Saturday, August 25, 2007

8/25/07 The picnic

This morning, I took Katrina running at Rancho San Antonio -- about half the distance and one-tenth the climbing from my galactic effort last Thursday, but rewarding nonetheless. To me, anyway. She mostly slept through it.

Meantime, Gabriel and Julian went to their first Saturday morning swim lessons together at DACA. Well, together at the same time, but a different class. Julian is a "rainbow" level right now, but his teacher said he's almost a "green." Dave was impressed with the way the classes were run, and thinks they both got a good lesson in. Though my intent is for Dave to take the boys on Saturday mornings, I'll miss my time alone with Gabriel on Tuesday mornings for swim class.

After running, I went straight to Portal Park for a Las Madres 2006 picnic, with my 2006 baby. I toyed with the idea of leaving my 2002 and "2004" babies at home, but I'd told Betsy they were coming, since Gina and Andrew wanted to play with them. So as much for her sake as theirs, I had Dave bring the boys to the park.

It worked! We didn't see much of Gabriel or Gina, but as is often the case, if you can find one, you can usually find the other. Julian and Andrew played a lot together too.

All four ran around the bushes together in teams of two, hiding, chasing, and calling the other "team" names. Andrew and Julian tried to keep up with the older two, but were at a serious disadvantage -- not just in age, size, strength, speed; but in force of personality.

Katrina had little interest in swinging, pausing in her relentless, piercing, downright obnoxious screeching just long enough for this photo.

Meantime, Julian pushed Blake, the younger brother (and just 4 weeks older than Katrina) of his pal Kyan at Tonya's. (Blake and Kyan's mom is a very serious athlete, who's done something like 15 marathons, including the elite Boston Marathon.)

After the park, we had a fairly peaceful afternoon at home. We all went out to dinner at Spoons later, but with mixed results. Katrina was impossible, with her high-pitched screech cutting right through the whitenoise at the restaurant and making it unbearable for anyone within 20 feet. I did my level best to distract her, feed her, entertain her; but it's hard while cutting up broccoli for boys and trying to eat something myself too, and she was horribly demanding.

Then we trucked the whole family to the new Whole Foods, with a lack of eggs as a thin excuse to check it out again. At 7pm on a Saturday night, we still had trouble parking. It was packed once again, and no wonder. The place is mind-blowing. I'd like to go back and check out the olive-oil and balsamic-vinegar tasting bars, the Asian Food Express area (with dim sum and sushi chefs), the changing room (for all the organic-cotton clothing), the soup bar, the massage room, the Market Bistro area, the enormous chocolate and sundae bar, and, of course, the bakery. This is the biggest Whole Foods west of Austin Texas, says the newspaper. But an overtired Katrina sapped the fun out of it again, and we hurried through the new express checkout (one line for six express cash registers). It'll be fun to explore it without a screeching baby in tow.

In fact, I could do without the screeching baby in general. The screeching, anyway. The baby, I'll keep.


Friday, August 24, 2007

8/24/07 The cackle

First there's the calm. Then there's the silence. The absence of movement in the immediate vicinity. Then, from a distance, the cackle. A creaky, squeaky, intermittent sound that vaguely resembles a giggle.

That sound means: SPRINT to the office before little creepy wormy finds the power button on my computer.

I don't know what it is about this one tiny sliver of green light that attracts babies so much. She goes back to it again and again.

Meantime, there's a perfectly good Mac to fool with right next to my Dell. I guess she's a Windows person.

If the office door is closed, there's always the sport Follow My Brother Around And Try To Take What He Has And Put Up A Fuss When He Doesn't Give It To Me.

To wit: the cackle, and the ensuing Fuss (and a surprisingly patient and tolerant Brother):

Julian is still playing with a near-dead Trader Joe's balloon. Boy, can he ever be sweet and cute...without Gabriel around, that is!

Katrina has really gotten impossibly mobile, requiring constant attention to see where her curious little paws take her. Such as: out the back door and alllmost down the deck stairs, save for one brother putting up a barrier, giving searching Mom the extra few seconds needed to snatch baby up before a tumble. (Mom naturally inspected the office first when the It's Too Quiet alarm went off.)

