Saturday, January 03, 2009

1/3/09 The French

I took Julian and Katrina to a birthday party today...

(...excuse me, I'm being informed, "Office is closed, boys!" and the office door is being shut by a self-appointed authority....)

...and enjoyed hanging out and catching up with moms I knew, and getting to know other families I didn't know. This included a French-Canadian couple, the 3rd family I know now that hails from Quebec.

I learned something about Canadians today. Talking with the Dad, who's from somewhere in Quebec, I asked about his wife, and he said, "She's French." I made the usual joking inquiries about whether or not Canadians and French can understand each other. He said it was like a Texan talking to a Scot: same basic language, but with heavy accents and different expressions.

Later, his wife arrived, and we made instant friends. She had a strong accent that sounded a little odd, but her English was fine. It wasn't until hours later that I realized: she's not French from France, she's French-Canadian. Apparently being "French" in Canada is as clear a distinction as if she were from a different country. Indeed, the two did sound like they were from different countries, as he sounded like an ordinary Canadian ("It's cold oot-side") and she clearly was not a native English speaker. They were both fun, bright, interesting people and I got a huge kick out of talking to them.

Katrina managed to make a name for herself. OK, I have to preface this by saying she mostly played pretty well, but by 1:15 was clearly ready to go: pushing me off the couch, getting her shoes, putting her jacket on. But the cake hadn't been cut yet though, and leaving a birthday party before the big payoff because of a grumpy little sister is something I only had the heart to do to Julian once in his lifetime. This is a problem with bringing a 2-year-old to a 5-year-old's birthday party.

While the kids were gathering for the singing, Katrina got mad at me for something, and hit me with a toy. Only she picked the wrong leg, and hit another mom instead! When she realized her mistake, she looked at me with contempt, and then hit my leg, as if it were my fault that she'd attacked the wrong leg. I brought her to the other mom and told her to say she was sorry, but she burst into angry tears, and actually started to shake. I was glad that she reacted that way instead of escalating, as Gabriel would have done. Still, the little pest!

Before the party, I took Julian for a much-needed haircut. I liked his moptop look, but while his hair is completely straight, it actually has a lot of body and will stick out strangely. Katrina watched the operation with interest.

The haircut ladies eyed her too, and misunderstood my appalled reaction. It's not just that I love her long hair, but I will need serious sedation before attempting to get her to sit for a haircut again.

We walked around the apartment complex a little before the party, where a newly dapper Julian enjoyed a fountain and some ducks.

Lately I haven't wanted to stay at birthday parties with the boys, especially not with Katrina, but I had fun being a grownup and a yakky Mom again today.


Friday, January 02, 2009

1/2/09 The Organization

Spent all night organizing stuff that is a relentless PITA to organize, but is even more annoying not to be able to find when you need it.

I'm determined to have a catalog-perfect utility closet when we move back home, with everything categorized into clearly marked boxes: "tape," "glue," "string," "picture-hanging," "drywall anchors," "batteries," "shelf pegs," "nightlights," and hundreds of other such sundries. This is the sort of drudgery one should only ever have to do once a decade.

But I have an ulterior motive. Now Dave will have to go actually look for something himself, rather than asking me. "Look for the box labelled 'zip-ties'...," I'll tell him, "....under 'Z'!"

I got a Sign today. I went to the nearest Target to buy more storage boxes, and discovered empty shelves. It's closing tomorrow. It's time to go home.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

1/1/09 Happy New Year!

We had a delightful, inspiring and fun New Year's Eve with our longtime moto-friends, Reid and Rubye.

Though I've known Rubye just as long as Reid, Reid was the motorcyclist, and I got to know him over many, many rides across many mountains, deserts, forests and states. He knew Dave too, but I did a lot more rides with Reid than Dave did, and over the years, we became solid friends.

(I always marvelled at how this soft-spoken, gentle, kind, insightful, wise man was an animal as a rider. Don't try to keep up with him lane-splitting, and if you plan to ride home with him after a 3-day weekend, you'd better have your bike packed, gassed up and running at 5:30am! I remember numerous trips when I'd get up at O'Dark Early and find Reid's campsite vacant. He'd be home from Hayfork or Quincy by 10am, when most riders were still sleepily unpoling their tents and looking around for coffee. He wanted to spend the day with Rubye.)

