Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/12/09 Swim catch-up

I haven't complained recently about swim lessons since some changes were made, so here's a catch-up. Gabriel's doing pretty well in his new class; he has to swim the full length of the pool (20') so that's a big step. I miss his previous teacher, and he does too, she was really good. But I can see his old teacher's class does different things than are done in Gabriel's class, which is slightly more advanced, so it was the right move.

Which brings me to Julian's new class. He's working on "peanut butter and jelly," which is DACA's way of saying "on their tummy" or "on their back," and having them practice rolling from one to the other. I watched Julian today doing this back-and-forth exercise, and he's getting pretty good at it. He has very different style from Gabriel; he almost looks...well, slippery when he turns over. I think that's a precursor to "agile." He's still not using his arms in this class yet, but from what I saw at Water Babies, he'll have a powerful stroke.

The inconvenience of swim lessons triples when it gets too cold to wear shorts and sandals after class, so I'll probably stop sometime around fall, but I really want as much to sink in as possible right now.

(With some guilt, I notice that I'm far more likely to take them to things that I like, which makes no sense...but hanging around a pool is more natural to me than hanging around a soccer field. Then again, there's a strong safety and fun case for swimming ability, as one of my Mom friends found out recently when her 2nd-grader fell off a dock and was able to rescue himself.)

Still tired and fighting some mild illness, I was exceptionally lazy and unproductive this afternoon, resulting in a rare event: I actually sat on our family-room couch. I never sit on couches anymore. The boys joined me, and we sat and hugged and talked and played for quite a while. I revelled in being surrounded by these two remarkable people, and relished even more how much they loved having me just sit down with them. It's really amazing how horrible our blowout fights can be, but then how warm and affectionate and loving they can be to me later. I'm always surprised by it, like I don't deserve it....but perhaps their demonstrativeness is more for their own sake than for mine -- little kids really want and need to love their mothers and feel secure with them. And I'm more than happy to be there and to return it. I hoped the moment would never end and stretched it out as long as I could.

Dave took the boys to a demolition derby this evening, something I sort-of wanted to do, but thought better of it because of Katrina, and because my back and sitting on hard flat things like bleachers just don't mix anymore. Later, Dave told me that there was a lot of line-waiting, so it was just as well I didn't go. I had a nice time home alone with Katrina, who also seemed to really enjoy the rare one-on-one time with Mom. I hemmed some jeans, and she got a huge kick out of the sewing machine. She played on her own for a long, long time, carpeting the boys' spotless floor with puzzle pieces and Legos. I had insisted the boys pick up their whole room before the derby, and she completely undid that single-handedly.

As I was sewing, one time I heard her call out, "Mommy, pee's bothering me!" I answered the ritual, "OK, go pee then!" She won't accept any help these days and sometimes has a HUGE kniption about so much as opening the bathroom door to check on her, but she still has to make the announcement. After about 10 minutes, the silence concerned me, so I went to find her. Not in any of our four bathrooms. Hmm. Then I spotted her outside, in the West yard, standing butt-nekkid next to a puddle in the dirt. "Mommy, I went pee in the grass like a sheep!" she called, proudly. Only the sheep manages not to plant their rear end in the dirt when it's wet....what a mess. I'm glad she's willing and able to use the great outdoors, but does she have to?

Lucky me...lots of nice moments with my children today.


Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/09 Not great day

Eight years ago today, Dave and I were on a kayak-hike daytrip on Kauai, in the van on the way to the river. We overheard people talking about planes crashing into the World Trade Center and that they were gone. I thought they were talking about a bad movie. I listened for a while, then asked what they were talking about. It took the woman who'd been talking about it a few times to convince me that it really had just happened a few hours before. It couldn't be? How could that be? It's no less stunning eight years later.

I don't think that's why I don't feel well today, but it doesn't help. Bedtime.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/10/09 Picture Day

School photos today!

Will I ever again get a good photo of all three? And with their dorky "Class Of" shirts on? I thought I had a good photo-op this morning, but I was foiled by sun, blinking, and a garbage dumpster.

Katrina likes this red line as a "balance beam."

I want to do a "simple" (suuure) school scrapbook for each kid. I generally don't like the school photos that much, but I can't turn them down, and I've got to do something with them!


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

9/8/09 A girly-girl?

I get asked from time to time if Katrina shows signs of being a girly-girl: princesses, pink, dress-up, the whole bit. Usually I say it's too early to tell, and clearly the boy-influences around here are heavy. At what point will a girl-stereotype nature emerge above all the testosterone around here?

Katrina is almost 3, and she's always had influence from other girls around her at preschool and daycare. I noticed at the aviation museum last weekend that there were other girls in the play area were sitting at a craft table, drawing. Not all the girls, and from time to time a boy would go there too, but Katrina had no interest in sitting and coloring when there were airplanes to rock on or push around.

My niece and nephew engage in a lot of imaginary play together, making up stories and lands and characters. Maybe Katrina's young for that, though I know my nephew was already involved in an elaborate fantasy world at 3. But I almost never see that sort of play between her and her brothers. That could be because they're not into it either, but I think Julian would likely engage in it if she started it. And imaginary play can easily done by oneself, and I don't see a lot of that from her. She does engage in nurturing behavior -- putting blankets over stuffed animals and such, but it's mostly "functional" play. She definitely has opinions about what to wear, and does many things that are more typical of girls.

