Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/27/09 Hot hit day

We picked quite a day to go to the park with sports stuff. It was HOT! We're complete wimps here in the temperate Bay Area: cold, rain, heat...normal stuff in Denver, Seattle, and Tucson, but step us out of our narrow comfort band and it's time for the smelling salts. 100+ degrees is a lot for anywhere, but it's unusual here.

A baseball-savvy Dad showed Gabriel the ropes. After a number of swiffs, he made contact.

Julian and a foam bat, a tennis ball, Dad's so-so pitching and coaching -- not exactly a formula for sports success, but he sure tried hard and had fun.

Some of the kids' baseball experience clearly showed. This 2nd-grader is a softball veteran, and nearly took my head off when I gave her a decent enough pitch. Fortunately for my head, I'm a pretty crummy pitcher.

Osmosis works. This girl's older brother is the most serious baseball fan there is, and very skilled from his several seasons in baseball. His sister is a decent hitter and thrower too.

Flushed cheeks! Did I mention it was hot?

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of what my little boy will look like as a young man.

I like wearing shorts at night, it's usually too cold here.


Friday, June 26, 2009

6/26/09 Wheel Day

Julian had a great first CDC day! Especially since it was a "Wheel Day," in which kids bring some form of wheels to play with all day. Gabriel LOVES these days; I knew Julian would too.

I wasn't expecting any transition or separation issues, and there weren't any. It's almost like he's been there all along.

But one nice thing I've already found is that Julian is a lot more talkative and tells me a lot more about what they did, or who he played with, or names of games, and general interactions. I like this, it's a little window into Gabriel's life too!

I picked them up early for swim lessons, then took them for haircuts. Spiffy.

Julian fell asleep coming back from picking up Katrina. In preschool, he had to take a nap in the afternoon, or at least rest. Not today, and it showed. He had a full, busy, exciting day. It's already hard to believe that two days ago, he was in preschool.

Julian told me tonight that he asked a lot of questions about how to play a Cops-n-Robbers game on bicycles. He was admitting that he didn't know the game, but I turned it around and told him how proud I was that he asks a lot of questions and that I think that's really really smart. I believe that. This is an intriguing strength of his: a willingness and confidence to raise his hand and ask or volunteer something in large groups, more compelled by the question than intimidated or put off by the group. Good for him.

And, as of today, our triple-pickup nightmare is over for 7 years! Then again, the boys having so much more time together might not be such a good thing....


Thursday, June 25, 2009

6/25/09 Graduation Day!

Hooray! We've officially graduated from three different pickups until the kids are in 5th, 7th and 9th grades! Oh yeah, and Julian finished preschool too.

I've really been looking forward to this; Julian's been preparing for weeks, but he wasn't nervous or anxious or anything, he took it all in stride. His wonderful preschool did a typically very well-done little ceremony.

First the procession.

Then the songs.

The diplomas.

And the very proud happy parents!

(A friend took photos of me and Dave and Julian together, but I don't have them yet. Julian was VERY happy to have both of us there.)

Then a class trip to Pump It Up, an inflatable play-place. We've been there many times before, but this time, the big attraction was air hockey. Julian loved it! He couldn't quit jumping up and down.

I realized well into it that some parents had paid to activate the air, and that Julian was dominating and not letting the kids whose parents had paid have a turn! In fact, while he taking over and ignoring requests to give other kids turns, his mother was just filming video and smiling at him, the nerve!

Later, I paid for a round, played a bit with Julian, then insisted he give other kids a turn. There's air hockey in our future, I couldn't believe how happy he was playing this. I think it's a blast too.

But despite all that, I think Julian's favorite part of the day was getting to play quietly at home in the afternoon with his new Lego Racers kit, and a new Transformers toy (hey I'm allowed to spoil him!) all by himself, no siblings bugging him, no parents demanding he clean up or do anything. In fact, Mom went down for an afternoon nap. It's always such a peaceful relief at naptime.

Other exciting events of the day: after talking with a friend who had a similar problem with her daughter refusing to use toilets away from home, I decided to try what she did, with success after some time: take Katrina to a foreign toilet every time we're near one, and insist she sit on it, even holding her down if I have to. The idea is that eventually, she'll desensitize or just get tired of the whole thing. I have to do something, I'm really frustrated by her holding us hostage with her refusal.

