Saturday, March 31, 2007

3/31/07 Soccer Time

Today was Gabriel's first soccer class (and last gymnastics class - you'd think the Parks & Rec department would try to make sure that didn't happen!). I went briefly before Katrina's morning nap to check it out and take pictures.

I was surprised at how huge the group was! Dave said they didn't even do a roll call or anything. This photo is just half the class.

Gabriel seemed to have a good time, being his usual self and going with the flow.

Still, he has a very strong sense of order. When the coach lined up half the kids to kick into the goal, Gabriel happened to be first in line. But a few kids broke ranks and went ahead, and then Gabriel got lost in the shuffle. He told the coach that he was supposed to be second, but the coach didn't do much to keep the kids in order. Eventually Gabriel just went anyway, and never got a clear shot. My heart tugs hard when I see his utterly sincere face boldly telling the coach about the injustice! But he didn't cry or get upset, and just went with it. My tough little cookie.

One thing I can already see I don't like about soccer is some of the other parents. Many of them instruct their kids from the sidelines, and some of them don't even bother with the sidelines. This dad hawked over his poor kid for the simplest of exercises. Is this what we're in for with school too?

My little sportsman! I can't help but to be proud of Gabriel's jumping right into it, no complaints, no issues, just pure unabashed little-kid "ok let's do this." He might not always feel that way, and that's fine. But I've always appreciated his enthusiasm and willingness to try new things, just like when he was a 4-month-old baby in swim classes.

Julian played with Dave in the meantime, oddly not jealous of his older brother's activity.

After Dave brought the boys home this morning, it was clear Julian needed a serious nap. Sleepover is great, but we sure pay the price the next day. Julian was edgy and obnoxious, crying and complaining and throwing fits (and fists) at the slightest provocation. Somehow I got him to cooperate for a nap, and he slept for a good 3-1/2 hours.

Even more incredibly, Katrina took a good morning nap, and then set a personal best for the afternoon: a solid 2-1/2 hour nap, all overlapping Julian's!!

This nap windfall meant I could finally tackle some nagging cleanup needed in the garage. I'd intended just to clear a few things off my workbench, but it developed into a feeding frenzy, a full-on war on clutter. Sentiment was lost in the purge, and I was further fueled every time I found duplicate stacks of "just in case" items.

In the end, the driveway was full of junk destined for the dump tomorrow. And that's just in a small area in the garage, barely a tenth of it! Oh my does it feel good to get rid of things. Much of the things I'd kept made sense in my previous life, but nowadays I don't need to hoard shop rags or oil-catching plywood scraps.

Yes, that is a dismayed pack rat you see in the photo, gravely concerned that the contents of the bags might contain some scrap that could be useful someday. This sweep never would have happened if Dave hadn't been out at the time!

A productive day, topped off with a short and not-so-productive skate practice. But non-productivity just adds balance.


Friday, March 30, 2007

3/30/2007 The Clutch Cube

This video is just to give an idea of a typical Katrina moment, just lying on the ground happily playing with one of the all-time best baby toys, a "clutch cube." Boring for anyone except the most adoring of grandparents.

Easy to lounge around the ground when your brothers are at a sleepover!


3/29/07 Gabriel's colors

Today Gabriel was playing with this terrific Klutz book called "Totally Tape," that he got for his birthday from Aidan. I explained that it wasn't from cousin Aidan, but rather Aidan from my Las Madres group.

So Gabriel asked, "What color is he?" Surprised, I repeated, "What do you mean what color is he?" And Gabriel asked, completely sincere, "Is he white or brown?" (Most of his pre-K classmates' parents are from India.) I smiled and said, "Well...he looks like you." "Oh, so he's white then." Not ready for Gabriel to think of color as race yet, I said, "I don't know, I think you look kinda pink." And Gabriel said, "Reallllly??" and lifted up his shirt looking for the offending feminine color. After careful inspection, he concluded, "Nope. I'm white."

