Saturday, December 15, 2007

12/15/07 The laptop

I brought my laptop home from work in case I had time to squeeze in a little work this weekend. Katrina thought it made a perfect pedestal, and grand fun to stand up on.

Another holiday party, and another sleepover. Dave and I went to Palo Alto and saw Arsenic and Old Lace and had dinner at our longtime favorite restaurant there. Much as I love sleepovers and date nights, the need for time away from my children isn't nearly as urgent anymore.


Friday, December 14, 2007

12/14/07 The Analysis

Tonight we were reviewing Gabriel's Friday Folder, which includes his teacher's assessment of his work and behavior. Dave talked to Gabriel about getting a "fair" for behavior this week, instead of the usual "good." Then Dave saw that Gabriel got a '+' grade (instead of the "satisfactory" grade of 'star') on one of his worksheets, and showed him that he hadn't finished coloring and writing it.

Gabriel looked stricken and blurted out, "Things are going all wrong!"

Katrina's new trick: she says "shh!" and puts her finger up, especially when she sees this one page in a baby book.

I like it when she shh's her brothers, and they think it's hilarious.

We actually managed to get some lights put up on our Christmas tree tonight!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

12/13/07 Early to bed the crew in bed at 8:30pm, and as soon as Dave gets back from a meeting, I'm going for a long-overdue Coffee Night with my mom friends. I am SO tired tonight, barely slept again, but I'm GOING!

We got a note from Gabriel's teacher today: he's been trying to pick up other kids (reaching around behind them and bear-hugging), and been told to stop, and he's still doing it. She's asked if we can talk to him, mistakenly assuming that we have any clout with him!!

So we did talk to him tonight, and he seemed genuinely puzzled as to what it was about at first, then inexplicably and very uncharacteristically burst into tears of frustration. "OK, we're not talking about this anymore!" he choked out angrily. We didn't know what to make of it. I told him OK, we won't talk about it, but if we hear he isn't listening to his teacher again (the truly egregious offense), then he's going to get in Big Trouble. And Big Trouble means: missing trips to the BMX park. It doesn't get more serious than that.

Still waiting for that First Step from Miss Babycakes! But she was very cute tonight when I was "reading" her a book with faces on it, and I said "shh!" on the page with a sleeping baby and the words "shhh," and she repeated her version ("ssss!") whenever we came across that page. Sometimes she looks at me with such fierce concentration when she's working on a word it's unnerving.

Dave's home, I'm outta here!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12/12/07 Santa Practicalities

Gabriel asked tonight, "When is the real Santa going to die?"

We'd talked about Santa after last weekend's holiday party, where there was a "Santa" there, delighting most children and scaring some. Gabriel didn't buy it: "No, that was someone dressed up as Santa, someone just like you and me!"

But he still holds out some doubt -- or is it hope? -- that there really is a Santa. I told him that Santa has lots of friends who help him out, and people he sees dressed up as Santa are exactly that, just people dressed up as Santa helping him out.

And as far as when the real Santa dies? I said, "That's a good question, one really knows. Santa has been around for a long time, and some people say he lives on and on and on." This vague side-step was met with wide eyes as it churned through his literal, practical mind, grasping for reality.

Then: "I know where Santa lives -- Disneyland!"

Melissa told me today that Katrina was standing for minutes at a time now, bending down to pick something up again and again. She moves her feet to keep her balance, she looks down to do something, she stands up just to get to something. In other words, it's not just for fun anymore, it's become part of her repertoire. When she really wants to get from point A to point B, she puts her head down and kicks into crawl-gear, but still, the first steps could happen any minute now!

It's been hard to pinpoint exactly, but the first words are there too. I'm just not exactly sure what they are. I'll have to make up some legend, because every kid wants to know what their first word was. For Katrina, I'd say it's "bear," even though "bay-yah" means any animal, because she first applied it to bears. "Nuh!" blurted with a giggle and a pointed finger in your face means "nose!" Melissa told me today that they went through all the animal sounds, and I've heard her say "mmmUH!" for "moo" and "pffffffff" for "ruff" (dog). She also has this absolutely adorable expression of "Up-psssss!" which I think means "oops" but she says it to a lot of things. And then there's something akin to "uh-oh!" but not quite. Katrina's many sounds, pointing to things, sincere exclamations that she clearly thinks are words, get more varied and more adorable every day.

