Saturday, April 02, 2011

4/2/2011 Cloudy day

We've had a most remarkable heat wave here recently. Like over 85 degrees the past 3 days! It's rarely that hot in the summer, let alone the tail end of March.

Today was a little cooler and a little cloudier. I'd had such a bad week that I wanted to take it easy today, except for the boys' activities. We've given up on Katrina's dance classes, she's just not into it.

Julian is motivated in Kung Fu though, and his new white belt status puts him in a different part of the class. They learn sequences of moves that are beautiful, like choreography. I watch this with envy and joy! This video is Julian learning the last 4 positions in a longer sequence that he practiced again and again all afternoon.

This Kung Fu is a good thing.

After Kung Fu, it was time to get Gabriel to his first soccer game. This is his 3rd scheduled game, though first actual game -- the first two were rained out.

Though soccer is more interesting to watch, I found myself missing baseball. There was no Opening Day ceremonies, no celebrating new teams, no corny reciting of Little League statements, no national anthem, no corn, no tradition, no getting choked up. Just show up for the first game.

I brought Gabriel to the game half an hour early for practice, then left just before the game started. A week of single-parenthood has turned the grocery-shopping situation urgent. I left Julian to watch the game and dashed Katrina off for a quick trip to Trader Joe's.

I returned to watch the last 10 minutes of the game, where I saw Gabriel as goalie again. His team was better than the other team, so most of the action was at the other end of the field. At times he seemed so bored he was just playing with the net.

Julian and Katrina meantime played on the long jump course.

The game ended, and apparently Gabriel's team had won, 8-2. Gabriel's coach told me he'd wanted to be goalie the whole time.

Gabriel told me he'd done very little as goalie, because his teammates were so good and most of the action was at the other end of the field. I asked him why he wanted to be goalie the whole game, and didn't get much of a coherent answer. He said neutrally that the other kids on his team were "bigger" than he was, but when I pressed, it seemed the real problem is that he knows they're much better than he is. While he needs the peg-taking-down, I told him that he won't ever get better unless he actually plays! Gabriel being Gabriel, he seemed unfazed by it all, but I was disappointed. He's wimping out by hiding at the goalie post. An important one, to be sure, but not for the whole game.

I don't know .... while he likes the physical action and competition of soccer, I'm not sure he's up to the teamwork and skills development he needs to keep up with his teammates. I hope he is. This could be a valuable experience for him. And it's pretty boring to watch your kid in a game when all he's doing is standing around!

I spent the day in a fog, barely smiling, still semi-traumatized by work this week. It was one of the worst weeks my group has ever had. For me it was capped off with a humiliating one-on-one with my hated boss (not my immediate boss who I like a lot), who smugly forgave me for my past "insubordination."

Insubordination. Can you imagine? We're talking Silicon Valley engineering here, not the Japanese military. What could in American company culture could possibly constitute "insubordination?" Apparently "I think this software product's Java interface is outdated" and "Let me be clear -- I'm not negative on the project -- I just think it won't suit our needs" qualifies.

It's hard to explain, even to myself, why I can't just shrug this off. I'm haunted today, even a Saturday, with the incredibly uncomfortable and stressful experience to be alone in a room with someone who has total power over you and other people you care about. It won't happen again. It's very clear that it's time to leave. But today, I still have to shake off the fury of having had to sit and fume and be insulted, or quit my job then and there. I don't back down from confrontation, but apparently I don't embrace it either. Standing up for myself could only have been done in one way: "F*** you, I'm out of here." I'm increasingly angry with myself for not having done the only right thing. I wish I could put this behind me, but the very passion that is key to my doing well at my job torments me when I'm not on it.

Tomorrow: go the Y, work out, and ground myself again in what's truly important.


Friday, April 01, 2011

4/1/2011 End of week

Phew. Forget it. I didn't even have the energy or wherewithall to carry out an April Fool's joke today! Thank goodness it's over.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

3/31/2011 If I were President

If I were president, I would change three things. First, I would give more homework. Homework helps students learn. Next, I would make jails stronger. It would be so strong that a hammer coudn't break it!! Last, I would change old doors to new doors. Clearly, I would make a good president.

He isn't president, but he is a white belt now!

"Horse stance." Looking pretty serious!

I love kung fu. The fraternal separation is completely worth the logistical headache, which is pretty minimal now that I can leave Katrina at home with Gabriel (if she wants that is). I just wish I could take it myself!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3/30/2011 Soccer mom

Today was proving to be my most challenging day as a single parent -- Gabriel had soccer practice 5pm-6:30pm, and this was also the final night for him to practice his poetry book report. If he didn't do all his homework at the CDC after school, we'd be screwed.

Fortunately, Gabriel did do all his homework at the CDC. And fortunately, our previous practice with the poetry report made our practice pretty easy.

That's about all good I have to say about the evening. It was still a ton of work and running around, including when Gabriel left his backpack behind at the CDC and I had to go back to get it.

