Friday, May 21, 2010

5/21/2010 Kid Rock

Last month, I took Julian on a "Native Garden Tour," where a lady offered him to play on this "kid rock."

This morning, I arrived at 7:30am at a place that sells boulders, among other things, and picked one our very own kid rock.

It's not necessarily the most interesting rock from a landscaping perspective, but, practical me, my rear end picked it. Of all the rocks I sat on, this was the most sittable.

And this was about the most fun thing I did today. It's really been a rat race week. But I have a very exciting morning planned tomorrow, so that will make up for it.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

5/20/2010 Homework night

What an intensely frustrating night. Julian has his last homework packet, but it's not something he can do easily himself: writing a paragraph on what he learned in kindergarten, then writing and drawing the favorite part of a story. He needs guidance with writing and spelling, though usually he has no trouble with the ideas. Tonight we couldn't get him to get any of it together, and the homework became a huge ordeal.

Meantime, Gabriel had to redo homework from yesterday he hadn't finished: writing 3 milestones for 8 phases of his life each. That's completely impossible for a kid to do alone, and pretty hard for parents too! Does every parent remember milestones as I do? Not to mention the research report and daily math too.

So incredibly overwhelming and frustrating, all this busywork. I'm fine with schoolwork, really, but too much difficult schoolwork that assumes we're all sitting peacefully at home at 3:00 and enjoying a popsicle over our gingham tablecloth and can then easily slide into chatting about kid milestones. It's too much! I was at a snapping point tonight, so resentful that I couldn't enjoy my now-healthy toddler's sweet bopping around and playing, instead having to verbally whip the boys into concentrating on stupid boring schoolwork.

And not just for us; I'm sure Gabriel's teachers have really had it with him. Twice this week, notes about his disruptive behavior in social studies and in music. We're really really tired of the constant trouble he's in -- mostly minor stuff, mostly "boys will be boys" stuff, but disruptive and rude and unacceptable nonetheless.

3-1/2 more weeks of school. Never in my life have I been so anxious for summer!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5/19/2010 Tag Team

Katrina had a low-grade temperature most of yesterday afternoon, so there was no way she was going to preschool today. I was a little relieved to have a solid reason to keep her home anyway -- she was really sick the night before last!

But Dave and I both needed to go to work today, so we traded home duty. I stayed with her until lunchtime, then Dave came home and I went to work. This worked pretty well, with the minor complication of Julian's T-ball practice at 5:30. The plan was that Dave would take Katrina and pick the boys up and take them to T-ball, but Katrina had other ideas.

She needed the nap! So I zoomed home from work, and "tagged" Dave again, for him to go bring the boys to T-ball. They were late, and Gabriel was stuck there too and wasn't home to do homework, making for a painful effort getting him to finish it around 8pm. He was tired and I hated enforcing something I don't entirely believe in anyway.

So today of all days would have been a good one to skip T-ball, especially since it was "just" a practice and not a game. But I really feel a strong commitment. This is a team sport, in an all-volunteer league. Our coaches invest so much time and effort in the kids, they deserve for us to at least show up! They also have full-time jobs and toddler daughters, and they never miss practice. I wish I could do more to contribute in fact.

I really, really like our T-ball coaches, they've been a very positive influence on the kids, and not just in baseball skills. I really do think Julian's "character," for lack of a better term, has developed as a result of this experience. He wants to please the coaches, he's really learned to listen to them and look to them for guidance, and he's had a wonderful introduction to the concepts of teamwork and sportsmanship. Yes, tonight the logistics were tough for us, but in the bigger picture, it was absolutely the right thing to do.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5/18/2010 My Mom

In school, Gabriel's class had to write something about someone very special to them. His got started the week before Mother's Day, so clearly it was a very strong hint without locking in the few children whose primary caregivers might not be their mothers.

As usual, they had to write an outline and organize it with "many, first, next, then, clearly..." phrases -- structure that a kid like Gabriel uses absolutely literally and that will strangle his imagination for years, rather than extrapolating a basic framework from it. Then they write and "publish" a final version from the outline.

In any case, despite Gabriel's increasingly sloppy handwriting, I was able to make out some surprising statements. It's fascinating to see from a relatively objective viewpoint what your kid thinks of you, what he remembers about your time together. It might be very different than what you think -- or hope for!

My mother is special for many different reasons.
First, she assists me a lot. One of these things is to help me find paper whenever I need it.
Next, Mom and I do things together at home. We sure do a ton of baking!
Then, she teaches me a lot. My mother educates me with complex math.
Last, of course she loves me. She gives me lots of hugs and kisses.
Clearly my mother is very special (crossed out) important.

This is amusing and informative on numerous levels. Getting Gabriel paper so he can draw his incessant schematics is very, very, very important to him. I bought him a binder today to keep all his designs in -- that should rank up there!

Next, We don't bake that much together, we just don't have time. I love baking with all of them, but getting it all together to do so is much less frequent than I'd like. Yet, he remembers it. That's fascinating. (In other schoolwork in which he had to write what he liked about me, he remembered the few times we built tracks together -- that stood out far far above other things I'd done far far more often with him.)

