Saturday, July 04, 2009

7/4/09 July 4th

Before I got married and had kids, I had a long history of bad July 4ths for one reason or another. This year, that history almost resurrected itself, as the day started badly.

I was looking forward to going to the Rose, White and Blue Parade in San Jose with the whole family today, but Katrina refused to go to the bathroom before getting in the car. She doesn't have to produce, but she does have to try. I thought I could get her to agree by telling her the boys were leaving without her, but all that did was escalate the tantrum. Once I'd taken on this fight, I had to stick it out, though I made every concession I could think of to get her to feel in control and agree, but, I'd met my match. We stood on the porch and waved bye-bye to Dave and Julian, then she continued rolling around on the floor in a full-on tantrum for another 20 minutes until Gabriel got her out of it.

Gabriel had said he didn't really want to go either, but I was going to insist he go because he always has a good time at these things, and it's always good to get kids out of the house. Now that I was staying back with Katrina, I offered him to stay too. I was actually glad to have Gabriel with me, and enjoyed the peace of the boys' separation. But then Gabriel had the nerve to ask to play computer games because he was BORED! NFW!

I made the most of the time by working on a red-white-and-blue jello thing, and slowly plowing through the remaining unpacking to do, so it worked out. But I was haunted for a while by past July 4ths spent feeling alone and left out. I did what I always do when rattled -- I called my mommy -- and felt much better. Pushing 46 years old, and that umbilical cord is still solid and intact.

But I wasn't going to miss fireworks tonight! We all went, though Dave wasn't sure Katrina should go. But she'd had a late nap, and often stays awake for an hour after going to bed anyway, and this is July 4th, a special occasion! Truth is, I just wanted her there with us for a family outing, even if she'd never have missed it.

Katrina really enjoyed seeing all the people and the exciting situation, but she wasn't crazy about the actual fireworks. She didn't cry, but she wouldn't look at them and spent the whole show with her head on Dave's shoulder. This is such a rare thing for her, I was almost jealous that Dave got to experience it.

Then again, I got to ooh and ahh at fireworks with the boys. Julian claimed it was too loud, but finally took his fingers out of his ears for the grand finale, and seemed to enjoy it. Gabriel has never been afraid of fireworks, and I completely enjoyed his energy and enthusiasm.

Before leaving for the fireworks, the boys and I had more talks about wars and history, I think started by talking about how fireworks represent battles. This discussion went beyond the four branches of the military and how the Navy and Air Force both have planes and that the Marines and submarines are different things; getting into how wars get started and why they're fought at all. This is a real struggle for me, given how weak my history, civics and understanding of world politics is, but it's a good challenge to try to answer their questions in terms they'll understand. Gabriel had learned a little about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War in first grade, and was blown away that there were no airplanes or tanks in that war. I was especially glad to hear Gabriel repeat something I'd mentioned the last time we talked like this: that history is very important to learn so that we can avoid wars in the future. (That's the best I came up with; in truth I know there will always be wars in the future, but I still think it's very important to understand history even if I can't summarize or even verbalize it.)

They're teaching me how powerful it is to make history tangible. The boys walked through some actual WWII bomber planes last May, and they remember it well. I refer to those planes a lot in our discussions. It goes from how bombs are actually dropped ("remember that really narrow walkway? that was the bomb bay") to what the bombs are dropped on ("factories that made parts for the enemy's airplanes") and then to what effect it has on the war ("a really big bomb made the enemy surrender"). I can see trips to Pearl Harbor and various military museums, like the Intrepid aircraft carrier in NYC, in our future.

I guess in the end, I had a quite meaningful and relevant July 4th after all.


Friday, July 03, 2009

7/3/09 Grill girl

It was not easy to get the grill in the back of my car at Home Depot. It took 3 big skeptical guys, who wouldn't listen to me about which way to put it in, to finally figure it out. I'd measured so I knew it "should" fit, but the backs of cars aren't a nice rectangle.

Then there was the problem of how to get it out, and worse, move it after that. That box is really freakin' heavy. So we backed the car right up to the deck and slid the box right onto it, to the puzzlement of our children. Dave got to have all the off-roading fun (even though it was my idea, hmmph). Incredibly, the back of the wagon and the deck were at the same height within half an inch.

I've never loved my car, but its rear space is impressive for a car its size.

Dave spent the better part of the morning assembling my grill (I'll share but it's mine) and attaching a propane tank we've had since moving here, and voila! Bobby Flay, here I come! I was delighted and grateful and happy that he took care of this for me, what a nice husband.

Ready to grill!! Welllll, except for the lack of fresh food in the house.

