Saturday, August 02, 2008

8/2/08 The County Fair

I took the kids to the last day of a county fair this morning. It's greatly scaled back because of lack of county funding (ironically), but it was plenty big for us. And does fun get any more all-American or clean than this? Figuratively speaking, that is, since county fairs involve a lot of livestock. Very clean livestock.

First, a petting zoo (sort of), run by some very aggressive little girls who kept a production line moving quickly. "Take a seat, put a towel on your lap, and we'll bring a rabbit or chicken." The boys both held the fluffiest bunnies you've ever seen. Katrina was more interested in the chickens.

Gabriel was shocked to see that ducks aren't actually yellow.

Funny, we were just talking last night about where ham comes from!

The boys already knew where this fellow was headed.

A jump house and pedal John Deere tractors were big attraction for the kids (well, boys, I didn't attempt Katrina in the jump house). For me, standing around in blazing sun while they played on essentially toddler toys that were too big for my actual toddler wasn't so much fun. But I wanted to earn my Good Mom stripes today to make up for next week, so went along with it.

We walked through a building that showed off kids' matchbox and doll collections, winning baked goods and tablescapes and all sorts of stuff I never knew county fairs were for. It strikes me as a fading but charming anachronism, from a time long before people could compare notes via the Internet.

This was overall a lot of fun, though I'll enjoy these outings a whole lot more when I don't have a grumpy toddler and a stroller in tow. Katrina was really a pain, not letting us stop when and where and for long we wanted, demanding that the stroller keep moving and refusing to walk. I have friends who love doing this sort of thing with their toddlers, but I am so done with the stroller life.

(In fact, Katrina fell asleep in the car moments before arriving back home at 12:30, and that pretty much killed her nap for the day, making her high-maintenance and demanding this afternoon. Every time I think I'm being too uptight about protecting toddler nap, this sort of thing happens.)

In between dropping everything at any moment to go deal with a Katrina-screech-fuss, I started working on a pear mince streusel recipe that calls for snipped raisins. Luckily, I have great help!

I'm delighted to have found a great outlet for my baking experimentation: the construction crew at our jobsite. I'm going to bring them something every Friday when we have our weekly meetings there. Perfect!


Friday, August 01, 2008

8/1/08 The start of a new season

It's August now! Time to start thinking about Halloween!! urrrgggh....

As I'm struggling with the ickiest details of updating finances (Quicken bugs and reverse stock splits and unidentified securities I never signed up for), Julian's playing on the Lego Web site next to me.

(a foul odor wafts from down low....)

Julian: "I farted!"

Me: "Yes, I know..."

Julian: "I like farting!"

Well, who am I to argue with bodily pleasures of life? He probably likes the taste of boogers too.

Daycamps are done. Only disaster was that I didn't know about Gabriel's one swim day during ice skating camp, so he had to sit out the pool that day. He didn't even tell me, I had to ask him, and he didn't seem to mind playing games instead of swimming. My guilt is deep, falling short only of being late the last day of school. Still, I'm thrilled that Gabriel liked ice-skating camp so much -- I think his enthusiasm for it exceeded Lego Engineering, and that's saying a lot!

Goodbyes for Julian at daycamp are a grand affair. Seems everyone wants to give him a big hug, and he wants to do the same. He's so affable and enthusiastic, high-fiving all his new counselor friends, energetically hugging and playing with them. He absolutely loved daycamp, and all indications are that they really loved him too.

A candid shot from yesterday, Julian holding hands and playing with a camp counselor, until he spotted me.

Today Julian had a swim day (this one I knew about), so I sent him to camp with his new monogrammed knapsack from Land's End. It's a little big for him.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

7/31/08 Bug up my butt

Oww! I got stung by a yellowjacket today, smack dab on the tuckus! Running at Rancho this evening, after dropping off the boys at Tonya's for a sleepover. I was moving and had heavy shorts and light undershorts on, and the damn thing got me right through those two layers. I hit it, saw it squirming on the ground, then ran back just to stomp it to death. But it left its mark, literally, in the form of a huge welt and a very painful spot on my left cheek. This is the third time this month I've been stung by a yellowjacket -- enough already!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

7/30/08 The Procrastination

Finally, this afternoon I tackled my still-half-packed office. It really gets old tripping over boxes. The unpacking is so stale now I don't even remember what's missing, and it's getting to the point that I don't even recognize some things in the boxes.

Still, setting up an S-corporation to become my own contracting business is such a daunting pain, and so not forefront of my mind right now, that I found a very productive way to avoid the ugly job. Going through boxes of office junk is also an ugly job, but this afternoon, it was the lesser of two ugly evils. We can almost walk in here now!

Besides, I could chat with Julian while he played on the Lego Web site on our "extra" Mac computer. I like my afternoons alone with him, he's so different when there's no older brother around to impress. Sometimes I just look at him when he doesn't notice, drinking in his deep round eyes, a fascinating odd dark grayish color, marvelling at his exquisite mouth framed by his square pudgy little-boy cheeks. I'm completely aware that the beauty I see in him is that special sort that mothers experience when looking at their children, and that only deepens my joy and awe. He is such a beautiful child and I revel in that.

