Friday, September 10, 2010

9/10/2010 Happy Birthday to me!

Look what Dave surprised me with!!!!!!


Lots of nice wishes from friends & family, a night out with a fabulous dinner, a rare chance to really really talk to my witty insightful clear-thinking intelligent husband, a goat-cheese cheesecake with a glass of chocolate port that Dave insisted I try and was amazing.

47 is looking great so far!


Thursday, September 09, 2010

9/9/2010 Getting home from school

I've complained endlessly that the worst part of my day is walking in the door after work with all 3 kids and having to leap right into the grueling work of homework, dinner, lunches, giving kids attention, general triage. All I really want is a few minutes to change my clothes, relax, and transition to my "home work."

Today I got us all home early enough that in theory, a few minutes to myself first was possible. But as I was changing my clothes, I heard Katrina screaming and crying in the backyard, and it wasn't stopping. It wasn't pain; it was like when Gabriel takes her little 12" bike and rides it around laughing and taunting her as she runs after him crying her broken little heart out.

Furious at getting my few minutes interrupted so rudely, I changed hurriedly and ran downstairs, to find Katrina trapped in the backyard because Gabriel had shoved the garbage cans up against the opening (he was supposed to put them away). Meantime, he and Julian were running around outside with their knapsacks on the ground, their lunches nowhere near the kitchen, and homework nowhere close to started. As usual.

I go through this every day, and habit does not make it easier. It only makes me madder, more upset, more depressed, and more frustrated every day at how difficult this part of the day is. The boys continued to disobey while I attended to Katrina's tears, and as usual were defiant and rude when I instructed them again to go put lunches away. Pretty much every step of the way -- literally, getting them in the door, is a huge struggle.

Usually we can recover around dinnertime, but only through a tremendous effort on my part. Tonight I talked to the boys about the recent C-17 crash in Alaska that grounded the C-17 demo at the Watsonville airshow last weekend, but some days I just don't have the energy or creativity to find something to distract them from their nonstop noisemaking, complaining, demands and making obnoxious repetitive sounds to irritate Katrina.

Katrina, on the other hand, has been the model child. Charming, talkative, helpful, cooperative, funny, smiling, even affectionate; full of happy chatter and astute observations. She has much more concept of continuity and sequencing than the boys did at her age; for instance, she knows her birthday is coming up and that's almost 4 and she talks about it a lot. She also remembers, or perhaps just communicates, surprising little details about things that happened a long time ago in her world ("Remember? Remember we had alphabet pasta at CAMPING?" (in August 2009 when you were 2, no I had forgotten about the alphabet pasta!) The boys at her age thought much more in-the-moment -- still do, really.

But it's difficult to enjoy her when I'm trying to make dinner and I hear a smacking sound followed by a pathetic wail and then a haughty, "well you DESERVED that." Then I have to send Gabriel to his room, never a simple affair -- he responds to the initial instruction with defiance, "NO I'm going to do my homework down HERE," and rudeness, "Can't you SEE you're in my WAY," and outright refusal, followed by my threatening to take something away (like dessert) if he doesn't comply immediately. He might walk away slowly, then he might return with an item from the office, and enter into the kitchen holding the item up. He'll walk up to me with no fear at all and show me the item (in this case a jack converter for headphones) and say deadpan, "If this were a weapon, I'd shoot you right now."

So much for "Send him to his room and that's it."

After the brief pause at dinner, Julian resumed the cause and was a nonstop litany of excuses, complaints, obnoxious comments and tones of voices, and then screaming and crying when even the slightest consequence was applied ("That's it, go upstairs now").

Would my not working full-time make this any better? Would having more time with them in the afternoon give us more margin for error, or only increase opportunity for conflict? I know well that full-time momming is no picnic and is very prone to the "green grass" syndrome. I can't say for sure if I was happier being a full-time mom, since the kids' phases of life were so different and I was so different. I started this job not long after Gabriel started kindergarten, though it was part-time until recently -- still, school life and work life hit together.