We didn't take the kids anywhere today, but they overall had a good down day. Especially Gabriel and Katrina when Julian was on a mega-timeout upstairs for rudeness, screaming, crying, whining, defying, pestering, hooting, and generally being so obnoxious that by the time we sent him upstairs, the list of his offenses was too long to tell him. (This was separate from a later episode in which he threw rocks toward me and Dave.) It came down to: "because we are all sick of you!"

Katrina was really cute today. Not the blond ponytails, which are always cute, but just the things she says and how sincere she is. She remembers more and more; even the tiniest comment someone says days ago rolls around in her head and comes back. She certainly had her share of tantrums, and a big doozy after not taking a nap today (she was running laps in her room instead), but between tantrums, the fun is funner and the cute is cuter.

(Still nowhere on #2 potty-training; indeed she's getting very crafty about hiding from us so she can go in her underpants. But at least she'll sit on toilets away from home now, which was the bigger hurdle.)

I can't wait to cook tomorrow!


Thursday, July 02, 2009

7/2/09 The Orthodontist

Today I took Gabriel to an orthodontist -- not just any orthodontist, but the same one I saw when Gabriel was baby. It's a really nice practice, overall conveniently located, nice efficient staff. I almost felt like I was coming home.

First the assistant took photos of Gabriel and his teeth, and set up a file for him. She apparently was expecting fear or resistance from him, as she kept assuring him and trying to talk to him to distract him, but he shrugged it all off. She said later that he was more cooperative than most 12-year-olds.

Gabriel just doesn't get anxious about stuff. Clearly he was very relaxed.

Then time for the doctor's exam, far more thorough than I was expecting. He rattled off numerous technical teeth items to his assistant who recorded everything, and explained things to me as he went along.

Bottom line: wait. Gabriel's lower jaw has moderate crowding, but there's no telling what Mom Nature is going to do as the new adult teeth push their way up. He said X-rays often look worse to dentists than the real-life teeth do to orthodontists. He's got baseline information, come back in 6 months to check progress, nice to see you again.

Our checkbook breathed a big sigh of relief. I'm getting a second opinion next week from another orthodontist, but it's hard not to like this opinion.

Dave had to work late tonight, but that didn't stop me from taking all 3 kids to Home Depot tonight to get something I've been wanting for months, a want that has tipped over into a DYING for: an outdoor gas grill!

Just in time for July 4 weekend!


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

7/1/09 The Announcement

Julian announced tonight, "I want to be a vegetarian!" Just like his new religious conviction, he's not entirely sure what it means to be a vegetarian, but clearly, he's striving to be something. He thought "vegan" sounded even better, until he heard that meant no ice cream.

The boys were up at 6:30am this morning, Julian dressed (?!!?!???) -- fighting. That explains everything.

Katrina thinks "shopping" means I carry her everywhere when I sneak a dash into Home Depot before picking up monster brothers. Today I didn't have the stroller, and really, that's silly at her age for a quick trip anyway, but she's so slow I still carry her across the parking lot into the store.

Then when I set her down to walk on her own two little feet so I could shop for gas grills, she threw herself in the middle of a main aisle and started a full-on toddler tantrum. "NO MOMMY!! I'm NOT going to WALK!" Oddly, from her, it only brings about bemused smiles from onlookers. Later, she smiled and talked happily about "shopping" as though it were the highlight of her day.

Though I'm very excited about the prospect of searing the bejeezus out of chicken, pork and steak with a new grill, Katrina won't touch anything like that. Sometimes, she'll eat a meatball, but unprocessed meat? No way. In fact, she pretty much lives on rice, pasta and sometimes potatoes. Julian would be proud.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6/30/09 Field Trip

Today the boys went on their first field trip -- well, Julian's first anyway. And a doozy: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I wished so much I could go too, and I suppose I could have, but I committed to working this week. Meaning, we paid childcare for this week, and I'm about to take two weeks off starting next week, so really, this wasn't a good day to play hooky for me.

But I thought about them all day long. Well, Julian, anyway. At some point, thinking about your kid on a school bus for the first time, in a town an hour and a half away, in a huge exciting place, tips over into "worrying," but it didn't go that far. Mostly, I was jealous and wished I could be with them.

They were adorable this morning, all set for their trip. Lunch, backpack, sweatshirt, water bottle, a little cash for souvenirs, red field trip T-shirts, socks & shoes (the CDC requests sturdy shoes for field trips, the kids don't get as tired they've noticed), pink permission slips.

The only thing they weren't bringing was a cute little sister.