Next, I teach him complex math?? I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about. Indeed, he talks all the time about electronics and some of the math behind it (e.g. today, "Mom, do you understand truth tables?"), and when we're baking I never hesitate to pose a problem to him ("what's half of 2/3?"). He has yet to ask me a math-related question in which I'm forced to say "I don't know, ask Dad," as I have to say all the time when it has to do with voltage or capacitance. Good thing for that graduate degree in computer science, or my 8-year-old would think I was a high-school dropout. OK, so I can help him with binary arithemetic now, but it'll only be a matter of a few short years before I haven't a prayer of answering his math questions.

But best for last. "She gives me lots of hugs and kisses." And this is completely true. I'm very demonstrative with him, perhaps even moreso since I know those days are numbered. As he approaches puberty, our physical relationship will necessarily change. Right now, I still own him, and can grab and hug and kiss him and cuddle with him and have him sit on my lap all I want.

I notice when I pick him up at CDC that I'm more rough-and-tumble than most Moms; like when I pick him up by one leg and carry him outside while he hollers and his friends howl in laughter, or when I pin him to the floor and tickle and kiss him, again eliciting guffaws from his friends. So I do tend to play physically with him, perhaps moreso than many Moms, and perhaps that's what that comment reflects. All Moms hug and kiss their kids of course! But this comment is surprising from Gabriel of all kids.

There will come a point that he won't want hugs and kisses from his wrinkled old (and short!) mother. But right now, it seems that means a lot to him, and that means so so much to me.

Katrina set a family record last night: 6 throw-ups, and all the baths, bedding and clothing changes that go along with that. She started around 11:00, and the last one was about 5am. She didn't even wake up for the last one; I heard her crying out and ran into her room and picked her up, and her head fell back, limp in my arms. I changed her bedding and PJs, wiped her off, and she collapsed back to sleep.

Dave and I were so tired from the numerous efforts (he'd bathe and dress her while I searched the house for more bedding and ran laundry) that we both stayed home from work today. This was nice actually; it's remarkable how different -- dare I say eays? -- life is when it's just us and one (mostly) sweet little girl. Indeed, she doesn't tantrum much when there aren't brothers around to impress! Then she developed a temperature this afternoon, so we're going to tag-team going to our jobs tomorrow.


Monday, May 17, 2010

5/17/2010 Moving trees

Remember this beautiful, but misplaced, coral bark Japanese Maple tree, with the lovely red bark?

Well now, it's a beautiful and perfectly placed lace Japanese Maple tree, with lovely red leaves.

It can be trained to grow out and down, and not so much high. It's perfect there.

There's also a new lattice on the right side of the window. I had a lighter lattice in mind for there, but, no matter -- a vine will grow and block that whole expanse of siding anyway. Yay.

So where did the lovely coral bark tree go? Right in our backyard, where we'll see and enjoy it every day, along with some other plants.

Plants! Flowers! Greenery! Colors! This is stunning!

(So will our gardening bills...just like our house is too big for me to clean myself, now our yard is too diverse to take care of ourselves. I'm a little ashamed of that, but at least we're creating a job? Not that we'll be checking immigration status....)

Now it's starting to feel like this might actually get done someday. The only thing I'll miss is when we first arrive home, the kids are all excited to see what the landscapers did today. It was a truly magical moment the day we came home and found all the plants in the backyard, waiting to be planted. Now, every day the magic spreads out a little more as those plants find their way into the ground.

Other than that, today was absolutely exhaustingly draining. Boy I sure wish I could just walk in the door some days and just collapse, but kids need to be fed and do homework and cricket dioramas and have lunches made and tantrums thrown and be asked, told, ordered and then threatened to put lunches away....ok that's IT, this day must come to an end!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

5/16/2010 A lemon of a day

Today Julian and I went to a nearby nursery so I could find me a lemon tree! And a rosemary plant. There are some advantages of living in CA, and being able to grow lemons and rosemary in your yard are high up there.

It was also a lot of fun walking around looking at other plants too. I showed Julian how plants have botanical names and "English" names, and to look at the labels to see how much sun and water they need. There were so many lovely and fascinating plants there. I can't wait until the landscaping is done so that if I get a hankering for some sort of plant, I can just DO it!

He had been in a horrible mood before going, but this snapped him out of it and we had a great time together. I let him pick my dwarf Meyer lemon tree. He's holding the rosemary plant I chose, which is a different variety with wider leaves, that should be interesting.

Katrina...good grief. Massive tantrums this afternoon, resulting in - of all things -- a nap?! She hasn't done that in ages. We finally woke her up around 7pm. Incredibly, she still went to bed pretty much on time.

Ironically, our very very nice next-door neighbor stopped by this evening and gave us a bag of lemons from his own backyard tree! And these are good lemons.

I'm in lemon heaven toda!


p.s. for those of you not on Facebook, a classic comment from Gabriel yesterday, when somehow my age came up in discussion. Here's the text from my FB post:
Noemi Berry Doudna breaks it to my 8yo son: "I'm probably older than most of your friends' moms, you know. You have an old Mom." "Yeah..." he ponders, "thing is, you're so SHORT!"

That is a direct quote! As they say in the FB world, I was LMAO for about 10 minutes after that!