Saturday, September 04, 2010

9/4/2010 Backyard play

I've been looking into some sort of backyard play structure to give the kids a consistent thing to do outside. At first I looked at Craigslist and Costco, but our funky-shaped yard really needs something made to fit into it. I've been to Kiddie World and Rainbow Play Structures, and both have things that would work for us, though I've really been hesitating about the price and about taking over the entire backyard.

Today we all went to Rainbow play structures so that Dave could see (I'd been there myself), and to bring the kids too. It's often instructive to see what the kids are attracted to, though it doesn't say much about what they'll like playing with later.

This is what the kids most of the time we were talking to the salesguy about play structures.

So we asked about the trampolines, and the more we talked about it, the more we both like the idea. Trampolines can be moved -- not easily, it'd take two people, but they can be moved. And removed more easily than a play structure. Modern trampolines don't have those springs that cause most trampoline injuries. This one is permeable, so water and sunlight get through, so any lawn underneath has some prayer of survival (a minor concern really). You can get accessories like a foam snowboard to practice flips (!) and a basketball hoop. The guy said kids even have outdoor sleepovers on trampolines, they make a good sleeping surface. A trampoline might have more longevity -- Gabriel will outgrow swings in a few years, but even teenagers like trampolines. Swings and slides can be found at all playgrounds, including at school, but trampolines aren't.

So now we're thinking about a trampoline instead of a play structure. It's uglier and seems more special-purpose, but kids flock to them when given the choice over a play structure. Hmm.

As always, leaving the party (it was just an indoor showroom after all, not a playground) is challenging. Katrina was outraged.

I'm happy to say these tantrums are far less frequent now, and usually less intense too.

A very very lazy day for us, other than our play structure shopping, and a short swim for me this morning. I'm still not feeling great, which was our primary reason for not doing today what we will do tomorrow: The Watsonville Fly-In and Airshow!


Friday, September 03, 2010

9/3/2010 Rude boys

Our sons are really getting out of control. Rudeness and resistance and not-listening (modern-speak for "disobeying"). It's becoming unbearable. Dave picked them up at the CDC today and found them each sitting alone at a separate table, with the rest of the kids in a group playing together, both on timeout.

Getting them to get ready in the morning is a painful exercise in irritation, being ignored, and them screaming and shouting when any consequence is carried out. Gabriel raises his fist and Julian throws himself in the floor in a dramatic display of how put upon he is. Then it starts all over again when they get home from school and have to put their lunches and knapsacks away.

I do love having two boys, but this week the one girl has been far, far more rewarding. In fact Katrina has been delightful and pleasant and charming -- as she always is, but without the tantrums masking it.

I was home sick today, but ended up working harder than I ever do at work, because of the lack of interruption. Until our noisy obnoxious boys got home that is. Now I know where the boarding school concept came from!


Thursday, September 02, 2010

9/2/2010 Back to school night

Our elementary school had a back-to-school night tonight. This means all 3 kids went to the CDC (for a special after-hours care for the occasion), while Dave went to Gabriel's 3rd-grade classroom and I went to Julian's 1st-grade classroom.

I like Julian's new teacher, and I think I'm going to like first grade better this time around. Mostly because we're used to it now, but I also like the emphasis the teacher places on writing. The kids write in a journal every day for 20 minutes, and later in the school year they'll each read from their journal. That's the "show and tell." Parents' questions were about what the math curriculum is, and what they'll learn in the tech lab -- this is Silicon Valley of course -- but overall I've always been impressed that the teachers don't really cave to that.

And this first grade has a weekly homework packet, instead of every day. YAY. That will definitely simplify life. In 3rd grade, if the kids don't turn in their homework, they miss recess to work on it. Double YAY. Some actual real consequences and reasons for the kids to make choices themselves.

Julian's teacher told me he's having some trouble with writing with his cast, but she found as I did that most of the trouble is with his complaining and not really trying. This makes it hard to see what his actual limitations are, but I think we'll get past this soon. It seems this injured wrist incident has kicked off a hypochondriac phase.

Gabriel's teacher told me that he's having trouble staying awake in class?! Low energy -- she's been making sure he eats something at snacktime, and he dozes off during math time. Low energy, Gabriel? I assured her we get him to bed on time (we aim for lights-off at 8pm, it's usually later but not much), but he gets up really early. Very strange, he doesn't act sleepy at all at home on weekends.

