Friday, November 06, 2009

11/6/09 No fun

Ugh. They were all awful tonight! Katrina grumpy and crying at the slightest provocation. Julian: whiny and complaining and refusing to do things as asked. Gabriel, who's usually the most reasonable: rude, defiant and persistent at both. I can't even keep track of the numerous infractions, charts, consequences and yet more consequences for the first consequences not being met.

Two day ago, I got so frustrated at Julian's nonstop rudeness, ignoring, and complaining when asked to do something. Geez, you'd think I was asking him to scrub the floors with a toothbrush, but I'm talking the basics here: put away your knapsack, move that pile of papers out of the doorway, stop throwing Katrina's favorite toy for the 100th time.

So I took the chart idea to a new level, one that Positive Parenters will just love: a spank chart. Every mark on the chart means a spank he'll get before bed. Any rude comment, defiance, running out a countdown to do something he's been asked to do, flat-out disobeying, or initiating an obnoxious behavior, gets a mark.

I took a chance on this approach, expecting that the threat of a spank later would do its job, and it mostly did. No spanking necessary. I still hate that nearly every basic instruction I gave him was ignored or resisted until I warned it'd mean a mark on the chart, but at least after a warning, he complied.

Tonight we didn't set up a spank chart, but one a little more sophisticated than that: a consequence is listed on the chart, with N number of spaces before that consequence. N marks means that consequence is carried out. Unfortunately, I ran out of consequences between the two boys, and had to scramble to find others. Gabriel refused to set the table (his turn) and I ended up having him clean up a room that was on Julian's chart as a consequence, as Julian was still one mark away from that one. Then Julian offended again and I had to find something else to do. And then I had to redirect Gabriel again, and make him go right to bed for not even cleaning up that room. Once again, he defied me: after his bath and PJS, he came back down and finished cleaning up that room anyway....a sense order or more defiance? I let that one go. Later, I realized he mostly wanted to play the piano and was jonesing for some leniency, which he didn't get.

Neither Dave or I could wait for bedtime for all three. Some days, on balance, this parenthood thing is a loser.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

11/5/09 Rehearsals

Last night after the kids were in bed, Dave asked me, "Does Julian have 'sharing' tomorrow?"

OH YEAH!!! OOPS! We're supposed to prepare and rehearse him for sharing, and have him bring something to show too.

Somehow, we pulled it off. This week it was about "family," so I printed out a picture of all five of us last night, then talked about family with Julian today as he was getting dressed. Since he'd seen Gabriel's "Star Of The Week" rehearsals, he knew what to say. In fact, I was pretty impressed at how quickly and easily he presented himself, especially given the very short notice -- we prepared all of this in the hectic minutes between getting up and leaving for school.

We practiced this morning after Dave left for work, with a complete audience.

After Julian's rehearsal, the boys got silly while Katrina had a fit about...who knows what. She had a lot of fits today.

After dropping boys off at school, I took Katrina to her favorite activity: "running in the mountains." We ran into a marathon runner and marathon mom I know from my other gym, who ran the Boston marathon 4 months pregnant with her 4th! She looked like quite the athlete, but I was very sorry to hear her tell me that back troubles have grounded her too, and she's no longer running marathons. "Too many babies!" she semi-joked.

Still, though my ankles let me know when we're approaching 5 miles, and my back informs me of its disapproval for days after a run, I'm grateful I can run as much as I can, and Katrina is too. We stopped for a potty break on today's 5.5-mile route, and Katrina enjoyed looking around at a dry pond and the wildlife.

(Though Katrina needs to learn to squat like a girl instead of pushing her hips forward like a boy when peeing in the woods -- which she insisted on because she wanted to do it "just like boys," -- I actually prefer woods to stinky scary port-a-potties. The woods are way WAY cleaner and way safer -- no horrible visions of her falling in.)

It's important to stretch at the end!

Just like my kids will grow up cooking with me and develop basic kitchen skills (I hope), they will also grow up thinking that exercise and stretching is just part of life (I hope).

After dinner (which Gabriel helped me make, delightful), time to rehearse Gabriel's book report presentation, due tomorrow. Yay! Then it's off our backs, though this book report was at most 1/10th the work of the previous one, and 100 times more enjoyable, and 1000 times more educational. I wasn't crazy about the clothespin doll thing, though it's intended to mark a spot in the book that they read from during the presentation.

I wasn't sure if it's OK to simply read the book report, which is 8 sentences (or more); it seems silly not to when it's that short anyway. The presentation is supposed to be under 2 minutes anyway.

Here's Gabriel presenting his report, which he wrote entirely himself with no help from me, except the first and last sentences, which he also wrote but I had him rewrite with guidance.

I have to say, this early emphasis on presenting in front of groups is really good, especially for kids not so inclined. I should practice too!


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

11/4/09 Networking

The things most on my mind today have to do with work....will I have a job offer from the company I'm contracting for? Will I accept it if I do get one?

Ironically, troubleshooting a home network problem (attaching a router we already had to the "plug-and-play" (uh-huh) Apple TimeCapsule, compounded with some wiring issues) has reminded me how much I like setting up and troubleshooting networks!