Katrina and goodness. She woke up at 1am, 2am and 5am last night. This morning she was very tired, but only took a half-hour morning nap. I was very much looking forward to a solid afternoon nap, but once again, she was awake and miserable after just half an hour. Argh! But the severity of the lack of sleep for a not-quite-6-month-old baby meant that more napping was urgent. I checked her, made sure there was no spitup or poop or anything, then with great apprehension, put her back down. She cried, but not screamed, for about 20 minutes. And then took a two-hour nap. Yay!

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on the front page of the Personal Journal section, about, of all timely things, closets. It talks about how closet designers and the exploding popularity for professional organizers are like therapists to people, whose lives are chaotic and overwhelmed and who find soothing comfort in a nicely organized closet. No wonder I've been so happy about mine. It's not a closet, it's a haven!

Tonight was our second-to-last skating class, and I got Dave to take some more video. This is very instructive; I can see major mistakes that I didn't think I was making! And that moves I've been struggling with for weeks don't look like much.

Front crossovers:

Back crossovers:

Mohawk, to the right (poorly executed, but I did make it from one foot to the other):

Three-point turn, to the left and on an outside edge (the easy kind):

Tonight, after Dave took this video, I started combining moves together and got a sense, for the first time, of choreography in skating, which brings it much closer to dance for me. Some of the most basic basic elements I'm getting comfortable enough with to let them flow from one to the next, and really have fun with it. Learning to skate is nothing like I'd imagined ("mohawk?!") but it's so, so much fun.

That said, I'll probably not take a class next session, and maybe instead try to find my original most fundamental love: a dance class. I haven't taken a dance class in over a year.

Julian had lunch by himself this afternoon while I was tending to Katrina, but when I came down I found that he'd set himself up with the daily funnies and was making every appearance of "reading" them! Newspapers at the table are a common thing around here, I'm afraid. Then again, how bad can it be to have a three-year-old who demands the New York Times with breakfast?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

3/28/07 T-shirt time

They say the way to keep from being a pack rat is to get rid of one article of clothing for every new one you buy. So when you just hauled off yet another 5 bags of stuff to Goodwill, as I did this afternoon, does that give you free rein? Not so fast...most of what got hauled off hasn't been worn in years! It's hard giving away old favorites, but I have to be realistic. I just don't wear sweatshirts anymore. I kept one.

My closet actually looks fuller than I expected now that it's populated. But putting clothes away in it, I see yet more things I should trim. A high signal-to-noise ratio closet is no place for sentiment.

Regardless, I have been ordering a LOT of new clothes lately, much of which I know will get sent back. Today I tried on T-shirts and shorts from Athleta (the "Shape Crew" and "Minaret short") with fabric so amazing I don't mine spending the money on them.

In fact, I learned years ago that it can be worth spending $40 on a T-shirt.

Here I am in my first expensive T-shirt, that I bought in 1995 from Patagonia. At the time, the only T-shirts I wore were ones I got at conventions and concerts, usually a men's size small. This was the first T-shirt I ever paid real money for, and the first that actually FIT me. Finally, you couldn't see my bra through the armholes!

And 12 years later, I'm still wearing it, and it's still basically the same color as when I bought it (though the fabric is definitely worn). So is that really an expensive T-shirt?

Despite all this working out and healthy eating, I have a nasty pooch on my tummy that honestly makes me look pregnant. I hate it! I've never had fat way up by my belly-button. I took this picture so I have something to remind me why I need to abandon my late-night treats. OK, so now it's out there for all to see! My fat-pocket explodes if I so much as look at a piece of bread. Blah. I've got to get this under control!

This afternoon, I attempted to work on my own version of standing ab exercises while sort-of dancing in the living room, music blasting. Gabriel came in to watch me, oddly interested. At first, anyway. You can see in this photo just how interesting I was.

Later, Gabriel worked on his "homework." You can see in this crummy camera video, not easy to take candidly, how much he hates doing homework!

I managed a very short photo session this afternoon, short thanks to Julian's recent efforts to claim the Doudna Pest Prize. Still, I'm always glad when I can get even one decent shot of all three.

Gabriel is always very cooperative now about pictures, at least when it involves holding his beloved little sister. He is so affectionate and thoughtful toward her, it is truly heartwarming.