Basically, language-wise, she's right on track.

(Ironic that in a sentence referencing language, I'd use two things my high-school English teacher, Frank McCourt, absolutely hated: "-wise" and "basically." Basically, language-wise, Mr. McCourt, I'm a disaster.)

Just what I need: a cold. No really, I think I do need it! I had a hard time sleeping last night because of a stuffy nose, and got up absolutely exhausted. On the drive to work after dropping off Katrina, I dreaded the first hours there when it's such a struggle to wake up and concentrate. I decided I've leave work early.

Then, I changed my mind. If I'm going to miss some work today, I should do it now, not later. So I bailed on my route to work and went home, and straight to bed. Boy, did I need that. Thank you, cold! I was still not feeling well at work, but was able to be productive and not drag all day. The one thing I had to forfeit (sniff!) was my lunchtime run, only because I didn't have enough time to work. The cold itself definitely isn't bad enough not to go running.

Still, the odd morning gave me a little perspective. I can handle this brutal schedule some days -- just not all days. I need to find more small ways to get some breaks. Katrina walking, Gabriel being able to get himself out of his carseat himself -- and get Julian out of his carseat (!) -- go small ways toward relieving the load. Asking Melissa to bring Katrina home one day, maybe two, a week, will also help. Taking an hour or two some mornings after dropping off Katrina might help too. Work itself is going better, I'm more self-sufficient and starting to get a good fingerhold on things.

Yesterday I got the most exciting break -- a meeting with our kitchen designer for a first review of initial designs. YAYYY!! Better yet, not only was Dave able to make it, but our most awesome architect did too! It was, as always, very productive, we made tons of progress, and I'm really really excited about my new kitchen. The kitchen designer had some really good practical ideas, as well as some aesthetic ones I thought I didn't care about at all, but soon realized, "wow, she's right." I really will care that the island and the range hood are lined up so that when you stand back to see the kitchen, visually it's organized and pleasing. But she has practical knowledge too, like that convection microwaves are too deep to go into standard overhead cabinets (many such microwaves are in the same cabinet as a wall oven, which is deep enough, but I'm pretty set on a double oven, so that won't work).

Having the architect there was great because we talked a lot about furniture placement, how big a table we could fit comfortably, would the oven doors get in the way of chairs, where would a sofa go, what kind of chairs would we the end, it looks like we'll have to kick the family room out another 3 feet so that we can fit the minimum of furniture we'd like in there.

The question came up about maybe not putting a dining table in the kitchen/family room area, instead only relying on the island for seating. I nixed that one fast. I really, really want everyone to be able to sit to dinner, homework, whatever, and be able to talk to them while I'm doing things in the kitchen, feeding Katrina, getting someone milk, whatever. If I had any doubts, I just think back to last night, when I had the boys sitting to dinner at 6pm, and I was still in the kitchen with Katrina, and Julian said, "Mommy, I can't see you when you're in there!" My little boy. You just added 3 feet to our new family room.

Julian comes home with a new song just about every day. He sure does love to sing, especially about Santa. Who's well and alive in his mind.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12/11/07 Energy

I was thinking last night about energy cycles, as I lay in bed after struggling through an evening barely able to keep my eyes open. Now I was, alert, tense and nowhere near sleep. I was well past the tipping point after which my energy reserves were tapped, the floodgates opened, and then I couldn't turn it off. Not unlike overtired hyperactive children.

I kept thinking about a passage in a book I'd read long ago...a meta-passage, really, since in the book, the protagonist wrote a short essay which unexpectedly won her an award in school. That essay was about ambition, and it included the insightful line, "Ambition is a good servant but a poor master." Who wrote that? It churned in my head as I thought how the same applies to energy. My trademark energy. It served me well when I needed to dig deep to make the evening go, but was now mastering me.

My mind was spinning so out of control I felt I had no choice but to take the tiniest sliver of an Ambien that I could cut. It doesn't help that I'm reading The Kite Runner, a book I'd heard about some time ago, and now has been made into a movie. It is indeed an excellent book, and there's a heartbreaking part in which the main character and his wife are struggling with infertility. Especially for Afghanis, for whom family and blood are so important, this was deeply felt for them. I read that part again while waiting for sleep to finally overtake me.

