Saturday, January 29, 2011

1/29/2010 Busy nothing day

Today was one of those super-busy days in which really nothing gets done, but it's packed anyway. How can that happen?

I took Katrina to the dance place where I used to take classes and did several recitals. As I learned when I got out of college, dance is a lot more convenient than ice-skating, especially when the nearby ice-skating rink is SO convenient but SO lame. Katrina enjoyed watching the "junior" class.

I ran into the director of the dance studio, a brilliant talented fabulous dancer who I loved in many ways, but his perfectionism and intensity slowed his classes down too much for me, a recreational dancer who was never going to be professional and needed classes to keep moving instead of picking apart down to the last detail -- usually my style! Still, it was great talking to him and just being there again, especially showing off my beautiful sprite of a daughter. He told me he'd just had his 4th boy, only 5 weeks old.

After visiting the dance studio, I gratefully returned my borrowed ski stuff, and Katrina had an unexpected hourlong playdate with my friend's 2006 daughter while we chatted. They were so cute together playing with the girl's dollhouse, and she sweetly loaned Katrina a stuffed animal.

Back home, lunch for kids, then time for kung fu. I went grocery-shopping during Julian's class, but watched the last 10 minutes of it. I really like it and hope he continues, but he sounds so-so on the idea.

The sifu shows him this "stand down" (I think that's what he called it) position. I like how he corrects Julian's hand position. I'm told Kung Fu is taught more strictly than other activities, though I think these guys are actually pretty loose.

In the same plaza as kung fu, there's an odd little Russian market with really inexpensive produce. I've been going there more and more, especially after discovering that I can get tomatoes there for a quarter of the price than at Whole Foods. I'm hooked on this wonderful roasted tomato-onion soup that I've been making, and was shocked the first time I realized that 3 pounds of tomatoes can cost $15. And now that all the kids like mangoes, it's a good source of inexpensive mangoes, which can also add up in bulk. It's small and dinky and packed with odd interesting items -- and it's always busy.

At the market, I ran into a mom from Gabriel's class and her son too, who I recognized separately from Gabriel recognizing him at the physics show last weekend. It struck me that this was as close to community as it gets around here. All it takes is a few small businesses close together, even in a suburban strip mall.

I unpacked groceries, worked with Gabriel on his Star Of The Week presentation due Monday, trimmed Katrina's bangs, redirected Julian from pestering Katrina 100 times, found an activity craft for Katrina, did some mail-sorting...finally around 4pm my strange late night caught up with me, and still with having eaten nothing more than a muffin my kind friend offered me that morning, crashed for a nap.

I made dinner for the family and my tomato soup (which no one else will eat but I don't care), caught up on Facebook and blogged. Other than the nap it feels like I've been in motion all day -- but my to-do list hasn't shrunk at all.


1/29/2010 The former and current life

Sleepover last night...Dave and I went out to dinner and had a nice evening.

But around 3am, I woke up hard and just couldn't shut my mind off. I don't know why, but I was struck with an intense urge to take care of one of those lingering projects. This is to digitize some ancient VHS videos of dance recitals to DVD, using a DVD/VCR player we bought years ago with that express purpose.

And I did, I thought. The DVDs aren't playing everything I tried to put on them, and won't play at all on a computer. I'll figure that out, but meantime it was so interesting to see this old part of my life. It was more than just a part of my life, my life revolved around it. And now it's barely more than a distant memory on crumbling old tapes.

One pair of tapes was particularly interesting: a weekday dance recital in 1998, then some footage from the weekend Reno 200 dual-sport ride in 1998. The two events almost overlapped, but I found a way around it. Thursday night, I had the first recital night. Friday morning, I rode my motorcycle WFO in a record-breaking 3-1/2 hour trip to the Reno airport, where I parked it and flew back to San Jose. I remember calling my father and talking to him over the sound of slot machines at tha airport. Friday night, I did the 2nd recital, then very early Saturday morning, flew back to the Reno airport where I picked up my motorcycle and rode to the start of the Reno 200 ride in Boomtown, meeting Dave (who was not my boyfriend yet) and two other friends.