I wish I had more time to be part of school life.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

9/1/2010 The Cast

Julian got his cast today, but that wasn't the biggest event.

This morning, he tripped and fell on his way into the CDC, and bonked his head good. So he started off the day with a massive goose egg on his forehead. This kid is by far the most accident-prone of the three.

Then Dave and I both got calls from the school around 9:30. Julian was complaining about his head and a lump in his throat, and got himself sent to the office. I was in the world's most annoying and consuming meeting at the time and didn't get the message, but Dave did.

Dave went to the school with skepticism, knowing that a head-bonk doesn't mean he has to leave class. When he arrived to pick up Julian, Dave told Julian he'd take him right to the doctor. "Wait, Dad!" Julian tugged on him, then motioned to whisper in his ear, "I forgot to put on underpants today!"

So that was the reason!!

Dave had to bring him home and check him out though, and I suggested he try to get the cast done today too. But Julian was just fine, wanting to work on science experiments and drinking without any problem (despite his supposedly lumpy throat), and after some time Dave said "this is silly" and brought Julian back to school.

Dave's efforts in making an appointment with the orthopedist paid off though, and they got a 3:00 appointment for a proper cast. We asked for a waterproof cast, which is one that can get wet and that itches can be addressed by pouring water down the cast. It comes in colors, but when "gold" wasn't available, Julian opted for white.

Buckle fractures, I've learned from some basic Googling, are very common in children and relatively minor. They happen because children's bones are softer, and it's really just a compression of the bone, with no angulation -- that is, not a real break. A large percentage of kids' fractures occur in the forearm, and a large percentage of those occur in the wrist, and are simple buckle fractures.

This makes me very, very glad we saw a pediatrician, who said that many doctors miss these fractures because the usual symptoms aren't present in buckle fractures. She recognized it right away, minutes after the nurse who weighed Julian (44 lbs) commented that it probably wasn't a fracture because of the normal way he swung his arm as he walked. Buckle fractures heal more quickly than other fractures too.

They're so minor and common that there's even controversy about whether or not they need a real cast. A splint could probably address it, but kids tend to remove splints if they're removable. Other than the cast removal, casts are actually very convenient and easy to live with.

It was a struggle getting him to finish some of his schoolwork tonight; he was fussing and complaining about not being able to write, but he wasn't trying. I wanted to see what his real impediments were, and if we could address them somehow (e.g. a pillow to elevate his elbow). As soon as he really tried, it was clear that he can learn how to write if he practices. In a few days, he won't even notice he has the cast. Until he figures out what a great built-in weapon it is, that is.

No photos today; it was a very very hectic afternoon and day. Not as hectic as this morning, which was apparently so hectic that even underwear as forgotten!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31/2010 Morning "Off"

Some days I wish I were juuust sick enough to stay home, but not sick enough to be bedridden and not get anything done. So much piles up on me during the week that can only get done during the day that I just need a day to get them done.

Thanks to Julian, I got that day today. Or half of it.

I spent the morning watching him carefully and holding my hands behind my back, making him do everything for himself with his left hand, with some help from his fingers on his right hand. It's hard not to help him, but it was important to see how he can maneuver and adapt to the impairment of his dominant hand. Overall he can function quite well, and he's really game about it too, no whining or complaining. The only thing he couldn't do is snap his pants, so I gave him some sweatpant-cutoff-shorts to wear.

I took the boys to school and talked to the CDC first. Partly about his arm, but also about bills, a camp day coming up, back-to-school night, homework club. Whew. Dropped our PTA donation off at the school office, which is always closed when I'm at school.

Then I went to wait with Julian in front of his class to talk to his teacher, and had to shoo Gabriel away. Unfortunately, their classes are right in sight of each other and the temptation to pester each other before class is powerful. I did catch Julian's teacher and chatted with her briefly about his new handicap. She thanked me for letting her know and said if he really can't write, then she'd let him dictate to her. He can sort of write, but it's not easy. Erasing is impossible.