The campaign started today when I picked up Gabriel from the CDC, a place Katrina knows well. I warned her ahead of time we were going to sit on the potty there, to which she of course said "NOOOO!" She claimed to be scared, then went back to refusing when I was sympathetic but didn't buy the scared claim. I pulled down her pants, sat her down, let her go so she had to support herself with her hands, she started to pitch a fit....but suddenly stopped. She looked down, surprised -- whaddya know...pee!

I made a HUGE deal of it, and she was actually very proud of herself, telling the boys again and again, "I went pee on the big potty at CDC and I wasn't scared!" I'm going to continue firmly-but-kindly insisting she sit on every toilet we come across. Hopefully soon our #1 problem will then be #2.

Gabriel's turn. A repetitive rude sound from Gabriel got him removed from the dinner table tonight...that is, removed from the island to the dining room table alone. Whenever a rude removal happens, my rule is they have to sit and be well-behaved for 5 minutes before they can be excused. Gabriel was outraged and escalated, getting much much ruder ("NO YOU SHUT UP **NOW** MOM!!") and then started throwing food by the handful. I was furious and smacked him hard, which only made him madder, and it got worse from there. Dave suggested taking away his bicycle for tomorrow's Wheel Day, something he deserved but I didn't want to do (selfishly), but that threat worked well as the basis for a good-cop-bad-cop routine. I got Gabriel ready for bed quickly, no bath, telling him one peep out of him and he'd lose the bicycle tomorrow. This is no guarantee with him, indeed it's risky because once he's lost the bicycle we have nowhere to go from there. But he backed down, thank goodness.

Before I left to go out for coffee, cheesecake and chatter with my mom friends, I was shaking from our blowout. No one can rattle me like he can. As usual, 99% of me is furious with him, but 1% of me can't help but to admire his toughness. He is one formidable character, stitched together with iron.

But instead of going into a dark closet to cry it off, I faced him again. I went into his room, where he was sitting on the floor, stewing. I told him that he makes me very angry sometimes, and his extreme rudeness is never acceptable, but I always always love him. He spit back something about where he'd chop me up and put me, and I told him I understood how he felt, but I still love him. More insults, a little weaker this time, then I told him I had to go, and gave him a hug and told him again that no matter how mad he makes me, I always love him. I needed to say it more than he needed to hear it, I think. To my surprise, he hugged me back, gave me a kiss and told me, genuinely, that he loved me too. That kid...he's amazing.

Such ups and downs today. It reminds me how very very much easier it is to go to work. But easier is definitely not better.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6/24/09 New shoes

Julian's last day of preschool was today! Here's he is with his teacher, Miss Amanda, who's been great. He talks about things she's taught him all the time, games and crafts and especially science. He's really thrived with her. He doesn't have much good to say about how she disciplines him. To me, that caps it. I'm all for a teacher who kids know won't put up with any nonsense from them.

(I do have to break Julian of insisting that "main course" is pronounced "main coss," a side-effect of Miss Amanda's accent!)

It was a last-minute impulse, but after picking up all three (the LAST DAY I pick up all three from different daycares!!), I decided the boys' shoes were a disgrace again, and it was time for new ones. Actually it was time for new ones weeks ago, so by historical measures, I'm right on time.

So I "swung by" the most hideous of places: a nearby mall. The Howard's Shoes is run by a really nice guy with great service, and my experiments with other sources of shoes hasn't yielded anything that they can't pulverize in a few months anyway.

We weren't there minutes before Katrina complained "pee is bothering me!" The super-nice staff at the shoe store pointed me to the powder room, and kindly offered to mind the boys while I rushed Katrina down a long hall with great apprehension -- like she's going to go here? I used my last resort, an offer of a reward: she saw some duck she wanted, and even though I had no idea what the duck was, I offered her the duck of an unknown form if she'd go in the potty.

Of course not. "NOOOOOO!!!!!"

After several attempts, I knew it was futile and said "OK!" As we walked away from the bathroom I said, "I guess no duck today!" But, nothing doing, she wasn't going for it.

Meantime, the kind people at the store had measured the boys' feet, found several sneaker candidates, and had tried them on them. Gabriel was tearing around the mall with what now had to be his new sneakers, ones I hadn't even seen yet. The only input I had was a 4-second comment that the ones on Julian's feet looked sort of pink, when I noticed Katrina doing the pee dance. "Katrina..." I glanced over at the boys again, since I was there to buy them shoes after all, not wait hand-and-foot on their stubborn sister, then back at Katrina....

