Saturday, March 06, 2010

3/6/2010 Ice Queen

Guess what we did today! The whole family!

Katrina's face looked like that 75% of the time, and the other 25% it was lit up with gleeful joy. She loved skating, but on her own terms of course. It had to be with both her hands being held, either by me while I skated backward, or by me and Dad going forward. This was sort of a problem because Dad's skating is pretty shaky too. And I am done holding beginning skaters, I wanted to go play with the boys!!

Still, though Katrina departs from her brothers' persistence and gives up and screams angrily when she falls (the boys both just got right back up and kept going), her balance and ability to move her feet and skate was uncharacteristically good -- natural, even. I was really impressed! I've seen little evidence of natural athleticism in her, but she caught on to the actual skating part far faster than her brothers did. Her biggest obstacle was her immediate frustration and lack of confidence.

And hoo-boy did she throw a whopper about having to take her skates off when it was time to go. The tantrum lasted 40 minutes. Long after we were all home and settled in, she was still screaming "I WANT MY SKATES **ON** !!" Even though toward the end she kept insisting on sitting down. My back hurts, that reminds me.

More tomorrow on our first family skate, including other photos and some video of the boys. Once again on my mind today , we just didn't find a moment to call Bonne Maman about her birthday. Today is also my Dad's birthday, and I can imagine his delight if we called and sang to him too, if he could understand that anymore. I know he'd enjoy it, if we caught him awake enough.


Friday, March 05, 2010

3/5/2010 History Buff

Julian pulled out a piece of schoolwork today to show me: a "web" of George Washington: pictures of Washington connected to each other, including Mount Vernon and a dollar bill. "George Washington was the only President who never lived in the White House!" Julian informs with his usual eager sincerity.

He must be doing a unit on Presidents at school, because he's full of facts on President Lincoln, too. His respect for me quadrupled when I told him I'd been to Washington D.C., and he asked me again and again if I'd seen the Lincoln Memorial.

I just love how he gets on these learning kicks at school, he's so sincere and real about it. I wish I could take him to Washington D.C. for a weekend while it's still on his radar so it could really sink in. But I know there will be many other things like this.

What's REALLY on my mind today is my mother's birthday -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! SEVENTY, WOW!! My view of age has really changed, between my Mom and my Dad. I used to think 70 was old, but my vigorous mother has completely shattered that image. I used to think 77 was old (my father turns 77 tomorrow), but now I see that my father was robbed. When I see octogenerians shuffling along at Rancho San Antonio, I no longer turn my head and hope I never become that way -- instead I hope I do. I can think of no better way to spend my 80s than walking at one of my favorite places ever. I know my mother will be.

I really hoped to call her tonight with the kids, but it was too crazy and too late when I got them all home. Maybe tomorrow.



Thursday, March 04, 2010

3/4/2010 Marrying

Julian announced tonight that there were now two people he would marry, both girls. Then he asked innocently if he could marry two people.

That reminds me of another conversation we had about a week ago, when Julian asked me: "Can two girls marry?" I gave him a slightly side-stepping, but honest, answer, along the lines of: "Marriage is in the heart -- it's when two people love each other and decide they want to be together for the rest of their lives. It means you start a new family together, even if it's just two people."

It came up again tonight, and I answered much the same thing. Julian listened intently with his wide-eyed expression, absorbing it all. Gabriel waited, then said insistently, "SO? What's the ANSWER?" He knew full well I was avoiding something.

I did go on to say that in many places, the government doesn't recognize marriage between two girls ("or two boys?" Julian asked too), but I restated that "marriage" exists between the two (or more) participants and their own families, communities, and churches if they belong. The government isn't on that list, though I recognize I can have that attitude because I can have my marriage recognized by government...I guess I might be annoyed if I couldn't.

Fortunately this conversation got too complex and they dropped it. Just as well, as by this time of day about the most I can handle is, "do fish live in the sea?" That reminds me, I got an earful tonight from Julian about whales, who, according to him, are different from fish because their tail action is up-and-down rather than side-to-side. I'd have said because whales are mammals, but actually, the tail thing is cooler.

Sure wish I knew where all this were coming from, but you know, kids say the darndest things. And I have Julian to prove it.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Long day today.
Coffee w/friends tonight.
Blog tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

3/2/2010 First hockey lesson

Gabriel's first hockey lesson had all the makings of a disaster today.

First, we were late. I tried, but a last-minute bathroom break, slow teenagers behind the counter at the skate shop, and unfamiliar gear made everything a last-minute scramble. He got on the ice juuust in time, but it was a real stretch.

Did I say "gear" ? We had the bare minimum, but everyone else had padding and proper gloves and probably knew how to put their own helmets on. And I can't believe how much harder it was to tie (rented) hockey skates than the regular old rentals.

Though this class is supposed to be Hockey 1, it turned out to be one coach for all levels. I counted 23 kids to the one coach, including several apparent high-schoolers. And all could skate pretty well. Except for one girl (you go girl!) Gabriel was the smallest and youngest, but he was also by far the poorest skater. The girl could skate!

Add to that the unfamiliarity of the helmet and carrying the stick, plus fresh ice (just Zamboni'd, ultra-smooth) and the first time on hockey skates with an actual edge. On the first scramble across the ice, Gabriel was immediately blown away by the rest of the class.

It actually put a lump in my throat to see my little boy struggling to keep up. I felt like I'd truly thrown him in the middle of a pond and said, "swim!" and now I was watching him flail for his life.

