Saturday, May 08, 2010

5/8/2010 Landscape progress

T-ball and ice-skating morning, single parent. Whee! Drop-off at ice-skating, drop-off at T-ball, pickup at ice-skating, pickup at T-ball, then back to the same mall where the skating rink is to buy shoes.

T-ball never fails to delight however.

Team photos arrived! HOW CUTE. Love it.

Plants are going in!! Still lots of carpentry and work to do, but...plants are going in!

Now you just want to sit and gaze outside.

I love this beautiful Japanese Maple, but I'm not sure about its location right in front of this window. It's in the design, it's a perfect tree for that area, it gives the screening we need for that huge window. But now that it's there, I keep wanting to move it to the left a few feet. Especially from the inside of the house, it needs to block the angled view from the driveway, not the straight-on view. From the outside, the tree distracts from the very central aesthetic element of the window.

I'll talk to the designer about it.

Overall, I'm stunned. Our property looks completely different with plants and trees and landscaping. I mean it -- never has a transformation been so dramatic. Paradise has descended upon our little corner of suburbia.


Friday, May 07, 2010

5/7/2010 Mom's Day Tea

Today I had a very important appointment -- and I'm not talking about my 8:30 conference call and WebEx with engineers in Boston and Denver, nor the 10:00 project management meeting I was supposed to run. I'm talking about the 11:30 Mother's Day Tea that Julian's class put on. I finished out the Webex, cancelled the 10:00, and ditched two Ops technicians who'd escalated a problem. My 11:30 appointment could not be missed.

It was very sweet; they had all done a poster and a card, and had snacks and tea and lemonade. Julian's card said that he loves me because I make him laugh, which I just loved. (It's true, I love making him laugh with silly notes in his lunch, like "yesterday I forgot your note -- that makes me a goat!" He loves those. Seems I have a talent for 6-year-old-level humor.)

Julian persuaded me to take him home with me after his Tea; I was planning to go home anyway after the Tea because I felt horrible today (still do). Time alone with one of them is quite precious, so I agreed. I hung on while running a few errands with him, then we went home where I pretty much lay down the rest of the afternoon. But even if I was completely bedridden all day, I'd still have made it to the Tea.

Dave's in L.A. this weekend, welcoming Laura HOME!


Thursday, May 06, 2010

5/6/2010 SB 1381

SB 1381 -- a proposed law in California that would move the kindergarten cutoff date back from Dec. 2nd to Sep. 1st. That is, a child must turn 5 by Sep. 1st to start kindergarten that year.

Can they please, please PLEASE wait a year?! Believe it or not, I'm planning to register Katrina for kindergarten in 10 months. But if they move the cutoff date back, with her Oct. 5th birthday she'd have to wait another year. Instead of being among the youngest in the class, she'd be among the oldest, turning 6 just a few weeks into her kindergarten year.

How does this affect parents planning for pre-K in the fall? For us, it doesn't exactly matter since she's in childcare full-time anyway, but other parents don't put their kids in preschool until pre-K. That's a lot of planning -- and now is the time to plan for pre-K. But you can't plan for pre-K if you can't plan for K.

I really don't need to worry about this right now....oh I hope this law holds off for 11 more months. The preschool world is very sweet, but another year and a half is plenty -- not another two and a half years. And having her another grade behind will affect us for years.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

5/5/2010 The Jungle

Look what's appeared in our backyard today!!

This surely indicates that the landscaping project is in its final stages. Plants are here! There's still a lot of carpentry and cleanup to do (arbors, gates, fences), but the hardscaping and irrigation are almost done, and that's the big stuff. I can't believe it: no more neighborhood eyesore!!

Gabriel has turned a new developmental milestone. This is one I really can't be that happy about, as it's really a step toward puberty. My little boy! Are you ready for this? He smells. SMELLS! Like, smelly pits. He needs deodorant!! It seems he's inherited the "Doudna smell" that only in-laws notice. Dave's family never used deodorant, and while they weren't offensive, they were noticeable. Dave too had an introduction to Speed Stick when we first got together, and is now well below the socially acceptable threshhold. And now it seems Gabriel has inherited this tendency. My 8-year-old smelly-pits boy!

Mr. Smelly Pits continues to raise the bar for the sort of trouble he gets into at school. Today he lost recess and had to write a sentence 25 times, and got a note home to us too. He was defiant and unrepentant when we talked to him about it, angry at the consequences (no dessert until he gets 4 cat stamps on his daily behavior contract). As usual with Gabriel, applying consequences only escalates the situation, and he was difficult and resistant every step of the way tonight.

