Saturday, May 24, 2008

5/24/08 The faucet

What a day...really, what a night. I had a meeting with the kitchen designer today, so spent some time last night getting ready for it. Unfortunately, a headache that I thought had been kept at bay greatly intensified, keeping me up late, and made worse by an early-morning attempt at drugs (codeine) which pretty much fended off any remaining chance I had at real sleep.

So I was a wasted mess today...but well-prepared for the meeting. Somehow, inspiration from the only 10 minutes I've seen all year of Divine Design on HGTV pulled together the entertainment area together quickly, and we're all thrilled with it. Now the only major decisions left are the kitchen sink and faucet.

Dave took the three to Stanford this morning for a follow-up session for the language study we volunteered Katrina for, then brought them to Melissa's and joined me at the kitchen design place. Dave doesn't care all that much about every detail, but he's much more decisive and clear-thinking than I am, so a cabinet style for the entertainment area was finalized easily.

Dave and I went to lunch, and then walked to the nearby window and fireplace store. On the way, we walked by a plumbing supply place, which happened to have a faucet on display I'd wanted to see in real life. It's perfect. And I don't say that lightly. The handspray thing feels great, and the button to turn the spray mode on and off works fabulously. (Dave prefers a single-handle faucet, and since I want him to use the faucet, a lot, then single-handle it is!)

As I basked in the glow of a major decision made, I marvelled again at a mom friend who is so relaxed about her kitchen faucet that she told her husband to just pick whatever. Such decisiveness and flexibility is as utterly foreign a world to me as is, oh, say, optometry. And what would I do with all that extra time?

Back at home with the bunch, the boys went straight to play games on (this is starting to become a problem), and Katrina went straight outside to play on the tricycle. She can reach the ground well enough to push it around with one foot, saying "whee!" when she pushes it in a circle.

Katrina says "whee" on the tricycle
She played like this on the tricycle for at least 40 minutes, and on and off many other times throughout the afternoon, getting off only long enough to try out another tricycle. She probably could pedal one now if she'd let anyone show her how, but she loudly rejects any offers of help.

Katrina wasn't too keen on dinner tonight, but I did get her to eat some vanilla soy yogurt, a favorite. I took this video so you all could marvel at my bravery, allowing a 19-month-old to eat something on her own that is so drippy and with such huge potential for splashing. And usually without a bib; this was a rare occasion that she permitted one.

Katrina and drippy soy yogurt

Truth is, I have no choice. Katrina will sometimes accept bites of food if I'm holding her and impulsively offer her a spoon, but sitting and spoon-feeding her is a thing of the past. The mere offer can be a serious offense punishable by throwing, screaming, kicking and potentially, a meal-ruining tantrum. So now, even the goopiest, messiest food, she eats on her own, whether I like it or not. I do.

Last night as I tossed and turned with visions of kitchen sinks bashing my head, a moment of lucidity prompted the question: "what will keep me awake at night when all my remodeling decisions are made?"


Friday, May 23, 2008

5/23/08 Decisions, decisions

This is torture. For someone as indecisive as I am, especially about "design," designing an entire home is staggering. For many people, it'd be fun, and it is fun, but I'm so out of my element. It's no big deal if I make a bad decision in a scrapbook page, but in a house?

So I had my first meeting with an interior designer today. Fortunately, my designer is also my most talented architect! There are a lot of advantages to this. The interior designer says, "Let's put a seating area in the bay of this bay window," and the architect says, "OK, so place the window 24" above floor level." The interior designer says, "Let's put the chunky trim above the living-room window," and the architect says, "OK, we'll have to lower the window a little." It's a lot easier when these two are the same person.

Note that an interior designer isn't an interior decorator. We're not picking fabrics or armchair styles. The distinction is whether or not the item is attached to the house. If it is -- like a doorknob, baseboard trim, built-in shelf, fireplace tile etc -- then it's interior design. If it's not attached -- furniture, curtains, rugs -- then it's interior decorating, though obviously there are crossover items.

So, 3 hours later, I know what material, style and stain color the living room trim will be, I have two schemes for the hall and new guest suite (painted or wood?), and I'm ready to order all the windows and exterior doors. And we're only one-fourth done with the entire interior design -- it'll take at least another 3 hours to figure out the 3 bathrooms! But this is all worth it -- our upstairs remodel seriously suffered from not asking these questions ahead of time and having to make decisions on the spot, often badly, and resulting in expensive changes later.

Gabriel has joined a "knitting club" at the CDC. He's in good company, as his grandmother, aunt and yes, even mother, all knit. He likes to finger-knit scarves for his Bear. I took a short video of it -- right as Julian juuuust missed making it to the potty, something he never ever does anymore (hence the goofy audio in the background!):

Gabriel knitting

We took the kids to Spoons for dinner tonight, with the intent of visiting the "new house" afterward since it's so close -- we got the keys today! So we went over to scope it out.

The kids all thought this was fabulous fun, especially Katrina.

My "new" kitchen. Ugly, but, notice those yellow streaks in there? SUNSHINE!

