Saturday, October 25, 2008

A message for Bonne Maman

Usually these little clips are at least somewhat, if not entirely, prompted by me. But not this one! Bonne Maman, Gabriel requested I take this video so he could tell you what the chords are in his duet. We rehearsed this once so that he'd face the camera and not cover his mouth with his hands, and demonstrate the chords he's talking about.

Darn this distance; it'd be so nice for the two pianists in the family to live closer to each other. But thank goodness for video and the Internet.

10/25/08 Halloween Party

Katrina's 3rd Halloween gathering! Today it was for Julian's peers. Gabriel was at his piano lesson, it was just as well, so it was just me and the younger two.

First order of business: lunch. I brought no baby-accoutrements whatsoever (booster seat, bibs, sippy cups etc). Turns out, I should have brought plates, cups and spoons too -- this group has gone green. Fortunately there were a few paper goods for lame-os like me.

After much playing, it was trick-or-treat time! The kids were so cute lined up.

Anyone who questions if boys and girls are born different need only see this scene. I've never ever seen two boys standing holding hands voluntarily. These two were adorable in held hands and bare feet.

Trick or treat! Mostly tricks, as it turns out. Environmentally and nutritionally conscious, this group. There was a little candy, just the right amount.

Katrina, naturally, would have nothing to do with the trick-or-treat line, though she didn't object to hanging around in her costume and showing off.

I made cookies for the event, of course. I hurriedly decorated them this morning, with some help from Julian. Again, a productive ploy to keep him away from Katrina. It's really a problem, and it drives me absolutely crazy: she's perfectly happy absorbed in something, and he comes over and bugs her constantly -- putting things on her head, taking things out of her hands. And she screeches immediately, which sets me off immediately. Sometimes I can find good ways of distracting him, and cookie-decorating was one. I brought the ones I decorated to the party, and the ones he did stayed home.

Katrina got to enjoy the spoils tonight. She earned it, she actually ate some green beans!

I'm reeling from a migraine again -- not so much the pain, but the pressure and strange waves in my head. Worst of all is the depression; the blueness, waking up feeling like crying and not knowing why, the disturbing dreams. The impulse to stay home and hide under the covers is strong, but I know that getting out and doing something fun with the kids is the best distraction possible. Still, even while I was looking around at the party at the cheerful scene of costumed children happily playing, several times I suddenly wanted to burst into tears. Normally that sensation is preceded by sad thoughts, but this chemical depression (my term) washes over me out of the blue when I'm not really thinking anything at all. This afternoon the migraine pain hit hard too, but the way the migraines are changing, the pain is becoming the least of my worries.

Fortunately, I have a birthday party to take Julian to tomorrow -- the best remedy possible!

One nice thing that came out of Julian's constant sister-pestering today was that I got to hear two chapters of "Frog and Toad Together" as I was making dinner. Julian reading these charming stories to me is truly heartwarming and wonderful.


Friday, October 24, 2008

10/24/08 Reading

Bonne Maman asked what kinds of books Julian likes to read, and can read. That's hard to answer, but I've been thinking about it, and I found a way.

Tonight Julian was reading one of our new books -- a classic, "Frog and Toad Together." He usually reads without reading aloud, but since I often ask him to read to me (a great way to get him to quit bugging Katrina), he was reading aloud this time. This particular book is in the series that's rated for reading difficulty, and it's a "Level 2."

Then Gabriel took interest and Julian read to him, though I doubt Gabriel saw it that way! Mostly he was interested in the story. I wonder when the day will come when these sweet stories are too babyish for him. He's rapidly approaching 7, that corner could be turned any day.

It was a nice peaceful scene, with Gabriel working on some construction paper building project, and Julian reading. Katrina was bouncing around on the family room couch, quite happily. I don't get a lot of these scenes, so I had to record it.

Naturally, I'm very proud of Julian's reading, and even happier for him that he really really likes to do it. But don't take that to mean I'd be concerned or upset if he couldn't! I'm really not into kids being "ahead" or having a "leg up," and if Katrina reads late, whatever. If I worried about developmental milestones, I'd have gone beserk with all of Gabriel's late-emerging skills as a baby and toddler. As far as I know, Julian reads really well for 4-1/2, and I'm happy about that, but I wouldn't be sad if he couldn't.

Quite a week in remodeling -- we passed a rough inspection this week, which was a huge, huge deal. I'm glad I didn't know how big a deal after the fact, but it's the last big inspection until final.

I have a big deadline to get ALL the tile chosen and laid out, and have met many times with our architect/interior designer to put everything together. We'd gone pretty far on the upstairs kids' bath when I remembered: there are going to be 3 smelly teenagers taking 20 showers a day in there someday -- it's got to be super-durable. So, no multicolored subway tiles; instead, 12x12 tiles with a slightly mottled appearance in order to hide ickies on the floor, and minimize mildew habitat. But I still want something colorful and fun, so we ended up with frosted glass tiles for the accent. The color scheme will be something like this.

And accents from here. (The border above is from the 3x3 square in the upper right on the display board below, though I'm toying with some of the brighter ones on its left too.)

