Saturday, January 19, 2013

1/19/13 Ski Jump Day

Tough day....I was really sick last night, getting up a lot thinking I'd throw up, and with unusually bad (even for me) diarrhea. The kids were reticent and difficult this morning, with Katrina in a full-blown snit about not wanting to go out to ski. I knew better and insisted we all get out the door, and sure enough, it turned the day around.

Gabriel and I couldn't get our groove on today, and conditions were much much icier than two weeks ago. But we found our sweet spot practicing jumps -- he said he was working on "guts" and was pushing himself to try one jump repeatedly, faster every time. This pushed me to try a series of 5 jumps in a row, which included some very jarring landings! I'm ignoring the serious threat to my back, it was just too much fun.

After picking up Katrina and Julian from lessons, Katrina wanted to ski again and again, all happy now. Her good mood didn't last long, she was grumpy and didn't handle setbacks very well, like navigational errors that resulted in me digging her out of ungroomed areas.

Julian's chronic ignoring of instructions really wears on me too, he has to be told numerous times to do the most basic things ("carry your skis out of the lesson area now" "don't throw snow in front of the lodge door" "no, this is the last run, go take your skis off"). I'm sure people who don't know him think I'm really awful, because I go right up to him and repeat sternly, "NOW YOU MUST GO DO WHAT I SAID."

In fairness, I'm thrilled to say that Gabriel is only an asset now: he unloaded all our skis from the ski rack today!

But I did manage to get a few photos that makes it look like the whole day was a peachy blast, without the intense workload of nanny, valet, waitress and shepherd. (What would it be like to just ski and have fun, without all the surrounding struggle?)


Julian. Look like he's about to crash, huh? He did!

Katrina apparently was taught in her lesson today to hold her poles together in front of her with both hands, leading to some odd-looking positions!

I was subject to the vagaries of the photographer, and my back is absolutely certain I took some jumps today that were way higher than this. But what fun anyway!

Not sure how I got this -- in general, the kids have gotten so uncooperative about photos together, never mind with me in them. Somehow, I pulled these off.

The trip home was marred by some black ice in a shady curve on a windy downhill road. I felt the car slip, and thought nothing of it, that happens, just ride it out, but it started to slip back and forth. Since I was in a curve, I had to continue steering, and somehow the car got into what felt like a massive fishtail. It was awful, the rear end swinging around uncontrollably as it rocked so much it felt like we would roll (in reality I'm sure it was far from it), and picked up speed into the opposing lane. But in a flash, the car grabbed, and swung around in a spectacular 180, side-swiping a snowbank in my lane, facing the other way. I've never been in a fishtail like that in a car (motorcycles yes), and it was a horrible feeling, but as soon as the rocking stopped and the sliding started, it was clear we were headed for a safe landing and I just let it finish. A Jeep with two guys stopped and flagged traffic while I pulled back onto the road and drove home slowly, shaken terribly. Eeps. There wasn't even that much ice on the road, but I have new respect for it.

The kids took it all well, and after a few passing comments like "that was scary Mom!" they were right back to harassing each other as usual. After popcorn and hot chocolate at home, they headed outside for hours of snow play, which I actually joined them for, for quite some time! There are some huge boulders here them to play on, which are great fun to climb and jump off of (I got photos but I'm too tired now). The snow is sort-of walkable, but it's easy to sink in thigh-deep. What fun it would be to have snowshoes and actually hike up here.

I'm definitely counting on a better day tomorrow!


Friday, January 18, 2013

1/18/13 The Snag

I had our escape from the Bay Area for the holiday weekend carefully orchestrated: I'd arranged early pickup with the teachers, I'd worked extra and prepared coworkers for not being available Friday afternoon, everything was pre-packed and ready to go --

-- And at precisely 12:50pm today, I arrived at school to pick up the kids, expecting to hustle them out and straight into the car, in a determined attempt to beat traffic to the mountains.

And was foiled by -- would you believe -- a school lockdown ?!