And so I did what any responsible, concerned, loving, caring mother would do.

I left.

I had to! I had to get Katrina. Julian wanted to stay and watch Gabriel, so I left him too, and rushed off to pick her up. That proved to be among the most stressful drives I've ever had. I couldn't quit thinking that I'd abandoned my boys at the ice rink, one of them wearing head and foot gear that he couldn't remove himself.

On top of it, at 5:30, the traffic is significantly worse than when I'm usually driving around. 10 minutes makes a big difference in Silicon Valley. Every light, every long line of cars, every delay made me increasingly anxious. I was a road rage accident waiting to happen.

Turns out, my rush wasn't necessary. Apparently the class goes to 6pm, despite the Web site saying 5:45pm. When I returned, both boys were, expectedly, just fine. Julian disapproved of the absence of a puck -- how can it be hockey without a puck? (good question) -- but the coach apparently had noticed Gabriel's handicap and gave him a few minutes of private instruction.

Gabriel always skated last and held up the class, so I hope they cotton on to the idea that maybe a teacher-to-student ration of 1:23, with an age range of 8-16, probably isn't the best.

Gabriel had the most enthusiastic cheering section though.

Regular readers know that Gabriel's strong personality, his nearly impenetrable thick skin, his iron will can make him pretty hard to live with sometimes. But it also pulls him through challenging situations like this. It just doesn't occur to him that he's the smallest and weakest skater. When he's the last skater in the whole group, he does everything he can to keep up. When he can't make it around a cone, he tries again. He doesn't crumble, he doesn't give up, he never cries. Not that any of this would be wrong -- he just doesn't do it.

And so, the lump in my throat turned from one of worry into one of pride, at the persistence and resilience of my firstborn tough little cookie.

He wasn't exactly bouncing off the walls about the experience, though. His head hurt from the helmet (a Dad told me it should be adjustable), and I think he expected to be able to actually play more. Indeed, the tremendous student:teacher ratio is daunting. But I think the next class, with most of the unknowns gone, will go a lot better for him.

His sister, on the other hand, wasn't so gracious about leaving the ice rink. "I HATE DINNER!" she loudly declared in answer to my explanation why we needed to go home, to the amusement of many surrounding parents. At home, she was bouncing off the walls herself, all excited about seeing skating and hockey and claiming she wants to do this too. Good!

And me...this was exactly the logistical insanity I was expecting, and then some (I'd underestimated the traffic). I can't wait for the first time one of Julian's T-ball games lands on the same day as Gabriel's hockey lesson. Then I will truly have arrived as Sports-Mom.


Monday, March 01, 2010

3/1/2010 A ray of light shoots through the fog of insanity

I don't have time for this.
I don't have energy for this.
I don't have stress-management measures for this.

It just can't fit in. My life is already overloaded, on the edge, overcapacity.

But I signed Gabriel up for hockey lessons today anyway.

And now there's clarity. Doing something fun with, and for, my burgeoning child isn't what's insane. Missing the best times of our lives together because of work would be insane. I hope I can keep sight of that when I'm tearing out of work early to launch into the pickup/dropoff logististical vortex that will be Tuesday nights for a while.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

2/28/2010 Hockey Day

We watched the gold-medal Olympics hockey game this afternoon, the big rematch between USA and Canada. I wasn't sure who to root for, since four players on the Canadian roster play for the San Jose Sharks! But Team USA was in blue, Katrina' favorite color, so we rooted for them. It was an exciting game, though I had to go in and out for parts of it. I noticed that the boys lost interest when I wasn't there; seems my feeble ability to describe what's going on is needed.

After the game, Gabriel said again he wants to take hockey lessons, then asked if we could go skating. Ughhh, it was already 3:20 on Sunday, the cleaners are coming tomorrow, and I have a lot of cooking I'd planned to do (something I'm finding does ease the weekday burden). But at 3:40, I thought "what the heck!" and very impulsively gathered the boys and said, "let's go!" We're lucky that there's a skating rink less than 5 minutes from home, and they had a public session open until 4:30. I was in such a hurry I did something very rare for me: I left my camera behind.

We arrived just before 4, and they let us in for free (rentals too!). Cool! It was packed -- I have to guess with figure skaters who weren't concerned about hockey. Even though we only had half an hour, the boys had a GREAT time, to my delight. They both needed some time to warm up, but thank goodness, Julian was all into it this time -- it's always iffy with him -- and Gabriel was more confident and faster than I've ever seen him. I love taking them skating now that I don't have to hold onto them, and guiltily dread the inevitable period when I'll have to hold Katrina until she's off on her own.

Unfortunately the boys were bouncing off the walls and completely out of control when we got back. They were completely energized and being unbearably rude and physical and obnoxious, laughing at me when I told them to quit throwing or whatever undesirable behavior they were engaging in at the moment. They sure did enjoy themselves; half an hour just wasn't long enough to poop them out.

Once again, my working-parent guilt surges back strong. Hockey lessons for Gabriel...easy if I weren't working, though the conflict with Julian's T-ball would still exist. Parent-tot classes with Katrina...she's old enough for that now, and she says she'd like to skate, though I'm not sure she knows what that means.

And then there's the never knowing if we should be doing more with them on the weekends (since I can't during the week), or less (since they get so little time at home). I must remind myself that there's no shortage of guilt sources in parenting, working or not. Still, from this side of the fence where all the grass looks brown, it seems there are more chances to hit it right when you're not working.