Saturday, July 19, 2008

7/19/08 The Rounds

A stomach thing is making the rounds. Melissa had to close on Friday since her son was really sick and she herself was feeling it too. Katrina had a runny nose and wasn't eating well -- or rather, was eating worse than usual -- so it was a good call.

I picked her up right after our Friday meeting with our contractor at our jobsite. I learned an interesting thing: our gas line was a 3/4" diameter pipe, not even enough to power our boiler. Now it will be a 1-1/2" line. That could explain the anemia of my old cooktop. I get a pang of feeling energy-greedy, but then, it used to take over 20 minutes to get a big stockpot of water boiling, and that can't be green.

Friday night, Dave and I went to our longtime friend Kevin's wedding. He's marrying a lovely lady, a Tai Kwon Do black belt and a runner, and mother of two daughters. Kevin also has two daughters, so this makes for quite the blended family!

Kevin's 14-year-old daughter acted as "Best Man," and gave a great Best Man speech. It was an instant winner, starting off with, "Opposites do attract. I mean, look at the bride -- beautiful, intelligent, funny....then there's my Dad..." Kevin took the roast well.

The wedding family held something of an open house today at their beautiful new house along a creek, to hang out with their visiting family and local friends a little more. Dave and I were among the few parents who didn't bring their kids to the wedding (Katrina the time bomb at a 6pm wedding? No way!), so I was looking forward to the open house with our kids. First we stopped by a plumbing supply store to test out a handshower. Sound silly? Some handshowers are way WAY too heavy to actually use as a handshower, so it's important to feel them.

We made quite the entrance though -- the moment we stepped through their door, Katrina barfed all over Dave and the floor of the entryway. We knew she'd been feeling out of sorts, but this was the first concrete sign! I met much of the bride's family while rushing into the kitchen and grabbing paper towels.

Fortunately, we happened to have retrieved our pickup from the jobsite-house on the way, so had two cars with us. Dave took Katrina straight home, and I stayed for a while with the boys. Kevin's backyard is beautiful, but no match for a Wii golf game.

If the day wasn't full enough, not long after we got home, we packed up again and went to a birthday party. We couldn't possibly miss Andrew's 4th birthday! The boys had a great time in the jump house, and having a pizza & fruit dinner with the usual suspects. Some guests were missing because of -- surprise -- a stomach thing.

Betsy made an adorable rocket cake.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Dave reported that Katrina had thrown up again, then went back to sleep. She woke up soon after we got home, with a temperature. Then Gabriel had a few emergency trips to the john, and I'm definitely not 100% myself. Sitting and playing games on the computer with Dad was a fine way to pass the evening before bath & bed. Katrina "coached," like if the boys said they were stuck, she'd repeat "sssss-TUCK! ssssSSSTUCK!"

It's nearly 10pm, but Katrina is awake, and sitting on my lap as I type, since she's had a lot of oddly-timed sleep today. Though she's lethargic and wants to be carried, she's not clingy or whiny when she's sick. I like that she lets me hold her more.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

7/17/08 Eggs

Eggs? First, the scramble -- we all woke up at almost 8:30am today. So much for getting on the road by 8:10! Somehow I managed to get Gabriel to daycamp just 5 minutes late for his 9am rally, with the other three in tow, and all having had breakfast.

Julian's Lil'Chef's daycamp has a potluck tomorrow, so we made zucchini biscuits this afternoon. I gave him as many jobs as I could think of, taking over only when it prevented a major mess for me to clean up, but he did really, really well. I let him fill the wells of my mini-muffin pan, and to my amazement, he filled them all equally and without a single splatter!

I took a little clip of him cracking an egg (didn't break the yolk, no shells!).

Gabriel has spent so much time studying how the electronic piano plays its pre-programmed "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" that he now knows the left hand harmony. Obviously his technique needs work, but to me the main thing is: he learned this entirely, completely on his own, from the teeny little screen on the electronic piano.

The gas station where I got last gas charged me $4.41/gallon. Now it's down to $4.37. Down! Finally!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

7/16/08 Triple Grind

This daycamp/daycare week has revealed something interesting: I still hate all the driving around, even when work isn't involved. It is an astounding drag on my mood and how I see the whole day. I also just don't like having Katrina so far away. I miss the grumpy little bugger. I'm really looking forward to next week when there are no daycamps and no daycare, when I'm home alone with all of them, free to go anywhere we want whenever we want, or not....sounds idyllic, right? Hah!

