Saturday, June 13, 2009

6/14/09 Poor Julian

Another busy Saturday planned: gymnastics class, another Las Madres picnic, then a potluck party at one of our longtime moto-friend's house. I was especially looking forward to this last event; it's fun to see old friends and I really like their neat old house.

But Julian woke up with a temperature and feeling not-so-good. I decided to take him to gymnastics anyway -- it was Katrina's last class and she was really psyched about it -- and he did OK there. He and Gabriel sat and read Cam Jansen books, though 10 minutes before the class ended, he complained of his tummy hurting. We spent another 10 minutes after class in the bathroom since he thought he'd throw up. I was grateful that Gabriel was watching Katrina in the reading area while I was tending to Julian in the bathroom.

Katrina did great in gymnastics -- cooperative and willing, even! She let the teacher help her with a "skin the cat" and a backward somersault, and while she still has her bugaboos, she happily went through the sequences, showing signs of actual competency at some. Today was the last gymnastics class, so the teacher gave a cookie to each kid.

(An amusing moment: when I was in the bathroom with Julian, I heard one of the moms in our class tell her son (about Katrina's age), "No, mommy took the cookie away because we don't eat cookies." Geez, I thought. I'm strict, but not that strict. Mommy, who had a big problem with overusage of Mommy in the 3rd person, continued, "That's not a healthy action." A healthy action?! I was so stunned I couldn't guffaw. What new book did that come from? "But Mommy can get you some fruit when we get home." Now really. Fruit for snacks is great, but does that really make up for being the only kid in the class not allowed to have a special cookie from the teacher? Katrina was very happy -- proud even -- about her cookie.)

Today was Katrina's last gymnastics class this session, but I signed her up for the next one. It's really remarkable; as resistant and impossible as she was at first, she loves it, talks about it all the time, and practices the moves at home all the time.

But it was clear we shouldn't go anywhere else today. Julian was feeling awful, and was at 101.9 when we got home. He spent most of the rest of the day in bed, downstairs, where I could check on him all the time. I felt so bad for him.

At one point this afternoon, while Julian and Katrina were napping, I had some rare time with Gabriel alone. I'd bought an inexpensive ice cream maker on sale yesterday, so this was a great opportunity to try it out. Gabriel and I made vanilla ice cream, which came out too icy and not creamy enough, but was still a good start.

After Gabriel and Katrina had dinner, I decided to stop by the grownup party to drop off what I'd made for it, hoping that getting Julian out of the house would improve his outlook. Sometimes if you're not too too sick, you just need a change of pace, and he was acting ready to do something else after lying in bed for 8 straight hours. So with a healthy does of rationalization, I gave it a shot. Our friends are the owners of a local landmark pet shop and have rabbits at home, too...I mentioned bunnies and that was it, Katrina couldn't stop talking about seeing bunnies.

Katrina certainly needed to get out, she was thrilled about the drive to the Rose Garden area of San Jose; calling out joyfully on the drive there about the mountains and purple clouds and birds. Her wonder-filled observations delight the boys, too. Ah, childhood.

When we arrived, the boys stayed in the car (by choice) while I took Katrina inside. There were two other 2-year-olds there, all born within a few months of each other. The other girl, Emiko, is only 5 weeks younger than Katrina, but is so open and friendly. It was adorable how quickly she walked up to Katrina and started talking to her and showing her her dress and asking Katrina questions. Katrina's not shy, but she's nothing like that.

Then the bunnies, of course. Katrina wasn't afraid, to my surprise, but was very interested. I chatted with grownups while she played with the bunnies, painfully conscious of my sick son in the car.

I was relieved that Julian found the energy for two yogurts when we got home, though he rested some more while Gabriel and Katrina and I spent almost an hour in the backyard cleaning up construction garbage. Lots of nails in what used to be our lawn. After bath, Julian felt much better and was acting a lot more normal too.

Being sick is no good, but spending all day in bed -- leaving your brother with no one to rile him up -- can be a welcome break. For everyone.


Friday, June 12, 2009

6/12/09 Last day of school

I took the day off work today to pick up Gabriel from the last day of first grade! Why is this is this so significant? I can't explain it. I'm just bursting with pride and happiness today. It's just so amazing how he's growing up. Still so much a little boy, but every day, a real person emerges.

I have a second-grader now. And, just as significant, a truly official kindergartner too! Julian still has two more weeks of pre-K, then I'll take another day off work for his graduation ceremony.

