Saturday, June 26, 2010

6/26/2010 The Neighborhood

Today I had an errand that took me to a most unexpected place. I came across this pleasant charming tree-lined downtown, with outdoor seating and shops and restaurants.

And then a wonderful farmer's market, as most are around here. I didn't have a lot of cash with me, but I had just enough to buy a cheesecake sampler from an enterprising entrepreneur. Still, I regretted not being prepared, because there were tons of beautiful fruits and pastries and flower and fresh herbs.

What a lovely place! Too bad we don't live here. Even though on paper, we do.

This was downtown Sunnyvale, a tiny microcosm within a city that is otherwise dull mid-century suburban sprawl. One block of the original early-1900s grid wasn't razed for a mall in the mid-1970s, and now this serves as its bustling little mini-downtown.

But our house is on the complete opposite side of Sunnyvale, and we're really much more connected to Cupertino. Most of our resources (schools, shopping, library, haircutting and such day-to-day mundanities) are in Cupertino. And Cupertino has no downtown whatsoever to speak of. It's ironic that my major complaint about our house -- that through a quirk of history happens to be within Sunnyvale legal borders -- is the Cupertino-ish not-so-neighborhood.

One thing I can't complain about where we live is being less than 5 minutes from an ice rink. Gabriel isn't crazy about his figure-skating lessons, and neither am I since he doesn't learn nearly as much as he could in the time given, but I am glad it's so close. We're almost done with this series of lessons, then I'll put him back in hockey lessons. It's quite clear that he's already much more of a hockey skater than figure skater.

In theory this afternoon, I was preparing for our trip back East next week so I don't go running around like crazy at the last minute. In practice, I always work better under pressure, no preparations happened at all, and will still end up running around like crazy at the last minute. In my defense, I have been feeling horrible the last few days (contributing to my absence at coffee night with my friends, and absence from this blog), and just don't feel like doing much.

I spent some time in the office this afternoon, and enjoyed looking out the window to see Julian industriously watering all the plants. Never mind that complete drip system we just had installed. I wasn't about to deter him.

Then we turned on my "bubble rock" -- a complete indulgence that I'm still on the fence about, and he played with it a little. I had told our landscaper: "NO WATER FEATURES!" but he knew better and planned for one anyway. And so there is my rock that water flows out of. It goes completely against my function-over-form nature....and I love it.

Katrina threw such a nasty tantrum this morning that Dave bailed on taking Julian and Katrina out to breakfast as is customary on Saturday mornings (I was at skating with Gabriel). After Gabriel's lesson, Katrina was just then putting her clothes back on after stripping them off in her fit that lasted over an hour. It's exhausting and annoying and frustrating. Dave was in a blue mood all day after that.

This is one of her worst tantrum phases ever. We can count on at least one, usually more, major major inconsolable impossible tantrums that lasts well into an hour per day. I know it will end someday, but WHEN?!

But she doesn't tantrum all day. Later she was adorable when she burst downstairs and announced that she'd made a present for Dad -- a new picture of him! She was very proud of it, and we made a huge fuss over it, and over her. I think we both needed that.

These pictures she draws of Dad are adorable. He uses them for his Facebook profile photo.

("Dad, I even made you a PIG nose!")

Now that we have lawns, they need to be mowed. In an effort to stave off my insistence that we will need professional help maintaining our new little park, Dave mows the lawn as early in the weekend as possible. Gabriel, being all about anything machine, said he wanted to mow the lawn. Hah, sucker kid -- you WILL be doing that someday and you won't want to! Unfortunately the mower we have is too hard for him to handle yet.

(Though we learned that Gabriel has reached an all-time weight high: he's a grand 48 pounds now!)

I'm famous for having regrets and pickinesses about things after they're done, and landscaping is no different. I tried hard this time to just let it go, just do what the designer recommended, don't overanalyze, don't change things, don't drive myself and everyone else crazy -- it'll be GREAT, and my usual nitpicking along the way will only complicate matters. Fine.

That said...I wish I'd thought more about our main backyard patios. There's a lovely patio area, but much of the day it's in the sun, while the shaded area closer to the house is (useless) lawn.

Still, Dave found a way to enjoy it today. This bench had its back against the planting area, but he rotated it to look at the yard instead of an ugly electrical panel on our deck. All he needs is a table to set his beer down on.

But he can't sit quietly for long before Gabriel tracks him down with yet another electronics question.

And so, relaxing with a beer turns into unexpected father-son bonding over electrical engineering. This is far better than father-daughter de-bonding over Mom's mistaken attempt to change a faltering pony-tail holder.

