Saturday, October 09, 2010

10/9/2010 Bird-day party!

Katrina's birthday was a LOT of fun. All the invitees were from her preschool class, plus one special longtime friend from Las Madres. There was a turnout of about 9 kids, which is plenty party!

Timing was perfect. By the time everyone had arrived and basically settled, the birds had arrived too. First, we got to meet Gordon inside, and watched him do a few tricks.

Katrina is not at all afraid of horses but shrieks at dogs -- how would she do with birds? Turns out, pretty well.

While we'd been inside meeting Gordon, the real bird show got set up outside, and we came out to see a small stage and the performers perched behind it.

Our simple new deck and patio worked great as a new mini-amphitheatre!

So, we talk about the birds, let them talk, watch them make silly faces and twist their heads around. One bird opened a soda can that Katrina held, and she got to feed the bird out of her hand.

She was cautious but very engaged -- just a litle scared enough not to be enthusiastic, but keenly interested. No nudging needed to participate either.

The people who run the bird show know their business -- it's a family affair, and the more photos proud moms can get of her little buggers with birds on them, the happier Mom will be and the more Mom will gushingly recommend the show. Sounds cynical, but in fact, I like such practical realities.

So, the bird-lady wisely got Katrina's brothers involved. One brother was all over it.


Then we got to see parrot tricks. What are the odds these guys have ended up on David Letterman at one point? It's adorable.

Zachary rides a bicycle

Yakky sings Clementine...apparently she's been all over national TV, including the Tonight Show. The couple that runs Happy Birds also does bird rescue, so maybe that's how Yakky came to them. This was really pretty remarkable!

Yakky sings Rock-a-bye birdie

Then this cockatoo gave kisses to everyone, starting with that super-sweet gooshy-wooshy pussycat softie, my son Gabriel.

All 3 kids got to feed Zach after a scooter run.

Time for some photo-ops with the birds. I was amazed at how cooperative Katrina was, though I could tell she was a little concerned.

Every kid got a photo-op with a bird -- lots of photo-ops built into the program!

Even Julian finally relented.

Now time for a photo-op with all 3, if we can. Rare for us to get all three, and even rarer all cooperating, looking up, no one blinks or picks their nose. But even if you get that, you'll still have some horrible screen or gas meter in the background.

Mom and Dad had a chance too -- this is a really rare good shot of us! Dave's actually smiling, for real, and looking at the camera!

After the bird show, it was time for food, drink, and, of course, cake. It looks ordinary on the outside, but I made it special on the inside: rainbow cake!

In the end, I think what Katrina loved best about her party was having so many other little girls her age to play with. She played somewhat with the boys too, but even the littler boys were having a hard time resisting the pull of the nonstop boy-behavior of the older boys. Seeing her in here with 3 other friends was really sweet. Later, she said to me, "Mommy, I want another party so I can have more FRIENDS!"

Later as it was getting time to leave, Katrina and two other friends found another way to play, by dashing across the lawn.

Fascinating to watch 4-year-old girls all very close in age run, they're all so different. Katrina's not nearly as clumsy as she used to be, but in watching her and two other girls sprint across the lawn, I'm struck at how less efficient she is. Not that she can't learn, and it's fine if she never does, but I don't see anything in her movement that would suggest a future in track. She was having so much fun though, this simple running game that she does with her brothers all the time, but this time with peers. Good for her.

The only downside to this party was Katrina's annoying brothers. They followed her constantly, were in her face, grabbing any toy she was holding, hyping her up and completely dominating her attention and chasing away her actual friends. They were very uncooperative when I told them to move away, and they got sent to their rooms several times (which means I had to chase them up there and angrily threaten to lock them in). It's annoying and embarrassing. It'd have been nice if they could just be there in the background, but no, since it was at their home, and they're older stronger louder and faster than most of the kids, they became powerfully possessive of their sister's attention.

Thankfully the bird show settled them down, though playing after the show, Gabriel made Katrina cry (at her own party!) by taking a toy away and laughing while he ran off with it and she tottered along behind, tears streaming down her face, crying, "Gabriel! That's MINE!" I was furious at him for that, and he spent the rest of the party in his room. Next year, no older boys at her party, especially not her brothers. I'll make it the foofiest princess party possible where they won't want to be anywhere near it. And you know, I might enjoy that too!


10/9/2010 Raspy again

No blog last night, and now this one too?!

Last night was spent getting ready for Katrina's party, even though yesterday afternoon I had a slight temperature and my usual accompanying chest congestion was hitting hard. So of course today my voice is challenged -- not lost, but raspy and needs jump-starting and forcing, and as usual will take weeks to recover completely.

I really needed to relax last night, but I couldn't bear to give up on making a rainbow cake for Katrina's party. I did compromise and use a mix though. (Later it hit me that "rainbow" is a great party theme, if only I'd thought of it in time!)

So, I'll try to catch up on the party -- overall a smashing success -- tomorrow. A few photos, and then, bed.

One very very happy little girl today, and her friends too!


Thursday, October 07, 2010

10/7/2010 The Boat

Unsafe to post anything real, but I'm exhausted from boat-rocking and doing a poor Norma Rae imitation today.

