Friday, December 05, 2008

12/5/08 Party Prep

Busy tonight preparing the house and food for holiday party tomorrow. Seems overloading given alllll else I always need to do (grout colors! paint sheen! knob finish! stain shade!), but, ya gotta live! I'm looking forward to it.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

12/4/08 The Singalong

Gabriel started out in a snit today and pretty much maintained it until bedtime, as only Gabriel can. He had good moments, but he was on a short trigger all day. As such, tonight he refused to practice piano, and I suggested to frustrated Dave that he (Dave) sit and play himself, and see if that would attract the boy.

It did, but not the intended boy. As it turns out, Dave got to spend a little piano time with Julian. Julian's musical approach is much different than his brother's; more intuitive and less technical. Gabriel won't even consider singing while he plays, that's just not his modus operandi, but Julian likes to sing along. Dave picked a simple tune that he (Dave) could play, while Julian read the words (and music, to some extent, to follow the rhythm) and sang along. This was so cute that it attracted me and my non-video-camera.

During dinner, it was unusually peaceful in the family room with Julian and Katrina alone together, so I had to investigate. There I caught another very cute scene, of Julian reading Peter Rabbit to Katrina, with her joyfully shouting out names of the rabbits: "CAH-TAH-TAIL!" I didn't catch any good stuff, but here's a glimpse of how they interact. Julian pushed away with the book, which usually causes her to scream, though she didn't this time.

Katrina did great at TLC today, she was in a really good mood when I picked her up. The teachers all tell me she's adapted fabulously well, especially for one so young. Part of me is proud at how strong she is, but part of me is deeply guilty and regretful that she's so used to daycare.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

12/3/08 The long-lost cousin

Hard to tell in this photo, but Katrina took a page from the Cousin Remi Chapter of Self-Art tonight and drew all over herself, her clothes, the carpet and many other items in the family room tonight.

She acted like her cousin for a full half-hour while I was inattentively indisposed on the phone with a cousin of mine.

One I've never talked to before.

I got the call just as I walked in the door with All Three: "Hello, I hope I'm reaching Nay-o-mee, I'm Jimmy's cousin Robert..." Say no more, I grabbed the phone and locked myself in the office. This was my father's cousin, a man I've heard of but have never spoken to before. He and my dad knew each other as kids, and they've stayed in touch over the years. Dad's cousin (my first cousin once removed) knew that Dad had moved, and had talked to Dad, but Cousin Bob was concerned that "Jimmy" wasn't being straightforward about how he is or where he was.

To my surprise, Cousin Bob didn't quite get the picture, until I filled him in, that Dad only knows in a vague sense where he is, and that concepts of distance and time have long since failed him. Cousin Bob, who lives in California, said, "Jimmy asked me right away if I was going to stop by -- he doesn't seem to understand how far away I am!" No kidding.

I learned that I have more great-aunts and uncles than Dad ever told me, probably because I never asked until he was already having trouble remembering. I knew his mother was Opal Morgan (hence Julian's middle name), and she had two sisters, Odessa and Leota. But I didn't know there were three more sisters and a brother. I gained three great-aunts and a great-uncle today! Even if they've all long since died. (My grandmother, Opal, died of Alzheimer's in her early 60s, before I was born...the genetics of Alzheimer's are not in my favor.) I must have second-cousins all over the place.

My great-aunt, Leota Morgan, died young, in the 1940s, Cousin Bob tells me. I already knew she was a screenwriter, and have seen her credits on IMDB. One movie she wrote, Man and Wife (1923), even had a famous actress in it, Norma Shearer.

What a treat to discover a little piece of family history right in my own backyard, sort of (Cousin Bob and his wife are in Southern California). Finding out more about my ancestors -- and more ancestors -- is a little "spooooky" as Julian would say.

And the line continues....even if it's covered in Magic Marker.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

12/02/08 First Day!

It was Katrina's first day at TLC today!