The funky authentic wood fireplace, as viewed from the kitchen.

One of the ultra-plain bedrooms. All three non-master bedrooms are 9'x11' and are right next to each other. This house is a time capsule to the late 1960s -- no architectural wonder by any means, and finished cheaply.

It's not bad for space (1800 sq.ft. and a sizeable, if oddly-shaped, yard) and it's nice and bright. The grassy part of the yard isn't visible from the kitchen; instead a huge useless unshaded concrete patio is. That nasty antenna mast attached to the house is more than a vestigial eyesore, it's also a magnet for toddlers with rocks to bang on noisily.

Katrina insisted on going allllll the way around the house to the far side, where she could play with rocks. My architect has a daughter just 2 months older, and was telling me today about something I know nothing about: clingy. Sigh. That could be useful sometimes. ("Mom out of sight? Who cares?!") Fortunately, brothers were on the job.

Now on top of deciding what goes into our remodeled house, we have to decide where to put stuff in the "new" house. And I'm meeting with our kitchen designer tomorrow to decide how to set up the entertainment area. More decisions! This is too much!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

5/22/08 Tough Questions

In the last few weeks, I've gotten the big doozies:
"Where do babies come from?"

"What's war?"

"Who's God?"

Actually, in some ways the hardest one to answer is the one about war, because it's hard to make light of it. And hard to put them off, because it involves so many cool vehicles and things that blow up and -- yes -- death.

All of thequestions come from Julian, though it didn't take much to hook Gabriel on the war talk.

Today was God. Julian heard something on the radio as we were driving (I almost always listen to NPR) and asked, "Is God where good food comes from?" I said something like that Mother Nature makes food, and that God looked over nature. "Who is God?" he asked. "He's someone many people believe in," I answered, hoping not to be asked the obvious follow-up question. "Where is God?" "He's all around, all over, in the sky, in the trees, everywhere." "Is God here, right now?"

This actually was easier than talking about what bullets and bombs do, as I did last week. Fortunately, I found a way to describe what bombs do without it sounding too bad: blow up train tracks so that trains can't bring more bullets to the bad guys. (Gabriel wanted to know the train connection). Whew.

Super productive meeting with the kitchen designer and contractor together this morning. I couldn't follow most of it, but hearing them ask each other questions and figure out when, where and how to install and order things (dishwasher air gaps, hood liners, toe kicks, outlets etc), I could see one future problem after another getting solved -- prevented -- right before my eyes. A far, far cry from the upstairs remodel: the cabinetmaker telling me to order the cabinet after he'd measured the finished area; the carpenters telling me they'd sheetrock after the cabinets had arrived; me feeling left like I was the first person ever to try to get the people who build the walls and the people who put stuff in the walls to work at the same time.

This project is really going to go well. But I'm the weak link. I absolutely must have every faucet, bathtub, tile, doorknob, window, banister, paint color picked as soon as possible. Everything and the kitchen sink!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

5/21/08 Slammed

Unbelievable. I was torn out of a sound sleep this morning by intense headache pain, which only increased as I got myself and everyone else ready. I couldn't stop yawning and feeling like I'd fall asleep with every blink as I dropped the boys and then Katrina off, so went straight back home to take an essential nap before work. But at work, the first person who saw me made a quizzical face and asked what was wrong, I guess because I was squinting or making a face or something.

I'm beside myself. I just went through weeks of this! I've had migraines since adolescence, but never so frequent, long-lasting or severe as since Katrina was born.

I asked Dave to take the boys to dinner tonight so that I didn't have to deal with dinner and could have a nice evening alone with Katrina. But the first 45 minutes were seriously ugly. She got into a major tantrum the instant we got home, and her nonstop crying felt like it was going to send me into seizures. After trying the usual everything, I put on my iPod to try to drown out her crying, which finally worked indirectly, as she got interested in the iPod screen, enough to calm down to take a bite of rice. And then another, and another....but it took over 15 minutes of carrying her and feeding her (something she rarely allows anymore) slowly and carefully for a good mood to take hold.

Then she played outside, ringing the bicycle bell on Gabriel's "cy," and now she's happily chatting at TuxPaint, a Mac drawing program for kids, though she doesn't quite get the idea that she can "paint" with the mouse.

OK, phew, she's in good shape now. But what about me? Maybe migraine nights aren't the right time to send the boys away. I could use a soothing Julian kiss about now.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

5/20/08 The D.J.

Our electronic piano serves as a sort of primitive, if gigantic, iPod of sorts. Julian likes to sing aloud to songs it plays. Until he's discovered, that is.

Then he unplugged the headphones and "played" some songs so that Katrina could "dance." This is a game they'd developed that I didn't know about.

This is grandparent-quality video, but does give a decent idea of her delightful, fun, silly, outgoing side. Which, for all my complaining, is how she is most of the time. It's just that it can turn ugly in a matter of seconds if someone, especially me, offends her.

I found a few family daycares today close to our "new" house....yeah, 3 pickups again, but I'd still rather have Katrina in family daycare if I can find one. Tonya and Melissa aren't just daycare providers, they're part of the family; they've helped me raise my kids. Though they both live too far now, I'm not sure I can cut my own cord yet!

