of your life isn't!

I picked Katrina up from Tonya's new house today, which I was dismayed to find is much farther than her old one. It's a 10-minute time savings, each way, as compared to driving to Melissa's, but I'm almost thinking that come August, I need to find childcare for Katrina that's 5 minutes away, not 15. I'd rather put her at Tonya's then, but as long as I'm still doing 3 separate pickups, the time driving and waiting at red lights takes a serious toll. Still, I'm not sure I can bring myself to put Katrina in a daycare center, even though (as Tonya herself volunteered) she could easily take it. Not a sensitive, delicate creature, that one, and I wouldn't worry about her adapting. But I still prefer the continuity of care that a family daycare can give, for a toddler who can't (exactly) communicate yet.

Before going back to work tonight, I did a few very important things.

First, I captured a moment of Julian kissing a tousled Katrina (very fuzzy but call it artistic license). Before she screeched and pushed him away, that is. I'm amazed how tolerant the boys are of the constant rejection.

Then I trimmed Julian's fingernails, and bonus! toenails.

Then I repaired Gabriel's beloved Bear, which had started to come apart at a seam. Few things make me feel more like a Mom than sewing back together a favorite stuffed animal.

And, after dinner, I sat on the couch and just talked to the boys. Gabriel rarely sits on the couch and makes himself a target to be talked to, but he happened to be there re-uniting with his new and improved Bear. Julian soon joined us, and we talked about the summer: making a trip back East (promising that they wouldn't miss fireworks), maybe some daycamps in July, first grade in August ("finally!").

I told them that I signed us up for a camping trip in September with some other families, which I'm so thrilled about I'm ready to get a family-sized tent and start camping now. We talked about where you sleep, how you get there, what happens if it rains (errr...), flashlights, campfires, and all sorts of things about camping. My Las Madres 2004 group did this trip last year, and it sounded like a total blast. I'm thrilled that I can start to think about doing these things again! (Other Moms will be there with babies; they're better at this than I am.)

The boys were both riveted until it was time for bed, and then time for me to sneak out and be a grownup in an office. My body might have been there, but there's no question where my heart was.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

3/2/08 An actual weekend

Is this possible? I think we had a real weekend! Like, the relaxing kind! The kind that makes you regret it's over, instead of anxious to get back to work!

Even though we did some truly drudgerous things Saturday (shopping for entry doors, trying to replace my dead cell phone at an AT&T store), we did a good amount of nuthin' too. When Dave and I first moved into our house, one of my favorite times with him was weekend afternoons, when we just hung around together, did things around the house or garage (after we built one that is), and were generally active, but also relaxed. Somehow, we unwittingly recaptured that same happy-hangin' feeling on Saturday.

The boys were completely absorbed watching some tree trimmers we hired to do some mega-pruning of our neighbors' redwoods. This is a serious job; the coast redwood in our neighbors' yard (brought here and planted by the man who built our house, but subdivisions didn't leave the tree in our yard) is pretty tall. It's had some dead branches in our view since we've moved here, and I'm thrilled they're gone. Except that now our neighbors' huge antenna is the chief eyesore (he's very proud of the fact they don't pay for cable).

Hmm, the before and after photos don't do the improvement justice:

Julian kept an eye on things, while the tree trimmer guy good-naturedly accepted his direction and supervision ("that machine is too loud!"). He was under strict orders to stay on the deck, because the branches coming down were big, heavy and really friggin' dangerous.

Katrina always welcomes a chance to go out, despite some unwelcome "help" from Julian. I probably talk more about Gabriel's affection for Katrina than Julian's, and it's different since he's older, but Julian also adores her and showers her with (too much) attention. I guess I just expected that more from Julian.

I don't know what's ailing my stomach, but it's reminiscent of pregnancy days, when it was irritated and bloated and painful all the time. As a result, I was up much of the night and was very tired today. I really resented that, because I was looking forward to another relaxed day with all 3 by myself (believe it or not!). Dave went on a motorcycle ride today, something I encourage him strongly to do and wish he'd do more often. I'm more happy for him than envious that he got to ride a longtime standby route of Mount Hamilton, Mines and (my favorite) Calavaras Roads.

