Saturday, October 11, 2008

10/11/08 Crazy ponytail

Katrina randomly disapproves of having her hair pulled back, so sometimes I've got to work very quickly. The result can sometimes be this silly bouncy ponytail -- one side only, of course. What a little ragamuffin!

She was actually quite darling today. I went to an aerobics class this morning, an old-fashioned high-impact thing for which I'm sure to pay for later, but it was nice to be done with my weekend workout by 10am on Saturday. That let me hang out with Katrina and Julian the rest of the morning while Dave took Gabriel to his piano lesson.

I managed to squeeze in a shower while Katrina and Julian played, which mostly worked except hearing Katrina screech a few times. I called for Julian to come and stay with me in the bathroom until I was done with the shower, and he claimed he had no idea why she was screeching. He looked so innocent, but he was clutching her favorite book in his hand, the little pest.

I'm still struggling with a headache, that today manifests itself in strange wave sensations (like when you're in a car wash and see the wash machine move and think you're moving too but you're not), headache pain, and intense sleepiness. An overall down day was called for, and I got it.


Friday, October 10, 2008

10/10/08 The Doll

Jobsite meeting today. We decided earlier this week to move a doorway into a guest room, and it's been reframed and looks great. Now you can see through the new doorway, through an arched entryway, down a hall, and straight through to the original old swinging door (on the left). It's a terrific improvement and is going to make that whole space wonderful to move around in.

Siding's going up!

Windows are all in too.

We got a lot straightened out today, I'm glad.

Last night's project was decorating cupcakes for a little birthday celebration for Katrina at Tonya's. I made the cupcakes from a mix -- horrors! I haven't done that in a long time, and I really didn't like it. My standards have gone way up. I did make the frosting, and made liberal use of my box of sprinkles and candies to decorate. This was a lot of fun.

Katrina cried at first when I arrived at Tonya's and we wouldn't let her get her shoes to leave, but she got over it when she realized that cake is involved.

Then Tonya gave her a present -- a doll! Her first doll! Silly boy-mom-me, this hadn't ever occurred to me. Tonya, having three daughters, knows better.

Katrina loves it, and calls it "my baby." At home, she sat the doll down on a chair next to her at the table, and talked to it, and to me. I'm seeing all sorts of typical girl-behavior emerging now -- it's very cute, but it still makes me nervous!

I was invited this evening to enter the Lego-building world by Gabriel, quite an honor. The boys really enjoyed having me sit with them, ask them questions, and build my own little dune buggy, and asked if I would "build Legos" again with them tomorrow. So sweet! Building Legos is much more my speed than tea parties, but it seems I'm in for both, and I'm happy about that.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

10/9/08 Depression

I should have known.

Yesterday seemed so awful, far beyond what it should have been given the circumstances. I've been stuck in traffic before, and I've felt tired before, it's not the end of the world.

I'm not a depressive person. I know what it's like to be bummed out, as we all do. On the whole, I face setbacks head-on, form a plan, and find comfort in taking action. I don't really get "depressed," and I don't sink into gridlock.

But the unshakeable blues, sense of despondency, hopelessness, futility; of
obstacles being too great, of being trapped and helpless....that's different, and new. That feels a whole lot different from being annoyed about something. Rationally I still know that nothing in our lives is that bad, but sometimes it all "feels" completely beyond my control, like it would be no different if I were spending life in a dark well.

Last night as I was falling asleep, I was startled awake by bright flashes in my eyes. I went fitfully back to sleep, only to be tormented by dreams of being so
furious at Julian for being in the office that I roared at him, red eyes blazing, and cruelly bit his back numerous times until he was able to escape, shirt torn and back bleeding, screaming in terror and betrayal. Then Katrina crawled up on top of a rickety plastic cart and tumbled off headfirst and I barely looked up from my desk, irritated, letting Gabriel decide if her neck was broken or not.

I wake up from stuff like this deeply rattled, feeling as stricken as if I had truly lived through these awful scenes. It takes hours to shake off the black feelings, and for relief at it only being a dream to creep in. I spend the day feeling like every time I close my eyes, tears will stream out.

That's depression. Clinical, chemical, depression. Add that to yesterday's
inability to think, exhaustion, flashes of light and awful nightmares, and you have: migraine. It took until tonight for the strange wave feelings and intense pain to strike.