Today we talked with our contractor about replacing the existing heavy, obtrusive living room fireplace surround also. It's criminal for a fireplace not to have a mantle.

Say goodbye! Demolition will start Monday!

We got a glance at our new front door today too. It's so gorgeous and elegant I'm almost taken aback: who lives here? Me??

All this sensory overload from being at tile stores is really making me want to scrapbook again...all those colors and textures and patterns -- delicious. It makes me want to scrapbook, to knit, to decorate cookies...and maybe even to learn how to do my own tiling someday...!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23/08 Birthday Bunny

A final birthday package arrived today for our 2-year-old! This time from Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan.

Katrina had been scribbling in every book and scrap of paper in the family room with a green crayon, but she paused long enough to open her gifts and fall in love with the softest bunny I've ever felt. Then she wrapped the bunny in a half-Nelson, and continued on with her graffiti, starting with the cute birthday card.

Next was the beautiful new book too! Whoops.

I quickly dropped the camera and put it in safer hands. Our burgeoning bookworm was all too happy to be its keeper.

I didn't put her up to this, she started this adorable "hop hop" game herself.

More hop-hop and coloring.

With one of Julian's blinky shoes, no less. (Where are Stacy and Clinton when you need them?)

Thank you Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan!!

One of numerous reasons I'm getting very anxious to move back home -- silly because it's still many months away -- is because it will be so easy to have visitors. We could have visitors now too -- I'd never let accommodations stand in the way of a visit -- but the guest suite really will make it very easy and comfortable. We haven't seen our SoCal relatives in months -- far far too long.

After Katrina was in bed, I heard Gabriel practicing something I hadn't heard before. His piano teacher John does duets with him, and Gabriel was playing both parts just for fun (not at the same time).

(In the beginning he says he's playing a duet, and Julian is talking too.)

(Can I just indulge in a moment of bursting pride? He really could be good someday.)

I was relentlessly, painfully, miserably tired all day. I went running this morning before work, a short hilly run but it was absolutely beautiful out and I felt pretty good. But I wish I'd taken a nap at home afterward. Less than an hour of extra sleep turns the day from an minute-by-minute ordeal into feeling pretty normal. It's like I have some migraine symptoms all the time now, and without a nap I'm barely functional. An incredibly boring job doesn't help either.

Whine whine. I'd rather hop hop.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10/22/08 Crazy Tails

It was a day of the purple and ponytails. Katrina (sort of) permitted ponytails to be put in her hair this morning -- her hair is getting long enough that pulling it back is necessary to keep it out of her food.

Though obviously I can't do that good a job.

Tonya often re-does her hair later, and this afternoon she managed to get it into super-high bouncy ponytails. Perfect for a silly, edgy girl!

I'm still semi-traumatized from Katrina's full-on 55-minute tantrum a few days ago. That included several attempts to move her to a different room, only she'd storm back in the kitchen, shoes in hand, throw them into the kitchen, demand I put them on her, then scream "NO TUHSH SHEW!!" and start a fresh round of fits when I tried to put them on her.

Five minutes of this is a very long time to live through, so it's easy to think these last longer than they really do. But Gabriel got me in the habit of actually looking at the clock, so I know for certain that this lasted nearly an hour, with no breaks at all. This knowledge is of no use whatsoever.

Happily, tonight's scene was much sweeter, though hard to capture in video. Julian and Katrina have a "yahyah" game together, in which they run across a room with pull-toys behind them saying, "Yahyahyahyah!!" It's very cute. I took this to show Bonne Maman, because she always loved pull-toys. It's not all that interesting, but does give a glimpse of life around here as Dave is finishing up with Gabriel's homework.

Notice how Katrina reacts to setbacks -- at the top of her lungs!

Gabriel's homework hasn't been quite as bad lately, partly because the exercises have been a little more defined, such as numbering all 12 positions on a clock. But tonight once again they threw in the sort of thing that is just silly, time-consuming, and outdated: find 5 nickels around the house, do some exercises with them, then bring them into school. What is this, the 1940s? Who has nickels lying around anymore?

Speaking of nickels, Gabriel's last dentist appointment was ominous: the two permanent teeth has he growing in are really out of whack -- as soon as he has a pair of permanent molars, it's off to the orthodontist for him. That could be as soon as 6 months, said the dentist. Now that's going to take some nickels!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10/21/08 Sick day?

I have to chuckle sometimes at the difference between Moms and Dads. This morning, Dave woke up with a slight cold, and said, "Ughg, I didn't sleep well." Yet somehow he slept through Julian sitting and crying in front of our room, wet, and having thrown up. I was up for 15 minutes, scurrying around changing his clothes, his bedding, comforting him, checking him, and scrubbing the carpet. Talk about not sleeping well!

That reminds me that the other night at dinner, Gabriel was shocked to hear that as a baby, he kept me awake a lot at night. Funny, it doesn't seem that long ago to me, but to him, his babyhood is ancient forgotten history. I still remember clearly the pain of being awake so many times during the night, for so many months in a row, and the perpetrator himself being amazed at this!