The kids went to Melissa's for a New Year's Eve sleepover, and didn't give me so much as a glance over their shoulders when I tried to kiss them good-bye. Dave picked them up this morning and they were really wiped out by their sleepover, so we took it super easy today.

The only thing we did today was a short trip to the jobsite, where Katrina lasered right in on a wagon in the garage. "I'm ready!" she declared. To be pushed around at her whimsy, she meant.

The boys couldn't match her energy.

They passed on the fascination of the new granite bathroom countertops and a sliding door I just realized opens on the wrong side(arrrrrghGHGGHH!!!).

Katrina's been increasingly....increasing. Everything. For starters, she's doing more and more "girl" things. We're finding her baby doll and stuffed animals all over the house, tucked into blankets, with cloths wrapped around like diapers, or bibs set up in the high chair.

She's also getting more demanding, more insistent, bossier -- is that possible? She got two timeouts today for hitting. She needed to be put back a few times, but she mostly sat and cried in timeout. GOOD.

After a sound nap (the first she's taken all week), she happily played with Dad's iPhone. I think Dad enjoys these moments more than she does, though he won't admit it.

Julian got a terrific skeleton jigsaw puzzle book for his birthday. Tonight he came to me again and again, joyfully announcing something he's found in the book: "MOM! The hand has TWENTY-SIX bones!!" Dr. Doudna, perhaps??

First things first. Kindergarten before medical school. Incredible...the school district finally updated their archaic registration system of having parents fill out 1000 forms with all sorts of obscure information at the school. If you don't have your dentist's phone number, you're supposed to go back (I never did).

But now we can pick up registration packets ahead of time. Welcome to the 2000's. I guess an ONLINE FORM (Hell-LO?! Silicon Valley anyone?) will have to wait until the next century.

Kindergarten Registration:
February 2 – 12, 2009 at the neighborhood schools.

Registration packets maybe picked up by the parent at the neighborhood school beginning January 26, 2009. Packets are numbered sequentially and must be returned between February 2 - February 12, 2009, to be valid.

Any child who will be five years old on or before December 2, 2009, is eligible to attend kindergarten for the 2009-10 school year.

(That typo/spelling error of "maybe" instead of "may be" bothers me. This is a school for Pete's sake!)

I don't "think" this is a concern, but:


Well, define "reside."

When I submitted my TB test to Gabriel's school in December, an office staff member pulled me aside, acting verrrry serious. "What's this address?" she pointed out accusingly.

Duh, I'd written our rental address on the TB test application. Our rental house is in the same city as our real house, but in a different school district. I casually explained the situation, but she acted as authoritative as a hall monitor, put me on notice to submit a current PG&E bill, and warned me she'd report me to the school district. Oooh. I couldn't stand her "YOU'RE BUSTED" self-important attitude.

I can easily submit a current PG&E bill, despite the anachronism. So what? We do all our billing electronically and could easily Photoshop the proof. Whatever.

Regardless, I'll be registering my little boy for kindergarten next month!!!! Yay! Wah! Yay! Wah! Yay!

Mean time, happy next year, everyone!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12/30/08 Full Day

Amazing how much fuller and more intense a day with all three kids by myself is than a day of going to work. As though this is news.


  • Gabriel earned himself two hours of timeout in his room by 9:30am.

  • Gabriel tossed his Bear into the air (as he so often does and is not allowed) in his room, and hit the glass light shade on the ceiling. It broke and came crashing down, hitting his head and then breaking into pieces on the carpet. I had to carry him outside to brush glass bits out of his hair. He never cried. I would have.

  • I had to lock the backyard door when the boys left it open for the 315th time to prove a point. Oh, oops, are you guys outside? Oh WELL. Julian cried, Gabriel growled and threatened to punch me.

