Saturday, April 12, 2008

4/12/08 The Hunt

I took The Three letterboxing today, at a place we actually haven't been to yet. I've driven by the place for years, and had always wanted to go see it, and now we had a perfect excuse. It's a preserve that used to be a horse ranch in the 1930s and 40s, and has a nature museum, community garden, an original ranch house, a blacksmith shop replica, a small barn, plus a nature shop with volunteers to ask questions.

And, a sundial! We started here, at 10:30 on the dial.

We were supposed to go across a meadow, but it was really overgrown. Fortunately, a trail guide from the nature shop helped us piece together the letterbox clues, and we got on track, mostly.

Only a little of our route was this clear.

Much of it was more like this, and often even worse. This was not stroller-friendly! Not only was it overgrown with some unfriendly vegetation, but the "trail" was really bumpy. Also, it appears that the clues were written just after a serious bush-hogging, because it called upon cutting across fields that weren't really passable, and were hard to see across.

Katrina surprised me, and I really shouldn't be surprised by this anymore, in that the bumping and shoving the stroller through the undergrowth didn't bother her at all -- indeed she was making sounds akin to singing on the bumpiest parts. It was the stops that bugged her. I'm glad I didn't invest in an expensive jogging stroller with suspension.

Ultimately, we reached the spot where the box should be found....and didn't find it. We looked hard, in the short amount of time Katrina tolerated this stop, but it was nowhere. Odd, since it was found recently. This might just be inexperience on our part, but we really did look.

Still, letterboxing being what it is, the experience of the hunt was the big fun, and there will be times that the box isn't found. It was a beautiful, unusually warm day, and the boys had a fabulous time on the trail that followed a creek, and went through meadows and bushes and tree tunnels and groves -- and a little log ampitheatre.

After we returned from the futile hunt, we played by the creek for a few minutes. The boys had a great time throwing rocks into the water.

The uneven terrain was a bit much for Katrina, who immediately got down on all fours and went straight for the water (shades of Mam!). After holding her hand a little, she got a little more confident and was happy walking around on the side, looking at flowers and picking up rocks, and mostly accepted my gentle guidance not to douse herself. I tried to show her how to throw rocks into the water, but, nothing doing.

The boys were hot, tired and thirsty when we got home -- I'd sorely underestimated the effort of our trip and hadn't brought any food or drink for them. A picnic lunch, on our little table reclaimed from its tenure as a ladder, was in order!

After Katrina's nap, I had some reason I can't remember anymore to try shoes other than her sneakers (no socks perhaps?). She cried and rejected a really nice pair of brown Stride Rite sandals we'd been handed down (more shades of Mam), but did allow the Crocs that Bonne Maman got her last summer -- and now fit!

She wasn't too happy about an attempted self-time to commemorate the occasion. I'll spare you the pain of the outtakes, you'd think I was torturing the child. She's really been fun lately, but still reminds us clearly and often that she absolutely will not fit the "easy 3rd child" role.

(This is nuts, but I find it weird to see photos of me and my daughter with such different-colored hair. The few photos of me and my mother have us both with very dark hair, and somehow I always thought of that as making me her own. That came back to me when Katrina was born with black hair, like, "oh wow, just like me!" This is all very silly because most of her is different from me, and should be, but for some odd reason it takes me aback when our hair doesn't match, as my mother's and mine did.)

Even though I had to work on taxes this afternoon, I couldn't bring myself to go inside. I just love this warm weather! I spent some time tackling our woeful garage and loaded up some things to give away to Good Will. Meantime, Katrina amused herself with the tricycles.

It cinches it for me -- 18 months really is a milestone of freedom. Last summer, I couldn't go through things in the garage and load them in the back of my car with the baby around. But an 18-month-old can bop around on their own, being watched closely, but you can still move from place to place and do things.

And now, there are the brothers.