So we spent some time outside this fine afternoon.

But, the days of sitting quietly on a blanket with a gurgling baby happy to chew on a toy are long over. Instead, Katrina chased a ball, happy to crawl on the hard pavement.

Then she chased Julian and the lawnmower he was playing with, determined to score the toy, until he got bored with the lawnmower and "parked" it, leaving it free for her to play with. Then, picking up redwood needles and throwing them into a dump truck kept her busy for a long, long time.

Now I have three sets of hands, face, and feet to wash after a stint in the backyard.

It was impossible to pry any information from Gabriel about what he did at kindergarten today. In fact, one thing I dislike the most about his cockeyed schedule is that I'm not there to pick him up or drop him off at his classroom. Instead, the kind CDC staff does that, but they're not going to convey subtle information about his interaction with classmates and teacher, what he's doing, who he talks to. Knowing what it's like in his class matters a lot more now than for preschool or daycamp.

And then there's the cost of the CDC -- over $600 a month for before-and-after kindergarten care. Without the CDC, it'd mean four separate trips on MWFs for pickups and dropoffs, only one of which Dave could do, and waking Katrina every afternoon from a nap to pick up Gabriel at 2:45. An AM schedule would mean the boys' school schedules are in sync, and don't conflict with the essential baby/toddler afternoon nap. I'd still put Gabriel in the CDC for some time, but it'd be optional. At the moment, his "PM" schedule forces me to make a choice between $600 a month and never seeing his class or teacher, versus all-day chauffering and having to wake a napping baby every afternoon.

I've heard now from several people now that it is possible to change schedules with the school. The school itself, of course, discourages it to the point of having no official procedure to make changes. No surprise there. So I need to start the arduous process of advocacy, begging, pleading, pushing, with no guarantees, right away.

And now, a new benefit of school: the weekend means a little more. Or, a little less when homework starts creeping in!


Thursday, August 23, 2007


It's official! Gabriel's a schoolkid!

I sent him to school in a shirt that said "CLASS OF 2020" (what a cool year, and ripe for optometric puns), slightly concerned that it'd permanently mark him as the son of a cuteness-geek, but it was anticlimactic. I don't think anyone got it.

In the same vein as some of my Mom friends, I attempted to take some video of Gabriel talking about kindergarten. Mostly, they show how poor my interviewing skills are.

First, Gabriel talking about kindergarten (long and boring):

Next, I asked an important question that I forgot (short and boring):

His school had no choice but to finally release the closely guarded secret of who his teacher would be and what room he'd be in.

Not surprisingly, there were no signs or anything directing parents what to do or where to go. A few were even more clueless than I was, unaware of class lists or where the classrooms were.

I went into the office to ask what to do, and, with another mother, stood and watched three people behind the desk looking at a computer screen. After a few minutes, two of them walked away together without looking up, and another idly went into a back room to copy something. No one looked up, let alone noticed we were there.

The other mother told me her daughter's name wasn't on a class list at all, and school started in 5 minutes! She was understandably agitated at the lack of attention. We exchanged comments that there should be extra help on this first day. Then another administrator, whose hands appeared to be full with a line full of first-graders, found the bandwidth to inject that things were crazy today and that everyone was overloaded. Uh-huh. With what? Apparently not with attending to parents in the school office. And it's not like the chaos of the first day of school should be any surprise to them. I don't accept this as a reason.

I did the other mother a favor and left, figuring my business was less important. If I followed confused throngs enough, I might stumble into the right place.

And I did. Room 3. Finally, some instructions. Kids, line up. Something he'll be hearing for years.

Then, his teacher appeared. She first had to negotiate the transition between the "AM" and the "PM" group (which Gabriel is). So, the AMers came into the classroom from recess and sat down.

Then, finally, we were allowed inside to settle our PMers in. Find his cubby, put away his lunch (which I had to pack since there was no information sent to us or on the Web site about signing up for the school lunch), say goodbyes, and leave, please.