I've always begrudged, reluctantly, Dave his daily restaurant lunch, and I have a standing offer to make him lunch instead. But now that I'm up to 4 lunches to make, I'm sort of relieved. These all get assembled the night before and (somehow) crammed into the fridge, then in the morning, staged in the hall so they're not forgotten.

The orange one on the left is mine; I had it monogrammed with "Gabriel" but it was too big for him for kindergarten. I love having "Gabriel" on my lunch box!

Katrina got a Speed Racer cheapie that was briefly Gabriel's, but was too small for his lunches. While I'm on the subject, I'm not crazy about the pink and blue lunch sacks the boys have now; they don't stay upright while I'm packing them, and if you pull the liner out to wash it, it's a major major pain getting it back in since the interior insulation isn't attached to the sides and falls in.

Julian was very proud and happy to have his sister at his school.

She was puzzled at first, but didn't waste a moment emitting her characteristic ear-piercing shriek of protest at the dastardly suggestion of removing her jacket. The wonderful 2's room teacher, whom I like a great deal, at first misunderstood this reaction as an extreme one, for being upset over being about to be left behind (could a real writer help me with that please?). I rolled my eyes and explained to the teacher, "Nope, that's just her." I did the teachers a favor and skedaddled fast.

She's in really, really good hands (here with the "Prince" (Director) of the school).

I have nothing to worry about, other than the fact that she's still my baby. ("SCREEEE--EEEEECH!!!!") I still could have used a hug from her.

She did so well that there was little to say. I forgot to ask about lunch, and indeed, left her lunch behind. I'm not in the habit of carrying lunches out since Julian does it himself. The 2's teacher told me she wiggled a little before her nap, but the teacher lay down with her and put her arm around Katrina's belly, and she went right to sleep. HEY!! She's never done that for me!!

The day did take its toll though. Katrina was a disaster when we got home, fussing and crying and tantruming at the slightest provocation. Like, say, oh, having to close the front door. Sorry, tantrum-experts, she can choose mismatched socks, but leaving the front door open isn't one of those things I can give in on.

Fortunately, Julian was on the job, and he very very patiently and persistently worked her out of it. When she'd quieted down, I peeked in the family room and saw him reading Peter Rabbit to her. How sweet. We're not supposed to have favorites (though I secretly do among other people's kids!), but Julian was the clear winner today. Gabriel....arrrgh. When he turns on Pest Mode, it's ugly, and very very persistent.

I had planned to work a long day today, given my new time windfall. But since I ran into two friends at the Y this morning, I guess my trying to sneak in a workout before work wasn't sneaky enough. Busted!

In the afternoon, I got a call at work from Anna, my kitchen designer. The cable/data outlet we'd planned for the entertainment area wasn't in the right place and the new hutch's crown molding will cover a light fixture, how do you want to...? I'm on my way. The crew was there (that's Dave on the right), and I got to ask the installer personally to make sure the eensy "Shaw's" emblem on the sink goes on the far side so you can see it. Details, details.

We solved the problems, and I got to see the entertainment area in the works.

That whole thing above the fireplace, and the cabinets on either side, will be one continuous tabletop. It's intended to set a TV on, and all stereo/VCR/DVD components will go on the open shelves next to the fireplace.

But I'm re-thinking the TV thing. I never wanted a !!T!!V!!! to be the focal point of our room, and I still don't. I really, really like having it behind closed doors, out of everyone's faces. I love the big wide open tabletop that we can do whatever we want with -- it doesn't have to be dedicated to a giant screen that constantly attracts eyes. A kick-*ss audio system, on the other hand, now we're talking.

(To set the record straight, I like to watch TV and I do it a lot (I'm on a Netflix Desperate Housewives kick at the moment). Most of this debauchery is done from the comfort of bed -- there's no time for TV with the kids around.)

