Saturday, June 23, 2012

6/23/12 Summer Scamper

Today, Gabriel and I ran the Summer Scamper, a 5K/10K race to benefit the Lucile Packard Children's hospital.

After last year's race, I made this in honor of Brittany Romero, who is Uncle Ryan's sister. She spent many years in and out of the Packard hospital, fighting an aggressive form of spinal cancer. It's unthinkably tragic, but she succumbed in 2004, at the age of 17.

This year, my friend Betsy joined our "team," though I ended up be too busy to do any serious fund-raising efforts. The most I was able to do was iron out some T-shirts that say "Team Brittany" at the last minute. Maybe next year I can be more organized about it!

This year's race was much easier to deal with than last year's, which was nice. Parking was easier, it was easier to get to, they staggered the start times of the 5K and 10K races, and there weren't massive lines for the bathrooms. It's a nice course around the Stanford campus too.

Last year, Gabriel and I ran the race mostly together, until the very end when I was able to sprint past him just before the finish line, beating him by one second. This year, it wasn't even close -- he was determined to beat me, and did so handily. We ran together for about the first half, then he decided to edge ahead, where he stayed. He was always in sight, maybe 40 feet ahead (I'd guess about 5 seconds at most), but I just couldn't push enough to catch him. The race results say he finished 18 seconds ahead of me, but that doesn't sound right -- 18 seconds is far enough ahead that with bends in the course I'd have lost sight of him. Regardless, he won easily!

I realized on the drive home that Gabriel had brought his two favorite stuffed animals with him in the car (and rats, I didn't get a picture). One of them, Green Doggy, was given to him by Brittany herself, when Gabriel was born, and it's still one of his favorites.

The best part was that the whole drive home, we talked about Brittany and what she meant to the Romero family, and what I remember of her. He asked what relation she was to him, and I explained that she's sort of an aunt since she's his uncle's sister. I told him about the time we visited her family's home in Santa Cruz when he was a crawling toddler, and that she really liked him, she thought he was really funny. I told him about how Uncle Ryan remembers taking care of her, and how much he loved her, just like Gabriel loves his little sister too. I dug up every story I could think of that Laura's told me about her, as they were quite close too. We talked about her cancer and the time she spent at the Packard hospital, and how that affected her life. I told him that the one thing she really wanted to do was just be able to go to school like every other kid. It's not often Gabriel spends so much time in another person's world like that, so it was very very sweet.

All in all, a very nice way to start the day. But I wonder if I'd have a better chance against him in the 10K next year! :)


Friday, June 22, 2012

6/22/12 Swim progress

Yay! Swim lessons have worked so well this year!

I've taken the kids to swim lessons every day this week, after 2 days last week (and 2 more next week), and each one gets a private lesson. That is so the way to go if you have a short amount of time, and really want them to learn to swim quickly.

My objective for both boys this summer was for them to be safe in the deep end. Gabriel was pretty much there, and proved to me that he could be pushed in and swim his way out. I insisted he do some laps too, which he's very poor at but can basically do.

For Julian, I hoped that by the 5th day this week, he'd be close to really swimming in the deep end, but he went way past that. He can swim across easily (with far less complaint than big brother) and now spends all his time jumping in and swimming out.

And to my amazement, Katrina is starting to get the idea of how to do side-breathing too! She's still a ways from actually swimming, but she's getting closer and closer.

What a change from the days when I'd have to sit in the pool with them, barely daring to turn my head, and hoping I wouldn't have to rescue more than one at a time!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

6/20/12 "Hello, Julian!"

Katrina sure is enjoying her Chinese daycamp at the YMCA!

Today she asked her teacher to tell her how to say, "Hello, Julian!" and she's said it many times. She really sounds like she's speaking Chinese (well, Mandarin). She's learned various words too, but this is the first that sounds like a phrase.

It freaks me out a little to see her chat out Chinese so easily. She's still young enough that her brain has super-powers when it comes to language learning. She could be drop-shipped into Japan or Korea or Russia or Kenya or China and she'd learn the language as a native, and might even forget all her English. That's astounding considering how well-developed her English language is now, but 5-year-olds are really on the cusp of permanent language development.

Julian, at a mere 2-3/4 years older, at age 8-1/2, would probably have a much harder time learning another language, and would probably not entirely forget English. Gabriel at age 10-1/2 could be almost as lost as I would be, and would be very unlikely to lose all his English. Lots depends on the individual, but still, it's truly amazing how much language development happens in the few short crucial years before puberty (when language psychologists say major changes happen in the brain, such as the shift from bilingualism to fluency).

(This could be Proud Mom speaking, but a part of me suspects Katrina also has a talent for language arts and writing -- and regular readers know I'm quite honest about where my kids' natural talents are and aren't!)

Speaking of language development, I had a fun conversation with a coworker I just adore, a young woman who's going to have her first baby any second now. She's from Mexico and her husband is Australian, and I was telling her today how I want to learn Spanish. She of course said she'd help me practice anytime!

I also have a friend from Las Madres who's Mexican, and a neighbor from Mexico City (imagine that, a Latina in our neighborhood -- in California?!), and now this coworker -- so no shortage of Spanish speakers to practice with. I have far more schooling in French than Spanish, but it's time I caught up to Katrina in language-learning!


ok, a bientot,


Monday, June 18, 2012

6/18/12 Another biking milestone

Katrina had a big milestone today with bike riding: being willing to attempt two-wheeling without training wheels!! The operative word there being willing, and the second operative word being attempt. She did OK though!

She could make it in a straight line, sort of, but needs help stopping and starting, as most kids do at first.

Still, for her, it's a huge leap from refusing to try without training wheels, to actually balancing for a few feet. She's so excited about it that I'm sure this will continue.

And she gets a big high five from a proud brother!

She's doing so well in swim lessons too that it won't be long before she can take side breaths and actually swim. Growing up isn't so bad, is it!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

6/17/12 Mountain Bike

Bicycles are viewed a little differently around here than in many families. They're not really owned by one kid, they're not gifts or rewards or something you choose or Christmas presents, any more than carseats are. They're more like a family resource, something you use while it fits you, and when it doesn't anymore, the next kid gets it.

But I think Gabriel will have a hard time parting with this new mountain bike when it comes time. Finally, he's grown big enough for a bike with gears!

Dave took the boys to a great local bike shop today, and neither came away empty-handed. Julian didn't get a bike -- our method means he'll get hand-me-downs for years -- but he did get a new helmet and gloves.

And someday, this lovely shiny thing -- probably a lot less shiny by then -- will be Katrina's!

This might be enough to push me over the edge to finally start mountain biking, another obsession brimming under the surface, waiting to take over. And what better reason than to go with my kids?!