Gabriel at his daycamp's morning rally. It's the heart of camp, the root of fond childhood memories, when everyone does a chant together, you're excited to see your friends and start the day...ah, summer!

But Gabriel? "I don't like this part." He just wants to get on with building Legos.

After picking up Julian from his daycamp, we went bathroom-shopping again, poor kid. He took it pretty well.

Do I have the nerve to put one of these trendy "column" style faucets in one bathroom?

Katrina didn't take a nap at Melissa's today, so, zonkie on the long drive home, and under the watchful care of her big brother:

She was a bigtime time bomb at home, so of course sitting down to dinner for me was out of the question. Instead, I wrestled and roughhoused with her on the ground, rolling back and forth with her, or lying on my back and bouncing her on my stomach. She was laughing so hard she could hardly sit up straight, but I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, when I tried to redirect the game (ouch, it hurt after a while!), she was very aggressive in pushing me back down and planting herself on me again, insisting on continuing. I really didn't mind. She really doesn't allow much physical contact, so I milked the moment. Later, we had fun reading a counting book together, where again she was very, very insistent about sitting in my lap. A fascinating, forceful, focused personality, this one. Detached in some ways, laserlike in others. It's a tough love, but none deeper.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7/15/08 Finding Peace

I went running this morning after the arduous triple dropoff. As I was stretching at the end, a man preparing to go "to the top" (that means the top of the PG&E trail, the highest point on Rancho San Antonio loop trails), asked me if I'd come from there. I explained that I used to run up there, and might again, but I'm managing tendonitis and back issues and have to keep my runs short. He suggested walking instead, using yoga breathing, and explained that he's managing chronic pain from a back injury, and found that meditative walking and breathing were even better than running. I explained that I did try walking when my feet were at their worst, but it just wasn't the same, and I found it frustrating. He stressed again that it can take some learning, but with the right breathing and style of walking, it really is better for the body, and perhaps soul. You really take in your surroundings, absorb them and become part of them, when walking.

I don't doubt what he was telling me, and others have urged me to consider meditation or other forms of mental relaxation. Indeed, managing my spinning mind has always been behind my drive to exercise. But I heard it put perfectly by, of all people, Debra Winger, on a radio interview, when she too explained that meditation didn't do it for her: "I need to keep my body busy to quiet my mind."

In fact, I've often found the "calm" part of a yoga class at the end the most work. For some of us, peace doesn't come easy. It takes effort to achieve mental calm with physical calm.

My mind was at its clearest today at the end of my run, when I did a full-on no-holds-barred sprint. In addition to completely detoxifying my mind and body, those sprints elicit many a comment and start many a conversation! Including, ironically, one about meditation, a very opposite action.

But, as I sit here typing, it feels like there's a layer of bees all around both my feet -- buzzing again. Dang it all. I haven't felt that in a long time, but it seems two runs in three days is just enough. Even short runs that don't cause any immediate foot pain still aggravate my back to cause this referred foot buzzing.

Heard me complain about headaches recently? Nope! I haven't had a real migraine in weeks -- I've lost track how many! How often do I get to say that! I have a bad feeling going back to work will bring them right back on, but for now, I'm coasting with it.

I'm not getting nearly as much done at home during this week as I'd intended, though I'm probably getting more done than I think. The mid-day interruption of picking Julian up, while welcome and enjoyable, splits up my time and reduces my productivity. I got a call from our contractor's assistant today -- they need bathroom plumbing fixtures within a few weeks, so picking shower fixtures has suddenly become urgent. That's tomorrow's task. But if I'm on a roll in the late morning, I'll have to drop it to go get Julian.

I like my afternoons alone with Julian though. I still get little things done, and I have fun talking to him, doing things with him, each of us doing our own thing sometimes, interacting other times. One thing about having three, it makes one-on-one time that much more valuable.


Monday, July 14, 2008

7/14/08 Day Camps

Day camps started today! Even though we have deadlines in the morning again, it doesn't seem as onerous as s c h o o l.

Nevertheless, it turned out that Julian's day camp was moved back to the Y's building itself, while Gabriel's was at a nearby elementary school. Katrina went to Melissa's, and I found myself back driving all 3 to different places again! Another two hours a day spent driving around, plus another half hour picking Julian up in the middle of the day (pre-K camps are half-day). This has to stop!

Julian was obviously having a grand time when I picked him up from Lil' Chefs daycamp, throwing a paper airplane around the huge room where the kids were waiting for pickups. The camp director told me they'd made two cookies and frosted and decorated them, and Julian put them together into a sandwich.

