Friday, June 27, 2008

6/27/08 The Lesson

I'm really not going to miss the drive to and from Melissa's, but I am going to miss Melissa. I feel bad too that Melissa is going to miss Katrina. As opinionated and un-cuddly as Katrina is, she's no troublemaker, doesn't whine or cry much, goes wit the program, and takes care of herself.

On top of it, I'm probably going to put Katrina back at Tonya's when I go back to work, and right now Melissa and Tonya are on the outs. I don't want to know why; I tell them both that I can't live without either of them, they've been friends for years, and I hope they make up soon. But I have a bad feeling Melissa will actually be a little jealous that Tonya gets Katrina.

But the one tiny bright side to the now-ex-driving is the time I "spend" (sort of) with the boys in the car, listening to them talk or sing or whatever. Today when I picked up Katrina with the boys, Julian had a Curious George book. He's memorized much of it, but he was also making a serious effort to read words he doesn't remember. When he got stuck on a word, he'd ask Gabriel to read it to him, and this developed into Gabriel instructing him on how to read. "What's the first letter, Julian?" "Sound it out!" "How do you pronounce -- ?"

One time I heard Julian say a word "serr-ren," and then Gabriel correct him to "siren" -- I'll be darned, Julian really is sounding out words and trying to read them.

Gabriel tired of this after a while, or sometimes cut Julian down: "GOD Julian, I can't believe you don't know the word 'scream'!" I handle this by jumping in with, "Wow, Julian, you're reading SO well, I'm so proud of you! Gabriel, what a terrific teacher you are!" Gabriel has no choice but to agree. Then I praise Gabriel for helping Julian so much, which really, he does.

I also take any opportunity to tell Gabriel that he wasn't anywhere near as good at reading at Julian's age. Truth is, I don't actually remember how well Gabriel read at 4-1/2, but a memory lapse is ample fodder to take big brother down a peg or two.

At home, Julian continued through the rest of "Curious George and the Firefighters," reading right up to The End. He persisted through some competition from his sister, who sat right down next to him and said "BOO? BOO??" requesting the book (most of what she says is intonated as a question). She was easily distracted by a pair of shoes. I'm delighted at his effort and interest. He really, really wants to read, and that's going to be the biggest factor in his success.

Good thing, because I paid a deposit today to enroll him at a new school. I don't know how I came to this exactly; I made my improved commute a little worse by moving him, but I do feel better about it than where he was. I especially felt good talking to the director of the new school and hearing her say she'd been there 7 years. Continuity is a really good thing in childcare and teaching.

I got one room under control in our rental house, finally! Katrina's room, the easiest one possible. In doing so, I uncovered a box of toys that included a pair of sunglasses, which Katrina latched right on to. It was SO funny watching her walk carefully around, almost with her hands out in front of her, because she's not used to the shaded view!

Gabriel came home from CDC early today with a temperature, and Katrina has the most horrendous and painful diaper rash (BRIGHT glaring red, raw and bleeding spots). Just in time for our redeye flight tomorrow!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

6/26/08 Day "off"??

Amazing how many things go through my head during the day, then when I sit down to write, it's all gone.

I have so many things to do that no one thing seems sufficient at the moment. Gridlock is a serious problem. I did tackle my primary task today, which is an application for a pension for my Dad, but more questions than answers arose. Do they really need to know the name and address of his first employer?

My friend Tracy was here visiting, so I saw her and her 5-year-old daughter this morning. She was the first friend I made when I moved here, which makes us friends for 20 years now. She's a San Jose native who transplanted to North Carolina when her husband's job got moved, but all her family is here. (Including her sister, who manages my nearest Trader Joe's!) So I get to see her whenever she visits, including today. I was sorry to hear they're probably never coming back -- the quality of life in Wilmington N.C. is just too high. Sigh. We had a nice breakfast at Hobee's, and I brought Julian along for her daughter to play with.

