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Guido is spending another night at the vet's. Last Tuesday morning, I found a largish spot of blood on the twins' bed that turned out to be coming from Guido's mouth. His bottom jaw was broken in the middle, and his lip was ripped loose and bleeding. I got the three little kids packed up, put Guido into the carrier, and got us all to the local vet, who was able to take a look at him right away. They did some blood work and X-rays and then went ahead with a surgery to wire his jawbone back together and sew the lip up. Guido came home the next day.

The next evening (Thursday), he knocked his jaw loose, and I had to take him back in for a second surgery on Friday. Initially, he looked good after that surgery, but he refused to eat on his own, so we had to force-feed him. He knocked his jaw loose again. On Sunday, we took him to a different vet clinic for a second opinion. We found out that the medication the first vet had told us was pain medication was actually an anti-inflammatory that didn't do much for pain. And he had an another fracture further back in his jaw. And his tongue and lip were infected. And all 4 of his canines were chipped. So the second vet performed another surgery to try to fix everything and to place a feeding tube since Guido hasn't been able to eat or drink much in the past week. As part of the treatment, they bonded his canine teeth together to try to keep his mouth stable as he heals up. Except that as he came out from the anesthetic, he managed to break the acrylic bonds and get his teeth free. They're going to try to bond them together more strongly tomorrow.

Gah. I'm scared that he's just such a strong and ornery cat that he's not going to leave his mouth alone and let it heal up. He's about 10 years old, but up until this injury, he was pretty healthy and seemed like he had a few more good years left.

Silence seems to have taken it in stride that we're not letting her go out anymore.

family update

Iris turns 6 tomorrow! For her birthday circle at school, she chose to bring daifuku as a treat to share and wants me to read Anno's Hat Tricks to the class. She's doing well in school, although first grade has been harder than kindergarten. In particular, reading is not coming easily for her, although she's making slow progress. She's been really interested in science and engineering lately. Ben took her to a Hacker Scouts open lab, where she and a friend had fun making rubber band guns and seed bombs. Iris has also been riding her bike a lot lately - on weekends she always asks if we can go for a bike ride. At the Berkeley Juggling Festival a couple of months ago, she saw a girl about her age (Frank Olivier's daughter) riding a unicycle and wanted to learn. So, there's a 16" unicycle on the way.

Zinnia has a best friend, named Maddy, at her preschool. The two of them are inseparable on the days they both attend, and they spend most of their time collecting things in baskets or purses and taking care of baby dolls. They wait for each other to wash their hands and get their lunchboxes out of their cubbies so they can sit down together at the lunch table (there's a rule against saving seats). Zinnia is still very self-motivated and independent, which is both wonderful and challenging. She recently started drawing and writing a bunch (probably because Iris often draws for an hour or so after school), and she made her first drawing that was recognizable as a human figure.

Neil has a very active imagination. When he gets to preschool in the mornings, Teacher Terra usually says "Hi, Neil!", and he says, "I'm not Neil; I'm a dragon/ a bad bird/ a scary robot/ a friendly tiger." He's potty-trained enough to wear underwear everyday, but he hardly ever remembers to go on his own. Either I have to remind him, or he realizes he needs to go only after his underwear is wet. Helping me in the kitchen is one of his favorite things to do. Whenever I start to cook something or even just serve a snack, he pulls up the stool to the counter and asks, "Can I help with you?" He's usually my stirrer when I'm baking. However, he tries to lick anything that might possibly taste good (including the top of the salt shaker), so it's a little tricky to have him in the kitchen with me.

Wendell has recently started crawling. He went straight to a proper cross-crawl rather than doing the army crawl (slithering). He also lifts his butt in the air and stands on his hands and tiptoes, like a Stegosaurus. He's still a very happy baby, and I'm amazed at the amount of time that he'll play contentedly on the floor. He loves when his big siblings pay attention to him, laughs at all of their crazy dancing, and doesn't seem to mind being lifted into Iris's lap (when she's sitting on the floor behind him). He stopped sleeping through the night at around 6 months and now wakes up 1-2x per night. But he goes back to sleep easily after having his diaper changed and nursing for a few minutes, and he doesn't have any trouble falling asleep in the crib by himself. :-D He LOVES baby food, and it's really rewarding to cook for him. Some of his recent favorites have been split pea soup, pureed broccoli with ricotta cheese, butternut squash with butter and cinnamon, white bean puree, oatmeal with pureed peaches, and yogurt with pureed blueberries. Anything in the squeeze pouches is a big hit too.

That kitchen meme

I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese boards, cheese knives, crepe makers, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, pie funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags (broken), banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, fondue sets, healthy-grills, home smokers, tempura sets, tortilla presses, electric whisks, cherry stoners, sugar thermometers, food processors, stand mixers, mincers, bacon presses, bacon slicers, mouli mills, cake testers, pestle-and-mortars, gratin dishes, apple corers, mango stoners (he's a stoner, man, a mango stoner) and sets of kebab skewers languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards.