I took a moment to bring Julian to the bathroom and wash his hands, since Dave was taking the boys to a music store and had to leave right away to have time before it closed (Julian can pee and wash up on his own but he is SLOW). Gabriel was ready, and I asked him to make sure Katrina didn't walk out to the street while I was out of sight with Julian. Am I insane, leaving a 6-year-old to mind a toddler?

Well, I got my answer. Dave came out and didn't realize that Gabriel was on duty, and told him to get in the car right away to go to the music store -- a very, very important errand to Gabriel. But Gabriel would not leave her side, even after Dave urged him again. Gabriel refused again, and it was about to escalate until I cottoned on and rushed out to release Gabriel, who was standing right next to Katrina in the driveway. I was out of sight for too short a time for her even to have made it to the street, but I was still impressed with Gabriel's diligence.

They returned from the music store with a nifty height-adjustable piano stool, headphones for Gabriel's piano class, and, of all things, a green ukelele. Gabriel is beside himself, wanting to tune the instrument (neither he nor Julian can say it), asking how the frets and octaves work, telling me which note each string plays, glued to a Web site Dave found that describes how to play a ukelele. Really, I'm not making this up. A green ukelele.

A beautiful day, I was able to wear one layer instead of my usual three, and best of all, no foot troubles until sitting down to work on those darned taxes.


Friday, April 11, 2008

4/11/08 Twice a year

I get it wrong twice a year. For months, long sleeves are perfect, sometimes not even enough. Then one day, it's suddenly 25 degrees warmer, and everyone swelters in their heavily-overdressed clothes.

Today was that day. Balmy, beautiful, warm, almost summery. Yay!

At least I had Katrina in layers, so she was able to enjoy the afternoon in short sleeves. Especially on the new little push-wagon that Melissa got for her daycare's backyard.

(Naturally, Katrina's beside herself about this toy, and objects strenuously when it's time to come in. Geez, her haircut looks worse every day. She looks more and more like a boy!)

Then there will come a day, sometime in late October or early November, when the T-shirts they've been wearing for months will suddenly be completely inadequate, and everyone will be cold all day. Fortunately, I only make these dressing errors twice a year.

Melissa's daycare business is picking up -- she's got two new full-timers starting next week, and has had interviews all week long. Katrina's going to have to learn to share -- toys and Melissa! She's not at all good about sharing toys with babies (especially not her coveted school bus), but she plays great with a 3-year-old boy who will soon be her daily companion. No surprise there!

I went swimming tonight, and for once it wasn't absolutely freezing as I was about to get in the water. But I got cold while I was swimming, which I never do when it's much colder outside! And the water felt colder. Go figure.

I wonder how my ankles and feet will react to the swim (1600 yards, all freestyle). Unfortunately, sitting here momentarily, I think I already know. Bzzzt.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

4/10/08 "Cyyyy???"

Katrina overloads the sound "cy???" to mean "outSIDE?" and also "CY?cle." This evening she and Julian were having a grand time looking through an I Spy Wheels book, and she was pointing to pictures of bicycles and motorcycles and saying excitedly, "cy? CY????".

Of course, as soon as I pulled out the camera, the scene diverged...she and Julian got into some other goofy-sounds game, but I did catch a few of her "cy?" inquiries.

Later, she insisted on eating her own spaghetti (really angel hair). Brave Mom!

She probably actually swallows a third of the food on her own than she would if I feed her, but this is an independence I definitely want to -- need to --encourage. Besides, she's 18 months old, plenty old enough to be handling a spoon on her own.

Yesterday at dinner, Gabriel asked me what the difference between a violin and a kitter is. After some probing, I translated "kitter" to "guitar." "Yeah, a guitar!, what's the difference?" To my amazement, the answer came from an unlikely source. Julian piped in clearly and without hesitation or stumbling, "A ki-tar you use your fingers to play it, and the violin, you use a stick." Julian wants to play a musical instrument too: the trumpet. Hmm, where's our soundproof music room in our remodeling plans?!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

4/9/08 Goodbye G/S

It's official. I'm no longer a G/S rider. Or, owner, that is.