"Gabriel, please go set the table now."
"Why don't you just set the table yourself?" (twice)

"Gabriel, what's this about inappropriate language in school?"
"Don't you KNOW what 'inappropriate' means?!"

"Why am I not allowed to punish *you*?"

In the end, he got it in the end...the rear end. And after hours of struggle and making everyone miserable, he finally, finally broke down and dropped the defiant attitude. I wish it didn't have to come to that, but after it's done, I wish we'd done it hours earlier. I'd love to see a positive-parenting supernanny tackle him with timeouts and redirection. Good luck to that one.

All this coming off one of the most disturbing nightmares I've ever had. I recognize these as migraine-related, but the hours of blues that follow are very very real. I was in a small apartment in a city for some reason, with Gabriel, and some horrible trauma occurred that killed him and spread gore all over the apartment. I was paralyzed with shock, muted by grief, unable to cry hard enough in my horror. I'd just lost Gabriel and the world was a black, sick, toxic place. I stumbled outside and tried to put myself in a garbage can, then noticed a friend and thought he wouldn't understand.

A litany of thoughts about myself, my identity flew through my mind.
I'm no longer a mother of three.
I'm no longer a mother of two boys.
I no longer have an 8-year-old boy.

Massive identity crisis on the heels of the greatest loss my psyche could ever suffer. But mostly, I pictured Gabriel happily bopping along, kicking a soccer ball or sitting and humming while he draws a circuit diagram, feeling his presence so closely, and then heartbroken and devastated to the core that this bright light, this powerful energy, was gone from my life. It was too much to bear or think of, and I felt like my body would break in two.

I woke up with a start and didn't realize right away what had happened. All I knew was complete, overwhelming, crushing horror. I looked around my room and slowly started to understand: it was only a dream. A horrible, devastating, tragic dream, with all the tar and desolation still oppressing me. The rescue let relief seep in, but little joy. I had just experienced the worst possible thing that could ever happen, and there was no joy in that.

Seriously shaken, I stumbled out of bed to go to my son. I held his hand and looked at his face and listened to him breathe with tears streaming down my face. He was there. He was alive and just as strong and real as ever. Thank God.

But the near miss had me blue and on the verge of tears all day. He was never more than a thought or two away, and I was anxious to see him again after work, and be near him and feel his life and energy. And I felt it all right, in full force, with his defiant rudeness, his defensive stance, his impudence and verbal aggression. But that's Gabriel, always just barely reasonable, willing to take on a fight if it proves his point -- or even if it doesn't.

Perhaps it's because of his super toughness that I'm so intensely attached to him. Perhaps it's because of that toughness -- he doesn't need much from other people emotionally, including me, but he does need me. Perhaps it's because of just how much I need him. It's not just my world that would fall apart without him -- the world would fall apart without him.

And now, let's hope for a better day tomorrow, for Mom's heart, and for Gabriel's teacher's sanity. Gabriel will be just fine.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

5/4/2010 Sandwich Set

Julian and Katrina raided the garage for put-away toys, and found this adorable "sandwich set," a gift from Laura and Ryan some years ago. I don't know why preparing food is such a fun game, but Julian loved it when he was a toddler, and now Katrina loves it too.

This kept her busy while we waited for Dave to bring home our take-out dinner. This is rare for us, but I had an extra incentive. Today was a Community Day, sponsored by the "Their Future Is Now" grass-roots campaign to raise money to save 115 teachers' jobs in our school district next year. I'm not optimistic this will succeed, but I'm impressed at the enthusiasm and tenacity shown by the parents behind it. So it's really the least we can do to do take-out on Community Day, and Baja Fresh will contribute 20% of what we spent there to the campaign.

So while I got a pass on preparing food tonight, Katrina was playing food!


Monday, May 03, 2010

5/3/2010 Maestro

Our electronic piano is still a staple of entertainment around here, with each kid going on and out of phases of playing on it -- and each kid with their own way of playing on it!


Sunday, May 02, 2010

5/2/2010 Book Reduction

Tons of work today, cleaning up the boys' room (that is, keeping after them for them to clean it up), but reducing and condensing the junk they have on shelves too. We really should do this on a regular basis, but no, it builds up. This sounds crazy to say, but the boys still had a lot of board books in their room, mostly because that's just where the best bookshelf was. Even Katrina is pretty much done with board books. It was a ton of work clearing out books and old toys and reducing their storage to one bookshelf each, but it was long overdue. Next, desks.