Too late. She was now looking down at a lovely new puddle under her. "That's OK," the kind store owner said as he reached for his oft-used carpet-cleaning kit, "it happens all the time."


This was no accident. She told me she had to go (sort of, she just said it aloud really), I got her to the bathroom in time, but the final hurdle wasn't jumped. We're held hostage to Katrina's complete, total refusal to even try sitting on a toilet away from home. The episode doesn't rattle her at all though, other than demanding I change her clothes. There's no way this will do anything toward getting her to sit on a real toilet next time. This HAS to stop!

She still refuses to try to pedal a tricycle normally too, though she will sort of push on a pedal with one foot.

I think I owe Howard's a lot of business in the next few years.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

6/23/09 Horseplay

I got my camera too late to get a good photo, but in time to get a crummy blurry one:

Julian and Katrina playing "horsey," in which she "rides" his back. He suggested they switch, and she said "OK!" At which point Dave and I in unison said "NOOO!"

Katrina's also been "riding" the back of couches too, roping Gabriel into the fun too.

Little girls and horses...I know the obsession all too well. So does my checkbook. Oh dear.


Monday, June 22, 2009

6/22/09 Rudeness

Me: "Please put your shoes away now."
Boy: "No, YOU put them away!"

Me: "It's time to set the table now."
Boy: "If I have to do what you say, then you have to do what I say, and I say, you set the table."

Me: "For the 3rd time, put away your craft project, or I'll put it away for good."
Boy: "Mom, do you have any idea how stupid you are?"

Boy: "Katrina, can you say, 'Bad Mom' ? "
Katrina: "(tee hee) Bad mom!"

Overall, as things go around here, a pretty polite day.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

6/21/09 Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

I had the kids do a little card, but the real surprise was this one from Julian. After they did the card I suggested, Julian took it completely upon himself, asking only for a little spelling help without even telling me what he was doing, to write this:

I love you!
A cannon shot far!
From: Julian
To: Dad
("A cannon shot far" is apparently a measure of distance, sort of like saying "thiiiis much.")

This was much much better than the standard "Happy Father's Day" I had him write on my card.

Some Moms in my 2004 Las Madres group suggested asking your 5-year-old a set of questions about Mom, or for today, Dad, and then videotaping the answers. I thought that was a great idea, though didn't have much time to execute. It wasn't exactly a surprise, and I should have planned the questions better, but here's what the boys had to say about Dad:

Katrina is all too happy to go with Dad to the supermarket, even agreeing immediately to go pee and wash hands first.

I think Dad really enjoys this time alone with her, though Gabriel barged in on the party. Then Julian wanted to join him too, but I put the kibosh on that -- grocery-shopping on a Sunday evening is annoying enough, but with the boys together, forget it!

So Julian and I had some more time alone together while the others were grocery-shopping, in addition to the hours we spent together digging up weeds in the front yard this afternoon. I was starting to gather dinner items when Julian suddenly burst into the kitchen to inform me: "Inside atoms, there are soldiers called electrons, who march in circles." Then he added, the continuity somewhere in his mind but lost in his retelling, "And when you turn the light on there's a circle and when you turn it off, the circle is broken." He really does like his science classes if these thoughts are churning around in his mind to break through all the poop talk.

(Speaking of which, we're getting frustrated with Katrina, who still absolutely will not go #2 in the toilet. Three cleanups today, as usual, and it's really really getting old with no sign of progress in sight. My trump card is to threaten her with diapers again, but I doubt that'd work, and I don't want to go there anyway. There's got to be something to break this impasse!)

All in all, it was a nice Father's Day, despite the painful and shameful jab of wanting to call my own father today, but not daring to...any call I make might be the one in which all recognition is lost, and I wasn't sure I could take that today.

As for immediate family, we made no attempt or even discussion at going anywhere. Out to breakfast? Pshaw. Breakfast was my usual major Sunday affair -- zucchini-pancetta frittata, maple-brushed baked bacon, homemade buttermilk blueberry pancakes, fresh-cut fruit, tea, English muffins. I encouraged Dave to go off on a ride today, it was beautiful out, but he wasn't in the mood. Though we spent most of our time doing important things (arguably "work") around the house today, we were all very content to just be at home together. I can't think of a better way to spend Father's Day.