Saturday, October 22, 2011

10/22/11 Pumpkin Patch!

Halloween iks big business these days! I haven't taken the kids on any outings lately, so I figured today I'd take them to a "pumpkin patch" (really more like a farm-based entertainment center) about 40 minutes away.

The boys' top priority was the "Pumpkin Blaster" activity, which I thought meant that they would shoot at pumpkins. Instead, they shot mini-pumpkins at target with a pretty high-powered large heavy gun! Katrina didn't approve of the sound, so I used her ticket attempting to hit things too (I missed).

Top priority for Katrina: pony ride! Gabriel is now too cool for ponies, but Julian isn't.

High priority for everyone: train ride. I'd bought a park pass for all 3 kids, foolishly forgetting myself, so I had to pass on the train ride. Instead, Gabriel made sure Katrina was strapped in and accounted for.

We also did two separate "hayrides," which mostly went to the same places -- roads carved out in a cornfield -- but one was shorter. Hayrides are popular and we had lots of time for silly pictures while waiting on lines.

Finally, the "hayride." For one, we sat on a bench; for the other, we did sit on bales of hay.

We went by a genuine pumpkin-growing field, and showed us some so-called "Cinderella" pumpkins, the variety which are said to have been the inspiration for the carriage in the Cinderella fairy tail.

Both hayrides featured a beautiful marigold-field.

After our tickets for rides ran out (I hid my relief), we went to the actual pumpkin patch part of this pumpkin patch, and each kid picked out a pumpkin for carving.

They all had a great time -- and despite my serious aversion to crowds, lines, traffic and campy kids' activities, I had a great time too!


Friday, October 21, 2011

10/21/11 Dinner Out

I was burnt and in no mood to cook, or eat, tonight -- so Dave took the kids out to eat! I actually had an hour at home alone. I didn't know what to do with myself and pretty much squandered it, but I guess that has to happen sometimes.

I had a good, but demanding day at work -- I guess I'm past the honeymoon period and am being asked to do "real" work, but I still have very little idea how to do things and am not entirely set up yet. As an experienced professional, though, there are no excuses. Earlier in my career I'd have said "I don't have an account with Cisco and so don't have access to their configurator" but at this stage in my career I have to say "OK I'll get that configuration for you!" -- (somehow!!). So it's a big scramble. I've done this before though, and I know it'll be a few months before I'm really ramped up and there's a certain amount of stumbling around and mistake-making that just has to happen. It excites me while wiping me out at the same time.

I went to the school fund-raiser "Fall Festival" this afternoon, where Julian and Katrina were with the CDC at their face-painting booth. I signed them out and then took them around to a few booths, and entered silent auctions for the boys' classooms. There I met a mom who volunteers in Julian's classroom, and I had an experience I've had many times but never failed to be surprised by: the volunteering mom gushes over what a sweet boy I have. "Really?" I always ask, "he's a constant discipline problem!" This applies to both boys. Maybe it's courtesy, many consolation, but the volunteer-mom always tells me how bright the boy is and that they really enjoy working with him. This mom today went on at length at what a strong reader Julian is (and he always has been) and she seemed to genuinely like him.

Thinking about it, I wonder if the reason I get such glowing reports about the boys from other moms is because the moms see them in smaller, more personal situations and the boys respond well to that. See, I'm always able to find a working-mom-guilt angle. I looked around at the busy festival, and saw how many parents were manning booths and tables and helping out. Would I be part of that community if I weren't working -- or am I working partly because that just wouldn't be enough for me? Will I regret that someday? Funny, I'm not sure I'd regret missing out on more of the babyhood. My regrets, or fear of them, increase as they get older. Even now, I feel more stabs about missing out on Gabriel's 9-year-old-ness than Katrina's 5-year-old-ness.

Well, I guess this is academic, because I'm going to be working for quite a while, and that's overwhelmingly a good thing, guilt notwithstanding.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

10/20/11 3's a charm?

That subject can apply to lots of things, but most certainly not our children. There's always ONE who wins the "biggest Pain In the Rear" award for the day. Lately that's been going to Julian (TWICE to the principal's office this week -- so far!), but tonight, Katrina definitely wins. Massive fusses and screeching tantrums because....well, I don't know why exactly, something crossed her.

But no, 3's a charm this time because I knew it'd take 3 weeks to get over the shock of a new job. Tomorrow rounds out my 3rd week, and I'm not really over the shock yet, but I think I might have been slightly useful today instead of just a total leech. First, I embarrassed myself by asking a dumb question in front of LOTS of people who knew better, but kicked off a good discussion. Then, I embarrassed myself again by attempting to answer a question in email that involved actually knowing something that I don't at all ("we need XYZ, what equipment does that"), but inserting my usual extras ("there's none that does exactly XYZ, but here are a few alternatives, and make sure you have ABC types of cables too.") Compared to my previous professional life in which my uselessness was deliberate on my horrible management's part, this is a huge step forward.

My mother would probably say she doesn't remember if I had shrieking call-the-cops-now sorts of tantrums when I was 5 as Katrina has, but if I did, maybe there's hope for her yet.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10/19/11 Shoe blowout

Today is Dave's birthday and somehow I got no photos in all the hullaballoo of making a nice dinner, gifts, video-phone-calls (Facetime!!), and of course, CAKE.

In case anyone thinks I'm too soft a parent, Julian was not able to have birthday cake because of his visit to the principal's office on Monday -- no dessert for a week, and sorry, no pass for Dad's birthday. I've warned him that Halloween is coming up, this is no time to mess around. So what happens? He gets sent to The Office again today. That extends his dessert detention (and various others) for another week.