In a perverse twist, it's something of a relief to know that life isn't really that bad; it's just the chemicals talking. Some people struggle with these demons throughout their lives, and far far worse I do. I'm "lucky" -- migraine-depression doesn't impede my ability to have a fun evening with friends, I can usually detox through exercise, and it's not a day-to-day battle. Indeed, my migraines have overall been on hiatus since the summer, catching me with my guard down.

Still, real-life genuine bummers are no help, such as another major drop in the stock market today. That's nothing compared to the awful feeling left from the nightmare of torturing my poor sweet son, but I could still do without them.

Going through the motions of dinner-making was excruciating tonight as the full-on migraine settled in, but there was still comfort in keeping busy and normal. And after dinner, I had the best therapy possible: floor games that involved crawling, chasing, hiding, rolling, and being pushed, with a delighted 2-year-old. That was topped off with a game of "Boing!", in which Katrina and I did little frog-leaps down the hall again and again, with Julian joining in too. Her funny floppy hops and full-body giggles were exactly what my sick, worried psyche needed. Then after she was in bed, I had Julian help me sort the boys' laundry by throwing items into bins and drawers for each boy, resulting in lots of high-fives and kisses.

I'm in for a rough night, but thanks to the simple joys of childhood, against steep odds, I had a good evening.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10/8/08 Balance

Commute was horrendous this morning.
Work was extraordinarily boring and impossible due to a sickly slow computer.
I was dead tired and distracted by a remodeling issue.
I went home early and took a sound nap, completely unable to function.

Gabriel lost his second tooth.
Julian's proud of reading books every day.
Katrina is full of new phrases and antics.

Today when I picked her up, she was pushing a jogging stroller around Tonya's driveway, with Dylan happily holding onto it.

They were SO SO cute.

I miss scrapbooking.
I want to volunteer for the PTA and help with Running Club.
I want to take the kids to swim lessons.
I even want to be a soccer mom! (I draw the line at the minivan though.)

Something's wrong with this picture!

Never mind me, I'm just super grumpy today. Or was until I went on a Mom's Night Out to a ceramic-painting place tonight. That's more like it.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

10/7/08 The neighborhood bank

On the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court St, not far from where I grew up in Brooklyn, was a small neighborhood bank that held my first savings account.

I still remember the time I ventured bravely in there to open my first bank account. I still feel so bad for the poor lady who had to break it to this earnest 11-year-old girl that she didn't have enough for the minimum deposit of $5! It took a few weeks, but I saved and earned enough to open my first account with just over $7. That bank held my entire net worth, which never topped $100, until I went to college.

That bank is gone now. But the building remains, and today my brother sent a photo of its replacement. If this isn't a sign of hope, I don't know what is. (See the lit vertical sign at the very left of the photo.)

Gabriel decided to finish his entire week's worth of language homework tonight. When that kid gets motivated, there's no stopping him. Just one night's worth of homework was to write a sentence with each of his spelling words, of which there are 10 required and 5 optional. Ten minutes? No way.

I couldn't persuade him from doing the optional harder words; he insisted and likes them better. The regular words are ones like "map," "cap," "me," and "us," but the optional "context" words are baffling -- "flexible," "rigid," "rough," "pointy," and "opaque!" Opaque?! Are you freakin' kidding me? Is this a first-grade spelling list or SAT preparation?! But, he can spell and use all of them -- in fact, he had an easier time coming up with sentences using them ("Wood is opaque") than sentences with "us" and "her."

I found a fond moment in the homework though. Gabriel's sentence using the word "me" was "My Mom loves me." You better believe it, kid!


Monday, October 06, 2008

10/6/08 Teacher Conference

We had our conference with Gabriel's teacher today!

We got across our two main points well, I think. One was that the homework takes far more than 10 minutes. Two is that it's designed in such a way that doesn't allow the child to complete it themselves. We don't mind helping if they need it, but it should give them the chance to have a sense of accomplishment, pride, completion, and independence. The recent daily math homework he's had (hunting around the house for thermometers and dates) is part of a pilot program, and our feedback was strong, clear and negative.

Her feedback to us about Gabriel was interesting, some surprising. She said he always comes up with topics to talk about in class, that he's good at explaining his reasoning process (like how he came up with an answer), and that he's honest. We can never drag anything out of him about school, so to hear that he participates enthusiastically was a nice surprise.

She also emphasized his self-confidence and how things roll off his back, that getting things wrong never fazes him. Indeed, Gabriel has never been hampered by sensitivity. Also, she said his math skills are very strong, both his knowledge and his ability to learn new things, he gets thing quickly and easily. On the downside, he hums in class a lot, distracting other students. A written goal was to "be aware of his actions" -- the flip side to not being very sensitive.

