Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2/27/13 Homework Helper

I'm not quite sure this counts as "help," but Julian sure preferred doing his homework with some company tonight.

Meantime, my company, who kept me awake purring much of last night, was happier hiding in my room.

Cats do add a bit to daily chores, but are overall very easy to take care of.

It's all the other stuff in life -- bills, changing over accounts and names, taxes, overdue holiday gifts (!! eeps!) that I'm perpetually behind in.

I learned a good lesson from an organized friend at UCLA once: get one thing done every day, even if it's a small thing (like paying one bill) and be happy with that. You'll end up getting everything done sooner than if you wait for it to pile up, because each task seems more approachable than a giant pile of them. I like that.

Tonight I packaged up some Lands' End clothes to return -- I guess that counts as my "one thing" done. Tomorrow, change a newspaper subscription -- ooh!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2/26/13 The Vigil

The cats sure miss the kids when they're not home!

Zorro (back of photo) mopes around, sits vigil on the landing, sometimes me-owing his pathetic little cry...

....while Meow-Stache darts around nervously, wondering when the chaos is going to re-appear, to run her back into hiding.

We're all anxiously awaiting their return!


2/26/13 The Thank-You

Whoever heard of getting an unsolicited thank-you note before you did something?!

Katrina wrote this darling thank-you note on the day we left for Truckee on Ski Week -- before our Ski Week snow/ski trip:

Dear Mom:, thank you for planning a ski trip. Love, Katrina. p.s. I love you :)

OK, does it get any sweeter than that?!

She also wrote her "Vacation" report (from Winter break) about our snow trip:

Over my vaction I went sking at Tahoe donner and Sugar Bowl. It was fun. I went to ski scholl It was a half day school. I worked on turning.

Next I skied with my mom. I went to the terrain parks. It was fun. I had so much fun sking!

Someone asked me today if I'd ever done fingernail-painting with Katrina. Is that OK?? Never done makeup, dress-up, nail-painting, shopping, or any of that normal "girl" stuff. Camping, skiing, skating, hiking, yes. that OK?

For what it's worth, I don't remember doing a lot of that "girl" stuff with my mom (who as a pianist always kept her nails short anyway), and we ended up with a fine relationship. I do bake and cook with my kids -- all of them -- does that make up for my inadequacies as a "girl" Mom?

But nothing makes me happier than seeing my dear daughter write in her "What I Did On My Vacation" essay that she skiied with her mom. I think I can be forgiven for the lack of nail-polish for that!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

2/24/13 home again....

Well, we had an unusually good pack-up this morning, pretty organized, and were out relatively hassle-free by 9:30. The packing is down to a science now, mostly. Car drives had been made easier with audio books, and a few backup sticker-dolly books for Katrina, and I find that chewing gum helps stave off sleepiness.

But I can still feel my blood pressure start to rise the closer we get to the Bay Area, as the numerous stresses and unhappinesses and longstanding lonelinesses creep back in.

This was not the way my life was supposed to be. Maybe I've been spoiled with a relatively charmed life with lots of successes and accomplishments and overall great relationships with friends and family -- yet none of that measures up to the devastation of my failed family.

I know the kids will survive it, everyone reminds me of that. Indeed I know their relationships with their parents individually is most important. So this isn't just about the kids, but me....and I had really really counted on raising them in that mysterious world of the intact family, living with them every day. I know that no family is ideal, and I'd already greatly adjusted my expectations -- every family has their challenges!

But in the end, I just could no longer do what was necessary to sustain the relationship. It wasn't even a choice I made -- it was more like being physically incapable, like doing 60 chinups in a row or flying. I just can't. It will be a long time before I stop beating up myself over that. I should have found a way to fly. Nothing meant more to me than raising my children in an intact family, nothing. I'd set aside my own individual happiness long ago -- it meant nothing compared to giving my children a complete family. I did absolutely everything I could for years, far beyond what I'd ever have imagined possible, to keep my family together, and it still failed.

As much as I absolutely hate being away from the kids more than 3 days, I wonder if the transitions are harder on me than them. I know it's bad for them too, but as an adult with some concept of continuity it's arguably worse for me, because I never feel like I get any momentum with them.

The kids and I had such a wonderful trip together, but for me the last day together is always deeply burdened by the upcoming days without them. I'm their mother, I should see my children every day. Maybe the silver lining here is that missing them is a good thing, that I appreciate their company more, but it doesn't really work that way with kids. "Quality Time" is a parent concept, it doesn't mean a kid feels like baking cookies together at a given moment. And I've never been a super hands-on sort of mom. I just like having them around, and with plenty of opportunity to interact randomly as things come up.

I don't want my deeply dysfunctional marriage back anymore than my former husband does, but the shattered dream of raising my children full-time is very very hard to get over for me. I hate that half my life is spent intensely missing them, not knowing who I am or why, what my purpose is. Without work, I'd be completely lost.

I know this will get better -- it's been such a short time. I know I take things very deeply to heart and feel things very intensely, but that works both ways. I'm naturally buoyant and resourceful, and have a lot of experience with coping, thinking things through, finding positives and new passions. I've already come a very long way in pulling out of this. But it's a tough road, and it runs with many tears.


2/23/13: Ski Week day 3: Diamond Girl!

Today was the day Katrina was all excited about: "You PROMISED me to do Steamers today, RIGHT?!"