In my current life, I regret more and more that I'm such an older parent. Having my first baby at age 38 wasn't a big deal at the time, but now at age 47 and entering the max-activity stage of my kids' lives, I find myself more concerned than ever that my age might limit my full enjoyment of my kids' childhoods, and their memory of me. So far it's only made me more determined that they'll only really realize how old I am in retrospect -- "Mom took us camping all the time, being in her 50s didn't stop her." But though my unnatural schedule explains most of my chronic exhaustion, I know there are limits -- at some point I will have to face declining energy and resilience from age. My creaky lower back is a stark indicator of that.

But seeing video clips of my dance and motorcycling life reminds me that my life was very full before the children -- I didn't squander my youth. Dance and motorcycling weren't directly why I had kids so late in life, but whatever drove me to do those things and away from a more settled life were. Perhaps that same drive will keep me tuning out my contemporaries' increasing complaints about age, and maintaining a healthy state of denial. I have to -- what's the alternative?

(Recently I had to chuckle when my coworker and I were stretching to go out for a run at lunch. Another coworker had stepped out for a smoke, and started listing his injuries to explain why he couldn't join us -- somehow our running invites everyone's excuses. We made sympathetic noises and went off for our run. The funny thing is that the injurious smoker is in his 20s, whereas my coworker and I are both 47, and he's a grandfather! There's no denying our age but there's definitely an attitude difference.)

At some point in life, I'll be old enough that looking at videos of my former life will be worthwhile reminiscence, joyful memories with no regrets. I'm not there yet. I'm not ready to sit back and take stock of my life as though it's over. My back may have other ideas about resuming dance classes, and certainly my schedule would never allow it, but my heart hasn't given up.

Fortunately my heart has plenty else to keep it occupied -- tomorrow is Gabriel's NINTH birthday, and what could fill my heart more than that!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

1/27/2011 Convergence

Thursday night...prep for Gabriel's in-class birthday party tomorrow (baking muffins, wrapping 20 books, book donation in his name to the library). Final touches on sports book report, practice presentation, finish up homework. Get ready for sleepover tomorrow night. Decline a birthday invitation for Sunday for Katrina. Start looking at the "Star of the Week" presentation due Monday, which we've had for 3 weeks and haven't touched.

Birthday, book report, "Star of the Week" report, sleepover, all in the same weekend. There's got to be payback down the road.

(I updated/finished our ski reports, mostly added pictures....and STILL working on the calendar -- I've never been so behind!)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1/26/2011 Summer in January

I took this photo for my Mom yesterday and forgot to post it. Our orange tree is bursting with gorgeous fresh oranges.

Fitting for this lovely spring weather we're having, while the East Coast is being bludgeoned once again by snow. For once, I'm actually envious. It's January, it's supposed to be colder.

My back is reminding me who's in control -- it hasn't fully snapped yet, but did everything just short of that. I can't stand completely straight, but my canes are only on notice, not in active duty. I'm sure it was from sitting Sunday morning -- not from the previous 3 days worth of back-tweaking activity.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25/2011 Birthdays!

Happy 9th birthday, Cousin Aidan!

Has it really been nine years since your mother called me at 6am and said, "it's TIME....oh no here comes another one gotta go...."

And nine years since Uncle Ronan drove the wrong way up 14th streeet to get around traffic to take your mom and dad to the hospital, passing a cab with your grandmother in it, stuck in traffic (but happy for the comic relief) ?

Nine years. That sounds so long in some ways, but completely wonderful when it's about your favorite nephew's birthday.


Monday, January 24, 2011

1/24/2011 Workin' hard

Back to reality!

Today I primed Gabriel for some real work after school: he has a book report due Friday and a "Star Of The Week" presentation due Monday, both of which we're behind on because of going away last weekend. And of course, regular homework.

He took care of the homework part by leaving it at school today, undone. Great.

So, you can catch up on your book report, I told him. He'd already written up the content, from 4 straight days of working on it before we left for our trip, so all he had to do was write up the final version. Later we'll do the crafting portion, but to me the most important part is the writing content. I put him in the office to minimize distraction -- half my trouble getting the boys to do their homework is their irresistable adorable little sister who wants to play.