I did get a few photos yesterday though. Since Gabriel has been walking home from school, he's been (mostly) keeping up with his homework and has time to do other things when we all get home. Yesterday he wanted to -- wanted to! help with dinner.

So I talked him through making macaroni-n-cheese (he's getting much better at that, almost on his own), and then cutting up broccoli. Amusing, Julian is quite a bit better at this given his experience. But he did fine and was proud when I trusted him with a real knife (only because Julian was well out of reach).

Just before bed, for some reason I noticed Gabriel's shoes. Oh brother. Shredded again! I got caught unawares. I really do try to replace their shoes before they get to this point, but sometimes I just miss it, or it happens too quickly.

We had a great laugh throwing them away, then pulling out the next new pair.

Until this morning, when it was time to get in the car and we discovered that the brand-new pair I'd given him was too small. Fortunately I had another pair, a half-size larger, waiting, but if not, we'd have been in trouble.

Now I have no shoe buffer for Gabriel, so I have barely a few weeks to build up a stash of shoes again. Going to the shoe store every time they need shoes is unthinkable -- I'd be going to the mall every month for one or the other boy, and occasionally, the girl. Since I'm apparently so poor at pre-emption, I really need a closetful of new shoes ready and waiting. Thank you zappos! Please all, make sure I rob Zappos of 8 pairs of boys' shoes before November or I'm certain to get into trouble again!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10/18/11 Aaron

I haven't posted about this because it's been new, but of course it's ongoing too.

One of my oldest, dearest friends, Andrea, has a son Aaron who is a year older than Katrina. Andrea and I were pals in high school from the gymnastics team, and went to the same college too (in fact I probably went to U of R because of her), and we've stayed close for over 30 years. She married young (I was her Maid of Honor), had two girls young, divorced, remarried, and had another baby when she was just shy of age 43. Naturally, she was the first person I called when I realized I too would be a super-geriatric Mom! In addition to being one of my closest friends she also has numerous degrees in psychology and is just really understanding and funny and a really great person to talk to.

In 2009, Andrea and her teenage daughter and then-4yo-son Aaron visited us. Katrina made friends with Aaron easily and talked about him for weeks after they left. They really hit it off -- and not because of my grumpy semi-social daughter, but because Aaron was a really nice, easygoing kid. The boys don't remember him, but they played a lot with him too.

July 2009

Anyway, NO, not the worst thing possible that could happen to a child has happened, but the second-worst thing possible -- Aaron has leukemia.

Fortunately his cancer is a treatable kind with a high cure rate, but still, for Christ's sake, it's leukemia. He's only 5 years old, and will be 6 in November. I read daily updates from Andrea (she lives in New Jersey) or her sister, and so far the news is good. But still, God help us, it's still leukemia.

I think the only time I've felt this bad or frightened was when my dear sister-in-law had a stroke. Nothing is more serious than a loved one being gravely ill, and perhaps the younger the person, the less fair it seems. (My Dad's Alzheimer's was different...much slower, without the same shock less unfair or painful of course but of a different sort. Alzheimer's, for all its injustice, isn't a crisis.)

So while I bop through my day apparently cheerful, my dear friend's son's major health challenge weighs heavily on m and my helplessness grinds a hole in my conscience. Friends geographically closer are giving blood to help the hospital. (Actually, I can't even do that locally to help symbolically because my chronic G.I. trouble has kept my weight below eligible levels for blood donation, or I would. Blood donation seems to be the top request from doctors.)

If there's a bright spot anywhere, it's that few moms are as tough or determined or as willing to be an advocate -- and experienced at navigating the medical system -- as my friend Andrea. If you want anyone by your side as you're fighting a serious illness, it's her. Thank heavens for Aaron that he has her.


Monday, October 17, 2011

10/17/2011 The Notes

Julian got sent to the principal's office AGAIN today! Here's the note the principal sent us:

Mr. and Mrs. Doudna, Julian was sent to the office this morning because of a discipline problem. A student reported to his teacher that he had hit her in the face. I spoke with both students individually and it turns out that Julian was poking at her and poked the folder that the student was reading, causing it to hit her face. I reminded Julian of our rule to keep hands and feet to himself. To help him remember this, I had Julian sit in the office for recess and lunch today.

GOOD GRIEF! Does it never end?

We had an unusually calm discussion with him, in which he was informed of all the consequences. He ended with wanting to talk to me in private, which I told him would have to wait until tomorrow because he hinted it was about "the family."

Later we found these notes, one on our bedroom door and one on the floor.

Mostly it seems he wants to complain about Gabriel. I guess I'm supposed to listen!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

10/16/2011 "Bug Frame"

Not quite sure why this is called a "bug frame," but Katrina spent the better part of the afternoon drawing, cutting out, and taping together bugs.

This is a butterfly, bumblebee, ant, ladybug, grasshopper and spider. She was so proud of it that she actually let me take that picture. Partly because she was wearing this adorable Flamenco outfit that was red and black, so sort of lady-bug-ish.

I did something unprecedented today: I didn't get hopelessly behind on Halloween costumes. I took all 3 to a store today and bought them (well, Katrina already had hers but she needed black tights). The boys tried them on, they're happy with them, and overall the whole experience was less painful -- shorter and I daresay cheaper -- than the usual online shopping/bidding angst. Let's hear it for bricks and mortar!

Speaking of bugs, Katrina is going to be a ladybug again. I don't think she'll remember from when she was barely 13 months old.

(October 2007)