Saturday, September 19, 2009

9/19/09 Chicken Dance

Today was a Fall Festival, at which every school in the district has its kindergarten do the Chicken Dance. Julian was prepared with his chicken hat and the basic moves, and we all went to see him perform with the rest of the Collins kindergartners.

There were more kids this year than when Gabriel did this. Julian got a spot next to his teacher, but that was the last I saw of him until after the "dance." Way too crowded, both with kids and parents.

Katrina had the best view in the house, vowing to do a "Winnie-the-Pooh" dance because she had a hat for that.

Afterward, we waited on one long line after another for the now-mundane inflatable play structures: slides, obstacle courses, jumphouses. In past years, I've made some effort to explore and enjoy the festival; this year I just wanted to use up our ride tickets and get home.

The kids were on a sleepover last night, so were predictably tired and grumpy today. Gabriel's old enough to handle it, Julian can go either way, and Katrina is definitely a time bomb. Still worth it, but we have to adjust our day accordingly.

I started the day with a tough workout swim. Usually, my swims are just freestyle laps without stopping, maybe a break or two if my goggles fog up. Today, I did 1200 yards of freestyle (bare minimum), then 50-yard intervals of other things: kickboard, butterfly, IMs, fast crawl. I can't believe how tired I am! So tired that my much-anticipated re-entry into the world of spinning won't happen tomorrow as I'd thought. But this is a good thing. I don't see swimming being the cornerstone of my exercise regimen, but stepping it up is a great boost. I should sleep well tonight.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

9/17/09 The Cycle

Whew...tired tonight after a day of headaches and up late chatting over cheesecake and coffee.

Good stuff though -- and, this morning I got the all-clear from my new back doctor to go ahead and live life. Today he said to do what I would like to do, and he'll be ready when my back freaks out again. "Even spinning?" I asked cautiously, trying not to get too excited. "Sure, I see no reason why not." Ooh boy!

For years I haven't dared do anything cycling-like until I have a medical team in place ... and now I do. Ironically, the same thing that let me finally see a doctor is also what's now restoring my back health: time. Time off on Tuesdays and Thursdays to see doctors, and more importantly, time not sitting perched on a chair for consecutive days. My Tuesdays and Thursdays "off" have done even more for my back than they have for my psyche.

This is a fun way to get into the car: a choo-choo-train.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

9/16/09 Rude kids

I am so, so tired and frustrated with our rude, belligerent, disrespectful boys. The simplest tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning and brushing teeth before school, turn into a huge ordeal, too often met with rude retorts.

"I don't have to do what you say!"
"If I have to do what you say, then you have to do what I SAY"
"Why don't YOU go brush YOUR teeth then?"
"Stop bossing me around, why are you so bossy?"
"You think you can make me do anything, but you CAN'T"

Just what is the "positive parent" supposed to do with that? Timeout? No, we have to get to school. Natural consequence? There is none -- they'd be fine with being late to school, and one brat can't make the whole group late, even for the sake of a lesson to said brat. Take away privilege? No, they completely ignore me or laugh and continue being obnoxious while I rattle off futile unheard threats above the din. Meantime, the clock ticks, my blood pressure rises, traffic builds, parking lots fill, and school still starts at 8:40am.

(yes, of course I approach it the "right" way, by giving them gentle reminders at first, heads-ups, warnings, trying to make it fun. But sometimes, you just don't have time or energy to do that, and sometimes, they don't respond anyway. Why can't I just tell them "Please get dressed now" and be done with it? Why does it have to be such a struggle?)

It's not that different at the other end of the day either. Putting away lunches, starting homework, putting shoes away. More reminders, more resistance and ignoring, and ultimately, more extremely rude responses. It's the "shut UP, Mom" that leads to the "natural consequence" of a smack. Funny how things they say push me over the edge more than things they do.

When I picked the boys up at the CDC today, they were both in trouble. Gabriel's been removed from his group for the whole week, and Julian was on timeout for punching Gabriel. Gabriel has the added black mark of laughing at the CDC teachers when he's reprimanded, and they're not allowed to give him what he deserves for that.

Tonight, Dave and I did an "intervention" with each of them, which means sitting them down alone in a room with no distraction. We ask what happened, say sternly that bad behavior is not allowed, and tonight, added in a consequence: if their behavior isn't perfect tomorrow, they can't bring a bicycle to Wheel Day on Friday. Gabriel scowls during his intervention; Julian rolls his eyes, refuses to sit down, makes faces, denies, and blames other people ("she didn't give me a second chance").