So Julian missed school today, though he seemed fine in the morning. And, as it turns out, he was pretty much fine all day. Good thing, because I had an important meeting scheduled, and Dave and I ended up at an important unscheduled meeting as well.

I was truly proud of Julian when I brought him to the tile store to meet with my kitchen designer to pick a tile backsplash. We went to Barnes & Noble first to get some new books, and he picked out four, including one with 7 stories in it. Not only is Julian reading really, really well, but he really likes to read and reads several books a day -- really reads them, not just flipping through pages or going from memory. And read he did -- for over an hour and a half, he sat quietly in a very kid-unfriendly place, and read his new books. He interrupted me twice to tell me in a proud whisper that he'd finished another story. What a wonderful kid.

Meantime, Anna talked me into a completely different thing than I'd had in mind, but clicked perfectly. Subway tile. And that hits close to home, even though I haven't lived in New York -- or even been there -- in years!

Look formal? Yes, but --

-- look at it without the accents, against the countertop and the cabinet color. It's perfect.

Anna's working on a design with accents for the niche and lower shelf.

I was exhausted and elated coming back from the tile store, very ready for some lunch and a nap, but I got a call from Dave: urgent decisions that had been overlooked last Friday need to be made before rough inspection this week.

So we all met at the jobsite a little later in the afternoon. Julian once again, dragged along, but he behaved really really well. Poor thing got bored and tired after a while and curled up on what will be a shower bench. I wanted to take him home and bake cookies together, but we had no choice but to press on.

No disasters to head off, just things that had to be decided. We'll soon be entering the very decision-intensive interior finishing phase, after the drywall is up in a few weeks. It's really taking shape!

Barring any more early morning episodes, it's back to work for all tomorrow.


Monday, October 20, 2008

10/20/08 Amazing boys

So far Gabriel has aced every (weekly) spelling test, both the 10 required words and the 5 extra "challenge" words. But his spelling tests keep coming back with extra words, numbered 16-18. What's up with that? The handwriting is poor, but they appear to be spelled correctly.

Turns out, Gabriel is adding in those words himself. When a regular word is called out during the test, like "top," he quickly writes it down, then starts work on a more interesting word of his choice. This week, his words were "mathematics," "paragraph," and "picture." We may have some serious geekiness on our hands here!

Tonight, my dinner included a perfect me-sized portion of leftover creamed spinach, while everyone else's vegetable was fresh broccoli. Julian saw what I had, and said sadly, "I want spinach too!"

Now, just so this sinks in to all you gentle readers, especially mothers of 4-year-olds, I must repeat this:
"I want spinach too!"
Naturally I was more than happy to part with my little treat. How could I refuse such amazing words coming from such amazing lips?

Katrina....well, passing up her nightly-once-again dinner tantrum was especially amazing tonight. Of course, just being 2 and irrepressibly adorable is sufficiently amazing. But she has two tough acts to follow when it comes to amazing.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

10/19/08 Happy Birthday!

Today is Dave's 42nd birthday. I think I had more fun with this than he did!

I made the usual big bang-up breakfast this morning, of course. Then he got a picture frame I'd made at a pottery place with a photo of all 3 kids. Around the frame it says "The answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything" -- a quote from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the answer is 42.

It has two blue and one pink star on it, but those didn't come out so well.

The accompanying card I'd hastily decorated, but had gotten the boys to write in also. On the back was the first clue to a treasure hunt, with 5 dorky rhymes on slips of paper made distinct with gold stars, sending him around the house.

Gabriel found this one:
Concentrate now, you've gone asunder
Think black and whites with melodic traits
This time the clue is under
Something not quite eighty-eights

Ultimately the treasure hunt led into the office, where a plugged-in and installed new printer was waiting under some wrapping paper. It was no mean feat smuggling that in and setting it up without his noticing, but like most married guys, Dave often can't find things right in front of him anyway!

Then after dinner, cake time. I'd worked on this for a few days, conspiring with Stacey and Betsy on how to make and decorate a chocolate buttercream cake. Betsy loaned me a stand mixer, a fabulous piece of kitchen equipment, if you have use for it. I'm a real amateur at cake decorating, but it's so much fun and so personal that I think I can kiss Duncan Hines goodbye.

I'd told the boys about trick candles that re-light when blown out, and they thought that was hilarious. They didn't work so well; Dave was able to blow them out pretty easily, but the boys still thought the the idea was funny.

Katrina...well, I won't mar the memory of a nice day with her biggest moment, mostly spent on the floor at a highly elevated decibel level. The rest of the day she was adorable, but I had to grit my teeth hearing the mantra Enjoy it now, they grow so fast in my head during the longest 55 minutes of the day. Good thing they're so cute.

Amidst remodeling, work, homework, not living at home (which is really starting to wear on us), distractions like cake-baking are very welcome! Wait, I think I have that backward: life is really about cake-baking and costume-sewing and scrapbooking and pronouncing words for new readers (Julian the book hound), soccer chauffering, and of course, birthdays -- work is the distraction from the important things.