I really underestimated the emotional effect of seeing the house come together. My anticipation about going home is accelerating day by day. New irritations about our rental house arise daily. Every day, something new is put in place in the house, and each thing is something I'm heavily invested in and want very very much to LOVE immediately. But few things work that way. Today's heart attack is over the kitchen cabinets: why didn't I get the straight shaker style? That oval ogee around the inside of the frame doesn't work with painted cabinets!!! Aggggh!!!! In time, I'll get used to these details and won't be in constant new-surroundings-overload. Until then, the house is very much like raising children: new highs and lows, unexpectedly, every day.


[ Other blogger users: Have you noticed that photos now upload in reverse order if you upload more than one? And why are they limited to 5 at a time anyway? And why do you have to browse for each one?! And why are you stuck with one size for all photos in one batch? And why does it put the photos in the same place -- at the top -- of your work-in-progress? And why is the window that pops up too small to fit the "Upload" button, forcing you to scroll down EVERY time? Why doesnt't the photo-upload popup close on its own when it's done? Why are you committed to a "left" or "right" orientation at upload time and have to hack the HTML to change it later? I could go on! The photo-upload interface sucks!!! ]

Monday, December 01, 2008

12/1/08 Quotes

Katrina: "I want the GREEN placemat!"

I remember now reading advice, in a desperate search for help with Gabriel's tantrums, about dealing with 2-year-olds. The first line of defense is to let things like mismatched socks or short-sleeved shirts go. Toddlers are striving for control, so give it to them for things that don't matter. I didn't understand this on two counts. One, I never had a toddler who cared all that much about particular items. Two, the tantrums were never about anything as simple as the color of a placemat. And they're not now either, because I sure as heck know better than to pick a fight like that!

Gabriel, who has to come up with 7 words with "it" in them, then write a sentence with one of those words: "Is 'tit' a real word?" He knows the answer too, he just wants to see how I'll react. (I told him evenly that it's slang and that it's not appropriate to use for homework.)

Julian: "The life cycle of a butterfly starts with the eggs. Then it turns into a caterpillar and then it wraps itself up and wiggles and squirms to come up, then it's a butterfly that lays eggs and starts it all over again!" As usual, nothing about friends or anything else that happened at school. Just a science snippet.

Mom: That cough medicine knocked me out today, I'm going to bed!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

11/30/08 Tree day

We're hosting a holiday party next week for the 2006 Las Madres Cupertino playgroup, so we got our Christmas tree today.

In keeping with the notion of simplifying life, this was a $25 Home Depot special. It's definitely more fun and homey to drive to the mountains and choose and cut our own. Not to mention making for better photo-ops. Some things I just don't like simplifying, but it makes sense for us this year.

Afterward, I went to the house to do some more test-painting. I brought a helper.

Gabriel very happily chatted with me while I test-painted, and I gave him a dry brush to smooth out the edges of the swatches I painted on the walls. It turned a chore (though overall a sort of fun one) into a very nice time talking and hanging out with my firstborn son. What a cool kid.

He asked me something about how much the house cost, and I put him off by saying it's complicated, but I did say it's the most expensive thing that most people ever buy. So, basically, "a lot." He said, "I wish that I could help." I didn't understand what he meant at first, but he said that maybe if I needed more money to buy more paint, he could give me his allowance! I hugged him and thanked him and told him not to worry, we could buy paint.

(I recently watched a "Momversation" about talking to kids about the economy and parent's jobs and financial situations. I see no need whatsoever to do that. Kids don't get everything they want when things are good, it's no different now. I see no reason to worry them about something they have no control over even if they could understand it. If something drastic happened -- a loss of job, a forced move -- I still think it's pretty easy to tell them a rosy watered-down version of the truth. If things get bad enough that I have to put Gabriel to work at a gas station for 12 hours a day, then we'll talk.)

Meantime, progress has been made on the kitchen cabinet installation!

The kitchen won't really be that darkish green color, that's just tinted primer. It's quite a bit darker than the kitchen will actually be, though I'm starting to like it! It'll be either "Sand Castle" (that Gabriel is "painting"), or "Beach Bum" (right next to what Gabriel is "painting").

Gabriel took this one.

The next 3 months will be the longest ones of this remodeling journey.