And then, soccer practice ran over, as it always seems to. I've been advised by parents who know, that you just pull your kid out if it runs late, too bad. That's a lot harder when your kid is the only goalie! Katrina and I waited, and mercifully Gabriel's scrimmage ended around 6:45.

I was dismayed to see that he wasn't running constantly like the other kids (goalies wait a lot), but he made some pretty good saves, despite being the shortest kid out there, and he seems to think goalie is a spot of privilege. The coach lined all the boys up afterward in height order, to hand out jerseys, and Gabriel was indeed the shortest. Not that he cares or notices.

Gabriel in his new soccer jersey.

Now Katrina says she wants to do soccer, and tried to show me how well she runs.

I'm SO ready for this day to end, but I need to get to work.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3/29/2011 Too much night

Brutal night, again. We had no chance to practice Gabriel's poetry report, because he had a TON of homework. His math was no fewer than 27 division problems on one page, all to be "checked," meaning re-multiplied. And that was just one page. The backside of the page had yet more work.

Then there were the 10 definitions he had to write, which another parent pointed out can take about 3 minutes per definition. Gabriel struggled and fussed and complained before dinner, getting some of it done, but had a much better attitude after dinner and tackled it all for real. And then it took him an hour and a half to finish. And we're supposed to work on his poetry report this week too??

This is really, really too much. But I'm too tired to write to his teacher now.


Monday, March 28, 2011

3/28/2011 Poetry practice

I'm starting a week as a single mom!

Dave's job had to pick a week in which a book report is due to send him to a conference in Urbana, Illinois. Though we've been working on this report pretty much every day for weeks, it's still crunch time this week. It's due Friday, but they have a field trip Friday so it ends up being due Thursday, and he has soccer practice the night before. So we (we?) really need to finish it this week.

This poetry report includes picking a poem, memorizing and reciting it, and writing it on a poster. Then they have to answer a questionnaire called "Poetry Potpourri" about what you liked about the poem, images it brings to mind, things like that. Then there's an outline they have to write up. Finally, from the questionnaire and the outline, there's the actual 5-paragraph essay they have to write. In addition, there's the A-B-A-B poem that they write themselves -- in class thank goodness, but the final "published" version is done at home. Plus the rehearsals for the presentation of the essay they wrote, and the two poem recitals.

This project had a lot of steps, no wonder we've been working at it for so long! (And this time I bought two poetry books so we have to compete for poetry books at the library or worry about return dates.)

Tonight we finished up the poster (Gabriel wrote it all but I still had to direct him what to do and help him with some gluing), and rehearsing the presentation. Gabriel's articulation has gotten pretty poor, and we really need to take him to have his hearing checked again. So getting him to enunciate and speak clearly takes some practice.

Then there are other challenges to presenting.

Gabriel's in-class written poem, called "I want a robot."

I recorded the poem he memorized, called "My brother shaved his teddy bear" by Jack Prelutzky, and his essay, but frankly they're pretty boring even to me.

Not to mention the homework Gabriel had tonight, including writing his 25 spelling words 4 times each, and some long math problems. I didn't even glance at his homework, I was just too overloaded.

Then Julian. He was pretty good tonight, doing his homework without complaint. After dinner, he and Katrina happily ran upstairs together so he could give her a bath!

I had to interrupt him from reading her a story however, when I read his "Go Home Book," with daily behavior reports from his teacher. I had to have a very stern talk with him for his relentless pestering of a classmate, today which included a smack on his friend's rear end and Julian getting sent to the office.

Julian's pestering and messing around and disobeying are really, really a problem, at home, at school and at the CDC after school. He's not bullying, he just wanders around the classroom, drags his heels, makes stupid excuses, goofs around, then focuses his attention on his friend and pesters constantly, disrupting the class. I really don't know what to do about it, and his teacher seems pretty fed up too. He whines and complains when I take things from him, but he can't apply the lesson the next day.

Maybe what Julian needs is 2nd grade and its 6 book reports. Oh joy. I can't wait.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

3/27/2011 Light Sunday

Today we had no hard commitments, so I planned to make some headway on our taxes. But it wasn't raining all day for the first time in a while, and I'd rather do just about anything than taxes, so I spent a little time in the garage doing some much-needed cleanup and giving away of baby toys.

Katrina enjoyed the better weather too.

Borrowing your brother's skateboard stuff is a lot easier when one brother is on an emergency playdate (Lance's mother needed Julian keeping Lance busy almost as much as we needed Julian not pestering his siblings!), and the other brother is procrastinating his book report. Gabriel spent the entire afternoon indoors to do a few jobs on his poetry book report that should have taken him an hour if he'd just done it. As it was, I was rushing him to finish those tasks after his bedtime, when he lollygagged around for an hour at a time.

I guess it wasn't all lost time -- the only entertainment he had was reading the poetry book. At least his skateboard saw some action!