I like working, I like being around grownups and being focused during the day....but the transition to being a mom again in the afternoon is brutal.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

9/8/2010 CC&C

Coffee, Cheesecake & Chatter! This time with a special guest: a Las Madres mom friend who moved to New Zealand, and just moved back (plus one more son and a dog). Great hearing about how life is where the grass really is greener.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

9/7/2010 Schoolgirl

You'd think I'd be immune to being impressed by what kids learn in school by the 3rd one, but I'm not for Katrina. I'm impressed.

I hope it's not because Katrina is a girl and I secretly harbor lower expectations for her, and I hope it's not because her brothers both showed some extraordinary abilities early on that she hasn't yet. I think it's mostly because she's really a lot younger than the boys were at this stage of her schooling and it's easier to be surprised when she is up to "grade level" for lack of a better term.

And I'm also just a proud mom of a happy, delightful, charming, engaging, bright little light in our household, bringing joy streaming through the clouds of gloom and fury that her brothers have been dusting up.

Katrina's pre-K schoolwork consists of 7 or 8 worksheets a week, that teach things like opposites, shadow shapes, upper and lower case, sequencing, picking a different item out of a list of items, matching shapes, finding objects in a drawing. Some of this is stuff kindergartners do.

Here she traces numbers, then writes them, then traces the word version of the number.

Here she circles the opposite image.

And check out her name! She has handwriting! And it's already pretty darned close in quality to the boys'! Somehow, both boys have the worst handwriting in their classes.

Gabriel, meantime, is flubbing the one subject we always thought would be a breeze for him -- math. He says he gets tired, he says he doesn't have enough time. Looking at something sort of like a math test he had to take, he made sloppy mistakes that I know he knows easily (e.g. 17 - 9 = 12). I'm not sure what's going on here, but his teacher mentioned he gets tired during math, and he says so too. Time of day relative to recess and/or lunch? I don't know, but something's going on.

Julian goes between complaining about doing his work, to not wanting to stop. His teacher is not impressed with his socializing and inability to stay focused on his classwork. But Julian can be very very focused without distraction, and he can be very serious about his schoolwork too. It's easier to get him to do his work than Gabriel.

But so far, Katrina takes her schoolwork seriously and really seems to enjoy it. Before you think she's being shackled academically, she comes home with more art projects and drawings and paintings and sand in her shoes from playing outside than worksheets. She's getting plenty of fun and play too at the marvelous nicely balanced preschool she's in. But though she stubbornly refused to do her worksheets at first, now she enjoys them and takes pride in them. She may yet be our star student!


Monday, September 06, 2010

9/6/2010 Recovering

I've been sick all weekend, except today mostly due to tons and tons of sleep and rest after we got home yesterday. I wasn't so sick as to miss an airshow -- I liked the distraction, even if I had to blow my nose every 5 minutes.

I don't have time to write a lot -- busy night for us after a busy day getting rid of things in the garage (YAYAYAYAAYAYYYYY), then swimming on a hot afternoon with friends. Full writeup of the airshow later, but a few teasers here.

On their way to my favorite plane, the C-17. Unfortunately one crashed a few weeks ago rehearsing for an airshow, so they're grounded for demos right now. But we did get to walk in and get up to the flight deck. I talked to the same pilot who'd flown it at the airshow at Edwards last October! Coool!

I was really psyched to see this lovely B-25 fly -- a new restoration after 18 years of work, and then get a very quick chance to climb up into the cockpit. This is the land-based plane that flew off the USS Hornet in the Doolittle Raid, our first attack on Japan after Pearl Harbor.

We saw a lot of great stunt flying, including by two women and a 20-year-old man. Katrina's favorite was the "shark plane."

My favorite is always the C-17, but I was thrilled to be buzzed by an F-18. It came in SO fast that you couldn't hear it at first -- it was already past us by the time its tremendous jet boom sound caught up and nearly flattened the crowd. Truly eerie to see a plan go by so fast and so silently -- at first. "Outrunning its sound" is how they described it. Not bad for a Navy plane.

Busy morning tomorrow, Dave has an 8am meeting, we have cleaners coming, and I have a ton of work to do. We talked to the boys sternly tonight: NO TOYS in the morning AT ALL. Get up and get dressed and go downstairs. NO TOYS. I hate saying that, but our labor starts tomorrow, the day after Labor Day.