For those not in the moto-world, which I guess includes me now, "GS" is BMW's term for "turf and street" motorcycles, suitable for dirt and pavement. Or, not so good at either, depending on how you look at it. Just like me. I was never that good a rider either, though few matched my persistence and endurance in the face of constant adversity. (Sound like any other wheel-obsessed Doudna?)

Tweety Bike and I had many, many adventures over the years, travelled many states, countries, mountains, deserts, dustpiles, rivers, rockbeds, stairs, logs, patchy twisty dirty bumpy roads (yeah!), long flat boring highways. It tolerated many, many a tipover, spills into bodies of water, clutch burnouts, gas shortages and much terrified shrieking and lousy input from me. While much of its tenure as my motorcycle was spent horizontal, we never had any street incidents or tangles with cars.

I wish my dear old bike luck. It is now in the possession of Calamity Charles, famous for fast healing, and whose similar R80ST was wrecked recently in a head-on with two Harleys. Charles is a talented rider who lives verrry close to the edge...and of late, has gone over the edge just far enough. Hence his need for a new bike. Mine hadn't run in years, so it's a good fit for everyone. Except, perhaps, for Charles' insurance company.

Ironic, isn't it, that so much of what appealed to me about riding motorcycles carried over to running -- but running triggered far worse and longer-lasting injuries than motorcycles ever did.

Keyword there is "triggered." Two days ago, I was stuck in a really boring training session at work. The day afterward, my ankles were buzzing badly, and my feet were falling asleep at the slightest provocation -- or non-provocation -- and my heels and arches alternatively ached. This foot-manifested problem not only won't go away, it keeps getting worse or coming back strong even after a brief lull. It started with running, but something else is chronically irritating it. Tuesday's training added to the mounting evidence that it's related to extended periods of sitting. And seriously aggravated by any impact, and I mean anything. I don't dare even stamp my foot once in anger when the boys procrastinate getting ready for dinner!!

This can't go on. But I also can't lead my life not sitting! Sure, sometimes one's calling can't be fulfilled because of a physical limitation (such as, I'm as flexible as a block of concrete and would never make it as a dancer), but few injuries prevent writing!

I also can't lead my life without any impact. While few people understand why I'm so heartbroken about running, a relatively new aspect to my life, everyone will understand that not being able to dance is unthinkable. I even notice some extra buzzing after swimming or stationary weights exercises. There is just something wrong.

Speaking of sitting...or not. Melissa sent this photo today, of Katrina enjoying her favorite snack: grapes. The family daycare licensing doesn't allow high chairs (?!?!?!!!!???), so Katrina now sits in a regular chair at the table at Melissa's. I think she has a booster, but like Gabriel, I doubt it would bother her if she didn't.

I met with another contractor early this morning, took care of a few essential errands at home ("is the quote on the bay window in yet?" that sort of thing), took a short nap, then went to work feeling refreshed and cheerful and didn't even freeze to death all day. What a difference!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

4/8/08 The Pickup

A sucky, depressing day. So blue that it's making me nervous...are these the rumblings of another....oh no.

It didn't help that I was stuck in a really boring and mostly useless (for me) training session all day. Which, I remembered later, forced me to miss an Open House at Gabriel's school. Oh, I know it's not the end of the world, but it still makes me sad to think of him looking around for one of his parents when all the others were milling around his classroom looking over their kids' work.

But I did have Internet access during the training, and Melissa's new little "service" of sending me a little update about Katrina's day in email.

I kept a little window with this photo up on my computer all day.


Monday, April 07, 2008

4/7/08 Musical Monday

First day of Music Together -- Maracas!

We were late, because Katrina blew out all over the cute outfit I'd picked carefully for the occasion. Who notices cute or feminine clothes the most? Brothers! Julian liked the pink corduoroy overalls she had on and said, "ohh, how cute!" Yeah, adorable -- for about half an hour.