The last thought I had was I'm so, so, so glad I have children.


Monday, December 10, 2007

12/10/07 Back to Kansas

Sometimes it seems like the office is the dull humdrum black-and-white world of Kansas, and home is the bright, colorful, lively place of Oz, filled with happy chattering little munchkins. I needed a little Kansas in my life, but I wasn't prepared for such a startling contrast.

Steeled as I was for Monday, it wasn't so bad at all, other than being much too tired. There just is no such thing as "getting used" to getting up early. It's not in my biology. A lunchtime run fixed that and put me in a great mood and made me productive the rest of the afternoon.

I coached myself on the drive home to relax when we got home. Form a plan: start first with getting Katrina's dinner ready, so that I'd be prepared when the bomb dropped. This basically worked, I was able to get dinner started and then give her something to feed herself with when she flipped the switch from happy giggling baby to grabby demanding hungry grump. It helped that the boys played outside (in the dark!) until dinnertime.

After dinner, I found myself flitting around the kitchen, cleaning up, getting lunches ready, putting food away...until I thought why am I doing this now? I really want it done, but time sitting on the floor and playing with Katrina is so precious now. Not as precious as wanted it to be, since my Precious Pest horns in on the action (that would be Julian), but still, we all got some playing in. I was about to say "done." Boy, this is getting twisted.

Soon. Really. I'll have more to write about than how overwhelmed I am with this new life.

12/10/07 (Cousin Jason's birthday, he's 31 today!)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

12/9/07 Katrina eats

When my nephew was a baby, he plagued my sister for months with barely eating anything, compounded by numerous food allergies. I have a friend whose baby decided to challenge his firsttime parents by not eating. There's something very fundamental about seeing your baby eat -- or not. Even for those of us who have been very lucky in escaping any serious food challenges (and I'm more than lucky, as I was blessed with Julian), there's still a sense of victory and success in seeing your baby swallow.

Katrina crowned me Great Mom on that one today, not that I actually had anything to do with it. She's always spit out banana pieces, until today when I held a banana for her and she bit off pieces with her fledgling teeth. She ate almost 4 clementines, stuffing the pieces into her mouth and demanding more faster than I could peel and cut them up. She had a huge bag of Cheerios at the Y this morning, after a hefty oatmeal breakfast. Post-nap snack included a bowl of cauliflower, then rice and broccoli. Dinner was 5 meatballs (!Mom Alert! Trader Joe's Party Mini Meatballs -- kids LOVE THEM!) and spaghetti. When I left Katrina with Dave last night (took the boys to a party), he was startled that she finished all the food I'd prepared for her. Can 20 pounds be far off?

I really wanted to go to the BMX park today to watch the boys, but Katrina pooped out right as I was ready to leave. Boy, when she crumbles and needs a nap, it's an emergency. I didn't mind the quiet time at home though.

But, lucky me, Dave text-messaged our friend Paul, who not only lives a few blocks from the BMX park, but is a really good photographer with a really good camera. Paul had a moment, so he got some really good photos of the boys there.

And if that wasn't enough, after returning from the BMX park, the boys spent most of the afternoon riding their bicycles up and down the block. They were egged on by a very nice neighbor, who lives just three doors down with her husband, yet I've only talked to her a few times. She's a very serious cyclist, a modest one who I had to probe to discover that a training ride to her is 200 miles, like from home to Monterey and back! Holy Derailleur Batman! Anyway, our nice neighbor spent a lot of time riding up and down the block with the boys, "racing," sort of.

Back to the grind tomorrow. It was such a nice weekend, I don't want it to be over. Though really, it wasn't all fun and games, since the inability to do things during the week forces me to waste precious weekend time taking care of things on weekends.

But starting another week of ultra-early mornings, hours of driving and hectic dinners isn't what's weighing on me. It's an identity crisis. Who am I? In the past, it was dancer, motorcyclist, engineer, and, somewhat against my will, writer. But am I any of those things now? I never asked myself the question before I had kids. And perhaps now, I never need to ask the question again, because above all else, despite anything and everything that I do, I'm Mother. One who's going through the motions of being an engineer, and wondering why.