Then again, it's a lot more fun at home when I have two enthusiastic helpers. The boys, Gabriel especially, were riveted by the whole thing, even though much of network troubleshooting is really boring: repeating commands countless times, staring at screens in disbelief, searching for the right-length cable, throwing up your hands in disgust and surrender....all for those hard-won moments when the light bulb goes on and it works. As I'm working, I look for little jobs for them to do: plug something in, tell me when a light goes on, take a new Ethernet switch out of a box -- and to my amazement and delight, it doesn't take much to hold their interest. For three nights in a row now, Gabriel asks, "Mom, are we going to work on the router tonight?" He has absolutely no idea what I'm doing; he wants to "do electricity," but nothing I'm doing is at that level.

Still, I so appreciate both boys' enthusiasm, and I'm going to have to find more stuff like that to do with them. Wouldn't it be cool to put together a computer or something....

Well, aside from being reminded how much I liked my career (which had nothing to do with home networking), what's come of this is that the electrician will be back next week to straighten out yet more miswiring; I've figured out how to configure the routers (or get around the Apple's lack of configuration) -- and, ultimately, my final objective will be met: I'll be able to post caustic comments to Facebook from bed!


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

11/3/09 Broccoli Day

I don't know what's gotten into Katrina, but after yesterday's foray into broccoli, suddenly that's all she wants. She devoured three bowls of it today at lunch, practically cramming it into her mouth. Vitamin deficiency perhaps? Then that's all she would eat at dinner -- I'm not ready to tackle her chicken aversion yet.

(These videos are short and would appear to be dull, but the way she chows down, then demands more broccoli, has me tickled pink -- though she could use some work on her manners.)

Dave came home early and took over tantrum duty while Gabriel and I decorated a clothespin doll for his book report.

(Yes, clothespin doll -- WHAT A PAIN. Seriously; it's tiny meticulous work that a 2nd-grader is supposed to do?! I had to do most of the gluing and fine work on it, and all the finding materials; there was no way he could. And what does a clothespin have to do with a historical figure in United States history anyway?! I guess it's official: I really don't like sitting and doing craft projects with kids. I like doing my own projects, but not kid-projects....then again, as we were doing it, Gabriel said, "This is so fun to do with a parent. Having you here with me makes this OK, Mom." What a kid.)

Katrina changes her clothes at least 3 times a day now. The red shirt she was wearing this morning is a hand-me-down from Julian -- many of her long-sleeved shirts and all of her outerwear are boy hand-me-downs, but this afternoon she found the one dress in her dresser and put that on.

Katrina's system must be in total shock overload at this sudden major injection of vegetables -- but I'll take it!


Monday, November 02, 2009

11/2/09 Teacher conference

This morning, Dave and I met with Julian's teacher to talk about his kindergarten progress.

I was at the same time impressed and slightly horrified by all the testing and evaluation his poor teacher has to do with all the kids, and the absurdly high expectations, though it's certainly interesting. Their goal is for each kindergartner to write a simple paragraph by year's end. I think that's a pretty darned lofty goal for 5-year-olds! That's a lot to ask even of the very high demographic at Julian's school. His teacher did say she used to teach in lower-income areas, and it was a big difference teaching here, since the kids are well-prepared and have so much support at home. But, she also added that for the kids who are ready, the extra pushing is great for them and they enjoy it. And apparently, Julian is among those.

Teachers are careful to be tactful, especially around highly achievement-oriented Cupertino parents, but she did say, without exactly saying it, that Julian came into her class as its top reader ("now a few others are at his level and he has others to read with"). He makes good connections between lessons, applying concepts from one lesson to another area, and overall did great on the assessment tests. She showed us a few paragraphs he did write, with help, and I was so happy to see that two of them were about our trip to the airshow -- it was really on his mind beforehand, and again as a great experience afterward (despite the actual experience). Predictably, his biggest issue is putzing around and not getting work done, but he's improved a lot. Dave and I both came away with the impression, one we expected, that he's thriving.

Even though I really do believe kindergarten is just kindergarten and that most of what kids need out of it are the social aspects, I can't help but to be really proud of Julian.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

11/1/09 A morning's morning

Despite a too-early start, it was a particularly fun morning. In theory on Sundays I should start breakfast early, because I make a big breakfast, but in practice, somehow Sunday mornings are just perfect to fold laundry. This morning, I watched a bit of a cooking show as I did my usual super-fast-sloppy job of folding, and various combinations of kids joined me. It's a BIG TREAT to sit on Mom and Dad's bed and watch cooking shows with Mom! (big treat for Mom especially)

Then when it came time to make breakfast, I discovered the ultimate horror for breakfast-makers: only 4 eggs. This would not do! Dave was busy with a very very important task: de-tantruming Katrina on his computer, so I zoomed out to the store to get eggs and maybe some heartier French Toast bread, as I had a special request for such. Special Requester, my firstborn, was insistent on joining me, and we had a surprisingly fun time grocery shopping....?! Then Gabriel helped me make breakfast. He's just taller enough than Julian that he doesn't need a footstool for all tasks, a big convenience. I give him more and more responsibility in the kitchen, and he's actually starting to save me some work. And, he still thinks it's fun. For me, it's an absolute blast to be engaged in a project like this with him, he's so enthusiastic and joyful and brings so much energy to it.

I already posted this to Facebook, but once again, my usually casual and not super-sensitive son floored me with one of his direct, poignant, deadpan statements, devoid of sentiment but utterly sincere: "This is one pleasant morning, isn't it." There are few higher moments for a mom than that.