I want to be "positive" about this, but "you're STUPID Mom" in response to "please pick your knapsack up off the floor" is begging for an old-fashioned response.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/15/09 Three by the door

Can't think of anything funny or interesting today....big struggle to get Gabriel to do his homework, while it was all I could do to get Julian to leave his completed work alone.

Katrina actually wanted to pose for a picture, with her new fake smile for pictures that all kids get. Her brothers quickly joined, yet I still didn't get THE photo of all three.

She got a hold of a stamp Julian got for a party favor, and channeled her body-art-loving cousin Remi.


Monday, September 14, 2009

9/14/09 The new homework

Our lives have shifted once we have two homeworks to deal with. Julian came home with his first Homework Folder today, with a week's worth of homework due Friday.

But this is no shock to any of us. Dave and I have been through this ad nauseum already, and Julian is very used to the concept from seeing Gabriel. In fact, he seemed anxious to do it, and sat down studiously as soon as we got home.

Gabriel sat down less studiously, as homework is no novelty to him. As overloaded as I am when I get home with all three, I've now added starting homework before dinner, rushing back and forth while cooking to check on them, answer questions, facilitate and, yeah, well, nag. It's not easy to juggle dinner, putting away lunches, Katrina and homework all before Dave gets home, but it works better. Our lovely formal dining room works well as a homework spot with its big table and lots of cabinets to store supplies.

Someone else had to join the study group too.

Not only was Julian very focused, he methodically knocked off the entire week's homework! He doesn't even know that he's not expected to read the instructions himself, but he did it almost entirely without help.

And this despite constant interruption and heckling from Gabriel, Mr. BMOC. This could easily develop into a problem: I doubt they'll be able to do homework together, and our perfect homework place will have to split into two (eventually three). Most things they do together quickly deteriorate into chaos, but Julian was unshakeable tonight.

Julian also wanted to do his 15 minutes of reading, and write it into his reading log himself today too. Then he exclaimed, "I wish I had more homework to do!" I'm sure this will wear off -- Julian isn't known around here for efficiency -- but what a great start.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/13/09 Running in the Mountains

So far on my two non-working Thursdays, I've taken Katrina running in the jogging stroller -- "running in the mountains." I put it that way once and she latched onto it: "Are we going running in the mountains, mommy? Are we going running in the mountains, mommy? Are we going running in the mountains mommy?" (Repeat at least 10 times without stopping to take a breath.)

So Gabriel heard this and asked if we could go running in the mountains too. I said sure, but I was going to do a real run -- is he up for it? "YES!" he exclaimed. He was so looking forward to it, talking excitedly in the car on the way to Rancho San Antonio, "Mom, are you REALLY psyched about this? I can't WAIT to get there!" I warned him I was planning a tough route for him -- 4.5 miles, and hilly. I told him we could decide to take an easier route too, but he said, "No, I want to do the hard trail."

We started out fine, but it wasn't long before he got "cramps" -- stitches, I think. He had to stop a few times, and I tried to help him through them, though unfortunately I know of no remedy for stitches except to just keep going. I was impressed at his toughness though -- no whining or complaining at all, just a regretful "ugh, I have to stop."

When we got to the decision point -- which was, either a nice easy downhill on Coyote Trail, or the tough uphill of the PG&E trail -- I asked him again: "are you sure you're up for the tough stuff?" He insisted on it, that's what he wanted to do. And, he did OK on the first part that's pretty steep, but not as well on the long part later that's uphill but not as steep. He said his stomach hurt too, and really really tried to keep going, but kept having to stop.

After about 3 miles, we got to the last part of the loop, we had to walk the whole way, except one steep downhill that he gathered all his energy for to run downhill.

The tummy-ache was solved by a trip to the restrooms at the end, and he was quickly revived with some water (I don't run with water, it's a pain to carry), and he was just fine.

I'm not sure what I should have expected. Running Club has started again at school, and he told me he tied a record for number of laps run in one day. We've run part of the route we did today together, and he breezed through it. Indeed, he had little trouble with the hardest steepest parts today. I guess it was just too long for him in his current condition. 7-year-olds run 10Ks, so I know it's not just age, but it's not easy to pick up and run this route without some training.

Still, I came away admiring again how determined and persistent he was, never whining, never complaining, and truly trying his best to push through whatever discomfort he had. We'll certainly do this again.