As I went upstairs to get more clothes, I left her bare in the bathroom. When I returned, she'd opened the lid to the baby potty, sat on it, and peed in it! And, was handily splashing around in it. Well, maybe that helps her get the idea that she made it happen. This turned into a bath for her, the potty and the floor.

For the most part, she had a good time in music class. She didn't like it when we all sat back down after a train song, and was very insistent about pulling my hand to get me to stand up again. She went through fits and starts, but was pretty distractable out of the fits, thank heavens. Overall a win.

I took the day off work because I had two meetings with contractors today. The first meeting was late, but went well, and I was feeling encouraged, if still apprehensive, about the daunting task ahead.

While I waited for the second, I pondered again how to get Gabriel into piano lessons. The Parks & Rec session starts this week; could I manage Thursday afternoons at 3:30? Despite the conflict with Julian's remaining two skating lessons? There's also a Monday class starting at 3:30pm. Too bad I didn't think of this before, it's already Monday and it's 3pm, and I have a meeting.

3:10, contractor's not here. Maybe I can sign Gabriel up for the Monday class and ask if we can attend this coming Thursday's class to make up for the first one he'd miss today. Call Cupertino, left a message for the person in charge.

3:20pm, I worked on the online registration for the 3:30pm Monday class. Let's do it! I'll figure it out, worst case, we miss the first class.

3:25pm, call contractor. Oops, he thought it was at 4pm. We reschedule.

3:31pm...hell, we can do this!!! So what if the class started a minute ago? I called CDC and asked them to get Gabriel ready -- I was picking him up for a piano lesson!! I arrived at 3:38, we got to the community center at 3:46. He missed the first third of his class, but he made it!!

Who signs a kid up for piano lessons minutes before it starts?! Only someone who completely overcommits and pushes to the edge. And this was the hairy edge.

But it was worth it. We arrived at the end of the music theory part (whole notes, half notes, etc), then came the playing part. Mostly this class was introduction and calibration for the kids, getting used to the concept of a music book, a teacher, clapping along to a simple rhythm that they'd "read" from what the teacher wrote on the board, handling the keyboard.

After the playing practice (some kids had never touched a piano), the kids went back to the whiteboard to play a music tic-tac-toe in which they reviewed what they'd learned. Gabriel was calm but very, very alert and focused during this class, and later said it was AWESOME. It was great, exactly what he needs, and a nice palateable introduction to piano lessons.

I'm so excited I found a way (by deciding to miss yet more work) to make this happen! Mondays will be my new favorite day, between Music Together with Katrina in the morning and Gabriel's piano lesson in the afternoon.

Gabriel helped me with Katrina when we picked her up from Melissa's (clutching his new music book, from which he would not be parted). I'm happy to say she's much better now about being guided by hand, both from me and from her brothers. She's turned new corners at home too, being much more interactive and explorative too; getting into all sorts of new things in new ways (opening boxes, unwrapping stuff).

Back to the grind tomorrow, but I can go into it happily knowing I had one of the best Mondays possible!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

4/6/08 Questions, questions

I took Julian and Katrina to the Y this morning. As we were crossing the parking lot on the way in, Julian asked:
"How do babies start out?"
You sure pick your moments, kid!

Gabriel asked me a good question today that brings up an odd situation that most Moms don't have: my own children can't pronounce my name!

Since second grade, I learned to live with the fact that most people would call me No-Amy, and that's fine. But it never sounded right coming from a family member. I have no problem with Dave calling me that, but my kids? It just sounds off.

So Gabriel asked me how to pronounce my name in French today. What's really funny is that I have trouble pronouncing my own name correctly! I said my name in my best French, and he repeated it pretty well. That's a lot closer.

I wonder what made him ask me that. I've never explained that my name is French. He has no reason to believe my name is unusual, in fact; I doubt he has enough experience with names to know what's common and what's unusual -- especially given all the foreign names of his classmates. Maybe he heard a friend visiting this afternoon call me No-Amy.

Said friend visiting this afternoon bought one of my motorcycles today. Sniff. Sigh.