Saturday, April 10, 2010

4/10/2010 Single Saturday

I'm still not entirely in the single-mom groove, but I'm not complaining: the number one main thing I can do for Laura is to put her brother at her side worry-free during this life-changing event. Fortunately, she's recovering better than expected from such a major surgery, and might even move out of the ICU by Monday. That's terrific news. Meantime, I'm encouraging Dave to stay there as long as she needs.

Kids are amazing. Nothing else so demonstrates how life goes on.

Today that included a T-ball game, despite the blustery, threatening weather. During pre-game practice, it looked like Julian's game would get rained out, but after a brief wait under a breezeway after practice, the coaches decided to play one inning. Then the wind died down and the weather became just chilly, but not unpleasant.

Katrina was high-maintenance during the game -- happy, mostly, aside from one big tantrum, but it was work keeping her happy.

Gabriel stayed at home during the game, getting some much-needed downtime, though I was keenly aware of Tonya's warning that age 12 is the minimum legal age to leave children home alone.

I'd told Gabriel we'd be home by 12:30 or so, but we ran some unexpected errands after Julian's game -- including a step into a the timewarp known as Blockbuster Video. This meant that we got home later than I'd said, and Gabriel immediately said, "Why didn't you call?" Fair question. I will next time if I'm so much as 2 minutes later than I thought.

He was quickly appeased with a hero sandwich from Subway, and the promise of a baseball movie after room cleanup. It wasn't raining, but it still wasn't a pleasant afternoon -- just as well, since our landscaping is mid-project and not at all suitable for playing outside. We watched "Bad News Bears" (the original of course), with a few interruptions during impossible noisy Katrina tantrums. Not unexpected after a sleepover last night, but still annoying. I'm amazed how good-natured the boys are about stopping the movie and leaving the TV room so she has no audience for her outrage. I hate that we have to do that, but it's the fastest way to get back to it.

After the movie, I was able to do some cleanup and make dinner with unusual ease. Katrina sure was quiet. It's one of those things that I don't dare check as to the source of the peace, lest I disrupt it, but eventually I do have to check. And sure enough, she'd found something to keep her busy: a pair of scissors and a piece of paper. What was left of it.

Five minutes of cleaning up teeny pieces of paper all over the place was quite worth the half an hour's worth of peace.

Today's other big news is Gabriel losing his second upper front tooth. And the Tooth Fairy is fresh out of dollar bills.

Being out of cash was due in part to one of the remarkable things about living in Northern California. It's not uncommon to see a (usually) young man of apparently Hispanic descent standing on a street corner, selling boxes of strawberries. Today we passed one such man on our way into Blockbuster, and Julian right away piped up, "I love strawberries!" But did we really need a box containing 6 of those little green baskets you buy one at a time at the grocery store for $2.99 (in season) ? That's a lot of strawberries.

I asked the guy where they came from and when they'd been picked, and he said he got up early this morning and picked them himself, in Salinas. I admired the way he'd arranged them, with all the strawberry tips pointing in one direction, making for an irresistible presentation. When he said a single box was only $7, I bit, and bought. And used up all my handy small bills in the process.

But what a boon. These strawberries were amazing -- fat, juicy, sweet, even crisp. The boys plowed through the ones I washed and roughly cut (Gabriel's front tooth was so wiggly he couldn't bite into anything) and kept asking for more before I could sit down for lunch myself. They ate almost half the box -- a box labelled "12 dry pints" -- at lunch alone. Katrina had a huge bowlful too. Really, these strawberries, and how greedily the kids consumed them -- are worth these paragraphs. And is one of the things -- like outdoor baseball in April -- that makes living here worth it.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

4/7/2010 Open House

Tonight was Open House at Gabriel and Julian's school. That's the 3rd night in a row we've had something going on in the evening -- with Dave away. We went, it was instructive and fun, but still made for a hectic evening.

With Dave out of town, the boys have to pick up the slack. They're big enough (barely) to bring the garbage and recycling cans in from the curb.

One thing I learned at the open house in Julian's classroom (aside from the fact that Gabriel sometimes joins him in class in the morning....grrr): Julian is quite the creative writer in kindergarten! His teacher (a substitute since his original teacher is on maternity leave) said that she had him read this story aloud for the PM group (Julian is AM), and that they all wrote better stories after hearing his, inspired!

One day a cup came to life. It attacked machines and people. I came to the rescue and attacked the cup, which put the cup back to normal.

I guess this appeals to kindergartners...though the idea of a cup coming to life appeals to me too. Gabriel's teachers also note his "voice" in writing, and my dear nephew Aidan is all about writing Julian. Could it be that we have a family of writers?

The Open Houses include giving parents a book of the kids' writing work. It was so fun and interesting seeing what Julian wrote about (Gabriel's was more prescribed). He wrote about our ski trip, our trip to Edwards Air Force Base for the airshow, decorating for Halloween...and this: my relating to the boys about my time playing hockey with their cousin Aidan (my very creative nephew). Seeing the video and hearing my stories made quite the impression on Julian, and he wrote about it!

This perhaps isn't as creative, but I love seeing what he thinks about and how he absorbs and relates my stories:

(spelling corrected:)

On a beautiful Wednesday my Mom went to New York.
She played ice hockey with my cousin.
When she was about to hit my cousin hit it out of her way.

Kids are amazing. They force you to stay in the moment. Their antics keep you from fretting every second about life's more serious sides.

