Saturday, July 17, 2010

7/17/2010 Swim Day

Sorry to get redundant here on the swimming, but...

Today Julian had his first lesson at the "red ribbon" level, when this somewhat lame swim school finally starts teaching them actual swimming (ooh, arms!). His class is in the deeper pool, and he'll learn to dive, tread water and, maybe even possibly, actually swim.

And today he did all that! He was a little nervous beforehand, but the moment the class started, he couldn't quit smiling and giggling. I love watching him; he pays attention and seems to really try to do what the teacher says, he responds so well to instruction (unlike thick-headed older brother) and has a great time.

They start by diving for sink rings. This might seem silly, but I knew an adult once who truly had no idea how to get his body down to the bottom of the pool. I can't say exactly why this is important -- after all the whole point of swimming is so that you don't go to the bottom of the pool -- but it adds to general water body awareness. And kids love it, it's fun.

Julian had his first dives from the side of the pool today too. He did great, I was so happy for him and proud of him.

Meantime, Katrina's class was swarmed by three other first-timers, one of whom cried through most of the class, and another who looked like she was about to. It reminded me of how far even she's come: refusing to go into the water at all last year, and then not knowing enough to put her feet down this year. Her general water literacy is much, much better now.

In playtime at the end, the girl in front of Katrina finally stopped wailing, poor thing. Katrina never cried, that's not her style -- stubbornly refusing to do something is more like her.

But Katrina proudly and happily announced that she put her face in the water today -- major progress for her!

It reminded me of the time that Julian was in a class with a first-timer who cried the whole time, occupying much of the teacher's attention. That was my one experience with momma-bearing, since I was already annoyed at how little the teacher pushed him and I knew he could do a lot more. But then to be in a class with a brand-new beginner who cried was too much. I complained, and he got changed to a different class and progressed as well as this school would allow. (I still think they could easily teach more at every level.)

Meantime, I was all set for a nice swim this morning, only to be foiled by a swim meet at the pool. Rats. After getting my heart, mind and body set on swimming, nothing feels right afterward. I consoled myself with a workout at the Y, but it just wasn't the same. How dare hundreds of people enjoy a fun healthy active morning holding a swim meet at my expense! But, seeing two of my children really enjoy the water and learn a little this afternoon almost made up for it.


Friday, July 16, 2010

7/16/2010 Night and Day

This morning, the boys were completely awful. Putzy, rude, wouldn't get dressed, and then were belligerent when they got downstairs too late to have breakfast. At one point they physically threatened us together, Gabriel with his fist raised, Julian shouting "HOW ABOUT I KICK YOU THEN!"

My back is much much better -- I had my last physical therapy appointment today -- but by evening I've mostly needed to be lying down. Tonight, I finally felt like I could stand up long enough to bake something. I've really missed baking.

So I decided to make something light and simple, lemon tea cookies. The boys wanted to help, so Gabriel grated the lemon, and Julian mixed the butter and cracked the egg. We stopped for dinner, and then Julian continued to help me since Gabriel asked, "Can I give Katrina a bath?" Dave thought he needed to be there, but I told him Gabriel had it under control, and since it was still light outside, Dave went out to do some watering and general checking of our landscaping.

Julian then helped me drop the cookie batter onto the sheets. While the cookies were baking, he asked if he could help clean up. Uhh, sure! I gave him a few token tasks to do, which he finished and asked for more -- next thing I knew, he'd rinsed and loaded everything into the dishwasher, and washed the few things that don't go in! Minus some heavy pans and glass bowls, he did everything!

Then Gabriel came downstairs...oh yeah, where was Katrina? "She's in bed," he said happily. He'd given her a bath, brushed her hair and teeth, put a pull-up on her, got her to put her PJs on, read her a story and probably even kissed her good-night. Dave came inside to find that this entire job was completely done.

Then the boys and I sat down to enjoy our lemon tea cookies, which Gabriel raved over. He often doesn't like things I bake, so this was high praise indeed. I knew the cookies were extra-special to them since they'd done so much of the work to make them.

But the helpfulness didn't stop there. The boys both wore their last pair of clean shorts today, so I asked them to go upstairs and put all their pants in the washer and start the washer. They almost argued over who would get to do this, but after they went upstairs I could hear the washer starting -- somehow they worked it out and got their laundry started.

Are these my boys?! I couldn't believe it. Helpful, cooperative, cheerful, and willing -- not just for novel things that are fun, but even for drudgerous things that they usually complain about (laundry). What a great difference from this morning. I don't expect the magic will last long, but I'm feeling pretty enchanted tonight!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

7/15/2010 In the yard

Look what I found today in our yard!

