Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1/20/2010 Closet Day

For years, my default way of un-spinning my mind at night was to bore myself to sleep by thinking about how to re-do the boys' closet. This habit far predates Katrina, though her closet got tacked into my dull-thoughts repertoire. Both kids' rooms closets are small and need to be carefully thought-out to make the best use of them. The one hanging pole they both had was a total waste.

And today, the problem was finally solved. The closet installation guy arrived today with the kids' new closets, and I'm thrilled. One of the most un-glamorous, drudgerous tasks in "doing" a house is finally done!

This job wasn't really about closets though. It's about taking back over spaces downstairs that have been overrun by toys. In order to move kids' toys to their small rooms, clothing-storage space needs to move into the closet. For years, their closets have been prime real estate that were barely used, except for storing things like big pillows or a Pak'n'Play.

No longer! The boys' closet.

Katrina's closet.

(The smaller basket is a sort of lark; it's for her to do what she wants with -- scarves, dress-up stuff, animals whatever.)

I was really counting on LOVING the deep baskets for laundry, though I knew there was some risk I wouldn't. Guess what. LOVING the deep baskets for laundry. I'm very very glad to get laundry baskets off the floor in the main part of the room. We'll see how this works in practice, because it does create an extra step of pulling everything out of the built-in baskets and into a laundry basket. Ooh, god forbid I do one extra step with laundry (no, really).

Right away, I populated the boys' shelves with their winter clothes. All of them. ALL of them?! Wow, when you look at it like this, no wonder I do so much laundry. This is all their pants, and all their long-sleeved shirts (Julian on the left, Gabriel on the right). And that's with having bought Gabriel a bunch of jeans recently.

Socks, underwear, T-shirts, shorts and pajamas are still in their old dressers (to be replaced with one dresser for both), but this is the extent of both their day-to-day wear. It didn't look like so little until it was out there. Katrina doesn't have much more, though she gets a lot of hand-me-downs. Clearly, I'm not a shopper.

This is the first link in a long chain of events to take back over the downstairs space -- and give the kids their own defined spaces that they each need. Next: desks for everyone.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/19/2010 The trouble with Julian

Julian just got a poster project to do for school (on top of regular homework and reading), due next Monday, about him. It's akin to Gabriel's "Star Of the Week," in which one kid a week is highlighted in class, though it's already laid out for him.

With Gabriel, I dread this sort of extra project. He drags his heels and takes some motivating, though once he gets going it's not so bad.

With Julian, I dread it only insofar that he insists on working on it, even when he's supposed to be setting the table, having dinner, or wrapping up and getting ready for bed. It's all I can do to drag him away. He relishes and eats up these projects.

Never does he shout at the top of his lungs "HOMEWORK IS SO STUPID!!!" like Gabriel does. Instead: "What's next, Mommy?" "Time to wrap up and get ready for bed, Julian." "NO! I'm working on my poster! I have to do this now!"

And to think, before kindergarten I was bracing myself to drag him through schoolwork, not having to hold him off.

Our boys of all kids will probably tolerate 30 kids in their class better than most, given how independently they work, and that their basic academic and social skills are pretty solid. I dread it completely anyway, especially for Julian's sake. He loves teachers and loves sitting and absorbing lessons from them on interesting facts (he's still all about penguins) -- will he be able to ask questions and get into a penguin-world with his teacher if his teacher is completely overrun with 30 6-year-olds? It's unthinkable.

Maybe the teachers will have to give the kids more independent projects and less mind-numbing redundant homework. I'd be for that.


Monday, January 18, 2010

1/18/2010 Stormy Day

The perfect storm: a windy, rainy day, school's out, and the cleaners are coming. That means all 3 kids at home all day, we have to be out of the house for at least 3 hours, and no playing outside at all. Great.

Often I'm not quite sure when the cleaners arrive, which means I'm not quite sure when they're done either. They're supposed to arrive at 10:30, but it can vary. When I'm working, it'd doesn't matter. When I'm home with all 3, it really does.

Last time the cleaners came on a day off from school, we got home as they were wrapping up. This is such a pain -- we can't be inside at all without really getting in their way. They mop the floors near the door last (so that they don't leave footprints), adding to the difficulty of getting home when they're still there.

Today the cleaners solved that dilemma: they arrived at 9:30. Early. Way early. We so weren't ready -- we were all upstairs, none of the kids had had breakfast, I had just barely gotten dressed (hey, it's a holiday!) and was still tidying up upstairs. Mad scramble!

The cleaners started upstairs, and I managed to get the kids fed and ready and into the car before the cleaners moved downstairs. Quick email check before zooming out: oh wow, Gabriel's been invited to a last-minute rainy-day playdate, in 15 minutes. The boys started fighting this morning even before their eyelids were completely open -- by 8:30 am, Julian had already been punched twice -- so I was very grateful to have a respite from fraternal battery.

I dropped Gabriel off, making a note of how high the stack of favors is getting that I owe this friend. Zipped off to the gym and gladly deposited the other two in the gym's childcare. They like going to the old gym, despite the much smaller, darker and truly inadequate childcare as compared to the Y -- but they get to watch videos, so they like it.

We were all home and lunched and ready to hang by 1:40, the cleaners done and gone. The day started looking up right then.

Katrina is so funny about rain. As soon as she see it raining, she yelps for joy. Then she makes a beeline for her rain jacket, demands noisily that it get zipped for her, puts on her boots, and zooms outside. It can be truly difficult to wrest her away from her puddle-jumping, no matter how cold or wet or dark it gets. All kids like splashing in puddles of course, but the boys were never so adamant about it as Katrina is.

I think she's really going to like snow.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

1/17/2010 Brunch Day

We were grownups today!

We had two friends over for brunch, a wonderful couple with a beautiful house and yard that they did themselves. Partly, I was after some landscaping advice, but I so enjoy the fun company, good ideas on interior decoration, commiseration on remodeling -- and understanding about parents with Alzheimer's.

Cathy's mother Norma was, until very recently, my Dad's lady love, his minute-by-minute companion, his touchstone, his guide and confidante in the strange world that is dementia. Few people find such closeness and connection in their lives as my Dad did with Norma. Alzheimer's brought them together, and ultimately, tore them apart. But they had an overall happy 18 months in their own special world together. They didn't know each other's names, but were rarely seen without their hands tightly clasped together, always sitting together, chatting, talking in ways that only they understood, guiding each other through the day.

They're apart now, and don't exactly remember each other, but we know Dad feels the loss deeply. Norma has asked, "Where is my friend?" but if she misses him it's internalized in a way she can no longer express either. Thankfully Norma has not declined at Dad's pace, and she is still contently living at the very nice assisted living facility where they met.

I can thank Dad for indirectly introducing us to Norma's two wonderful daughters though. Interesting, smart, active women, with really nice supportive and terrific husbands. Though my father is no longer living with their mother, I hope we will remain friends for a long long time.

Though Gabriel lamented that we only invited playdates for us and not him, the kids were overall surprisingly good and amused themselves peacefully -- Katrina especially -- while we acted like grownups for an afternoon.