I kneeled by Gabriel and gave him a big hug, and started to tell him I was proud of him....but didn't make it through the words. I started to choke up, he looked at me quizzically, and before I could embarrass him and myself, I gave him one last hug and left quickly. Out of his new world and back into mine.

I can't understand why I was so upset, so emotional. I'm about the most detached Mom I know, and he's about the most emotionally low-maintenance and self-sufficient kid I know. I'm not in the slightest bit worried about him, and I'm genuinely delighted he's starting school. But it's a big, if wonderful, change.

I'm annoyed at the school though. Other schools have playgroups and lemonade socials, and encourage the classmates, parents and teachers to meet each other and get to know each other. So far, communication and interaction have been at best, lame, and at worst, discouraged. I was glad to see that in the information packet Gabriel brought home, that there's an email address for his teacher.

Julian and Katrina were at Tonya's today, so I went for a long-overdue run at Rancho. No better way to work through my unexpected separation anxiety.

I don't know what possessed me, but at the last minute, I changed my route to include the famous PG&E Trail. I knew it was long, and heard it was steep, but I had no idea how steep. And high! At the pinnacle, I was rewarded with views all the way to Stanford, including The Dish and Hoover Tower, and Shoreline and Moffett Field, and probably the Pacific Ocean if there weren't mountains in the way. And, of course, a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Another high.

Later, at dinner, I tried to pry information from Gabriel about his day at kindergarten. Predictably, he had little to say about it. Something about a dot-to-dot puzzle that only went up to the number 5, and about not finishing a project because he had to go to the bathroom.

Idly, I told Dave that I'd gone running after dropping Gabriel off, and told him about how at the last minute, I'd taken a longer route, not realizing how incredibly steep it was, with a few shady level breaks, how I was barely even at a walking pace on the steepest hills, that I'd think I was reaching a summit, only to discover more hill around a corner, then made it to the top and had fabulous views, then had to skip down the really steep downhills.... was unusually quiet. I looked up from my task of shoveling food into Katrina's mouth, to see two sets of wide eyes riveted on me. My trail story fascinated the boys, and they were filled with questions about it. It made me proud, to tell them about my adventures. I want them to remember me this way when they're young men and I'm in a nursing home. Meantime, this is another great new thing to engage them with at dinner. And Katrina thought the skipping demonstration was hilarious.

Katrina was tired from a bad afternoon nap, and went to bed early. Meantime, the boys were absolute angels, even by "brother" least they were when I left to meet my Mom friends for Coffee. This was an important evening for us, since most of us experienced the first day of kindergarten today. On the whole, this rite of passage affected the Moms more than our kids!

And tomorrow, back to school. For years.


Today's route. Don't be impressed by "Miles." Be impressed by "feet of climbing" -- whew!

10) Parking -> Coyote -> PG&E -> Upper High Meadow ->
Upper Wildcat Canyon -> Wildcat Loop (NE) -> Coyote -> Parking

Results for route: 12V456STUWV21
Route Miles Up Down
12 0.29 0 30
2V 0.51 195 0
V4 1.60 500 310
45 1.86 1020 100
56 1.26 0 520
6S 1.37 0 450
ST 0.12 0 20
TU 0.53 0 180
UW 0.25 50 0
WV 0.67 120 0
V2 0.51 0 195
21 0.29 30 0

Total Distance = 9.26 Miles, 1915 feet of climbing

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

8/22/07 The Opening

Today the biggest Whole Foods in the West (no kidding!) opened in Cupertino. It's huge, and has a "bistro," space for cooking classes, and a greatly expanded produce section, including a large section for Asian produce. I can't wait to see it! We needed some staples anyway, so I packed up the bunch. Suspecting it might be crowded, I still thought we'd drive by it to see if we could squeeze in a check-it-out visit.

For-GET it! I couldn't even get into the parking lot! And I've never seen so many pedestrians on trafficky, noisy, busy Stevens Creek Blvd. It's already a real stretch taking 3 kids grocery-shopping; going to the opening day at a brand-new Whole Foods is insane.

