Friday, September 14, 2007

9/14/07 The PTA Picnic

I picked Gabriel up from school again this afternoon, and in doing so, realized that a natural pattern has reveal itself, the sort of thing I was hoping would happen to help me figure out how to arrange our days.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I pick Julian up from Tonya's preschool at 12:30. So far, I've had to wake Katrina pretty much every day to do so. Back at home, Julian plays while I give Katrina lunch, and have some lunch myself, clean up the kitchen, and if I'm on the ball, do some pre-staging for dinner (just how old is that cauliflower?). Sometimes we have some time for quick grocery pickup, then we have time to get Gabriel at 2:30. By the time we get home, I'm on baby-nap alert.

So it's about two hours between picking up the two boys. On one hand, two hours is ample so I don't get into trouble with basics like travel and baby lunch, and it just about makes me do drudgeries like emptying the dishwasher and having the kitchen ready for the dinner scramble.

On the other hand, it's not really enough time to do anything else with either; no park time or classes or anything fun. But, it's lunchtime(ish) anyway, and I'm finding that dinnertime goes much better on those days, since I almost have to think about it before 6pm ("oh yeeeahh I was going to make that chicken....too bad it's frozen solid").

So it's been no trouble so far picking up Gabriel on MWF afternoons (with apologies to Erin, but really, she's better off), and it accidentally schedules me to do very necessary things, and with plenty of time to do them.

So should I drop CDC care for Gabriel MWFs? No, because, taa-daa, I found someone to take care of Katrina on MWF mornings! (Unfortunately it's about a 15-minute drive, but since her pickup will be at 1pm, and she'll have had lunch, I'll have plenty of time to pick up Julian and Katrina without any sticky transitions.) And I don't want to have to drop him off smack dab in the middle of that time.

But I potentially could drop Gabriel off at school Tu-Thurs mornings. So really, what I need is CDC care for Gabriel MWF mornings, and Tu-Thurs afternoons, when I'll have Julian and Katrina all day and won't stick to a nice neat timeline anyway.

Well, I'm not making any changes until I'm settled into MWF mornings free from all three. Besides, as soon as I cast something in stone, and write a few big checks for it, Katrina will change her naps and nothing will work.

Whew. Is suburban-full-time-mom-chauffeur scheduling really such a compelling topic? And that's without any classes, volunteering, or playdates! Quick, open a Microsoft Project file! Identify the critical path, the milestones, the deadlines!

Tonight, Gabriel's school's PTA held a Family Picnic in the play area behind the school, which is right next to Portal Park. It wasn't very well attended, and we were the only family who actually laid out a blanket and sat down. Everyone else sat at the picnic tables on the asphalt, but that's no place for a crawling baby.

Mostly, Dave sat and played with Katrina, while I ran around with the boys a little and watched them chase some guy's dog, who'd just come to the park to chase balls, unaware of the swarming attention of little boys.

Gabriel and Julian sure had fun though, and asked the (very nice) man lots of questions about the dog. I can hear it now: "Mommy, can we have a puppy?"

As usual, Katrina had a grand time being outside, looking at people, playing with everything around her. Just like Gabriel as a baby; absolutely loved -- lived -- to be outside.

Feeling like it was a bit of a bust not to talk to anyone, I set aside my residual schoolgirl shyness and approached some parents sitting at the tables to ask if there were any PTA members here, or if it was just parents, or what. I had a nice conversation with a couple whose son was also starting kindergarten, so they too were newbies like me.

But, the husband had been on the Sunnyvale planning commission some years back, so knew a lot about the politics of cities and school districts. I learned quite a bit from them. There are now five kindergarten classes at Collins (we'd been told three was the max they had room for), and two of them are overflow from other schools?! The couple I talked to are zoned for a different school altogether, one that was so filled with grade-school kids that it punted on kindergarten altogether, and instead is sending the kids to Collins. But, the new classes are also an experimental sort that combines kindergarteners and first-graders for certain subjects, just like at the alternative school that Gabriel didn't get into. Very interesting! I wonder what the whole story is -- is this a pilot program, will this overflow reflect in the class arrangements for the next grades, are they going to split the first grade class schedules now....?

Another man we talked to briefly (like with many people, conversation often starts with how adorable Katrina is) commented that his son was at Collins because he was 600th on the waiting list for Faria, one of the other alternative schools in our district. Faria is known for being in the top 10 for test scores in the entire state, and it's very academically-oriented and competitive. I wonder what the long-term outcomes of Faria kids are. Will the extra emphasis on academics make up for the intense pressure? Over 600 on the waiting list, wow. It's hard to imagine what effect Faria vs. Collins would have on a kid's life while looking at the kids tonight, running around the playground and fields like crazy, just being kids.


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