A blooming hibiscus. This mini-park around our house still feels pretty formal and foreign, but with each blooming flower, it's slowly becoming our own.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

7/14/2010 Backyard bike ride

One thing I'd always wanted in our backyard was a perimeter path, for kids to ride tricycles around. That idea long predated any children big enough to ride a tricycle, but somehow the yard never got the path, then the yard ceased being a yard, and then the kids outgrew tricycles.

But now, thanks to our new landscaping, there is for the first time such a perimeter path, and it turns out it's not too late to be enjoyed. Katrina calls it a "racetrack" and has a great time pedaling around, attracting her brothers' attention -- and bikes -- too.

It helps to have a brother to help you get unstuck.

It doesn't help to have a brother rear-end you, as Julian did later.

We may have rushed things, we may have ended up with a patio that's smack-dab in the sun and shaded lawn, we may have paid too much and had too much hassle -- but I'm still glad we got the landscaping done and that finally -- finally -- my earliest vision for how the yard should be used has come to be.

Katrina's getting good at pedaling now too! Any chance she and her resist-all attitude would dare attempt to lose the training wheels? Julian was her age when he learned!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

7/13/2010 Shoe time

Once again, we arrived at a trip destination only to discover that Julian's shoes were ready to be thrown out. This first happened last March, when we arrived in Truckee for the ski trip and found several holes in his shoes. When we got back from the ski trip, he got new shoes, which were replaced once again with the shoes we brought to New York. Thanks to the heat wave and a week in the country, he didn't wear them much. Good thing, because the sole was about ready to come off.

I ordered new shoes from on Sunday, thinking that would improve his footwear faster than waiting until the weekend and then having to go to a dreaded mall. And the shoes arrived today -- with free shipping and no tax!

Good thing, because today Julian's shoes looked like this. The sole is more off than on.

It's funny, people I talk to about shoes -- including other parents -- find that kids outgrow shoes before wearing them out. But for both boys, outgrowing shoes is a much slower and easier problem to keep up with than their total destruction. From what I can tell in photos, Julian was wearing his previous pair of shoes as of June 16. So even with a week of downtime in Pennsylvania, this pair lasted less than a month.

Both boys are on their 4th pair of shoes this year. The way they blow through shoes, the speed, price and ease of buying their shoes online is a very clear win. I'm adding to my "quick links."


Monday, July 12, 2010

7/12/2010 Movin' on up

Back to reality today! I went to work in the morning, though left for a physical therapist appointment. Though I still need the cane for stability if I'm walking any distance, I can mostly make it through day-to-day operations.

On Mondays, that includes swim classes for all 3 kids at 6:30. I left so much time that the kids were ready 10 minutes before class.

During the swim class, I lamented the instruction quality again. Katrina's "novice" class is perfect for her, but only because she's so darned lame. Gabriel's class is pretty good now that he's at a level that actually swims. His lessons showed when I insisted he swim to the dock in the pond in Pennsylvania -- no option to put feet down.

Julian's class, on the other hand -- smack dab in nowhereland, where kids do popups, switch from back to front, and a lot of back-floating, but don't actually swim. How do you get beyond that?

Somehow today, Julian did. He was awarded his "red ribbon," and he was very very proud and happy about it. He actually works pretty hard in his class; he pays attention and tries hard, which contributes to my frustration at how slow the class is.

But this ribbon represents a pretty large leap. At the red level, they actually swim. His lesson will be in the deeper pool, and he'll learn to use his arms, dive and tread water.

And I was just about to cancel their lessons for the summer too. Hmm.

And, TLC rotated classes -- Katrina will be in Miss Amanda's pre-K class this year, yay!! Miss Amanda was Julian's pre-K teacher too. She loves to teach, she's no-nonsense and really lets the kids meet their potential. Julian thrived under her. The downside is that Miss Amanda is expecting baby #2 in a few months (she's expressed concern about having 2 boys just under 2 years apart in age...I wasn't able to offer any comforting words).

Mostly, I want to move up -- straight up. Doctor tomorrow, PT Friday. Big question is: when can I run again?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

7/11/2010 Wacko backo

Slowly the joy from our visit is seeping in again, as my back alternates between getting better and reminding me sharply that it's still recovering from a fairly bad episode. After sitting for any length of time, it's stiff and sore and I need to lean on the cane to get around. Once I've been walking and moving, it's OK for a while, but then standing is too much. So I sit down and the cycle starts again. It's interruptable if I lie down, but I can't always do that, nor do I want to.

Dave took all 3 kids to a model airplane show today (no pics unfortunately), so I had some peaceful time to rest. I'll need it, because the rat race starts all over again tomorrow.