So we bailed to Trader Joe's, always a worthwhile alternative. A nice manager there asked me if the kids had been good enough for balloons, and before I could signal behind the boys' backs "NOOOOOO!!!" the damage had been done. In fact, the boys had never behaved better, and certainly deserved a reward. But please, stickers!

Even before we got in the car, they were batting the balloons at each others' heads. Then I had to untie the balloons from their wrists and untangle the ribbons to get their carseat straps on. Then I had to confine all 3 balloons to the wagon back, so they wouldn't flap around in the car and block my view, against loud protests from the boys. Then I had to get the balloons out of the car without losing them, already toting 3 bags of groceries and a very grouchy demanding baby. Then Gabriel kept taking Julian's balloon, stirring up pitiful wails that just couldn't be ignored. Then they fought over Katrina's balloon. Then the boys pulled the balloons all around the house, constantly getting in my face or getting in the way in the kitchen. Then I banished the balloons upstairs, to new choruses of cries, threats ("if you put my balloon upstairs, I'm going to....") and insults ("you're STUPID mommy!").

On balance, the crowds at Whole Foods were looking mighty good as compared to those confounded balloons.

After Gabriel recovered from the balloon banishing, he went outside and played quietly until dinnertime. Turns out, he was quite busy building a dirt road. He couldn't understand it when we explained to him that we went through a lot of effort to pave the pathway so that we didn't have to walk in dirt.

Katrina is little fun to feed these days. There are moments when she's semi-content, when you've hit upon the right item to shove in her mouth, and the acceptable pace at which to do it. But the Fuss, and the accompanying shrieky whine is always brimming, ready to be unleashed at the slightest blip.

Tonight I got lucky with a quinoa-broccoli-chicken combination, but she kept grabbing the spoon and knocking food everywhere. Finally I remembered that at some point with the boys, I had to give them their own spoon to hold to keep their hands busy. So I gave her a spoon to hold, and then it occurred to me to try to show her how to use it. Right away, she protested and pushed my hand away, but I managed somehow to guide the spoon with a little food into her mouth.

It was amazing. She stopped, looked at me squarely in the eye, held my gaze for a moment, then a broad smile lit up her whole face. "Ah-HAH!" she was saying. "I can do this MYSELF!!!" After that, she made serious efforts at putting the spoon into the bowl, scooping, and then putting it into her mouth. Her coordination was all over the place; she has no idea how to do it, but it was clear she was understood the sequence. Julian was 12 months old when he started to spoon his own yogurt; maybe she'll take after him on this one.

Katrina takes after Gabriel on other counts though, and that is the giggly, delighted, determined, repeated crawling toward trouble. I don't know what it is about my computer's power button that attracts babies so much. It's small, and only has a tiny sliver of a green light, and has obstacles in front of it, but she seems to know that this is a high-impact thing to play with. No amount of moving her to the other end of the house or distracting her with a new object made her forget it. As I was preparing dinner, I could hear the delighted trouble-giggle as she made her way back to the office again and again. Just like Gabriel and stairs.....oh NO!

From one milestone to the is starting to spoon food, and another is starting....KINDERGARTEN!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

8/21/07 A red ribbon day

A ribbon-worthy day! Even for me!

And such a full one, I'm barely sure how to describe it. I guess I'll let the pictures do the talking, and try to do as little of it as possible myself.

It started with Gabriel's last Tuesday morning swim lesson, during which he earned his "red ribbon." This means he's advanced one level, having proven his ability to do the following (lifted from the swim school's Web site):

To earn my RED Ribbon I must master the following three skills without fins:

• Starfish float on my back for 10 seconds without assistance from the instructor.
• Swim one length of the pool alternating between my tummy and my back
• Swim/kick one length of the [ 20-yard ] pool on my back

I wish I could have seen this a little better, but I had to entertain a wiggly crawler who is no longer content to sit in the stroller and watch. But I'm very proud of Gabriel!

During Katrina's nap, the boys colored and drew. Gabriel made an American flag, then went out to the porch, apparently to wave it.