To our surprise, though we were only the 4th set of parents she'd talked to so far, we were the first ones who'd offered any feedback at all on the quantity or quality of the homework. She was gracious and welcoming and appreciative of our feedback.

As we were waiting for the conference, we watched Gabriel playing soccer. Goalie again, this time for quite a while.

I watched with interest as two different sets of three boys at a time taunted him, disrupting the cones, standing in front of him, and generally harassing him, while the "coach" was occupied at the other end. Gabriel stood up to all three boys at a time -- one set with hockey sticks -- pushing them out of the way, hollering at them to stop -- angry but not intimidated. He was completely focused on getting the cones back in place and resuming their guardianship. No complaining to the coach, no crying, not so much as a glance at me, just complete attention to the game.

New phrases of Katrina's today:
"I want to find the other shoe!"

"I want a song!" (demanding to sit on Dad's lap while Dad was overseeing Gabriel's piano practice).

"I pushed you down!" (after doing exactly that to me)

And my favorite, spoken with seething venom as she furiously objected to my brushing her hair:
"You're BAD!"


Sunday, October 05, 2008

10/5/08 Two!

Two years. I can't believe it.

Two years ago today, at 2:30am, the pain I'd been living with for months organized itself into distinct moments. "I think this is it," I gasped to an alarmed Dave. Less than four hours later, these words changed my life: "It's a girl!"

And what a girl. And what a two years with that girl!

A party for a two-year-old is really for the mom and the scrapbook, and I think that's fine reason enough. We had a nice small group of moms & 2006-born toddlers, though the older siblings brought the kid-count to 10.

Notice anything missing from this table? Girls!

And another boy wasn't able to make it. Gina was the only girl guest today. Somehow, all three years of Las Madres moms' groups I belong to are dominated by boys. I've joked that that's because boy-moms need more support, but could that be far from the truth?

I really had fun making and decorating this cake. My years (yes, years now!) of scrapbooking have really helped me find my design instincts. A vision of a brightly colored cake with flowers on it had popped into my head, and instead of being completely stumped, I went with it. It doesn't look anything like what I'd pictured, but that's the artistic process.

And it has just the right amount of lopsidedness to give it that authentic homemade touch.

Happy Birthday To Youuu....

I love this photo because you can see Gina and Gabriel in the background escaping to Gabriel's room to play Legos.

Mm, tasty frosting! Never mind table manners!

(Oh the frosting...ugh, I felt so bad....we had a mom and two kids with soy and egg allergies, and I'd taken great care to make sure the cake was friendly to them. Only to realize while chatting about the frosting recipe that it contained shortening, which is made from soybean oil. The package said "All Vegetable!" and I didn't think past that. Argh! The mom was very gracious about the mistake, but I know this created a real pain for her today.)

Stacey gave me the great idea of decorating cookies to give as party favors. This is a great idea, but it's a ton more time and work than buying a bunch of little diddlies. And two of our birthday guests couldn't have these anyway (eggs).

Still, it was worth it to see the birthday girl's delight in a stack of '2' cookies.

I couldn't believe an eerie deja-vu, she almost wouldn't eat this blue '2' cookie, holding it while plowing through the others (no she didn't get the entire plate), playing with it and pretending it walks. This was just what Gabriel did with a '3' cookie once, and he cried and cried when it broke apart. Katrina didn't take it that far, and she was easily persuaded to eat the cookie.

(A note about the wardrobe change: Katrina got herself soaked in a water spigot out back, so I took this as an opportunity to see how new and old clothes fit. This adorable new shirt was one that Gabriel had picked out. He proudly observed that the little berries stand out. "It's three dimensional!" By far the most comments I get about the cuteness of Katrina's clothes or hair come from her smitten brothers.)

Then the moment of truth....this big box that's been tormenting the boys for a few days can finally be opened!

She loves this barn playset, and played with it nonstop until bedtime. She even permitted Julian to play with her. She shows more interest in the animals as characters than I remember her brothers doing; lining them up or giving them names or roles: "Mama!" "Baby!"

Thank You Bonne Maman and Papa Paul!!!!!

Look at this beautiful card Bonne Maman and Papa Paul sent. Gabriel and Julian were really impressed with the drawing. Julian asked with his precious wide-eyed incredulity, "Papa Paul did all that -- even the coloring?!"

What a wonderfully satisfying birthday!