Back to school!

Iris had her first day of first grade yesterday, and Neil and Zinnia had their first day "on the preschool side" last Thursday. (They were in the toddler room at the same school last year.) It was great to have the kids so excited to go back to school and see most of their friends again, and for me to know most of the parents and kids from last year. Iris's school has a little party the first morning, and it was a bit intimidating to be there last year when I didn't know anyone very well. Both schools are starting to feel a bit like home to me, and I'll be a bit sad to leave if we move and have to start at other schools.

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Wendell's 4-month checkup was today. He weighed in at just 3 oz more than last month, which is not good. (He's now at the 25th percentile for weight, down from the 50th percentile last month and the .) On the bright side, his head is bigger, he's longer (97th percentile there!), and his muscle strength is developing pretty well. The plan is to pump at night before going to bed (because he's sleeping 10+ hours at night) and give him that bottle the next afternoon to try to get a little more milk into him. He gets another weight check next month.

In other news, Iris is enjoying Spanish camp; Ben's sister has been visiting and is helping look after the kids; we had a nice day trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium; the garden is yielding pattypan squash, green beans, and tomatoes; and I've been obsessed with figuring out how we can bike places as a family next spring (inspired by Emily Finch and this guy with 5 kids on a bike.)

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I'm so glad we had a fourth child. In many ways, this is the first time I've enjoyed having a baby.

With Iris, I was completely new to parenting, and doing anything with a baby seemed so difficult. I worried about getting everything right, and in some ways, I overestimated my influence on her. I didn't have much of an idea of how much of her behavior was due to her personality and how much was the result of my parenting. I was always waiting for her to get to the next stage - "It'll be so great when she can eat food / when she can walk / when she can talk / when she's out of diapers..." (Before having kids, I particularly looked forward to the elementary school age because it's the time to do all the fun family stuff.)

With Zinnia & Neil, I was just completely overwhelmed with having two newborns at the same time. It's common for parents of twins to say that they don't really remember much of the first 6 months - it's just a haze. It seemed crazy at the time and impossible that the super-needy stage would ever end. But looking back now, I can say that I got through it, but I don't remember how.

Taking care of Wendell seems really easy by comparison, and he's also an easy baby (healthy, nurses well, takes a bottle, doesn't spit up, sleeps from 9 pm - 5 am on his back and in a crib, doesn't mind the car seat, and is often content to hang out in the wrap or the bouncy seat and watch whatever we're up to.) I feel like we completely lucked out - he could've been colicky triplets.

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We just finished 2 weeks of Ben being back at work, and we have 1 more to go before he takes the rest of his leave. This week was a little rough with Neil & Zinnia having spring break but Iris having school. Zinnia has been particularly difficult in terms of just getting into everything and not doing what I ask her to. It's interesting to see just how little she seems to care about pleasing me. Neil and Iris usually do what I ask of them, and when they don't, they see it as a big conflict and get upset about the whole thing. Zinnia just calmly ignores me or tells me "No, I don't want to." I have the feeling that her independence and not being a people-pleaser will serve her well later in life, but aagh! It's really hard to keep on top of her while taking care of a baby, so I keep finding her covered in yogurt or magic marker or climbing up the outside of the staircase or eating my gummy vitamins (only once - childproof caps aren't, it turns out). She's getting to be very interested in words and letters, and every time I read a story, she asks what some of the words mean.
Neil has been a little more independent lately. He started going to the bathroom on his own (rather than it always being at my prompting), and he's been trying to dress himself.
We dyed eggs today, which Iris had been looking forward to all week. Three small children, 18 hard-boiled eggs, solid colors, no big spills or dyed body parts.
I managed to get almost half of my garden weeded today. I'm hoping to get most of the rest weeded tomorrow and then start planting during the week. I think I have more tomato seedlings than places to plant them.
Wendell is continuing to grow, and for the past couple of weeks, he has been consistently sleeping from ~8pm - 2am, which is wonderful. I will be very happy when he starts going back to sleep easily after the 2am wakeup.

Pictures, finally!

Neil and Zinnia try on the baby clothes. Neil and Zinnia try on the baby clothes. What you can't see here is that Zinnia managed to squeeze 2 pairs of baby pants on underneath her dress.
Wendell loves tummy time. Wendell loves tummy time.
Brothers Brothers
Neil has taken to sleeping with quite the menagerie. Neil has taken to sleeping with quite the menagerie.

One more Wendell thing that I forgot to mention

When I first held Wendell, I noticed a "birthmark" on him, which surprised me because the big mole on Iris's arm didn't appear until she was 4 months old. It looked like a smallish light brown mole right on the corner of his wrist. A few hours later, I noticed that it looked more like a scab (dark reddish-brown). The pediatrician thought that it was probably a blister that had formed from Wendell sucking on his wrist in utero and that the top had come off the blister. At any rate, it's gone now, but Wendell does like to put his wrists in his mouth.