Seriously! I drove past a somber-looking Sheriff into a totally dead-quiet school, and had to knock my way into the school office. The whole school district was on "Code Blue Lockdown" because:

Dear Parents:

We were contacted by the Sheriff’s Department around 12:45 p.m. today informing us that they were in search of two unarmed suspects in the neighborhood surrounding the school. As a precaution they recommended that we enter into a Code Blue lockdown.

As per our school safety protocol, the school site was immediately secured with all doors being locked and students remaining in their classrooms. The students and staff handled the situation extremely well and during this time the teachers were able to continue their lessons.

I get that Newtown was a huge deal, but now any petty thief in the area can shut down tens of schools for an entire day. GREAT!

Fortunately, there were a smattering of other parents in the school office to pick up their kids for various reasons, and at least those kids were released to parents. After all, a school truly can't keep kids from parents.

I only had to wait for two kids though -- one of them had already found his way into the school office prior to the lockdown. Guess who!

But this set us back a very crucial half-hour. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered, but for whatever reason, we paid dearly in traffic terms -- not so much locally, but we hit Sacramento rush-hour traffic squarely. Every "lane merge" turned into a painful 20-minute delay, and what should be a 3-1/2 hour trip was stretched out into an exhausting 5-1/2 hours of driving time.

The worst part was having to forego my fabulous dinner plan of take-out burritos at Taco Station in Truckee, close to our rented cabin -- we'd have arrived with dinner ready. Instead, we had to reduce ourselves to Arby's just outside Sacramento. Guess a yummy junk-food dinner (burritos) as opposed to a gross junk-food dinner (Arby's) was a silly expectation on a heavy travel day. On these days, flexibility is a must -- but I never thought I'd have to factor in a Code Blue Lockdown.

Snags and all, we made it! And are now happily ensconced in our snowy Truckee cabin, toasty inside while the outside dips into single-digits. The Plan is to ski tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, if everyone just wants to hang around and play in the snow, it will be hard to argue!

We're all so happy to be back in the snow and mountains!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

1/17/13 The Lunch-maker

So, some kids are getting mature enough to make their own lunches. Actually making a sandwich isn't the biggest deal, but doing it voluntarily and without hefty protest is.

But what about a kid who makes someone else's lunch?! Katrina insisted on making Gabriel's sandwich for tomorrow!!

I had some rare, precious, and I think, very necessary time alone with Julian tonight....he's been getting in so much trouble. Then we peeked in and caught the cats in a silly state.

To everyone's delight, Katrina had a voluntary visit from a usually reticent character. Meow-stache is definitely warming up to us all individually, but for her to approach Katrina with everyone else there is unprecedented.

On the other hand, maybe she just smelled like ham!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1/16/13 The Next Food Network Star

In many ways, this years' annual work conference and "team-building" was in a not-so-great location: the facility was small and cramped and really not well-suited for a large group of corporate types. But it was held at a world-renowned culinary institute -- a genuine cooking school! I was thrilled.

Before the obligatory work-related presentations, I looked all around into the numerous kitchens, peeked into the pantries, and marvelled at the students and chefs in real chef whites. For certain, I've watched too much Food Network shows, I'm easily wowed.

In the evening, the "team-building" event was, of all things, a cooking competition! Each team got a whole kitchen and two real chefs to help!!

I counted -- 24 burners!

We all had to wear hats and aprons.

The teams were large, so coworkers who are better at thinking and planning on their feet than I am, put together the dishes. I relegated myself to sous-chef work, dashing around and volunteering to stir, flip and chop whatever anyone else needed. Quite a few people had a few favorite projects they regularly did at home, so I happily deferred and played a busy supporting role.

I had so much fun. This was totally my element. I didn't take command or anything, deferring to more leadership-types to do so, but had a great time in the intensity and barely-controlled chaos of a busy kitchen.

The final plating merited some more skilled photography.

My team didn't win the food competition, but who cared? Everything was delicious (our efforts were also our dinner), and totally fun to put together.

