Saturday, July 11, 2009

7/11/09 Radio fix

After Katrina's gymnastics class (moderately successful), the three played on a playground in the same park for a while. I was cold and anxious to get home, but this was pretty fun to watch -- and do. I showed Gabriel how to do a chin-up, and impressed him (and surprised myself) when I climbed up a pole that he couldn't. But watching him and his energy and coordination around the playground underscored that any physical superiority I have over him is short-lived.

Julian and Katrina also had fun climbing around, though at a much more beginning level.

More of all three.

This time, Julian was the disagreeable one with a group shot. Gabriel is always happy to pose with his sister.

Later in the afternoon, I was going through boxes, and came across a retro-looking radio I'd bought years ago, I think to give away as a gift. I put batteries in, didn't work. Cheap piece-a-junk anyway and I knew Dave wouldn't like its cheesy retro-look...then I had a brainstorm. Gabriel. He was looking for something to do anyway while Katrina was napping and Julian fell asleep in his room during a long, long timeout. (Not long enough for the offense of yelling out the car window at a group of people, "Poop in your pants!")

So I showed Gabriel the radio and its simple, chintzy controls. He lit up like a night sky on July 4th. I asked him to test the batteries, all worked, so I gave him a screwdriver and told him to just take the thing apart. He needed a little help (righty tighty, lefty loosey!), but each step of the way he shouted in excitement. "MOM! LOOK! There's DIODES in here!" He exalted in the discovery of various components, and I gave him a flashlight so he could see inside better.

But he didn't get very far. Incredibly, he must have wiggled the right wires, and the damn thing started to work. I couldn't have set it up better if I'd tried. Gabriel was so excited that he got the radio to work. Actually, I was sort of hoping he'd completely disassemble it, just for "fun," but it kicked to life before he could. I told him to button it back up, and he played with it the rest of the day.

Gabriel snootily claims he knows a lot about electricity, and in fact, he doesn't yet. But his interest is keen, his enjoyment of learning it intense, and the opportunities deep. I don't see that going away anytime soon.

The only bummer is that Dad, who also did a lot of radio-fixing as a kid, wasn't there to share his son's elatement.


Friday, July 10, 2009

7/10/09 Capture the flag

Katrina and I arrived about 40 minutes early at Julian's daycamp today, to watch him play. He really wanted me to watch something, and even made sure to ask the coaches if it was OK (I knew it was). I got to see the whole group play Capture The Flag, which despite the herding-cats aspect to organizing this many young children in a game, was a ton of fun. I loved running and chasing games like this as a kid, and clearly Julian did too. He seemed to understand the rules overall, though it was hard to tell at first with all the kids getting lost in the fun of running around.

Julian steals a blue "penny" from the other team, after stealthily sneaking up and then attacking.

Running after an opponent. The teams were "shirts-tucked-in" vs. "shirts-not-tucked-in."

Out of bounds!

You can't get me!

After the game, the kids all got a "Merit Award" and an ice pop. During the ceremonial proceedings, Katrina surveyed the troops.

Later in the afternoon, I took Katrina with us to Julian's swim class. As usual, this requires planning many hours back: I took care of a big Trader Joe's shopping during Julian's daycamp, then zoomed them home after daycamp and wasted no time with lunch. The goal was to settle Katrina down for as early a nap as possible. I would have to wake her at 3pm, which often these days she's just barely falling asleep then. Fortunately she did go right down at 1pm, though I did have to wake her out of a sound snooze to go to Julian's swim lesson.

She was fascinated by the pool, and even said she wanted to go swimming too. I'm glad to hear that, though I'll still face her first swim lesson (as of yet unscheduled) with some trepidation. Adapting easily to new activities has not yet emerged as one of her strengths.

This morning, she provided some amusement, as Facebook followers already know. As we were getting ready to leave for daycamp dropoffs, I heard her call from upstairs, "Mommy, I'm putting away the stinkie!" I sprinted upstairs, and found her naked from the waist down, carefully carrying a pair of underpants into the bathroom -- but they were Julian's underpants. They were soiled, but empty. Great....I traced her steps and found a little brown lump on Julian's pajamas, not having been sufficiently contained by the underpants as she tried to carry it into the bathroom for proper disposal.

I cleaned her, the floor and the clothes up quickly, but couldn't understand ... what was she doing pooping in Julian's underpants? Dave dressed her this morning, but he'd have put her own underpants on, as I'd set out. After a few minutes of looking around and trying to piece this together by asking her, I found her underpants and shorts together on the floor in her room, clean. Got it: she didn't want to poop in her own underpants, so she took hers off and put on a pair of Julian's instead, and pooped in those!