  • A misguided effort to illustrate the introspection and discipline of martial arts went awry, when I showed the boys Kung Fu demonstrations on YouTube. As I should have expected, they went on a total rampage afterward ("Hi-YAH!!"). Note to self: well, duh.

  • An enormous box arrived today, and the kids opened gifts from Uncle Ronan and Anney. Katrina got a penguin that's nearly as big as she is, and watching her carry it around giggling is priceless. The boys are beside themselves with their car toys. Thank goodness this arrived last, Uncle Ronan always upstages everyone else.

  • And I found the perfect craft table to replace the nasty dark-brown 1970s oak stereo cabinet that the previous owners of our house left behind, that's served us as a hokey "craft area" for years. This is my best news of the day.

    Somehow this morning I managed to plan a trip to south San Jose, and then letterboxing in Los Altos right afterward. Those up on Bay Area geography know that this isn't exactly "on the way." I was in a hurry when I chose this letterbox, and did so because it was the first one I came across that was Katrina-friendly (no hiking). Then again, sitting for the required 4 minutes or so to exchange stamps isn't Katrina-friendly no matter what.

    The real attraction of letterboxing is going to parks or other places where the letterbox is planted. This was a park we'd been to before, but only briefly after doctor's visits. The kids all had a great time playing on the play structures.

    Katrina can sort-of clumsily run now, looking like she's going to trip with every step.

    I was very surprised that she tried -- and succeeded -- climbing up to, and on top of, this rock bridge. This is quite doable by a 2-year-old, but a first for this unathletic 2-year-old.

    Gabriel hawked over her protectively.

    She was very enthusiastic about the slide until she actually had to look down.

    Julian pretended to be barely hanging onto a steep slide, and then would let go and slide down with an "aaaAAAAHHHH!"

    I was chatting with another mom who also has 2 boys and a girl, same agespans, but her oldest is only 4 (and her baby is only 1 month). She seemed anxious about Julian's apparent distress, and unsure what to make of my response, which was to glance his way and take a picture. Rookie.

    Finally, time to find the letterbox. Katrina was unwittingly very funny in her usual instant contrariness when the letterbox hunt included counting steps. "No!" she protested, "I can't count!"

    It took some real looking, and I had to return to the car to get the stroller to contain Katrina, but we did find it. The boys were thrilled.

    I love photos like this. Life appears so idyllic. Then, an hour later, you're brushing glass shards out of your son's hair.

    Or worse, you're committing the offense of insisting on closing the front door. Katrina was outraged. I captured an amusing little clip of her tantrum -- and bonus! The camera defused it.

    Later, I showed all three the video of Katrina throwing the tantrum. Katrina didn't seem to understand that it was actually her. "That's crying baby!" she observes. The boys found it very funny.

    Today I feel like I've lived a week. Netflix delivered my next "Desperate Housewives" DVD today. I'm so there.

  • Monday, December 29, 2008

    12/29/08 Mom for a Day

    All three by myself all day! It's been a while since I've done this. Eh, it's like falling off a bicycle. You lose control, smash your head, scrape your knees, cry for a while, and then....oh, um, errr.....where was I again?

    Of course, no day is complete without some remodeling work. Today was meeting the granite guys at the jobsite and repeating 20 times: "The 30-inch vanity has ONE drill hole for the faucet; the other one has THREE."

    I had to bring all three kids to the jobsite, never a good idea, but I had no choice. Fortunately, Dave found the time to come with me. Good thing. Katrina first ran around in circles happily, before we went inside and she got all P.O.'d about having to being carried around.

    She never lets her brothers hold her hand and guide her anymore, though they're both very willing to leap into the role of caretaker. Bummer.

    I took the crew to Lowe's to check out light fixtures. Katrina saw the blue car cart and flipped. This pause for a photo was met with angry disapproval. Naturally, the boys had to get in on the action.

    I've finally started reviewing photos for my annual calendar -- yes it's coming folks! -- and can't believe how many photos I have of everyone smiling except Katrina, who's crying and objecting furiously! This is just another one.