(circa 1989, left to right, Alisa, me, Ehud (Zohar dance teacher), Tracy)

Exterior demolition started today. No walls, no doors -- no house! I stopped by briefly with Tracy, but the guys carrying out huge boards with long rusty nails sticking out didn't seem too keen on two women and a child on the jobsite.

Couldn't deal with dinner, so we went to Spoons. I ask the boys to take Katrina somewhere all the time now, so this scene is increasingly common for us, but the overwhelming cuteness never fails to elicit smiles and "awws" and occasionally even a hand over a heart from others. The boys' sincerity and Katrina's delight are indeed very heartwarming.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

6/25/08 Last day of work

I packed up my stuff in my cube today, knowing there are good odds I'll get kicked out in favor of a "real" employee before my return Aug. 4th. It's bittersweet -- in some ways I'm glad to have some unstructured time; in other ways I'm going to miss the peace and sanity and unimportance of work.

Katrina was impossible tonight, crying and throwing anything I offered her for dinner -- reminding me why I'm wary of the full-time mom insanity, especially with a testy toddler. I'd overshot, given her dinner too late and now she was in a tizzy. In desperation I offered her Joe's O's (Cheerios, really), and she stopped in her tracks. "oooh!" she said, greedily grabbing the cereal. That was it, problem solved, door opened, and then she ate a modest dinner. I'm always one instant away from the remedy throughout the storm, just never knowing exactly what key I have to turn in what lock to make it suddenly stop.

Julian has a new fascination: a map book in my car. Now he's asking, "Can we go to China?" "Can we go to India?" (wonder where he got those ideas!). Then, "Can we go to Africa?" "Can we go to a lake?" and asking Gabriel to read him what the names of rivers or anything he sees as a body of water in the map book. He's not impressed by our imminent trip to New York though, apparently that travel isn't sufficiently painful.

Gabriel...entering a new obnoxious phase, in which he giggles uncontrollably, doesn't do anything he's supposed to do, stays up way too late, makes stupid sudden annoying noises. Basically, just being a little kid, but to the usual Gabriel extremes. Still, when he's not like that, he's delightful. Even, dare I say it, sweet!

The boys made a fabulous discovery in our rental house's backyard today: strawberries! We have a strawberry patch! How COOL! I had to admonish Julian for eating one before showing it to me, as that is in general bad practice. Once I confirmed that these were actually strawberries, I let them go to town, picking only ripe ones that pull off the stem easily. I so enjoyed their delight in finding strawberries.

I went running at Rancho San Antonio tonight, about a 6-mile route with moderate climbing. I'm far from completely back in the saddle, but as difficult as my last run was, I didn't have any foot problems. Tonight, I can feel a little pain in my left arch, but nothing that would bench me. It was far, far cooler this evening -- chilly, even -- and I ran with energy and strength and had a great time.

A big contributor to this is getting good, solid, high-quality sleep. I've always been a great sleeper, so the trouble sleeping I've had in the past year is really disappointing, but I am certain now it's mostly migraines that cause that. I haven't had any bad headaches in about two weeks, and have had consistent good normal solid sleep too. Combined with not being in constant pain, good sleep goes a very long way toward making me myself again.

Just in time to be undone by air travel with a toddler....


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

6/24/08 Progress

Whew, busy day.


Meeting with contractor & architect at the jobsite (formerly known as "home"). Lots more problems prevented, little things shifted, can we get enough headroom to eliminate a step on the landing. Staircases are always hard.

This is where we used to give the kids baths.

Then architect put on her interior designer hat, and we met again at the kitchen designer's place. They thought there was too much of a mixture of finishes throughout the house and that I'd find it chaotic. Truth is, I'd probably never notice, but I'm not design-savvy that way and am very (too?) tolerant of chaos. But, I do want it to look nice to other people, and I do like to be in places that look nice, even if I don't know what "nice" is until I'm not in it.

The color scheme for the kitchen:

Hard to tell in photos, but, clockwise from upper left:
  • stain sample for doors, windows and trim.
  • flooring (red oak)
  • glass sample for kitchen cabinets
  • cherry butcher block
  • cabinet paint color (off-white)
  • countertop (small square slightly offset)
  • island/pantry/entertainment area wood stain color
  • (cherry butcher block again)

    Let's put this in perspective. The real color in the kitchen will come from my "shu-shef."