The boys were beside themselves. They talk poop all the time; for them, it doesn't get any better than this. They crowded eagerly to see the evidence before I succeeded in chasing them away as I cleaned up. And Katrina was actually pretty proud of herself! "I pooped in Julian's underpants, Mommy!" I've had a lot of success this week getting her to pee away from home, by putting a piece of toilet paper in front of her and getting her to pee on it -- maybe I should try that for problem number two.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

7/9/09 Water Day

Today during Julian's daycamp, I met up with some friends and took Katrina to a park that has some water play, which we haven't done since she was a baby. Her first time in a real swimsuit, I'm ashamed to say! She was interested, but hesitant; and there was a nip in the wind and I'm sure the water was cold. Still, the 15 minutes she spent in the water area was picture-worthy, even for my low standards.

Gabriel had a great time in Lego camp today, making a Lego "bomb," and Julian again declared how much he LOOOOVES daycamp. I feel bad, this is the only daycamp Julian is doing this summer, though the CDC is still a fun new experience for him and there's no dearth of stuff to do. But I certainly am enjoying this schedule, of having just Katrina to myself in the morning, when she's at her delightful best, then Julian at daycamp and a nice quiet afternoon at home together, and then the usual injection of energy and chaos when Gabriel rejoins the mix.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

7/8/09 Airplane

Katrina in a silly mood picking up Julian from daycamp today, being an "airplane."

And, despite protests, happy to be with big brother again.

We've been going backward on the potty thing, with her refusing to use big potties and instead insisting on "going pee in the grass." That's OK, sort of, but it's a pain and we can't always find a suitable patch of grass. Today I made her sit on numerous toilets, and finally found a way to get her to cooperate (at the Y): to pee on a piece of toilet paper. I'm going to start carrying Cheerios around -- usually a boy trick, but I'm desperate!


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

7/7/09 Lunch Out

Today after dropping the boys off at daycamp, I took Katrina in the jogging stroller to Rancho San Antonio for a run. I'd forgotten how much I dislike pushing the stroller while running -- it's distracting, puts your body in a bad position, and it's hard work! And that's on about the flattest route there is at Rancho. I can't believe I used to do this on a regular basis -- with the double stroller.

Still, I was glad I went -- it was a fairly cool morning, and I was happy to be back in one of my favorite places. And I got in about a 6-mile run, a long distance for me these days. Incredibly, I ran into our next-door neighbor at the farm there.

Katrina had a great time, happily chatting the whole time, and very excited about seeing all the bunnies and other wildlife.

After running, I took her to a playgroup that conveniently was meeting at 11am, and right near Rancho -- perfect way to spend 40 minutes before picking up Julian, and all in the same area. I was very ready to go home and relax after picking him up...only to find that our marvelous hard-working cleaners were still at home. The cleaners coming at 10:30 isn't a problem when I'm working, but a serious pain when I need a shower and have children to feed. Dang. I really don't like to get in the cleaners' way, so, into the car again.

But to where? Both kids needed lunch, and I was still in my sweaty running clothes, and I really don't like going to restaurants "just" to eat anyway. A night of relaxation, fine dining, wine, grown-up conversation, sure, but sitting and ordering from a menu and waiting for service, just to cram down a few bits of food? No thanks.

Fortunately we live near the biggest Whole Foods west of Austin, with numerous hot-food bars and places to sit, so I figured I'd wing it there. It worked out surprisingly well: Julian chose some Spanish rice from the Global Cuisine bar, which Katrina ended up eating too, and they both had yogurt. I got to stock up on inexpensive milk and freshen up my produce stash. And, when we got home, my house was clean and I didn't have to launch into waitress duty. This was good!

Katrina, mercifully, took a long, long nap this afternoon -- in fact, I had to work to wake her up at 5:15 to get Gabriel. I had a lot of house stuff to do and chatted with Julian, enjoying his happy tales about sports daycamp (a friend he made, shooting a basketball), but I didn't really devote any time to playing with him.

No matter, he found something to do: his "knitting" basket. He spent hours, no kidding, hours, winding this yarn around this chair, making up some game, then cutting the yarn into little pieces. I really have to give him credit for finding a way to entertain himself happily, for a long long time, with very basic simple materials. He was very proud of his game, even though he couldn't describe it well. Nice to have so much quiet time at home alone without siblings bugging you.

Arghh, not looking like a good evening, the boys are completely ramped up and out of control, hollering "POOOOP!" and laughing hysterically. They've been very hard to rouse in the morning, but early bedtime isn't working either. I need a sedative.