Her brothers were discouraging though. "You can't handle moguls." "It's too steep for you." "You need to be more experienced." But Katrina was determined. "We'll warm up on 'Donner's Way,'" she declared (the intro-black-diamond she toasted yesterday) -- and then, Steamers."

Honestly, Steamers isn't all that hard -- Sugarbowl's intro-black-diamonds are mercifully short -- but it's no beginner terrain, and in bad conditions, it can suck.

Incredibly, we had a little dusting of snow last night! But more incredibly, it didn't to much to improve snow conditions. In fact, I thought today was icier than yesterday, despite the smattering of new snow.

Katrina went to a lesson this morning first, which the boys and I ran into. The first half-hour of group lessons is spent doing triage and separating kids, and boy, this one was packed. I was intrigued to see that for "Level 3" kids, Katrina was well at the top end of skill, even though she looks so much smaller than most.

But I'm really happy to see that she runs no risk of being on the Magic Carpet all day now.

Still, it's best for the lesson if the parent-paparazzi goes away, so the boys and I went back to Disney for a repeat of our fun the day before. I was out-of-sorts and so didn't feel any great need to try anything new, and the boys were quite happy to stick to the run "Donald Duck" and run-offs from there.

Gabriel is skiing so well now that I felt compelled to take video of him.

Julian of course headed to the trees and insisted of some more video of him blasting through the powder, with varying success.

I won no points for style today, but I'm glad that I can sorta-breeze down the easier groomed blacks at Sugarbowl now, at least in today's conditions.

I have a new system for lunch now: bringing our own, and stashing it in a knapsack in the lodge. I'm not the only one with this idea -- the fireplace is piled with lunch-knapsacks!

I really like this method -- having sandwiches and granola bars for the kids not only saves me tons of money, but it saves me a ton of time waiting on line for overpriced crummy food, and best of all, it saves me the drudgery of waitressing in ski boots. And the kids don't mind at all, especially if I bring some leftover dessert from last night!

After lunch, time to fulfill my promise to Katrina: Steamers! For some reason, she was determined to do this mogul-y black-diamond off Jerome -- an intro-black to be sure, but not the easiest. She came up with the plan to "warm up" on Donner's Way first today, where again I was so impressed -- look at these almost-parallel turns! She breezed her way down Donner's Way smiling and chatting, like it was nothing (with protective oldest brother in hot pursuit)

(Note that I called "Bomb It!" right at the end -- this is our new game of "Bomb Attack," in which someone calls "Bomb It!" and we all have to race to the end. Not clear what the rules of this game are exactly....!)

Next run: Steamers! Right next to Donner's way. This run is short, but mogul-y and uneven, and I was nervous about Katrina being able to take it, but she was absolutely insistent. To think, two days ago I was stunned and thrilled when Julian did it, and now I was telling him, "eh, whatever, just meet us at the bottom, I'm watching Katrina!"

And she toasted it. No fear, barely any hesitation, just a few times that she stopped and looked ahead, and then just did it. She did GREAT!! Honestly, she was more confident and consistent than Julian was the first day we did this so many times. I was floored! Nooo problem!

I just don't know how much pride I have left, with both my younger two children tackling a non-trivial black-diamond mogul run with relative ease -- and their oldest brother practically yawning at it! My goodness, Katrina's sure come far from being stuck on the Magic Carpet all day.

They're all skiing so so SO well -- it won't be long at all before I'll have no one to ski with myself. Katrina declared yesterday that when she's a grownup, she'd be an Expert, and I told her with total honesty, "You'll be that well before you're a grownup!" Really, she's just 6, and had no trouble at all with an ungroomed mogul-y black-diamond today. Wow!

We were planning a second run down Steamers, but Katrina took a nasty fall on the easy ridge run on the way. It happens; you get a lot of speed, catch an edge, boom. I arrived after the fact, and found her holding back tears as she was trying to reach for her skis and poles, and complained of her hand and head hurting. I did a quick triage, and she seemed OK physically, but she was upset -- and done. "Is this like what happened to Kate?" she asked through tears, about our friend who was far more seriously injured a few weeks ago. "No, you're fine, sweetie girl," I assured her. But I knew enough not to push a freaked-out kid. She is just 6 years old, after all. She's no complainer -- if she says she's done, she means it. So I told the boys to take one more run, then to meet us at the Den where we could all de-ski-gear ourselves and load the car.

She had smacked her head hard, even leaving a small blood spot in her helmet. I think the helmet helped more than hurt....? But it must have been a nasty fall. Another reminder of how easy it is for a day to turn around from total fun to (potentially) total disaster.

In theory, the boys can load the skis now. In practice, it still takes a lot of reminding and nagging and yes, yelling, to get them to actually do it, but at least they know how.

We headed home a little early, but overall, got in a full day. Totally worth it!

All the houses I've rented have their pros and cons, but I can't say this one is my favorite. It's a little far, it's clutter and cramped, and filled with foofy-smelling things, a ton of candles but very poor lighting overall. Still, all places have their plusses, and I loved my view from my bed in this one. Few things I like better in life than waking up to this view.

It seems just as we get things down to a science, it's time to go. Thank you, Ski Week! Another great experience and memory. I'm proud to say I think I've instilled a permanent love of snow and mountains in my children -- and if this ever matters to them in the future, they all have a good solid foundation in skiing!