After swim class we went to Trader Joe's, where I unfortunately had to banish Gabriel to the car so I could shop without stopping to tell the boys to quit running, hopping, pushing each other, spinning in circles, touching everything, shouting, and generally being incredibly obnoxious. This was supposed to be their mellow time after swim class. Separating them was the key, and then the "examples" lady doling out samples (which Julian loves) complimented Julian's good manners. "Too many kids never thank me," she told me. If only she knew!

Then we went to pick up Katrina, who we found on a walk with Tonya (36 weeks pregnant!) on Tonya's nice tree-lined street, along with Dylan and Adam.

Katrina was having a great time, to my relief. She's been saying more and more that she wants to go to TLC, she doesn't want to go to Tonya's. In most ways, I like Tonya's better than a "real" daycare, but I think Katrina likes being around more kids. At some point, kids outgrow family daycare, even if Mom never does.

We have Tonya to thank for this:

Lots of milestones around this house these days!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/11/09 Paper airplanes

The boys were impossible tonight. Lots of hitting and fighting and crying, but that was the good part. It's much more worrisome when I hear them cooperating and guffawing completely out of control. That's when stuff starts to get thrown and furniture starts to get knocked over.

For a while it was OK. They were having air races with paper airplanes, which Julian was bound to lose because Gabriel made his airplane (at my insistence to make up for punching him).

Unfortunately this ramped them up, and they were nonstop trouble through the bedtime process, and into bed up, where they're still bouncing off the walls as I type.

But Netflix has been kind to me today, and I'm ready to go curl up with Twelve O'Clock High, starring the absolute most compellingly handsome actor ever born -- and that coming from a huge Clark Gable fan.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/10/09 Little potty no more?

I wish I had bigger or more interesting news than this, but it's high on my list for exciting events today. Katrina went from vociferously refusing to touch the real toilet to suddenly agreeing to sit on it and being outraged when I tried to hold her up. "DON'T HOLD ME!!!" she demanded. Well, excuuuuse me. I thought you were terrified!

After this, I slipped upstairs and hid the baby training potty, so it wasn't an option around bathtime. She totally got it and said, "oh, there's no little potty!" and very competently climbed up a footstool and sat on the real toilet, holding herself up with her hands, no potty ring. Tonya has taught her well; Katrina's completely comfortable with it. Who knew? (I do have to remind her to turn around sometimes though; an artifact of watching brothers.)

(And in the TMI department, I wasn't sure how to teach a girl to wipe, but it seems that comes naturally; Katrina wants to since she pees all over her legs anyway.)

The next hurdle for using toilets away from home will be the lack of footstool, since that seems to be integral in her confidence now.

Julian had a great time in his science class today, and couldn't stop talking about a paper plate, a magnet and a paper clip, which he brought home. The paper clip goes on the plate, and the magnet goes under the paper plate and moves the paper clip around on top of the plate. In the class, they apparently put paint on the paper plate and then used the magnet under the plate to move the paper clip around to spread the paint. Julian wanted the paint part when we got home, but there was no way I could deal with that. "But Mom!" he implored, "that's the science!" "No," I told him. "The magnet holding the paper clip is the science. The paper clip moving the paint around is the art." Indeed, what a perfect way to use art to teach science.

In any case, he was satisfied when we talked about what else the magnet's force could go through: glass, aluminum foil, plastic; and we tried numerous things around the house, which devolved to seeing what the magnet would stick to around the house.

I wish I had more time for things like that, but it's just dawning on me how demanding it can be to potty-train a toddler. Once again, I find myself so often putting the boys off: "Can you wait, I have to go take care of Katrina," or dropping everything at any moment to help her. Changing stinky underpants is a 2x/day habit now, and depending on what she's wearing she needs help to go. Other times she takes care of everything herself, and the only way I know she went is hearing the toilet upstairs flush.

I washed the little potties tonight and as soon as they dry, they are destined for the give-away pile in the garage.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

6/9/09 The single-parent household

Dave went out of town for a week today. I get to be single parent while Dave prioritizes being a son over a father for a few days.

Julian was concerned about this. As I was picking him up today, this conversation ensued:
Julian: "I don't like it when people I love go away and leave me and then I have to live alone."

Me: "Well, you still have me."

Julian: "Yeah, but I don't love you that much!"

Some basic adorable silliness tonight.