As if I have time to make more phone calls. This week I'm meeting with our kitchen designer and contractor together, then the architect, then the kitchen designer again. And tomorrow we call moving companies, targeting Friday June 6 to move to the "new" house! GULP! I think that means we'll hold the "before" open house on Sunday June 8th, in the late morning. It's entirely possible the first demolition crews will arrive Monday the 9th.


Monday, May 19, 2008

5/19/08 Mom schoolwork

Skimming through the mounds of schoolwork Gabriel brings home every week, I ran across this paper, which has pre-printed prompting words and then he's supposed to complete the sentence.

It says:

Name: Gabriel

I love my mom for many reasons.

My mom cooks for me.

She also makes train tracks with me.

My mom loves me.

* write something else about your mom.

I love my mom a lot.

I didn't think much of this until I caught the last line, in which he'd underlined "a lot." Nice to know I'm doing something right!

5/19/08 The Meeting

Sort of a corporate meeting term, the "project kickoff" meeting.

That's what Dave and I had today with our contractor this afternoon, to talk about the big items to get started on our remodel. Permits, of course, are the biggest "gating item," but we talked about ways to "parallel process," so as to be ready to hit the ground running when permits come in. Demolition can start when temporary power is set up, and that should be around the second week of June, assuming we get our permits May 30. So our "action item" is to be out by June 7, our "drop-dead" date.

But first, music class. Katrina was in good form for the most part, though I nearly started a few tantrums by attempting to derail her shoe obsession, trying to get her to join the class. Don't I know better by now?

This new 17-month-old classmate capivates me, I'm not sure I've ever see a more stunningly beautiful toddler. Meaning no disrespect, she reminds me of Suri Cruise.

After music class, I went to my old longtime gym that I haven't been to in ages, to take my favorite Power Weights class. I ran into some old friends there and caught up briefly, including a friend with a boy kindergartner. She'd moved to Los Gatos partly for the better schools, but still isn't happy with them and wants to put her son in private school. He has a late birthday in 2001, so she held him back a year and says that it was the right choice, since he's doing so well academically. She said proudly that he reads at the level of a 7 or 8 year old, and that they do a lot of enrichment work with him after school.

About all I had to say about my kindergartner was, "uhh, yeah, well, he gets in trouble a lot." I just had absolutely nothing to relate to. I'm fine with public school, I'm not any more concerned about his academic development than any other aspects, I have no idea what age level he reads at, and I don't do enrichment work. Totally lame or totally relaxed? ....Don't answer that.

I went home and took a nap. There was no mistaking it by now....what started as a mild headache this morning had escalated. That explains why I found myself in a left-turn-only lane one street too soon this morning on the way to music class, not completely sure why it all looked so different. Why I couldn't quite yawning all morning. And, a new thing, why I was so cold after my nap, and have been so cold at work during this heat wave. D*MN IT! I got a glorious 6-day break after a nasty 15-day spell of migraine -- not again, not already! Fortunately it's OK tonight; I'm hoping this was a rare hours-long migraine that won't develop in another weeks-long one.

We're in the mad scramble to clean up tonight for house cleaners coming tomorrow -- it almost seems silly for them to do too good a job when most of what they will so diligently scrub will soon be carted out of here in pieces!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

5/18/08 Up downtime

Arrrgh. Did I say the boys needed downtime at home, without anything scheduled? They were horrible today! Resistant, obnoxious, constantly saying annoying things, making lots of obnoxious sounds, pillow fights, hitting each other, kicking each other....just being kids, right? Yeah. Annoying kids. Maybe even bored kids.

Sunday nights, the boys are offered two TV shows, but they have to clean up the family room before dinner to earn the second show. Tonight they didn't want to do that, and I was very clear with them: only ONE show then. So what do you think happens after the one show is over? A total Julian meltdown because he wants two shows, despite the careful warning.

Finally they settled down to play outside after their TV show.

They sure got their share of each other this weekend, playing together almost nonstop. It's actually quite heartwarming to listen to them talk together, though Gabriel is usually pretty dominant. Tonight I heard him say, as he was explaining something about their truck-and-rope arrangement, "OK. Now, so, I'm very smart, but of course (rolling his eyes), everyone knows that." Good grief! I butted in and said, "No, you're just very conceited!"

Katrina had a rare day of being the favorite around here, being generally funny and adorable and making cute sounds and...dare I say it, sweet? Well, not quite, but lots of fun anyway.

Dave took her to Stanford yesterday to be a subject in a language study, and the researchers asked him if she was putting two words together yet. Dave said he didn't think so (he hasn't heard her say "My (anything)"). Tonight she was picking at dinner (she's been eating horribly), and he held up a piece of bread and said, "bite?" She glared at him and practically roared, "NOOO BIYE!" OK, well, I guess she showed him -- on two counts!

The pressure to prepare for remodeling and moving is constant and unrelenting. Some progress today, never enough -- I guess slow-n-steady will be the key.