Saturday, November 29, 2008

11/29/08 Recovery

Whew, did I say I'd post photos of Thanksgiving? Well, here's a few. Playing handball with Uncle Ryan on a semi-stormy day. I love the mountain in the background.

You can juuust make out a blue ball that Julian just threw.

(Mom's perogative here, sorry....he's just sooo cute!)

The best (I'm sorry to say) photo I got of everyone as we sat down to dinner.

Ah, I hope I never recover from the glow of a great visit!

But this cold I could do without. So far this is the usual bronchitis/cold that I get and that takes weeks to recover from, but this one is pretty mild. Mild enough that I took Julian and Katrina to the Y this morning for a half-hearted workout, then snoozed in the afternoon. I just don't have time to get sick.

We watched a movie tonight together, which is noteworthy because it's the first time we've watched a movie at home since moving here last June. It was a French 1956 Oscar-winner movie called "The Red Balloon," only 35 minutes long, that I vaguely remember seeing as a kid. Though it was subtitled, there were only 3 or 4 spoken lines and you could easily infer the meaning from the video, so kids can watch it without needing much translation or subtitle-reading. But Dave and I wanted to see it too.

To our surprise, Gabriel remembered the story, he said from a "book in preschool." And to my delight, both boys loved the story and the movie, and wanted to talk all about it afterward. It's so simple, a drastic contrast from all the bright flashy sound effects and visuals and sophisticated animation in "Wall-E." But it struck a deep chord with them. (Katrina just wanted to bounce around and show off for her captive audience.)

It sounds crazy, and very unlikely, but I sorta hope it rains tomorrow. I'd like the excuse to lie around all day!


Friday, November 28, 2008

11/28/08 Home for the weekend

We just returned from our trip to SoCal to visit Laura & Ryan for Thanksgiving. A fabulously successful and utterly delightful trip and visit! I'm tired and not feeling 100% (much of my voice is missing), so I'm not going to do photos right now.

The odds were stacked against us: a 6-hour (with stops) drive with three small children crammed together in a no-food, no-DVD car. We stayed in a 2BR 1BA apartment, with no bedroom doors -- all 3 kids stayed in the smaller 2nd bedroom, Katrina on the floor on a kid-Aerobed, and the boys sharing a twin bed head-to-toe. Thanksgiving dinner for 7 people prepared, served and cleaned up in a small kitchen with no dishwasher.

But everything worked great. On the way down, after a dinner stop, the kids slept. We braced ourselves for a rough drive home, but even though Katrina's nap amounted to a half hour early on, she was quiet and happily played for the whole drive.

The sleeping arrangements also worked out really well. Katrina needed some time to settle down the first night, and the second night we found Gabriel in Katrina's bed and Katrina on the floor, but other than that, they did great together. But if one woke up, so did the others, once at 6:30am. Urgh.

What we did: not that much, and that was exactly called for! It rained, for starters. We went to Griffith Observatory briefly; despite the rain the views were great (including the Hollywood sign!), and all the kids were thrilled with the few displays we saw. We went out to dinner once, breakfast once, and then stayed in a lot (rain, sloth, food prep and movies).

Katrina was really good the whole trip: she offered her usual protesting screeches, but no full-on tantrums. The boys overall were good too, though the night we went out to dinner, the boys were fighting in the back seat on the way. When we arrived, Julian was bawling and there was blood streaming down his nose and onto his jacket, smeared all over his face and on the car door. Uncle Ryan said he looked like Rocky.

The day before Thanksgiving, we watched the movie "Wall-E," then on Thanksgiving Day we watched Kung Fu Panda and then Wall-E again. That was really fun. Wall-E especially was really good.

Uncle Ryan took the boys out to play handball twice; they all had a great time running around and throwing racquetball balls against a wall. Julian has developed a full-body throw that makes the proud mama in me imagine he's going to get scouted for Little League.

A little last-minute shopping, lots of cooking, lots of drinking and hanging out...and of course: lots of fabulous eating! I should post our Thanksgiving menu; Laura and Ryan's ideas were all gourmet versions of traditional Thanksgiving dishes. We ate like KINGS! Even one little princess.

Life as we know it will resume tomorrow, but for tonight I'm going to enjoy the glow of a wonderful heartwarming family Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 24, 2008

11/24/08 The Turnarounds

I've been feeling lousy the past week; a constant nagging nausea and uncomfortable stomach. But with no other symptoms, I can only attribute it to stress. Today I couldn't shake a feeling of malaise, low energy, and just not wanting to do anything.

Still, I dragged myself through a productive visit to the jobsite, then a trip to the lighting store. I'm putting some punchy pendants over the kitchen island, and there's no shortage of beautiful colorful choices. "When you find something that sings to you," the semi-helpful saleslady said, "go with it." Then she disappeared.