Ah, and then my payoff. Dinner, cooked completely on the grill. Welcome summer!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

6/23/2010 The to do list

Oh, forget it. So much to do with our trip coming up next week, I'm overwhelmed. And sick to my stomach again, as usual. I give up for the night.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

6/22/2010 The demon takes another body

Gabriel has been amazing lately. Cooperative, sweet, thoughtful, doing what he's supposed to do without complaint....I only have to tell him two or three times to do something, or stop doing something, and he complies good-naturedly and without hurling insults or grumbling or threatening. He even said "OK, Mommy!" once yesterday. I'm not sure I've ever heard him say that!

The CDC staff has noticed a huge change in his behavior too. Their description of how good and easy he's been makes me realize how difficult he usually is. "He even cleaned up without objecting and only being told once!!" they told me with delight.

There are a number of things that could contribute to this. School is over and there's just less opportunity to disrupt. At the CDC, he's now with the older group of kids, the "SCEEP"ers (I forget what that stands for), which starts with the 3rd-graders. He's now the youngest in an older group, and it opens up a whole new world for him, and suits him very well.

At home, Dave pulled out an Electronics Learning Lab that Dave got as a thank-you gift from his employer, for teaching a basic electronics introductory lyceum at work. So this was not purchased with kids in mind, and we've had it since Gabriel was a baby. I think Dave had planned to see if Gabriel was interested when he turned 10 or so, but he's very very ready for a more advanced electronics kit.

Not surprisingly, Gabriel is beside himself with this new turn in his life, and he spends most of his time at home stooped over this little "lab," studying the book that came with it, inventing new circuits. He's constantly talking about how gates work and something he's put together, or dogging Dave with questions.

However, the demon that possessed Gabriel has found a new home.

Katrina has been awful lately.

Now, I must clarify: "awful" means awful between long bouts of being adorable and sweet and VERY VERY talkative. My goodness, when she's happy, she's so happy that even Gabriel says to her, "Katrina, could you just STOP TALKING for a few minutes already?!"

But when she's unhappy, she's unhappy for a very very long time, and very loudly. It's very disruptive, no one can talk or think when she's fussing or crying or complaining or repeating again and again "I don't LIKE this day. I don't LIKE this day. I don't LIKE this day. I don't LIKE this day...." Just like her big brother, she is a person of extremes, and she holds onto things for a long time.

Today's tantrum started when I picked her up from preschool, she went to the bathroom, and then I helped her get a paper towel -- but the one I first handed her was a little wet from my fingers. That kicked off a tantrum that lasted well after we were home, over an hour. She somehow broke out of it and shifted into her yakkity-yak mode, which is much more pleasant but just as noisy.

Julian has his seriously obnoxious and rude moments, but he's never been a tantrumer the way Gabriel and Katrina were/are. It's more ongoing and pervasive when Julian gets into a state, rather than a clearly defined tantrum.

Is it ever possible to have all three in a good phase at the same time? Or would we pay for that with all three in a horrible phase at the same time?


Monday, June 21, 2010

6/21/2010 Summer Day

Yippee! It's official! First Day Of Summer!!! The first day of my favorite season!

And what a day to test our new 6:30pm swim lessons. It's working great, but only because it's summer. No homework, it stays light late....I got the kids home early(ish), quick dinner, then zoom all three to swim lesson. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but thanks to summer, it was an easy night. No bath needed, and the kids can play outside after we get home until bedtime. The late-evening sunshine goes a long way toward uplifting my mood and outlook on the world, despite my ongoing ambivalence about juggling work and life.

Tomorrow the days start getting shorter again, but I still see the first day of summer as a new beginning.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

6/20/2010 Dad's Day

I was pretty lame today about Father's Day. I just can't seem to make weekends productive, as I'm always so tired from the week I'm overwhelmed by the need -- and opportunity -- to nap. And also compelled to do some form of exercise on the weekend, as it's so limited during the week.

So while I was out running, Dave put the kids to bed and we missed our chance to do a little Dad's Day celebration and gifts. At least I made Dave's favorite breakfast, and cleaned up while Dave pulled out an electronics kit he's had stowed in a closet for a while. Not surprisingly, this kept Gabriel focused all day, though he did take breaks to follow Dave around and pepper him with questions about voltage regulators and such.

Katrina has been on a tantrum tear lately, one of her worst. They are triggered by things so trivial we can't even remember what started them, and she works herself into a completely inconsolable state, often ending up screaming at the top of her lungs for over half an hour.

But in the end, and along the way, Dave does feel this is all worth it. It's more than he signed up for, and often pushes him out of his "core competencies" and comfort zones, but being a Dad is an inextricable part of life now.

My only great sadness about today is that I can't call my own Dad and hear his joy and delight at my voice, talk about life and people and motivations and general philosophy, listen to him spit in fury at the hell Republicans hath wrought upon the earth, hear him laugh heartily at some clever comment from me, and somehow talking to him brought out my most clever comments if I have any at all. My Dad is still there, but his brain and spirit have been disconnected from language and memory, so I miss him just the same as if he weren't there.

So I wasn't the best wife or mother today, but that's all part of being family.