For Julian, I took a scan of a sketch our architect did of what our east elevation might look like after the Grand Remodel (elevations? we gave no thought at all to how the outside would look when we did the upstairs remodel -- and it shows!), printed it, and gave it to him to color. He was very proud of his paint job.

Note the lovely bald spot on Julian's head.

It was actually our architect's idea to print out the drawings for the boys to color. Yesterday, while she was here, she asked Gabriel what color he thought we should paint the house. I thought for sure he'd say "white" (because it is already) or "green" (because that's always what he says when asked a color question), but he surprised us both with, "Stripes!"

Julian colored while I madly typed a long complaint in email to a friend about the boys' behavior at dinner. I didn't quite realize how much that weighed on me until I dumped all over her electronically!

To illustrate my point, I took a little video of the boys at lunch today. A little different, since the rules for sitting at the kitchen counter aren't quite the same as the dining room, and they can't reach each other in the dining room. But here's a small sampling.

Gabriel and Julian on their BEST behavior at lunch, with Katrina screech-whining in the background:

Funny, huh? Try ALL DAY of it! I had to get them out.

But, as I'd also lamented to my hapless friend in email, it's getting increasingly challenging to go places that are suitable for all 3 kids. Katrina isn't content to just be carted around like a newborn anymore, but she's still so young I have to carry her around for most things the boys might want to do.

Fortunately, today was quite warm, and Gabriel had asked me yesterday about Serra Park, where there are water poles. Not ideal for Katrina, but she could try out her first sand. On a lark, I stuck her swimsuit in my bag last-minute.

First, we dropped something off at said friend's house. Not deliberately to make up for all the e-whining, but the timing could make it seem that way.

The boys had a great time listening to a newly discovered funny-song on the way to my friend's house.

Who knew the Red Hot Chili Peppers were so hilarious?

When we got to the park, I immediately remembered why it's such a pain doing things with a baby. Both boys had to go into the bathroom, which is too small for a stroller, so I had to hold antsy Katrina while waiting for them, helping wipe rear ends, wash hands, etc. What a pain!

And Katrina wasn't about to sit placidly on a blanket watching the boys play, though I did manage to get a photo that made it look like she would.

The water play area's drains were, once again, clogged with sand. It dawned on me that this made for a very gradual "beach" into a "lake" that was 6 inches deep, tops. Perfect for baby! Well, the concrete wasn't, but the water was.

So I changed Katrina into her swimsuit, set her down, and let 'er rip. She loved it!

First she got playing with some other kids' truck, but then she boldly started crawling into the middle of the water.

Meantime, the boys threw buckets of water at a concrete tower. I don't know what this innocent block of rock did to deserve this attention, but it suffered some serious erosion today.

Not one, but two photos of both boys with their tongues sticking out. Serious work!

Julian somehow got a bunch of sand plastered on his head and back, so Gabriel kindly washed it off him by dumping a bucket of water over his head -- about 100 times.

Meantime, Katrina "tested the waters" by sticking her face into it, for seconds at a time. Test-drowning or drinking? Ick. Either way....stop that!

Here's Katrina splashing approvingly of the boys' work power-washing the concrete tower.

We all had fun. Ah. Good Mom made a brief appearance today.

Back at home, something flipped on the Hyper switch on the boys, and they started to get crazy and out of control: running, screeching, throwing things, slamming doors, jumping on furniture -- all at the same time. Usually, this is a sign of boredom. But we'd just gotten back from the park! No fair!

So I raided my stash of emergency gifts, and found two "pictureback" Curious George books.

Immediately the boys latched onto them, and Julian asked Gabriel to read them to him. This kept them busy -- and calm -- for the better part of an hour!

Dave went out to dinner tonight, so I put them all to bed. Ironically, I ended up with all three of them wet at the same time again!.

Once again, the scenario with the greatest potential for trouble (all three all day and night) yielded an unusually good day. A long one, to be sure, but not emotionally draining, and with lots of fun moments enjoying all three of them, together. I think that deserves a ribbon.