But I don't see a lot of making up stuffed animal families and stories and names. Instead, this is how she plays with her brothers -- wrestling.

This isn't exactly peer play, as Julian takes a whole lot of abuse that he'd never accept from Gabriel. And of course, all pairs of siblings do stuff like this sometimes, some more than others -- these two are on the "more" side.

(Actually, I wish the boys could wrestle this benignly, if there's even a fraction of this contact it turns bloody.)

After nap today, Katrina joined Julian in his room to -- what else -- play Legos. He was building a house, she was building an "engine."

Later, out of a wide variety of books to read, including one she'd chosen herself out of the library, she instead sat and read "Military Dune Buggies," a book that the boys had picked from the library.

When I picked her up from the Y today, she was pushing a car around. Sometimes, she'd play with their plastic kitchen, other times, musical instruments. If there was a little wagon to sit on and push around, she would plant herself on it and not get up.

Clearly, she's surrounded by boy influences, and not just from her brothers. There's nothing I'd like more than to skip the girly dress-up princess stuff, and absorb ourselves in cars, trains, airplanes and motorcycles. The closest she'll get to learning about manicures from me is that chlorine bleach is the best way to get the smell of gasoline off your hands. And her father is a typical guy this way too -- some men are into more gender-neutral things like drama or art, but not here. So there's little girl-influence at home.

Nature or nurture? I think it'd take a strong nature to overcome all the boy-interest influences around here (and you know what I mean, of course some girls are into trains, and some boys are into pink, like Julian, but on average, trains and motorcycles are more boy things). But Katrina isn't lacking a strong nature, and if she wants to delve into the princess thing -- especially to rebel -- she will. Girls will be girls no matter what their parents or brothers are like -- and good for them. But so far, despite the tendency to see what you want to see, I truly don't see a lot of that.


[ p.s. addendum: This morning at preschool we walked into a perfect test case: 4
girls were sitting at a table coloring, and one boy was playing with blocks at
the opposite end of the room. (The stereotype on display!) Katrina took stock of the situation, and joined the boy playing with blocks. She does "girl things" of course, and the pink-princess stuff could hit any day, but so far, the "girly-girl" thing doesn't fit. ]

Monday, September 07, 2009

9/7/09 Labor on Labor Day

Whatever ambitions I had to do something fun with the kids today was quelled by overall laziness, and increasing guilt about many pressing office things that need to be done. After I got the laziness out of the way, I finally sat down to renew driver's license, pay my fine for my stop-sign ticket, make school donations, update the calendar for all the upcoming school events, untangle my compay's payroll this quarter, make estimated tax payments, return several packages of clothes I'd ordered...pain. I need a day off!

Besides, I'd taken them to an interesting outing yesterday anyway, to an aviation museum. I was hesitant about bringing Katrina, but she really likes airplanes (despite what she says about being afraid of jets), so I thought I'd risk it.

Overall it worked, as I'd coached myself ahead of time not to be too frustrated at being caught between two different ways of seeing a museum. One is the toddler-way: run around from thing to thing, touch stuff, push buttons, sit for a few minutes, but always keep moving. The other way is the little-boy way: spend hours inside a flight simulator and pounce on anything that smells in the slightest like a video game. Breadth versus depth.

First the history of aviation displays, which I found fascinating.

Katrina the Blue Angels pilot (in a genuine Blue Angels cockpit):

While the boys crashed time and time again in a flight simulator.

An "aerial" view.

Outside there's a part of an old 747, the double-decker kind. I had to test my skills in the pilot's seat.

Fortunately I had a very enthusiastic copilot.

This place kindly provides picnic tables, so they (basically) had lunch that I'd brought. Then we found a small kids' play area, where there were some very nice wooden play-aircraft, and yet another cockpit to play in, this one enclosed.

Just as we were about to leave, I took Katrina to the bathroom, and sent the boys into the boys' bathroom. Katrina fussed a lot in the bathroom (it was well past naptime), delaying us. I hoped the boys were being good outside the bathrooms....would that be possible? Please God, just this once? Can I cash in some good-mom karma for taking them to a cool museum?

No, Gabriel had the stroller in a big wheelie and was running it around in circles, hollering. Pretty much like he'd done at the first bathroom break.

But Julian had cornered a man behind an information desk. I heard him ask, "Did any of these planes ever really land?" pointing to the display planes hung from the ceiling. The man was visibly glad to see me, and said with an audible sigh of relief, "oh, there's your mother." He went on to answer Julian's question and a few more.

The man, impressed by the inquisitive 5-year-old, suggested to me that we get books about planes out of the library. "WAY ahead of you there, thanks!" I said. Not only do we have a pile of library books about planes and other military vehicles, but Gabriel's choice from his school library is "An Encyclopedia of Airplane Engines," or something like that. No wonder he declared with such authority that a turbo-prop jet engine doesn't have an afterburner. (I don't think that makes any sense, but what do I know?)

I am so intrigued by Julian's confidence and willingness to march up to someone in a position of authority and so clearly and seriously ask a question. No shyness, no giggling or looking at the ground, no whispering, and usually no prompting from grownups. The man must have been baffled that these two boys were related -- one acting like a total buffoon, and the other so studious.

Funny how I didn't like museums as a kid -- New York City is a great place to develop a dislike for museums, right? And now I really like taking the kids to them. I think I just found the right kind of museum.