I took this video because I was intrigued by the relatively cooperative game between Katrina and Julian. This is now Katrina's default state -- silly, cheerful, playful, giggling.

But when I see this clip now, what strikes me is how Gabriel didn't budge from his Snap Circuits, humming to himself constantly. He does this for hours. He's very into testing his circuits lately, asking lots of questions about different components, reaching to understand amps, volts and ohms. It helps to have a Dad who's an computer hardware engineer and can answer these things.

Being a single parent means serious streamlining of chores. That meant: group bath. And, using every asset I can find, which tonight meant letting them go to town with a set of bath paint.

Ahhh....a House marathon on USA network, just what a single parent needs.


Monday, June 08, 2009

6/8/09 The Helper

It's truly noteworthy that tonight, a "cleaners night," we had an unprecedented level of willing, cheerful, voluntary and even initiative-taking help cleaning up, from a most unlikely source. Sit down and take a deep breath: Julian resurrected his Angel status of his early youth. Yes, Julian.

I'll allow for the fact that he was at least in part motivated by seeing the deep hole of doo-doo Gabriel was progressively digging himself into, and wanted to play The Good Son. Whatever works. Gabriel's resistance was uncharacteristically half-hearted, as having lost ice cream tonight, he knew ice cream tomorrow was on the line, and kept his brimming rage just barely under control.

Potty-training update: At Tonya's, Katrina had another accident-free big-toilet-only day. At home, I caught her in the act of pushing pebbles into panties and quickly scooted her to the loo, but she wasn't able to proceed in the proper place. Partly, I think she just doesn't know how to poop sitting down!

One of 4 times she ran to the little potty to pee tonight, she didn't quite make it. My fault for not accompanying her, and having put on her a pair of snug shorts she couldn't pull down herself quickly. But, to my surprise, she cried..... cried? I've never experienced this before. I certainly understand it can be upsetting, but neither of the boys were ever fazed by accidents, so I wasn't prepared for the tears. I comforted immediately and effusively, hoping it was enough.

A revival of her old dinnertime tantrum tonight reminded me how very far we've come. For the most part, nowadays walking in the door with all three of them is hectic, but not really stressful anymore. Tonight was a happily rare exception, an intrusion in the chaos that passes for calm around here. I'm glad she's let me forget the stress.

Mostly, these days, she's cheerful and silly and delightful. There's nothing quite so dazzlingly charming as a happy two-year-old.

Especially this happy charming two-year-old.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

6/7/09 D-Day

It's always D-Day around here, but today, it really is D-Day. Or rather, the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion on the Normandy beaches.

Thanks to my GI troubles (that's GastroIntestinal, not General Issue), I got a lot of rest yesterday, and spent most of the evening zoning at the TV. A mostly unlikely thing happened though: the History Channel had a useful, in-depth, un-flashy, fact-based program (no UFO huntings) about Pearl Harbor. I guess a program about Pearl Harbor makes sense the day before D-Day, right? Maybe they'll air something about D-Day on December 6.

I'm no history buff. It was consistently my worst subject in school and I never had more than a passing interest in it. But for some reason, WWII history has recently compelled me, perhaps because it's old enough to be history but new enough to have footage and living memories. And now that I've actually seen a historical artifact up-front, it brings it all so much more to life. It makes it less "history" and more "something that really happened."

I really liked this program about Pearl Harbor. Most interestingly, there were many interviews with elderly Japanese pilots who attacked and survived it. I liked the practical little details, like that an important wire message was delayed in being delivered because the recipient at the Japanese embassy couldn't type well. Or that the Japanese pilots felt that a sneak attack was shameful.

OK, OK, boooo-ring, I know. What I'm leading up to is: now, I'm dying to go to Oahu (until last night it never occurred to me what island Pearl Harbor was on!) and see the USS Arizona memorial. I'm always dying to go to Hawaii, but now I have a slightly more legitimate excuse, if macabre gawking counts as legitimate.

I felt a lot better today, so spent a productive afternoon in the garage taking care of Things that always need taking care of, but are never more urgent than being annoying. I replaced the wheels on our ping-pong table, I notched the legs of an office cabinet so it'd just barely squeeze into a corner, I cut down the 30" legs of a barstool to 24", installed a robe hook, did more general cleanup and putting things away...very satisfying. I could spend weeks getting the house together, but it never works that way. There's only so much of this you can do at one time.

A photo from yesterday, just in from Sonia. This might well the be only shot in existence of us three!