Still, I was anxious to get my three reality checks to bed tonight so I could do some necessary fretting. My beloved sister-in-law, Laura, has been in surgery for 10 hours today. Dave just emailed me that it went well and she'll be back in ICU in a few hours. But I can't imagine there's anything routine about brain surgery.

Laura is such a rock in our alive, so present, so solid, so vital. The idea of her in the hospital, drugged, ill, not completely there to give me her usual insightful, thoughtful and kind insights....unthinkable. My world is rocked. I can't live without her. This isn't about me of course, but it feels like it is, because I just can't bear the idea of her not being there 200%, as always. I need to hear she's OK so I can finally really cry.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

4/6/2010 T-ball clinic

Another mad scramble in the evening. Get Julian to T-ball practice (a clinic instead of a game tonight) by 5pm, drop Gabriel off at home so he can work on homework and book report. Then pick up Katrina and hope she doesn't freak at the dogs at the park. It's really becoming an annoying problem; if a dog is within 200 meters she screams and throws a tantrum. Then she talks about the dog constantly and asks about how dogs kiss people -- but she flips out near an actual dog.

Fortunately tonight she was more interested in the actual T-ball playing.

A friend says her daughter often and easily made friends with other waiting little sisters at baseball games, and that made it fun for her. Katrina -- not so much. Another little girl her age did try to engage her, but she's a hard sell. She's not shy, but she holds back and doesn't join into things quickly.

Perhaps moreso than Julian, who was having a great time.

Gabriel was supposed to be working on his book report while we were at the T-ball clinic, but maybe he was playing on the piano instead. He must have been; he hasn't been playing much lately, but somehow has squeaked in some time to practice this composition.

This is based on some pre-programmed blues tune in the piano, but Gabriel says this is of his own making.

Dave's still in L.A; Aunt Laura is having surgery tomorrow morning. I'm not usually a praying person, but this is by far the best time to make the exception.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

4/6/3010 To L.A.

I wish I had something fun and light to write about, but the truth is, all I can think about is Laura, my sister-in-law. A few weeks ago, she fell in the bathtub and hit her head, and got a concussion....the doctors thought. But then she was having trouble finding words and navigating rooms, so she was admitted into the hospital again, where she was diagnosed with Moyamoya Syndrome. The speculation is now that she fell in the bathtub because of a small stroke. Today Dave called me and said she was a little worse, so I told him to just go down to L.A. to see her. He flew straight away and is there now.

The syndrome is treatable with surgery and as far as we know, the prognosis is good, but it's a scary and upsetting time. Dear, sweet Laura...I couldn't have dreamed of a more wonderful sister-in-law and friend. I wish I could go see her too, but I'm telling myself that there's no urgency because she's going to be just fine.


Monday, April 05, 2010

4/5/2010 Why I Hate Homework

Gabriel has yet another book report due, this time on poetry.

I thought this would be a real pain, until my most excellent Mom friends suggested Shel Silverstein as a very kid-friendly poet. Maybe this won't be so bad after all!

Naturally, every other 2nd-grader had the same idea -- the library was wiped out of Shel Silverstein. But the most excellent librarian suggested a Jack Prelutzky book, "Something BIG has been here," instead. I knew it was the right one when I couldn't get Gabriel to lift his head from it, and he was laughing aloud.

Tonight I told him to read 6 poems in the poetry book for his nightly reading, and again, I heard him laughing aloud reading it. "Fred gets out of bed and puts his underwear on his head" is irresistable, it seems.

So during dinner, the usual boy-banter turned to, of all things, poetry. And out of nowhere, Gabriel rattled off a goofy set of rhymes that had him and Julian in peals of laughter. He excused himself quickly from dinner to go write it down.

And that's when I heard myself say the unthinkable:

"Stop working on the poem and go do your homework."

The absurdity was palpable. Stop working on a creative pursuit that you're excited about and that avoided the normal dinnertime foul-mouthedness, and go work on repetitive drudgery that does little to advance your education.

"Stop working on your poem and do your homework."

Homework is a fact of life in our world, and it has to be prioritized, so I have to go through the motions of insisting he work on it. But I hate it when schoolwork stifles actual learning and creativity. Gabriel insisted on writing down his poem before starting his homework. For once, I didn't get too mad at being ignored.

The Light Bulb Caught Some Fire

The light bulb caught some fire,
Of course it gave off smoke,
The smoke detector started beeping,
And also began to choke.

Weird things began to happen,
Like the place mats rolled up like crazy.
The basket fell off the shelf,
And in my lunch box there was a daisy.

I don't care at all about quality of the prose or his future as a poet -- seeing the bright excited look in his eyes, his face lit with humor, his characteristic determination and enthusiasm, told me this is how school should be for him.

Yet he got in trouble numerous times at school today for rude and disruptive behavior, such as loud burping during someone's presentation. After school, he worked on his schematic for a radio-controlled car IC (integrated circuit).

This person has so much ability, so much potential, so much power -- yet I'm getting worried that school is losing him.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

4/4/2010 Easter Sunday

Quick one here....a very very pleasant Easter Brunch at a friend's house, despite rain keeping 7 kids indoors in a small house. We even managed an egg hunt without too much trouble, and then plowing through all the candy and cookies in the eggs kept the kids busy.

It occurred to me today that we still haven't done the whole Easter Basket thing. It seemed silly when they were babies, but now they're old enough to miss it....but they don't. It just doesn't come up. They might well look back on that someday as one of our great lamenesses as parents, but then, there's just so much to choose from it might not stand out.