Monday, August 20, 2007

8/20/07 Into and out of

Katrina has a new skill: putting objects into containers!

This isn't usually a noteworthy milestone, but I took notice of it because I clearly remember when Gabriel did so for the first time. He was 14 months old, and I thought nothing of his age, but did notice how much fun he had with it once he got it. Then when Julian started to do it at a much younger age (like 7-8 months, though I forget exactly), and in a much more coordinated and deliberate way, I wondered if Julian was super smart or something. No, it turned out, Julian was just normal, right on track, and that putting objects into containers was just one of countless things that Gabriel did late. Which I wouldn't have worried about even if I realized it then. But now I do know about these various quasi-milestones, so I notice that Katrina just started it.

Much like her older older brother, she takes great delight in this newfound ability. She entertains herself for over half an hour at a time (if let be) putting toys in a bucket, shaking it around, then pulling them back out. (She's also getting pretty good at pulling herself up to a semi-stand on low objects, like a footstool.)

Younger older brother's coordination skills and inclination to manipulate objects with his hands led to another hair hack job this morning. Julian now has another quarter-sized bald spot smack dab on top of his head, having gone into Gabriel's Special Bin that no one is allowed into except Gabriel, stolen Gabriel's scissors and then enacted the coiffe.

It'd be funny except that he absolutely has to learn the rule that scissors are only to be used on paper. According to Gabriel (hardly a reliable source), Julian also tried to cut Gabriel's hair. It gets a lot less funny when you think what Julian might try if Katrina were sitting innocently putting cars into a wagon.

After a tough night last night, the drama continued this morning, with the boys making a ton of noise at 6:30am, and me fighting a migraine. It made me seriously depressed and impatient again, with no reserves for serious offenses.

Such as: Julian throwing things in the pool at swim class today. At me. Hitting me in the face. Twice. Barely missing Katrina. Twice. Then after I kicked him out of the pool, he threw his towel in the changing room -- harmless but a re-offense nonetheless. (This after just yesterday, he got in huge trouble for throwing a paddle and hitting Katrina.) The final throw earned him a hard smack on a naked and wet bottom. It hurt. He cried...but he wasn't the one in tears as we left.

The day wasn't an entire waste, even if my Good-Mom karma was.

This morning, we met with our architect to review two preliminary designs. One was based on what I'd had in mind (moving the kitchen to the sunny West side of the house), and was far far better than anything I'd been able to sketch.

But the second was a radical re-layout, something she described as "the house spoke to me." And it is absolutely fabulous. Incredibly, even though we'd be adding only 300 square feet, it makes such better use of the existing space that all 3 kids could have their own room! She even drew in three little semi-circles for seats at the kitchen island :). It's preliminary, we have a lot to pin down, but I'm beside myself with excitement. It's totally the right direction to go. I'm starting to regret we ever remodelled upstairs without such excellent professional help.

Calm Mom and Good Mom have taken a serious hiatus this week. Fine timing, since my oldest son is starting kindergarten in 3 days. He deserves better.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

8/20/07 Race Thru the Redwoods

An early start today! We dropped Julian and Katrina off at a sitter's house at 7:30am, then zoomed into the mountains with Gabriel.

The idea was that he might want to walk part of the 10K race, or do the whole Kids 1-mile race if we got there in time (it started earlier and we didn't), and that we'd have some time alone with him as a last hurrah before kindergarten. It didn't really work out that way. He was a bit of a pest, and also kept asking about going to a play structure. I think he was just bored. In retrospect, Julian would have enjoyed it more.

But I had a great time!

It was a beautiful course, mostly along dirt hiking trails and through redwood forests and along streams.

There was one steep uphill stretch, which, I knew from my Rancho experience, sounded pretty steep: a 300-foot climb in the space of a mile. And indeed, it was steep, but since I know what "steep" feels like and how to get through it, I liked it. I was surprised to see most of the runners ahead of me walking up the hill. I was determined not to walk, and puffed my way up the inclines. (Later Dave overheard other runners commenting that if you only train flat, then those hills will kill you! Indeed, I can't imagine coming across that in a race if I never ran hills.)