Next, deposit a check in the bank (the old-fashioned way). Trip to Target to buy sweatpants for Julian (and Gabriel while I was there). Home to make a zillion phone calls: 3 doctor's appointments for me, another doctor for a prescription refill, reschedule our cleaners from Labor Day, call Julian's pediatrician, call two financial institutions with questions, send email to our landscaper about a few dead plants, compose and send an inquiry about a weekend nanny, answer a few lingering emails about parties, check availability for gymnastics parties.

Yay! A tiny bit of catching up! This never happens! Personal phone calls at work have to happen on my crackly cell phone in my car, when I don't have access to a computer, and it's a serious pain. I don't send much email from work; I don't have time, I don't have all the information I need that's at home. And, it's unseemly for my boss's boss to walk in my cube and catch me not working.

All I missed at work today was a long boring all-hands meeting. An important enough meeting that the company reserved a conference room at the Embassy Suites, and my poor beleaguered manager had to call everyone in my group on their cell phones to make sure they attended (handily, I don't carry a cell phone). In general, engineers love all-hands meetings; it means it's quiet in the office and you get concentrated work done as everyone else fidgets and yawns while the execs ramble on. But no less dull for its import.

And I had a GREAT reason to miss it -- I had to take care of my son with the fractured wrist. If a few extra errands sneak in there too, so much the better. If I get months' worth of errands done in one morning, REALLY better!


Monday, August 30, 2010

8/30/2010 Calamity Kid

This morning, the boys got up early and were engaged in these unusually innocent shenanigans: some sort of combination of song and rapping. Julian's hard to hear, but actually he's pretty good at making up rhymes! (His grin and the rhyme "late pass" give a good clue as to what non-kid-word he was rhyming with.)

They were up doing this together for at least half an hour before I reluctantly had to put the kibosh on it. Time to get dressed for school, dudes.

Today when I picked the boys up from the CDC, they ran outside and Julian tripped over a curb and fell. A perfectly normal fall, benign, landed soft...but boy did he make a fuss over his arm. The same one that he'd fallen on on Saturday, and that he'd been complaining about on and off. The same one that in the video above, he's using to handle Legos and moves around quite naturally and normally.

It's been over 48 hours since the fall, and the intensity of his complaint made it clear it needed to be seen. I called Dave and said "Plan change!"

Dave came home early and took Katrina to her last (yay) swim lesson while I took Julian to an Urgent Care center, one that actually has a pediatric unit and is open late. We had to wait a while, but the nice young doctor poked his arm a little and observed how he responded. "Might be a buckle fracture," she said right away, and explained that many kids can still use their arms pretty well but it's very sensitive in one place. She called for an X-ray.

Sure enough -- buckle fracture on the ulna and radius (two places), in his right wrist.

Not serious, but it is a fracture, it is very sensitive and needs to be casted. He got a temporary splint tonight, and will see an orthopedic hand doctor in a few days for a real cast.

In the same month, Julian's broken our no-emergency record twice with stitches and a cast. One happened on August 03 and the other on August 30 (somehow he managed to escape Friday the 13th). Can we make it to September without another injury please?


8/29/2010 Gardening

Another strange day for me. I was wired from not sleeping well, and the kids woke us up early -- so I went out running! Despite being way overtired and having a bad headache, I had one of the best runs I've had in many weeks. Nervous energy I guess. I crashed hard later though.

It seems it's so hard for us to catch up on things that need to be done around here -- we still have moving boxes in the garage that haven't been unpacked! But today my goal was to go through the landscaping -- trimming trees, cutting out dead flowers, pulling weeds. I'd asked Dave to get a lawn cart to make this job easier, and what he found borders on a toy. Perfect to attract a helper!

I gave Katrina her own pair of gloves, and she made wonderful company. She pulled the cart for me and put clippings in the cart. Later she found her own rake and helped me pick up mimosa flowers from the sidewalk. She was great company, chatting happily and just seeming so happy to be outside and doing the simplest thing together. And I was very very happy to have her with me.

She's been really easy lately. When she sheds the black cloak of the the tantrum, a charming delightful funny little girl is found within. She's overall so much more cooperative than her brothers, and lives for more than killing each other as they do. Her joy and enthusiasm for just being outside, taking delight in every new discovery, is infectious.

And for me, having the happy company of a child turns a borderline chore into a fun and rewarding afternoon outside.