Saturday, January 30, 2010

1/30/10 Birthday surprise

Gabriel's birthday party -- and birthday -- was today! We had a fun time at a gymnastics place, a nice low-key party with 6 friends and one brother. More on that later.

The real surprise of the day was a last-minute offer of two Sharks tickets, and after a brief wrangling to see if we could pull it off, I decided to take Gabriel. I wasn't feeling particularly energetic, as the persistent cough that comes with the tail end of bronchitis is exhausting, but, how could I pass up hockey with my birthday boy?

We had a great time. I was mostly able to remember what goes on in hockey games and describe it to Gabriel semi-competently. A huge tub of popcorn smoothed out any lapses in attention he might have had, and he lasted easily until the game end.

Our home team won, and scored 5 times -- a great way to spend your first hockey game!

This team-sport stuff is foreign, but fun!


1/29/2010 No cupcakes...

This morning, Gabriel asked if I was bringing cupcakes to his class for his birthday. This is still a common, if surprising, practice, but it's one I decided to give up a while ago. I can't handle a family party, friends party and class party for all 3 kids -- that's 9 cakes! The class party is the obvious one to drop, especially since Julian can't really have one.

Still, today was my last day at home without kids before I start my job, I could have bought cupcakes and gotten them to his class in time. But it was my last day at home without kids before I start my job! I had things to do! And why was he telling me about it that morning?! On paper I had no reason to feel guilty about it, but in practice, I hate disappointing Gabriel.

I'm glad I skipped the cupcakes though, because I spent that time zipping down to South San Jose to pick up my newly cleaned computer -- no more viruses, spyware or malware taking it over. It runs so much better, it's amazing. It had been bogged down by processes sneaking in and running in the background for a while, but suddenly that got out of control and it would not boot at all. I'm thrilled, this guy fixed it fast and cheaply ($100). I still want to buy another computer, but the urgency has been greatly reduced.

Tomorrow is Gabriel's birthday and his birthday party. I'm buying his cake this year -- just one! Family and friends party on the same day, no class party -- now we're talking!

I finally uploaded my NY photos and videos. No one photo in particular stands out, but this is a nice rare group shot

(That's my sister on the left, my brother on the right, and my sister's kids, taken at my Dad's house in upstate NY just before leaving to go back to the city.)

Back to real life tomorrow.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

1/28/2010 Viral day

Back in the swing of things...sort of. My computer was acting sick before I left for NY, but upon my return, it wouldn't even boot into Windows. I handed it to a young tech today, with the promise that it would likely be cleaned up and recovered tomorrow. Still, I need a new computer anyway. Clearly, I jinxed this one by starting to look for its replacement. Anyway, for now, no blog photos (yes I know it's possible on a Mac, but iPhoto is a polar opposite to the simple JPEG browser I use...not my deal, and it'd take too long).

It was nice to be back in family life today.. until another eye-popping blowout/fight with Gabriel tonight. This one actually got started after the boys were in bed, lights-out. How can that happen??

10 minutes after lights-out, Julian came downstairs crying and said Gabriel had punched him, while he was in bed. Dave and I went right up and interrogated the suspect, who confessed to his crimes, but indignantly claimed he had a good reason. I wasn't interested in hearing a "good reason" to punch someone who's in lying in bed in the dark. Lost allowance, favorite toy put away, strict warning. These attacks, I'm sorry to say, aren't a new thing, and they're something we've decided to come down very very hard on. Done, right?

Not in Gabriel-land. 10 minutes later, Julian came crying downstairs again. This time, Gabriel had grabbed his pillow out from under his head, and pinched him hard. Dave and I both went back upstairs, and again Gabriel defiantly defended his actions, and challenged me: "You can't do anything to me, Mom!" I told him to turn over and pull his pants down. I'm sorry, attacking your brother twice in bed in the dark totally deserves that. Afterward, he sat up and raised his arm, threatening to punch me, hurling insults and claiming that we owed him all our money. I got in his face and told him next time, it'd be 4 spanks. (But when will he really let loose and punch me?)

Gabriel screamed at the top of his lungs for the next 20 minutes, blood-curdling shrieks intended to incite us. But he was now alone in the room, with Julian being given the huge privilege of sleeping on our bed -- for safety, quiet, provocation elimination, and to show Gabriel that he just handed Julian a big privilege. After 25 minutes I went in and told him that every minute past lights-off time that he was still up turned into 2 minutes of lost playtime or computer time. He was finally in a contrite state, so wound up and upset that he didn't want me to leave, which he showed by continuing the demands and insults. But he'd finally had enough and agreed angrily to be quiet, but only for 20 minutes. Fell asleep, we put Julian back in, done. Whew.

By now I've learned to shrug at the stories of "just take away his allowance/favorite toy/big privilege and that's it." That's IT? If only. He blames Julian for the loss, and attacks him again, having nothing to lose.

Other than dealing with a viral computer and a virulent son, I'm also contending with a bronchitis that gets a little worse every day. Progress, of sorts, I guess! My hoarse half-voice took the kids aback, as they hadn't seen me in a week and I returned to them clearly altered. Gabriel said earlier tonight he hoped I'd get better soon, which he said with sufficient urgency that I guessed it was more about his world being rocked than mine. He showed the same unnerve the last time my back went out -- it really concerned him. The same kid who practically spits in my face after the humiliating experience of a bare-bottom spanking...seems this tough cookie needs his mommy. Needs his mommy to be even tougher than he is, that is.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

1/24/2010 In New York

Just drove back from upstate NY this afternoon with my brother & girlfriend, after visiting my Dad Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a pretty packed day, with lots of highs and lows, but none more fun than my first foray into hockey.

My nephew Aidan takes hockey lessons, and loves skating and practicing hockey. My brother-in-law clears patches of ice on a pond, and he and Aidan practice hockey all the time. Aidan has gotten pretty good! I joined them on Saturday while they were playing and eventually took over my brother-in-law's hockey stick.

Despite my borrowed skate a size too large, and my complete ineptitude at puck handling with a stick that's a foot too long -- WHAT FUN. I thought I'd just give it a try for a few minutes and ended up "playing" for about an hour. It was so fun. My nephew got a big kick out of scoring on me, and I told him he had a whole closet full of hat tricks now.

My brother showed up with his video camera and took this little clip, before joining us for a "game." Aidan and I had fun skating around my brother, and I think Aidan had a great time playing with his aunt and uncle (even if we're no match for his Canadian father who actually plays hockey).

I've never played any team sports or had any drive to (hmm ok except volleyball, briefly), but hockey is G-R-E-A-T. It's completely different skating with a stick in your hand and your eye on the puck. I loved it. And it was so fun spending so much time with my sweet nephew.

I do miss my children, and from what Dave tells me, Katrina misses me (awww....poor thing!), but it was a rare treat to be just an aunt (or is that, uncle?) and not a mother at the same time.

I'm back in NYC now and will be for 2 days before returning home late Wednesday.