Saturday, April 24, 2010

4/24/2010 Sports Morning

Busy sports morning.

First, Julian's T-ball game, the first in a while since there was no T-ball during the spring break, and then this week's weekday game was rained out. I think the coaches were pretty happy to see the kids again!

Julian rounds out second base.

I alternated between watching and playing catch with Gabriel, which I really enjoyed. I was almost disappointed when the T-ball game was over -- I wasn't ready to leave this idyllic little scene of happy children and sunny fields, having a nice morning playing ball with my boys! (Thank goodness Katrina was at home with Dave, she really saps the fun out of hanging around T-ball, especially since she freaks out at dogs, and there's a dog-training class going on at the same time.)

One kid gets the "spirit award" each week (sort of MVP). Julian hasn't gotten it yet, but the coaches are always dead-on about who earned it. This week's winner (far left) is really not that talented athletically, and tends to be kind of a mess frankly, but he's improved more than any other, and really did well today.

In fact, the MVP and Julian actually made a play together: Julian fielded the ball, threw it to first base, and this kid caught it! That's the first time I've seen a T-baller actually catch a ball in a game!

Right after T-ball, I took Gabriel to a skating lesson. We'd gone last week for the first (free) lesson, when a teacher would evaluate him and determine which level he was. A young woman did a quick check when he first got on the ice, and he wasn't ready, he fell, couldn't skate backward, was thrown off by the chopped-up ice and the crowds, since he was used to his hockey lessons. Still, I was surprised that she put him in "intro," with the brand-new never-skated group. Intro, really? Fortunately the intro teacher figured out within about 5 minutes that he belonged in a different class, and moved him to "pre-alpha."

Still, even in pre-alpha, it looks to me like he outskates most of his class. Today, like last week, when the class skates in circles, he skates circles around it, literally. And falls too.

I try not to helicopter-parent, but it is frustrating how difficult it is to communicate with the teachers, and rely on them to make changes. Gabriel's teacher clearly notices that he's skating differently, and that he's always messing around on his own, and is much much faster than his classmates. But, the teacher has 14 other skaters (all girls!) and doesn't seem inclined to make a change. Next week, I'm just going to take him to the higher-level class, which starts half an hour earlier, and let that teacher say he's not ready if he's not.

This is all figure-skating, which I'd thought wouldn't matter at his level -- he still needs the basics. But now I think it does matter: hockey classes have very very different exercises in how to learn to skate as compared to a figure-skating class. We'll do this series, and he'll get something out of it, but he's already too far gone on hockey skating to go too far down the road of figure skating.

Suddenly I have a new appreciation for what I'd thought were lame hockey classes! I'd thought it was a problem that he was the worst skater in hockey classes, and here I am complaining even more that he's the best skater in a figure-skating class!

Katrina doesn't have any organized activities these days, but she does enjoy walking along our new seat wall, especially wearing darling new girl-clothes that a friend so kindly passed down to us.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

4/22/2010 Bring Your Kids To Work Day

Last-minute decision: ditch work, go pull my son out of daycare and bring him to "Take Your Kids to Work Day!" This was the child, after all, who when completely unprepared for his sharing presentation on "Profession," announced he wanted to be a network engineer without having any idea what that was. Primarily because we'd forgotten about his Sharing Day and he wasn't prepared at all. But that's how he winged it.

Two guys I work with and like a lot had set up some "educational" activities for the kids, so I was glad to make my own contribution of an audience member. Gabriel was home sick, but I couldn't have brought him anyway because he wouldn't have been out of school in time. Many parents had timing issues with naps for the youngest ones, and school for the older ones, so Julian was among the oldest.

He had a great time though. First they passed messages around.

Then they went looking for balloons around the building that were of a particular color. I think this was to demonstrate the concept of network packet finding its destination, but without a routing table the concept was lost. Mostly the kids had fun looking for balloons. It was very interesting seeing which adults are total naturals with kids.

They also got a "van tour," which they loved. One of our field techs showed them how to make a cable and put together a jack box, and then let them keep them. Julian was very very proud of his little box and cable (the cable plugs into the box).

Incredibly, Julian sat quietly next to me and drew during a meeting in which I was supposed to present something. It was very informal, fortunately, and mostly talking rather than "presenting," thank goodness because presenting is not in my top 10 of professional skills. But Julian helped me keep my screen alive, and pushed the down-arrow on my laptop to bring up the next PowerPoint slide. He was really darling. (Unfortunately the evening did not end well when I made a very powerful threat against his catapulting couscous into the air again, and was forced to carry out that powerful threat, powerfully, when once again the end of the spoon got whacked and the food went flying.)

Julian commented many times how small my office is. I think a tour of cubicles and offices and conference rooms and meeting is a fine way to create an artist!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

4/21/2010 Table and chairs

It took over 3 months, but FINALLY -- our new dining table and chairs were delivered today!!

We had to get a round table to fit this strange space, but couldn't get one at Pottery Barn or other common sources, because most round tables are 48" diameter. That's tight for a family of five on a regular basis, especially when that family includes two young boys who need to be kept as far apart as possible. Other places had 54" round tables, but without a leaf to extend it. So we had to order one, which was expensive and took a long time. But I love them. The chairs especially are super comfortable, and upholstered, finally. Upholstered chairs! So civilized!

The one chair with arms in the corner is mine.

It's staying light later these days, which hasn't been a bedtime problem yet, but is presenting a big time-to-come-in-for-dinnertime problem. Never mind that letting them play outside to begin with is a big problem too, with the landscaping going on.