Why can't I learn to kiss *ss and keep my mouth shut, and set aside personal principles for the good of others? How can I even think to risk other people's livelihoods for my own idealogical beliefs of right and wrong? Why can't I suck up and take orders for the greater good? Why can't I dig deep and find some acting skills and control my window-like face that reveals every thought I have, especially when someone else's rear end is on the line? Why can't I detect the sensitivities and nuances in people's interactions and carefully control peoples' perceptions of my words? Why is my adherence to the straight blunt truth so dogged, even when it directly harms people I respect and want to protect? Can I learn to control my emotions, compartmentalize, look outside the box, and act on what's truly important, to me and to people I care about? Some people are willing to sacrifice greatly for a cause, even at the expense of their family. I never thought I'd be like that, but my inability to set aside my deep distraction on Katrina's birthday says I am.

These are not things that typical Silicon Valley engineers have to ask themselves about their work environments.

I suppose that in the end someday, I will be a better person for having exploring these dark depths, for having asked myself some very difficult questions, for being forced to face my worst weaknesses and having to clarify my priorities. It's extraordinarily difficult to reconcile basic guiding principles of right and wrong with harming people, and their families, who I like and respect and who've risked a great deal already on my behalf. It's almost worse than a Supreme Court nominee's confirmation proceedings.

I had a remarkable moment today in all this though. As I was concluding a long gripe to my mother on the phone, and feeling better, I looked down at a tearful Katrina, wiped her eyes, gave her a hug and a glass of milk "to make me stop crying." As my own mother was comforting me, I was comforting my own daughter. It didn't answer the questions, but it made them all go away.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

10/6/2010 CC&C!

Coffee, Cheesecake, Company! (or is that Coffee, Cheesecake, Chatter?)

Well, one way or another, it means all my dorky stories were purged from my head verbally, and you, dear reader, are spared until tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

10/5/2010 Birthday Girl!

Katrina was very excited about her birthday today! I had planned long ago to do a little mini-party at her preschool. I was ready promptly at 3:05, as instructed by Miss Amanda (Katrina's teacher, and previously Julian's teacher), with mini-carrot cakes. What a happy, proud girl, enjoying being the center of attention.

Nothing like sharing some birthday carrot cake with your friends (and very pregnant teacher, she's due with her 2nd boy in just a few weeks).

I brought Katrina home, where we called Bonne Maman. I'm really starting to hate my speakerphone, it's so hard to hear anyone, let alone the high-pitched little voice of a giggling 4-year-old. But we tried.

I'm glad we opened this present with Bonne Maman on the phone, because we ran out of time in the evening to open other presents, so I'm glad she got one. And she loved it!

Couldn't be persuaded to take off the brown polka-dot corduroy pants though.

Later in the evening, cake #2 (bought). Have to have a celebration with the family!

Or part of it. Julian had been sent to his room for persistent rudeness -- and he knew that birthday cake was at stake but wouldn't let up -- and my tummy wasn't up to it tonight (very odd for me). But she still giggled her way through the Happy Birthday song, and even sang it herself too.

The rest of the day has nothing good at all to say, so I'm glad Katrina and her excitement about her birthday was there to rescue it.

This morning, Katrina said, "It's my birthday! Now I'm going to be FIVE!"


Monday, October 04, 2010

10/4/2010 Photo prep

It's a big day tomorrow, and someone is very excited!! (That would be me of course.)

In preparation for a Facebook profile photo change, I did a little photo session tonight, of the "hold your arm out and hope for the best" sort, with Katrina. She was happily willing and thought the whole thing was very funny, so these joyful faces are genuinie.

I thought I'd decided on this last one to use for the FB profile, but seeing them in thumbnail, I think I like the first one better. Katrina looks adorable in every photo, but closeups and profiles for the pushing-50 set....ugh...just as well not seen.

I could look at her sweet face all day long though. This is the New Katrina: cheerful, funny, joyful, full of bright lively chatter, happy about everything.

Today my boss's boss came down on my immediate boss because of me, partly because I "declined" (that's a Microsoft Outlook term) a proposed meeting for tomorrow afternoon. The fact that I'd blocked out tomorrow afternoon on my work calendar weeks ago is of no consequence -- why fret about silly logistical details like that? Why indeed, if things like prior scheduled commitments are of any concern, then naturally the reason I didn't answer his call at my desk this morning (another reason to come down on my hapless boss) is of no concern either. The fact that I was already on a conference call and Webex, at my desk, with engineers in Boston and Denver is of no matter. Why let reality get in the way?

This sort of thing makes me dig my heels in even more about keeping my outside-work commitments. The irrationality is so high that now I absolutely will not consider missing passing cupcakes (actually mini-carrot muffins) out to Katrina's class and singing Happy Birthday at 3:05 tomorrow. It's on my calendar, and more importantly, it's on hers.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

9/3/2010 Birthday Party

I took Katrina to a birthday party today for a classmate whose birthday is one day before Katrina's. Jules and Katrina play together a fair amount at school, and I really like Jules' mom.

Katrina is characteristically hesitant at these things at first, but then she was ALL over it! It brought a lump to my throat to see her laughing and smiling and jumping constantly. I noticed she didn't interact directly with any other kid, but was joining in the fun anyway. It's so satisfying as a parent to see your child competely happy and having a great time.

Grabbing the edge of the parachute and jumping up and down flapping it brought peals of laughter from the whole group.

Birthday girl in the middle!

Make those balls jump!

Then get as silly as possible with your own balls.

This party was at an inconvenient time tonight, but SO worth it. I just love seeing Katrina participating and playing and shouting and laughing and singing and just being a regular delightful kid.