Monday, July 06, 2009

7/6/09 Daycamps start

The new normal started today!

At least, for a week. The boys are in daycamps: Gabriel in an all-day Y camp (Lego Engineering); and Julian at a half-day multi-sports camp, through Skyhawks. And I'm off work for two weeks.

After dropping Gabriel off, I took Julian to his daycamp. I was dismayed to see how far away it is, not because it's far for a daycamp, but because it's far for a middle school. This camp is being held at the middle school we're zoned for, which isn't the one 3 minutes away from home and 30 seconds away from their current elementary school. The weird zoning around here puts us at this middle school, many, many annoying lights away, and a distant and dangerous bicycle ride too. Fooey. It wasn't even great for a daycamp, as there was not one scrap of shade to be seen. Fortunately it was a cool day.

Julian was the first to arrive, soon joined by two brothers, the younger of whom (age 4?) impressed me immediately with his smooth, competent stride. Even at such a young age, you can see big differences in natural ability (heck, Katrina's under-3 gymnastics class reveals those differences even more, not that that means much). The three early-bird boys had the young teenage counselors panting and out of breath within minutes of a hearty game of tag.

Katrina loved watching.

I took her to the Y, for her first diaper-free stay in the Y's Childwatch, which overall went well. She cried and refused to sit on the toilet there, but had gone at Julian's daycamp, so she was OK. She claimed not to like the Y, and was teary-eyed when I picked her up. Too bad girl, 'cause gym daycares are a staple in my life!

I had a really nice time alone with her at home before going to pick up Julian though. I really like being at home, and outside, and in the sun during a summer day. What a contrast to last week's cold, dark, isolated days at work.

Julian's daycamp groups doing the day's-end cheers.

Julian said enthusiastically that he had a great time and that he loved it! Gabriel did the same camp two years ago, and was so-so on it, but I had a feeling Julian would like it better, and he did. Julian's just more of a team sorta guy, I think. He mentioned that they learned to dribble a basketball, wouldn't tell me anything about the soccer other than they kicked a ball, but was very excited about the baseball. He excitedly said several times that they "tested" their throwing and that he threw the farthest in his group -- "way over the teacher's head!" he said proudly. Uncle Ronan will be psyched.

Katrina messed me up on naps again today, coming out of her room and pulling all the books off the bookshelf in the boys' room when she was supposed to be napping. So I brought her downstairs and gave up on today's nap....but soon, she got into one of her no-win fits: demanding milk, then throwing a major fit when I had the nerve to give her some. I put her up in her room again, read quietly on her bed while she flailed around in a tantrum, but she eventually calmed down. I left, and she fell asleep. Whew.

This dual-nap attempt set us late to get Gabriel, but he was having fun playing Connect-4 with some new friends -- or rather, opponents, knowing Gabriel. Katrina was resuming her grump mode, and refused to walk back to the car -- so Gabriel picked her up and carried her all the way out of the school's yard and to the car!

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at how many smiles this brought on from onlookers.

He helped me a lot. At home, she demanded pasta, then refused to eat it -- until she agreed to try it when he offered to feed her.

(I have video of her demanding milk, and him getting it for her -- in a "Gabriel" cup no less, but YouTube is down right now.)

He's also her first choice to fix a stuck Lego, as she's not terribly patient: "FIX IT! FIX IT **NOW** MOMMY!" I direct her to Gabriel, her tone softens considerably, and he fixes it right away. What would I do without him?

I spent the afternoon moving furniture and boxes around in the guest suite, which left the main room open for running around and being silly (for now). Gabriel, after months of not touching the piano, picked it up again this morning. He had an audience from his biggest fans.

I like this "laddered" momming -- one kid in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening!


Sunday, July 05, 2009

7/5/09 Work day, sort of

Remaining boxes to unpack, office things to organize, landscaping out of control, shelves left to hang...each got a little attention today. I want to gush and love this house, but all I see is work and unfinished things.

I had a nice afternoon outside pulling weeds with Katrina, who threw herself whole-heartedly into the job of putting brush into a big bucket. This is the first time I've really been able to be productive outside with her there, and it was truly fun, having her keep me company, constantly chatting and making cute comments ("we're working hard, Mommy!").

Unfortunately, that was during what should have been a nap. By 3:30, we figured it was too late, and she'd go to bed early. And she did all right, sneaking up to her room as I was giving the boys dinner at 6pm, curling up and falling asleep on her bed. Without a Pull-Up. So it was an evening of a grumpy toddler, not one bite of dinner, and a lot of laundry.

And, the goal I've had above all else was met today: my scrapbooking stuff is unpacked, arranged, sorted, and ready to go!