    Then I took them to the "old" gym, whose daycare was inexplicably open (their hours aren't nearly as broad as the Y's). I plopped them there with lunch at 10:30 and went for a workout, that I needed more intellectually than physically.

    And again, Katrina was furious about having to leave the gym daycare.

    Her new reaction to anger is to bite herself. Great. She knows she's not supposed to bite us, so she bites herself and even threatens us with her nefarious plot: "I'm goin' tah bi' TREENA!" She also tries to pinch or hit us, but it's half-hearted. Like Gabriel, she lashes out in anger, but unlike Gabriel, she doesn't like being scolded. Either that or she's just easier to scare.

    Despite her wily personality, neither Dave or I have ever had to swat her. Talking to her sternly is generally enough and she backs down -- not out of feeling sad that Mommy is angry, but moreso out of fear -- or practicality. Even Julian got a well-timed smack from time to time at this age, turning a long irritating impasse into sad crying and the end of the conflict. Gabriel wouldn't back down no matter what. Katrina doesn't concede the way Julian did, she stays mad, but unlike Gabriel she recognizes futility and looks for other ways to get back at us. She hasn't figured out yet that biting herself isn't the way to do it.

    The kids had had enough buzzing around for the day and spent a relatively quiet afternoon at home. Downtime. Ah. And I survived it!


    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    12/28/08 Triple shot

    Encouraged by a foot-buzz-free run two days ago, I wanted to do a "real" run today at Rancho San Antonio. It was a crisp, glorious day, just begging to be spent outside in the mountains.

    Talking with Gabriel about it this morning, he asked me numerous times if he could go with me. I had to regretfully tell him no, I was planning to run too far for him. He asked again and again, and I promised him we would run together, but I had a hilly 7-mile route planned.

    Still, this vacation is taking its toll -- the boys were bouncing off the walls yesterday. They really, really needed to get out today.

    Then I had a brainstorm in the late morning: take everyone to Rancho San Antonio, I'll run with Gabriel for the first 1.5-mile stretch, going back and forth to touch base with Dave, Julian and Katrina. Then I'd head off for a real run after the first part of the trail. Brilliant! The kids get out, I run with Gabriel, and I get a real run in.

    My first instinct, as usual, is to get a photo of all three together. And as usual, Katrina had other ideas.

    Gabriel and I started off together, and I was delighted that he had no trouble with the first stretch, which is half a mile of UP. While we waited at the top for Dave to catch up, I showed Gabriel a short, but very steep, hill on the beginning of another trail. Again, no problem.

    When Dave caught up, we started on the gradual downhill, with Julian for part of it, and me and Gabriel running ahead for the other part. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see the boys really RUNNING. They really needed it! But Julian wasn't close to keeping up with me and Gabriel, he pooped out fast.

    At the end of the trail (at the farm), Katrina got out of the stroller briefly, then demanded to get back in.

    Gabriel had done really well running with me, though toward the end of the downhill part he was starting to get tired. I considered taking a shorter route than I'd first planned, and running some more with him, but I'd gotten my heart set on this particular route today. I felt bad, he was really disappointed and wanted to keep running with me, but I was heading out to trails for which there is no easy bailout, and he would have had to keep going for a long, long time. Very few people, even 6-year-olds, run over 7 miles with a 1000-ft elevation gain without some training.

    As it turns out, that included me. I had a really tough time, gasping for breath at the top and fighting stitches on the way down. The relatively easy 4-miler I did two days ago was all flat, and led me to believe that I was ready to do hills again. Not really. Not to mention the return of my old foe: twinges of tendonitis in my ankles.

    I wasn't the only one wiped out by our foray.

    The boys were a lot calmer and manageable this afternoon! Despite my tough run, I feel athletically satisfied for the day. And I'm really happy that I might really have a running partner in Gabriel.

    Katrina, on the other hand....she's really been a pill. Dinner went fairly well though. She still sits in the high chair sometimes, but lately more often than not, she insists on sitting on a regular chair, and is OUTRAGED at the suggestion of a booster seat.

    I get to be full-time Mom this week! I think that's a good thing.....?