A day of all three on my own wouldn't be complete without going to the Y, so our day started there. Then, Trader Joe's for some much-overdue grocery-shopping, and a stop by Stacey's house for some lemons. I'd had visions of going to a park, but of course, that's overcommitting and everyone was ready for some downtime at home.

When we got home, I kicked into full gear: kitchen cleanup, fridge organizing and purging, grocery unpacking, kids' lunches, fruit rotation, lemon arranging (the most important and fun part). A full hour and a half of getting things under control.

(As a side note, my freezers (yes, freezer*S*, I'm spoiled) are getting too full because I'm not cooking as much now. Does that sound backward or what! But, since I only make it to TJs' once every week or two, I figure I've got to stock up, I lose track of what we have, I haven't a prayer of a coherent meal plan, and I end up replicating some items and being short on others. It's much easier to keep a trim, efficient pantry and freezer when you're shopping 3-4 times a week as I had been when I was a happy housewife.)

Katrina held out until I was done, at which point I put her down for a nap, and prepared for a much-needed one myself.

(Another aside: THANK GOD all I have to do to "put her down" is literally to put her down -- just her satin sucking blankie and she's happy as a baby clam.)

Now, can a Mom take a much-needed nap when she has 4 and 6 year old boys -- brothers, no less -- alone together? Incredibly, yes. This is what they did while I was trying to restore myself: build a "garage" for Gabriel's Lego crane.

I'm not sure, but from things other moms relate, I think I'm in the minority in being able to tune out with a 4-year-old around. 6-year-old, sure, but 4 is borderline. In Julian's case, it's much about having an older brother, but he too has a remarkable attention span for his age.

How is it my boys -- and so far, my girl too -- play so well on their own, and don't require much interaction from me, and even reject it sometimes when I try to join in? Who trained who? Some of the stage was set by the intensity and focus Gabriel was born with. He had an astounding attention span from very early on; I'm certain we had nothing to do with that. (I have to disclaim credit and blame for much of how Gabriel is!)

But did it acclimate me to being hands-off, so that when Julian came around, our family was already in the habit of kids playing for 30-40 minutes on their own? Or is Julian wired that way too? Or, how much of Julian's hands-off-ness is because of Gabriel?

Julian is much more impressionable by nature, but there's always been more in his life to impress him. Julian always had Gabriel; he didn't need Mom as much for amusement. Indeed, Julian's life will always be heavily influenced by having an older brother, and a strong older brother at that. Julian wants to do what Gabriel does, he tries to join in Gabriel's play, and often watches as Gabriel goes about some project. Julian especially wants to go to Collins. When Gabriel was Julian's age, he had no idea kindergarten existed. Julian knows very well what kindergarten is and wants to do it too. Julian's life is far more influenced by having Gabriel in it than Gabriel's is by having Julian. How much of that is being the secondborn, and how much of that is having a more impressionable, open personality?

I get another data point from Katrina, a strong personality that's not the firstborn. Then again, she doesn't have the same sort of older-brother influence in her life as Julian does. Her life isn't as nearly as intertwined to a sibling as Gabriels' and Julians' lives are, partly due to an additional 10-month age difference, but mostly because her brothers have each other. If Julian were her only older brother, the dynamic between Katrina and Julian would be completely different (perhaps much like that of her cousins Aidan and Remi, who share the exact same age difference as Julian and Katrina). If she's less interested in trying to be like her older brother than Julian, it's hard to tell if that's because she has two older brothers and they have each other, or if that's just her personality. (It's very hard to imagine Gabriel being heavily influenced by an older sibling if he had one.)

Besides, while she has many of Gabriel's strong personality characteristics, they're hardly clones. She does cry if scolded, she doesn't cuddle, she makes far more effort at verbal communication, she's not as physical or athletic, her fine motor skills and usage of them in her play are much more developed than his were at this age.

I'm not sure why I find all this so interesting! And I sincerely doubt you do!

What does this have to do with the fact that I got to take a nap today while my boys played downstairs together? Well, it all winds back to: how is it that they're so independent? Did I raise them or did they (moreso Gabriel) raise me?

And what will I do if I'm all wrong and Katrina turns into a mommy-hanger-on-er who wants to yip-yap-yakkity-yak about princesses all day? Gah! Though, as all the text above demonstrates, maybe I need a kindred spirit in yip-yap-yakkity-yak.

Oh no, here comes Monday.