This afternoon, a diaper blowout and a room full of afternoon sun presented a perfect opportunity for a photo session.

I'm no baby photographer though. It took many attempts to get Katrina on her tummy long enough to get a picture before she rolled over. And, her head is a little distorted even though I wasn't all that close. Still, it's pretty cute. I'm not exactly sure what to do with it though....I guess she won't hate me too much if I put it into a scrapbook.

(Man, she has a skinny little tush! Just like her older older brother.)

It's getting hard to keep Katrina on my lap and do things, since she's reaching out for everything. But she's very tentative and careful about it. Her hands are like slow little tentacles, worming their way gradually and steadily toward something. Very unlike Julian, who was grabby and fast.

The past two nights, Katrina's been absolutely wasted by 6pm. Last night and tonight, we stretched her as long as we could, but even then, she went to bed very willingly at 6:30pm. Last night, that meant she woke up once at midnight, and then again at 5:30am, and nursed heartily both times. Incredibly, she went back to sleep until about 8am, when I finally checked on her and found her just looking around the room, smiling.

And, best of all, two afternoons in a row of a decent afternoon nap, which I define as "wakes up happy," even if it's short. That's more like it, baby!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

3/27/07 Good Afternoon, Mom

This morning I rebelled against the thousands of things I have to do and hundreds of errands to run, and took Julian and Katrina to the park for a playgroup instead. It was for the kids...yeah, for the kids! Not for me to stand around and chat with Kristi, Betsy, Stacey and Lisa!

Julian said he wanted to play with Erin, but he wasn't exactly generous about sharing his toys with her or her sisters. He can climb up all the ladders now, to my surprise, though he got panicked and cried for me once on an easier ladder than this one.

It was cold though! I had to bundle a jacket over Katrina's adorable sweater that Bonne Maman made. She was happy like this for a while, but started getting quietly grouchy, so I left unusually early for me. I called it right: she almost fell asleep in the car on the way home, and needed to eat.

I braced myself for another afternoon, made even more complex by another contractor. I've become overly sensitive to having to coordinate times and deal with strangers in my house, and absolutely hate the prospect of it, even though I was very looking forward to finalizing my closet setup.

California Closets was on time and professional, and the installer was very, very helpful. He had to go back to the shop twice to fix mistakes in his written instructions, and also got me some extra stationary shelves made to move drawers around. I almost thought I should tip him.

I'm thrilled with my new closet setup. The "long hang" (where you hang dresses) should have been tucked way way in the back to begin with. That's essentially storage for me, it doesn't need a prominent position. Shelves for my day-to-day clothes, on the other hand, need to be easily accessible. I've rearranged shelves since taking this picture, and am delighted that the shelf pegs can be moved around without pliers.

I've gotten rid of so much Stuff that all my day-to-day clothes fit in two laundry baskets. These two big white laundry baskets contain all my pants, shorts, T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts. The dresser has underwear, bras, socks, camisoles, things like that; and a few dressy and special-occasion items are on top of the dresser.

Actually, I'm not as frugal as this makes it appear: I also have a lot of workout clothes, including things I only use for specific activities (cycling stuff, swim stuff, dance stuff). Then there's cold-weather gear, special-occasion clothes, sweaters and such, much of which can really be stored rather than put in a prominent place in the closet. Still, I'm psyched that just about everything in my closet will actually get worn on a regular basis.

Incredibly, there was never a time during the closet reconfiguration and talking to the installer that I was being pulled by more than one child at once.

Even more incredibly, Katrina took a real afternoon nap today. A whole hour and a half!! With the boys, that would have been a bummer short nap. But the main thing I don't like about Katrina's ultra-short afternoon naps is that she doesn't like them either. Today, after a decent sleep, she woke up gurgly and wiggly and cute and happy. And for me, having some real time off -- and a happy baby when that time "off" was over -- made a huge difference in how the whole afternoon went. Yay!