I haven't had a good workout or run in days, and I'm feeling the withdrawal. But I just didn't feel like mustering myself earlier in the day, when the timing was good. Instead, later, when the timing was getting really iffy, I just couldn't do anything else, so I forced myself to go for a short hilly run.

And I had one of the best runs I've had in months. I sailed through it, chugging easily up the steepest sections, sprinting the shorter uphills, head held high and wishing it wasn't about to end. When I'm running, I get my clearest thinking done, and my deepest-felt decisions made. The "Mini-Melrose" pendant was singing to me, right along with Nickelback.

After my run, I felt great, full of energy, head bursting with ideas. What a change from this morning!

[ Except for some familiar twinges from my, it can't tendonitis threating to join the party now? ]

But the best turnaround tonight was offered by my dear daughter, who bestowed upon me two great honors. One was dinner without a tantrum. It's like night and day, the difference in mood in the whole house is tremendous, when we pass on the hour-long screaming and crying and complete unreasonableness.

Two was some time with her in my lap, reading books. She insisted, and I very happily obliged, and we sat and counted things on pages and hunted for mouses.

It's occurred to me many times that part of what makes her difficult to live with isn't just an excess of two-year-old behavior, but also an absence of affection and physical contact that goes such a long way toward making up for it. She still doesn't hug or cuddle -- an occasional half-hearted rest of the head on my shoulder, but only the edge of her head, briefly, not a full-body committment. A mom needs those moments with her toddler! And baby -- even as a brand-new newborn, she never cuddled. All will be forgotten the day I get a true, genuine hug from her.

But for tonight, some lap time was a very welcome turnaround. And she picked a perfect day for it.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

11/23/08 A colorful day

Julian and Katrina playing this morning. Or rather, Julian inserting himself again into her world, and she permitting it for that particular 5 minutes.

She's obsessed with toothbrushes these days and is always walking around with one.

I went test-painting at the house this morning. Not so much to choose colors, but to work on color schemes -- that is, should the paint in the hall match that in the living room, or be its own color? What sorts of colors go where? This was very instructive, especially seeing how the natural light falls into various rooms in the house. Distinct zones that should be one color just presented themselves. It's tempting to make each room its own color, just for fun, but this is a house, not a scrapbook. Rats.

So far every time I paint a sample, it matches the teeny paper int chip exactly. But that doesn't mean it looks anything like I'd thought. The Kelly-Moore color "Vintage Find" looked perfect on paper: a light sage-y green, Craftsman-y without being dark or depressing. But on the wall, it looks almost light blue (3rd from left).

The original dining room and living room should be the same color, but a strong rich yellow color that looks great against all the wood in the dining room is too bright in the living room.

(Photos are just to put you in that place momentarily, they can't possibly convey what the colors really look like.)

The guest suite is challenging because it gets so much sunlight. It can tolerate a darker, more somber color, but for some reason, when I think of a sunny room, I think yellow!

For the office, I had in mind something sort of mauve-y, calm, grown-up. "Mauve Star" definitely isn't it.

Choosing paint colors is a real first for me. Since moving to California in 1988, every place I've lived has had white walls, until 2006 when we did our upstairs. The colors I picked for our upstairs bedrooms now look very bright, kid-like, but I love them. The hall was an off-white, but I'm rebelling against that now too. No more white walls. It's going to get painted. So there.

This will also be the first time I'll live in a house in CA with adequate lighting. I've always accepted the the ritual of entering a room and circling it to turn on all the lamps scattered around; tripping over extension cords, and struggling to pull power strips out from behind furniture. I think I've resisted colors because the rooms I lived in were lit with a single dim ceiling fixture, and I thought anything other than white would be too dark.

I sure could do without Katrina's nightly dinner tantrums. Come 5:00, dread starts to spread over me, because I know I'm in for at least an hour-long struggle. She demands something, refuses it, then screams in outrage when it's put away. Bib, no bib, milk, no milk, red cup, no red cup, peas, no peas, napkin, no napkin. She's impossible. I could live without her eating anything, but the tantrum that spans demanding food, rejecting it furiously, crying to get out of her chair, then screaming in anger about being put down, are unbearable.

I don't give in to her demands for cereal or orange juice, instead bitterly listening to the experts in my head, claiming that if you're consistent and don't give in to them, they'll eventually stop asking. Yeah, eventually, but at what cost in the meantime? She'll stop asking because she'll outgrow the whole scene and become reasonable, in 2 years perhaps, not because my refusal to give in has taught her anything.

Yet I also don't accept the other view that says to give them what they want, they'll outgrow it. I don't know at what point it tips into her knowing she's controlling me if I give her Puffins for dinner every night, so I err on the side of giving her a few choices, all dinner food that everyone else is getting or got recently. It's a painful, costly choice.

Gabriel helped me make breakfast this morning, with great enthusiasm. 6-going-on-7, that's much more my speed. 2's sucked the first time around, and it's really really getting old the second time around.

I'll dream in color tonight. Specifically, "Dustry Trail."