On the way home, he fell asleep in the car, then woke up. When he came inside, he said he was tired, and went into his room and napped until I woke him up at 4:15pm! Then he had a fun snack: yogurt and raspberries in a smiley-face.

It makes me feel like a mom again to do little things like this with him, discussing the differences between raspberries and strawberries, or that if you eat one of the eyes, it's now an alien.

Gabriel was ensconced in a Malcala (?) game when I picked him up from daycamp. He was bounding with joy about the robots they built in the Lego Engineering camp. Katrina lit up around all those kids, and launched right into her infectious giggle to draw everyone around her into her game.

The boys haven't watched any TV at home since we moved here 6 weeks ago. Of course, we were away for some of that, but the real reason is that we still haven't set up the VCR to record (VCR?! Two engineers in Silicon Valley are still using magnetic media?! Lame city!) They've had almost no computer time either (chess, or games), since the office is cramped, so we're way up on our "screen time" budget. Tonight, they had a chance to watch (we'd have rigged something up), but they had to clean up for the cleaners coming tomorrow, and blew it.

Julian absolutely loves the soundtrack to the movie Les Choristes, and plays it so often on a boom box (more media lameness) that I make him put headphones on so I won't get tired of it. It's so cute, he sings along out loud, basically saying the sounds of the words that approximate French.

Gabriel meantime is right back at it on the piano, figuring out chords (partly from the little screen on the electronic piano), and now also trying to find and play chords on the ukelele. Saturday we went to a party of a coworker's of Dave's, and they have a piano, which Gabriel asked and was allowed to play on. A mom of a cute 2-year-old girl whom Julian befriended sat and watched her daughter and Julian play, within sight of Gabriel, and was blown away by how many songs he played, with chords, and some that he made up. It did seem surprising when I told her that the only lessons he's had was a very very short introductory group lesson. She said he was asking her all sorts of questions about the piano, its keys, and chords that she had no idea about. Same here!

Watching him from someone else's perspective, and on a real piano, it is striking how he puts things together, how driven he is. He's not that experimental, it's more of a technical approach, finding what notes complement each other. He and Julian sing constantly, but Julian makes up tunes and words; Gabriel will repeat songs he knows. But even if Julian is more "musical," whatever -- Gabriel is very driven and very curious. He really, really needs music lessons.

Or not. Not everyone takes to formal training. If music really is in him, it's irrepressible. If he's not into practicing scales every day, so be it. Music seems to have found him, and he'll find his way within it one way or another. Paul McCartney never learned to read music either.

Though I have many, many things to do during my remaining three weeks off work, I'm finding myself very torn again about going back to work. On the one hand, I know I'll miss the structure eventually, and there's also the new need for me to work. On the other hand, I like my time at home and not feeling such intense pressure to keep the day rolling, and hating the moment when I walk in the door with all three of them and have to jump right into dinner-making. The first step of being happy with your life is knowing what you want -- a simple first step that I can't seem to make!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

7/13/08 Bicircles

The boys were riding their bicycles in the backyard tonight, in such tight circles that they both high-centered their rear tires with the pedals touching the ground and lowsided several times.

(Funny, I used to practice riding tight circles on my motorcycle as well, since duck-walking a bike into a parking spot isn't an option for me and my short legs, and I had to have good parking-lot skills.)

Katrina picked a strawberry today from our little backyard patch -- does it get cuter than that? Meanwhile, the boys were hiding all the outdoor toys to "fool" me, and then barricaded off the "hiding" place. Good clean fun.

But lest I paint too rosy a picture, the boys were actually pretty annoying this morning, constantly making obnoxious sounds and throwing things, relentlessly tormenting finally broke when we separated them and I took Gabriel and Katrina to the supermarket, while Dave had a nice time alone with Julian and then took him to the (oooooh) hardware store. Lift and separate, you know.

It's still hazy here for much of the day. Last night, that resulted in more weird red glows from the sun, though it's hard to capture in photos.

I went for a short run at Rancho San Antonio tonight, and was rewarded for my troubles by a wasp sting on my back. But, remembering a scene from Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck Finn is rewarded for some act by being allowed to view Tom Sawyer's sore toe, something no little boy could resist, I used the wasp bite on my back as incentive for the boys to quickly get their pajamas on. What kid can resist seeing a nasty bug bite? (though it's not that nasty-looking, just creepy-feeling)

I was grateful to get gas tonight for $4.41 a gallon. At least prices have stabilized for now. I heard on the radio today that the highest prices in the nation are in San Francisco, the lowest in Tucson.