Gabriel wanted to play with Play-Doh this afternoon, a relatively rare thing for him. He cleaned up the whole family room first, then spread out a mat to work on. Of course, the rug was still covered with teeny bits of Play-Doh afterward anyway. After dinner, the boys played together happily with it for quite a while. Then they started arguing during cleanup and Gabriel held the whole canister of Play-Doh over Julian's head as if to hit him, and it all went downhill from there. Sigh.

Still, today we closed on an uptick. I needed that.


p.s. Oh, I forgot: Gabriel didn't get into the alternative school we'd applied for, so he'll be going to Collins Elementary starting in late August for kindergarten. I'm glad we know where he's!!

3/26/07 Bugs?

The delusions software engineers put themselves through after struggling for hours with a problem:

"It must be a compiler bug!"

"It can't be anything I did, I didn't touch that part of the code!"

"The check is in the mail!"

I swear the problems I'm having with TurboTax are bugs. It's not me, it can't be me, it must be a program bug, I didn't touch that part of the code, really!

I resent spending so much time on taxes. I have small children, for Pete's sake.

Katrina and naps....argh! After trying to get Katrina to go back to sleep for a decent nap this afternoon, by enduring half an hour of crying, futilely, I got her out of the crib with relief. She was red-faced and stressed and ticked off. I felt terrible. Minutes later, she beamed her beautiful happy smile at me, and then reached out to touch my face with both hands and an adorable little baby-gurgle sound. I felt even terribler.

I'm so conflicted. I really love this baby. But I'm not loving the baby life right now. I'm into little kids, not babies. So often, baby care conflicts with playing with little kids. Baby deserves better. Little kids deserve better. And me...I guess I get what I deserve.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

3/25/07 Gabriel and Julian go to an open house

Today a local realtor, whose flyers we've been getting for years, was holding an open house nearby. Being nosy neighbors, I figured we should go check it out. I also wanted to meet the realtor, as he claims to be an expert of our neighborhood. And I was more than impressed when he not only remembered our house, but knew how long we'd been there and that it has an "unusual" layout (which is a very nice way of putting it).

Overall it was a nice house, nicely landscaped, well-maintained, nice floors. But the kitchen cabinets looked...well, old, like they'd been painted lots of times, though with obviously new knobs. And opening a cabinet revealed a piece of unadhered shelf paper on top of an unfinished particle-board shelf, with exposed wires and pipes. This is what you get for almost $1.2 million in Silicon Valley, folks!

Gabriel and Julian were very cute today in their new shoes (which they're very proud of) and some new T-shirts (which unfortunately are very limited at LL Bean and Gabriel's doesn't fit all that well).

I'm amazed how much more substantial these new shoes are. OK, the bright new white might be a little dorky, but it won't take long for them to fix that. Though I'd really like Gabriel to learn to tie laces, I have to say I'm very glad they both have shoes they can take on and off themselves. Good Mom for getting them their first pair of really good shoes? Or Bad Mom for this being their first pair of really good shoes?

This morning Katrina was very excited by the Sunday funnies, a popular ritual in this house.

Darn, this photo is out of focus, but it was the best I got of a very cute scene of Julian and a bowl of strawberries, blueberries and mango. I know it's greatly inadequate to be proud of the fact that I always have some sort of yummy fruit for our big Sunday breakfasts, when it should be something they get every morning. In my defense, breakfast is typically hectic here, and Gabriel refuses to eat fruit in his cereal, though I often get to put banana in Julian's cereal, and they almost always have fruit during the day too. Come to think of it, this bowl Julian has is really quite some bounty for most of the world. I'm glad he appreciated it.

Another busy, full, intense day, made so partly by Dave's going to work this afternoon. Gabriel asked him, Innocent Kid Comment of the Day: "Dad, is work open every day?" A
"Cats in the Cradle" moment if there ever was one!

But, since Dave was at work, and Katrina was up from a much-too-short nap again (waah!), I decided to make the boys' dinner really early, like starting at 4:30. I was amazed how well it worked. They were sitting down to dinner at 5pm, and had already cleaned up the family room, with no drama, no threats, no timers, no putzing, no nagging!! Now those are 'No's I could use more of!!