    After these draining, but uplifting, meetings, I picked up Julian. Gabriel wasn't back from his field trip to a beach boardwalk, so I went to pick up Katrina at Tonya's. Impulsively, I decided to stop by another daycare/preschool on the way, just to check it out. I've known about this place for some time, and while it has the downsides of not being super close and not providing lunch, it's much brighter and cheerier and has a very nice outdoor play area. And note how I described it as being "on the way." It's 5 minutes from Gabriel's school, and another 7 minutes to Tonya's (12 if I catch reds). Not ideal, but still a big improvement. I'm considering it.

    Much to do, no energy or enthusiasm to do it tonight!

  • Monday, June 23, 2008

    6/23/08 Laughing and crying

    Last night the boys were in a giddy mood. It's usually cute, but there are times that excessive goofing around amounts to defiance, and sometimes it just doesn't mesh with grumpy baby, a late hour, tired parents, and much to do. Sometimes the only way out of it is crying.

    So last night before bath they ran and "hid" in their closet, which has a small spring-loaded latch on the inside to twist to get out, instead of a full-on knob. I told Dave to just ignore them and let them get tired of hiding in the closet, but an even better outcome emerged: they didn't know how to get out! The little latch didn't look like a doorknob, and they thought they were trapped. Giggling turned to silence, then to screaming and crying and frantic calling for us. I had a hard time taking it seriously. Dave meandered over to free them, then showed them how to get out and had them practice. Dorks! At least that finally broke their hysterics and they cooperated with the rest of the routine after that.

    Katrina was in a good mood tonight, mostly, though that can turn on a dime. Tonight she was being very silly sitting in her high chair, tossing her head back and forth and laughing, but when I tried to film her, her mood turned to a mishmash of laughing and crying.

    Katrina went to Tonya's today, as Melissa is on vacation. It's a slightly shorter drive, but it's a much less annoying one, since the best way to get there isn't a major winding around neighborhoods. Still, I'm not sure I'm ready to sign up for another year of driving to three separate places. Then again, how can I possibly raise a toddler -- especially this one, without Tonya or Melissa?


    Sunday, June 22, 2008

    6/22/08 Playdates

    A banner month! The park, two weekends in a row, plus a playdate at home this afternoon. I had nothing to do with that; a coworker of Dave's has a 6-year-old boy who's visiting here for the summer, and Dave's coworker suggested we get them together. When they arrived, Gabriel and Julian were heavily ensconced in some running game, but to my relief the new boy fit right in. Nice kid.

    I took the three to the park for a 2004 Las Madres event, and that was really nice. Much cooler than yesterday, and all three had playmates since their longtime pals the White kids were there. Though, Katrina is mostly indifferent to other kids, except where their shoes are involved. Fortunately the rightful owner of a pair of sandals, a 4-year-old boy, was very gracious about letting her most un-graciously insist on playing with them.

    I expected a struggle when it came time to wrest her away, and was not disappointed. She cried and fought the whole way to the car, then was set to cry the whole way home (and it was naptime too), but a wondrous thing happened. Gabriel and Julian sang the alphabet song to her the entire drive home (which is considerably longer than it used to be!). It was very sweet, and mostly worked, against all odds. I took her straight from the car to bed.

    Doing stuff with the kids is a forced break from the constant pressure I feel to get things done at home, things that are hard to do in bits and pieces. A new thing has arisen now too: my architect/interior designer thinks there are problems in the kitchen design and wants to meet next week to review it. I thought we were done with the hardest thing to do! It's silly to stress about it, I'm the customer after all, but it's so easy to doubt myself when people I trust and rely on have second thoughts. I'm annoyed at how much this bothers me. Meantime, we've got to get our front door decided before leaving on our trip in 6 (!) days.

    So what am I doing sitting here blogging, when there's a perfectly good 7 minutes I should be spending doing....aaaaahhhhh!!