But he had other ideas.

Fortunately, dessert is enough of an incentive that after dinner I was able to get him to do the final writeup, practice the presentation twice, and plan out the crafting part, including finding a drawing for him to copy. This is a "sports report" for which he picked bobsledding, his "favorite sport" (?!?!?!!!). Even more fortunately, he's psyched to do his "Star Of The Week" project because he wants it to be all about his skiing.

Rescued by snow sports!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

1/23/2011 Recovery Day

Whew! I was so tired last night that I couldn't sleep! That happens to me, getting all wired. I was really excited about our ski trip, and also fretting about some things I wished had been better.

I did finally fall asleep, but this was one of the very few times I woke up at home and thought, "aw, rats!" Then, "where should we ski next time?"

Of course when my mind is all wound up, one of my best outlets is writing (others are exercising and baking), so I sat down to purge my whirling mind of thoughts and torment my poor blog readers with yet more stream-of-consciousness overflow.

And when the pressure on my brain was finally relieved a little, I got up....and my lower back said: Nay. Fortunately, it let me stand all the way, but transitions up and down are uncomfortable. I'm glad it happened from writing instead of skiing (though the time connection is clear). I'm in for a few days of creaking and groaning and old-lady sounds (and hopefully prescription drugs if my back doctor will agree over the phone). No cane though.

It didn't stop me from taking the boys to something we'd reserved and planned this afternoon, and a primary reason I wanted to come home early (which was in every way a good thing). This is an unusual treat: The Physics Show, a free physics demonstration put on by a local college, and oriented toward kids. We were running late, so I didn't push Dave to get Katrina ready to go, which was just as well. It really was meant for school-age kids.

This was really a nice little show! I was delighted to see that the first topic was Electricity, to give Gabriel some background on his favorite topic. He recognized a demonstration in which a magnet was moved near a coil, then the coil moved near the magnet, while an "electrograph" showed if there was any electricity. "That's AC, Mom!" Gabriel leaned over and told me (alternating current). He hadn't heard of Faraday's Law though. Neither had I. Julian participated more, answering "yes!" when the physics instructor asked things like, "do you want to see that again?"

They also did demos on temperature and pressure, leaving the finale for last. Another physics instructor lay down on a bed of nails, had another bed of nails placed on his torso, then a cinder block placed atop the bed, and then someone smashed the cinder block with a sledgehammer! The point was to show how pressure could be dispersed over a large area, but the boys were mostly excited about the smashing thing.

Just like in high school, this sort of science is interesting but mostly lost on me. I still can't explain why you get shocks getting in and out of a car (something about negative and positive particles repelling each other). It's too much art and not enough tangible visible clear digital -- it needs imagination and faith I don't have. (Biology was my best science, since it was more literal, memorization was a bigger asset, it involved cute fuzzy creatures sometimes, and I never minded dissecting things.)

But when Julian told me later that some kids say that Santa Claus is really your parents (no idea why this was on his mind today), I said, "I'll bet most people don't believe that you can move a 2x4 with a plastic post, without even touching it!" (one of the static electricity repelling demonstrations). I had a believer when I told him, "See, The Force really does exist!"

Tonight was homework catch-up, lunch-making, and we're back to the real world tomorrow.


1/23/2011 Ski photos

Professional photographers "FlowPix" were at Sierra-at-Tahoe when we were there. They take the photos with no obligation and post them to SmugMug for optional purchse, but of course when we're back home we can't resist shelling out for precious memories of our little darlings.

Most of these photos are ones of moments I couldn't possibly get myself anyway.

Gabriel and Julian waiting the first day of ski school, with Julian on the ski school's own "magic carpet" to take him back up the little hill.

Katrina's "red team" class waits---

-- then they each get some special help.

I love this series; all of them getting started.

The dorky staged shots are irresistable. I mean, look at these two!

Speaking of dorks....

I felt terrible that Katrina didn't get to go on the lift again on our 3rd day, but this face makes me feel a lot better.

We gotta do this again!