I was hoping to catch them getting off the bus on the pickup, and since the bus was a little late, I did. Gabriel and Julian were sitting next to each other on the bus, and later Kelly, the CDC director, told me, "We put them together for some things, but you know, they start to get a little...." Uh-huh. Say no more. I recommended she separate them as much as possible for her own sanity.

Katrina really wanted to ride on the bus!

Actually, Julian's having a tougher adjustment to the CDC than I expected. Thinking about it, I realize that at his preschool, he was one of the oldest, strongest, maybe fastest, most capable. Now he's gone from top of the totem pole to bottom of the ladder.

He complained that today he was playing Connect-4 with some boys, and they were helping Gabriel but not him. "No one was helping me, they were all helping Gabriel, and I always lose!"

Wait a were playing with Gabriel and his friends?! Well no wonder. GEEZ, poor kid! He's trying to keep up with second-graders in a game, something he'd never even try if he didn't know one of those second-graders very well. And that second-grader has a well-established pattern of deliberating dominating him and engineering situations so he wins, and as his brother he isn't exactly going to be sympathetic or helpful. Major stacked odds against Julian -- who is a remarkable kid in so many ways, I think he's amazing -- but he's still just a kindergartner.

One of the CDC ladies, Nicole, who I like immensely, told me today that Julian is a "joy," and that he's so so polite. She's really sweet to him and seems to look after him. Maybe she knows, as I might just be getting now, that having an older brother at a place new to you isn't such a good thing.

And after all my lamenting not going with the boys to the Aquarium -- one of the most amazing fascinating wonderful places in the world (even if I left it in an ambulance once) -- all they could talk about was the cheapie souvenirs they bought.

Gabriel's souvenir was a deck of cards -- what that has to do with an aquarium I'll never know -- and I can already tell there's a new kick about to start. I recognize that attention, that focus, that intensity, that he applies to something he's intrigued by. I used to love playing Spit with my best friend Patty in 6th grade -- I might have a new partner.

And speaking of resurrecting favorite games, I almost got a lump in my throat when I saw Katrina playing with a game of Boggle. (To the uninitiated, I was a huge Boggle fan in high school.) It was so poignant for me watching her put all the cubes into the grid, cover it with the dome, and shake it, and start the process again. To think, I might actually have people in this household who like to play the few games I like!


Monday, June 29, 2009

6/29/09 Official stuff

I'm exhausted. All scattered thoughts that usually get purged out of my mind into this blog have been buried with hours of mind-numbing maddening e-paperwork for Nebcom, Inc, of which I am owner, sole shareholder, the entire board of directors, and employee #1. I'd like to take this moment to come out in complete favor of excessive CEO pay, as that is something this CEO seeks every day.

Payroll, shareholder distributions, federal and state employer tax payments, wage and withholding forms, quarterly estimated's crushing. Still, I never see how an accountant would save much trouble, as most of the work is in the information-gathering. Besides, mired somewhere between the glazed-over eyes and the carpal tunnel syndrome is a tiny perverse sense of satisfaction at having it done.

Julian announced tonight out of the blue, "I believe in God." He paused, apparently reconsidering, and added, "...though I'm not really sure what it means to believe in God."

I need a vacation.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

6/28/09 Bed Jump

Kids aren't allowed to jump on beds here. Before you think I'm a total killjoy, a little innocent gymnastics is cute and harmless from a toddler, but with two rowdy boys around, it quickly escalates to complete mayhem and destruction. Mayhem and destruction is expected with boys around, but not in my room.

However, it's a little harder to control Katrina, and a lot harder to tell her to stop when she's being so cute. "Look Mommy! I'm spinning!"

The preparation...

the takeoff...

...the landing!

The boys are just short of being forbidden altogether from coming into our room in the morning. Emergencies do come up, but not being able to separate two Lego pieces at 6:30am no longer qualifies as an emergency. I'm done with having to jump up with babies first thing in the morning! Nowadays even Katrina gets up and plays for a long time before she needs our attention. We're listening for emergencies, but she happily bops around with her brothers for quite a while.

This morning, Julian apparently thought Katrina needed something, but didn't want to disturb us. So he wrote and slipped a note under our door.

From: Julian
To: Mom
K.D needs you

(Katrina still calls herself "Katrina D" since there was another Katrina at TLC and they used the last initial to distinguish them.)

Julian couldn't explain what she needed me for, or what need it was that spanned the 20 minutes it took him to find the paper, pencil and write the note, but he sure went out of his way to look after her!

Don't worry, we're not completely negligent with them, but the bed-jump I most want to vanquish is my jumping out of bed first thing in the morning just because the kids are up. And clearly, Katrina's in good hands.