All that was missing was the cameras! Food Network, where are you! I'm ready!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1/15/13 Transitions

Tuesday night....without the kids, two nights in a row. This is never an easy adjustment, filled with mixed emotions, from being grateful for the freedom to longing for the activity.

I'm starting to notice that the kids are at their worst on "transition day," which happens 3 times a week given our current "2-2-3" custody arrangement. My growing "gut-sense" is that fewer changes would be better for them (no changes would be ideal but as we all know, that didn't work out), but I have no solid proof. Many people have asked about a week-by-week arrangement, but dad wouldn't even consider testing a trial period, so that's off the table for now.

It's different for me: the first night away from them is glorious; the second, not at all.

Between school schedules, holidays, summers and general life, I'm not sure there ever really will be a "regular" routine. "Change is constant" they say about parenthood, in all circumstances. No more so than now.


Monday, January 14, 2013

1/14/13 Lazy Sundays

One huge benefit of my ultra-early Saturday mornings is even ultra-er-lazy Sunday mornings....I've earned it! On Sunday mornings, no one has any intention of getting dressed or even moving in the single-digit hours. That's my kind of schedule. None of this "as you get older you can't sleep late" nonsense. I so can.

Oh, I know you're not supposed break the weekday routine on weekends, but's Sunday! None of us really did anything substantial until past noon, and really, for so many Sundays, that's just the way it should be.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

1/13/13 Smarts

Are men interested in smart women?

I was thinking about fixing up a male coworker (not someone at my company, but someone I meet with often) -- with a female friend. I can just imagine that conversation, telling him: "She's tall, blond, slender, very pretty -- " -- then I'd be tempted to add: "-- and really smart, two master's degrees, great job at a high-tech company, super-successful."

But does that matter? Are men interested in how intelligent, educated or accomplished a woman is? They'll all say that matters, but does it?

Even my first instinct is to describe to a man how attractive a woman is. The smart part is just an adjunct. If the tables were turned, to most women, "two master's degrees" would be a big plus -- but is it to men? Their ears shut down right after the "tall blond slender" thing, despite their PC protests.

That got me thinking....did it matter to the men I've dated if I was smart or not? I can think of two who I felt really, really knew me, who really valued my individuality and thoughts and humor and ability to relate -- perhaps even whatever "smartness" I have. I can also think of a few who were intimidated or put off by my ambition and drive.

Another female friend astutely points out that she feels the closest to a man when he appreciates her strongest and truest qualities -- and some of us brashly feel that might include "smart" (whatever that means).

Two men in my life who I know had/have total confidence in me, deserved or not, are my father and brother. They both really knew/know and love/loved me, for me, with all pluses and minuses. I always feel completely grounded and truly like myself around them. (Well, around my brother now; my Dad passed on in 2011.)

At work I feel like I'm gaining respect for being smart and thorough, despite so often being outside my comfort zone (in the "soft skills" categories). My job makes it clear where my strengths are: tangible details, not warm-n-fuzzies. Work is an odd place in which I'm surrounded by men, who depend on me to be "smart" as an engineer, yet also are taken slightly aback when I'm not "soft" as a woman. Though I'm aware that I always have to prove it, when it comes down to the dirty details, it feels good to find that people like and respect me -- maybe even regard me as "smart."

That helps me field this sort of comment:

If you don't understand how they calculate and apply the [ percent ] discount, I'm sure the [ business ] director can assist you.

Obviously I know how to calculate percentages, so that comment was intended only to condescend and degrade me. Nowadays these things roll off my back, but it'd sure be nice never to have to face that sort of unpleasantness. Men never do.

Insults notwithstanding, I know that if a coworker were to suggest a fixup, how smart or funny I am isn't the first thing that'd come up. For sure it'd be about my physical traits -- no doubt garnering yet more apologies for my petite stature. My personality on the other hand, I can see being presented as a caveat: "She can be pretty hard-core sometimes, brace yourself!"

Well, whatever. Anyone I fix up with any of my friends had better not expect a softball...and I guess it'd be the same with me. Not sure if that'd be better or worse!