Tonight I let Katrina play out front, since Gabriel was out there too kicking a soccer ball around (even though he had a 100-degree temperature and can't go to school tomorrow). She did not approve of having to come back inside.

Landscaping is reaching a stage in which it feels like progress is very slow and it will go on forever, and I see many many weeks of work ahead. But things like this seat wall -- which isn't completely done -- give me hope.

I absolutely love how this path meanders around in front of the bay window (leaving a planting area to gain some privacy in front of the window), and the wall follows it. I love the color of the wall, but it doesn't match the pathway as our designer had recommended. Though I like the color, I now think the designer was right that it should have matched the pathway. Whatever. I'm such an expert at getting over stuff from our big remodel, this is nothing.

A round table, curved paths...I'm glad to go off the straight and narrow!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

4/20/2010 Daddy's Girl

This doesn't happen often: all 5 of us together at the island, at the same time. And it won't again: our new table and chairs are supposed to be delivered tomorrow!

Katrina does love her Dad though -- and sitting next to him.

Thank goodness, Gabriel did fine on his field trip today. What a relief.


Monday, April 19, 2010

4/19/2010 The Contract

Tomorrow, Gabriel's class goes on a field trip to a nearby arts center to see The Magic Flute. Fun, huh? Yes, unless Gabriel's along. His behavior in school, and on the last field trip, were so bad that we give him permission to go right away.

Unfortunately, the criteria I'd planned to use to decide if he could go -- which was his behavior in school -- was taken away by school being closed last week. It was too hard to come up with clear criteria at home, unless I gave him a specific job or something, which he could easily do and it would have no effect on his behavior.

With a normal kid, you can take something major away, and it'd have that magical "and they never did it again..." effect. That's never happened with Gabriel; applying consequences usually backfires and escalates. Seeing The Magic Flute would be a really nice thing for him to do, his behavior has been OK -- not great, but OK -- and due to our recent discombobulation with Dave being away and school being out, we haven't been crystal-clear on how he can "earn" back this privilege, if there is such a thing.

So we decided to let him go after all, but his permission slip will be something of a contract. Tomorrow morning, he has to sign this before we will. I don't know how much good it will do, but at least his teachers will know that we're 99% woos's instead of 100%.

I, _____________________________________, promise to behave and listen to the teachers and volunteer parents on today’s field trip. This includes, but is not limited to: No rude noises, no unacceptable words, no out-of-turn talking, no running away from the group, no requiring extra attention. I will do as requested without being told more than once.

Gabriel Doudna

I understand and agree that any reports of less than PERFECT behavior on this field trip will result in:

1) The loss of allowance for TWO weeks
2) No computer game time for TWO weeks
3) No dessert for ONE week
4) Folding and putting away my sister’s laundry for TWO weekends.

Gabriel Doudna

I promise I will be good today on today’s field trip to Montalvo Arts Center.

Gabriel Doudna

I give permission for my child, Gabriel Doudna, to go on the field trip to Montalvo Arts Center today April 20, 2010, as he has agreed to cooperate with teachers and parents this time.

David Doudna

Someday, maybe, the school year won't start off with us warning the teacher about his iron-clad personality, that he doesn't respond to discipline or consequences or reprimands like regular kids, and that we'll be in touch frequently about behavior, that....and it won't end with the teacher saying carefully, " were right..."


Sunday, April 18, 2010

4/18/2010 Garden Tour

How nice. There was an open garden tour around the Bay Area today, in which people volunteer to open up their homes and yards for the general public to view. Nurseries selling plants set up stands, or even a display of plants to buy, at some of the houses too. Some houses give talks, and numerous volunteers are at each house to guide and ask questions.

This garden tour focused on "native" gardens, meaning, emphasizing plants that are native to California (if not exactly this region), or similar climates such as parts of Australia. The idea is slow-growing low-water-needs plants, that after they're established, need only occasional watering to get through dry times. This is a big difference from vast water-intensive lawns.

The part that caught my eye in the paper was that the boys' elementary school is on the tour this year, as apparently it too has a native garden. However, we skipped that one because I can see it anytime!

I took Julian and Katrina to a garden a block away from her preschool, and what an absolutely lovely beautiful place it was. Flowery, diverse, shady...the one word I wouldn't use to describe a "native" garden is "lush," but I don't miss it.

They don't tend to be manicured or brightly-colored either -- no pansy banks here. But I really, really like this sort of planting. And, how handy, we get to do this soon!

Katrina, typically, was something of a liability, wanting me to carry her, then picking off flowers she liked, then not wanting to leave. Julian, typically, was very interested, reading all the signs describing the plants, calling me over to show me some new discovery. I wasn't about to let this little diva horn in on my date, so, I dropped her back home and carried on with just Julian. That was fun, I relish time alone with any of them, but this is right up Julian's alley.

We saw three more gardens, mostly front ones, but still just as pretty, and just as accessible. This isn't looking at English gardens with a staff maintaining it; the whole point is to be low-maintenance. One lady told Julian that a rock in the midst of the garden was put there just for kids, and invited him to go play on it.

This time of year, the orange poppies are out, and they're dazzling. I'd like to know what they look like the other 54 weeks of the year, but I'll ask that part later.

It's hard to believe that sometime this year, our yard will no longer be an eyesore, a blank slate, an embarrassment, or a jobsite. It's a mess right now, but someday, someday soon, it might actually be a garden.