Moments like these only come when I'm one-on-one with any of them, and then I'm almost taken aback by the force of my love for them. It's much easier to feel that when I'm not constantly instructing, "Turn that down! Get that out of the kitchen! Put your lunch away please! LEAVE HER ALONE!!!!" as is instantly the case when the siblings are reunited.

I snapped a candid -- almost -- shot of Gabriel at daycamp just as he noticed me. How sweet, sitting next to his longtime pal Gina.

Birthdays today: my brother -- and brother-in-law! Welcome to the Dark Side!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7/29/08 Park pals

We went to a park this evening after daycamps and daycare, making for a hectic late afternoon, but a fun evening.

It's nice when kids help each other push on swings instead of making grownups do it! Gabriel ran into his kindergarten class pal, Anushka, and roped her into pushing. Meantime, Julian pushed Lance.

But no one got higher than Gina when she pumped herself. I thought she was going to flip around the top bar of the swings! That girl has no fear.

Unlike my girl, who's overall hesitant and cautious when it comes to putting her pretty little rear end in danger. But to my surprise, she went down this slide herself numerous times, clapping and saying "whee!" Dylan joined in the fun too.

Let's do that again!


Monday, July 28, 2008

7/28/08 The new routine

What a relief picking up and dropping off Katrina at Tonya's today! The evening pickups with daycamp still took 45 minutes, and that's with already having picked up Julian at 1pm, but somehow much less stressful. That doesn't happen often enough!

Gave away a carload FULL, and I mean packed of Stuff today. Felt great.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

7/27/08 Ice skating

Gabriel chose ice-skating daycamp back in March, while Julian was taking lessons. I've been concerned that its appeal would decline over time and without the sibling rivalry, especially after the fun Lego Engineering daycamp he did two weeks ago. Gabriel wasn't so hot on skating when he was 4, nothing like how Julian took to it.

Ice-skating daycamp starts tomorrow, and I'd intended to get him on the ice at least once beforehand. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! The closest ice rink had no public sessions today, so I took him to where our "local" hockey team practices. I just wanted to get him initialized, get him used to skates and the ice -- skating is something that's hard to start, but you improve really fast.

I figured he'd last at least 15 minutes, and that we'd be doing pretty well if he stuck it out for 20 minutes. I just wanted him to get past wall-hugging and be at least a little comfortable moving around. Mostly, I was really hoping he wouldn't say he hated it and didn't want to go to ice-skating daycamp.

I was blown away! He LOVED it! I had to pry him off the ice after 50 minutes!

The first 15 minutes were spent going around the rink once. It's hard to even stand up when you're not used to it. But he decided he liked it, and applied his dogged determination to it, and got better and better. He's very unsteady, stumbling and catching his balance a lot, and I encouraged him to just stand or try to go slowly, just to get used to it. Before long, he was skating well enough on his own that I'd go off on my own. When my skates started to hurt my bony ankles, I got off the ice and let him keep going. He said again and again how much he loved it and that he wanted to keep skating. "Why would you think I wouldn't love this, Mom?"

About halfway through the session:

(Comment at the end: "I smell food!") He never acted scared or asked me for help or comfort, despite numerous falls, he just kept going.

A short glide and a recovery:

I'm thrilled! He had a great time, and so did I. I loved the time alone with him, both talking with him and then standing back and watching him try again and again and again, marvelling at my remarkable child. It's like I can see the future unfolding in front of me as this little boy strives to learn and gains traction in the world, on the road to becoming a man. I'm glad there's still so much of that road ahead.

This morning, Gabriel spent a lot of time studying a book on ukelele chords that Dave got them, and trying to play them.

Julian went right to bed after dinner again tonight, after breaking numerous rules in one fell swoop. Instead of setting the table, not only was he bothering Katrina while she was trapped in the high chair (this has become a really big problem), not only was he touching her face and her food, but he had his fingers in her mouth. I was so mad at this multiple infraction that I smacked his hand several times and sent him straight to his room until dinner, and, of course, no playtime after dinner and definitely no ice cream. My new book on positive parenting hasn't arrived yet, can you tell?

Katrina was delightful today, full of giggles and cheer and play. She's into repeating anything she hears, and wants to show us things more and more. But she also spends a great deal of time playing on her own too, such as loading up a wagon with toys and then pulling it all around the house, laughing every time she goes through the kitchen. While Gabriel and I were skating, she and Julian played peacefully together for a long long time, and later, she spent at least 45 minutes lying on her tummy looking at books.

We had a Doudna Family of Five first tonight: we all sat at the table together for dinner, Katrina in a booster seat. Katrina was sufficiently distracted and delighted that she tried all the food everyone else had (mac'n'cheese, green beans, chicken), and even ate a fair amount of m'n'c, which up to now, she's rejected. This is great, because she's really gotten limited with food lately. But more importantly, she had a great time, giggled a lot and contributed to an overall enjoyable family dinner.

Despite the problem with Julian today, he was overall pretty good today too. Days like this make me feel like we might barely actually have things under control...?