Toward the top, I joked with a woman that I wasn't going to walk if it killed me -- and it was! She and I ended up running and talking together for the rest of the race until I sprinted the end. Later, when I saw the photos, I was shocked to see her RIGHT next to me at the start! (in the pink top, hat and sunglasses, in the photo of me hugging Gabriel).

After our little bunch was reunited and I'd had a short nap, it was back to family business. This afternoon I did a sadly-rare thing: sit in the backyard and just watch and play with Katrina. It's fun to hold her hands and help her stand, and watch her little face light up and make silly sounds. She always sticks a foot or two in the air while sitting down.

Why don't I do this all the time? This is the reward of child-raising, the low-key moments of just being together, enjoying each other purely. So why did I do it this afternoon then? Because, I think, I had a very fulfilling morning. I had a big challenge, I pushed my way through it, and glowed with a sense of accomplishment all day. I was ready for some downtime; my usual antsiness to Do Things was quelled. As a result, I was able to be a Good Mom for a while.

(That is, until a big blowup with Julian ruined it...after being warned twice not to hit a ball while Katrina was out there, I went to take the paddle away from him, and he threw the paddle and hit Katrina!)

This begs the question again: why the heck don't I go back to work? It's already proven from my 6-month stint in 2005: I'm a much better person, and hence, mom, when I'm feeling productive and like I'm learning and growing and overcoming obstacles. I've been semi-ribbed many times in my life about always choosing the hard route. There must be a reason for that. Without something to push against, to reach for, to climb over, to overcome, to achieve -- and the essential natural drug of succeeding -- that drive spreads itself across numerous trivial things, fizzling into caustic bits, never focusing and never being satisfied.

So why haven't I gone back to work? Or is it because of the challenges of child-rearing (and, apparently, contraception), that I continue with the full-time Mom gig? I don't think so, really....child-rearing challenges are ongoing, not nice neat events with a clear beginning and a clear ending and clear accomplishment. I guess I can unleash my full obsessive-compulsive energies onto the hapless professionals and tradespeople who will help us remodel our house. Which had better have a very clear ending!

After an overall nice day (except for the paddle incident with Julian), there was...tonight.

Maybe a new sign of an impending migraine is impatience. I really got mad at the boys tonight -- for good reason, as usual (and, as usual, related to pestering baby) -- but it turns so ugly that I end up hating myself and hating how I feel. Yes, Gabriel deserved a smack for not going upstairs when told, then hitting me when I approached him. Yes, Julian deserved to be picked up and thrown into his room when he screamed after being told several times to go upstairs to his room for taking things away from Katrina. But the shouting, the anger, the intensity....I hate it. It makes me cry to look at Katrina, feeling that she deserves a much better mother, and that I have to get it together in time for her toddlerdom, as she definitely takes after her ornery older brother. And the boys....I swing wildly between remorse, regret, dismay, then back to being instantly infuriated when they offend for the thousandth time.

I wish I could keep it together. It's much harder to stay calm (especially when you're being called "STUPID" in a shockingly venomous tone) but in the end, I'm a lot happier, and on the whole, they're more obedient too. I was on serious edge tonight, partly being tired from a poor night's sleep, an early start, and a tough run; but I also recognize the wary, ready-to-snap feeling too. Could a looming migraine add to my impatience with them? Incredibly, as awful, noisy, obnoxious, defiant and rude as they can be, they're one thing I know don't cause headaches.

Ah, but they're all in bed now, and it's quiet. Slowly, the good feelings from today's run through the mountain forest are taking over. I can still feel the dirt under my shoes and the cool air on my shoulders and the majesty of the redwoods.


p.s Race results are in! I placed 196 (out of 356), I was 15th out of 24 in my division (women 40-44), and I ran it in just over a 10-minute mile. A flat course and no chatting with other runners and I might break an hour. But what fun would that be?

196 15/24 NOEMI DOUDNA 43 F SUNNYVALE 1:02:44 10:06