Friday, May 30, 2008

Kate Puts Her Tax Dollars To Work & Sarah Tests the Waters

Joy sent me this post, along with the photos. Thanks, Joy!

As Lisa indicated in a previous post Kate has been pretty resistant to getting in the pool. In an effort to help with that we feared would soon to become phobia I hyped up the opening of the new pool at McKoy Park. We talked about it for weeks. We went by the park to look at view the construction in progress. We talked about the grand opening party and the dignitaries that would be in attendance. Kate was told she could meet the Mayor. Lisa chided for her children to splash Aunt Jo-Jo. It was going to be fun.

Finally, May 23rd arrived. I arrived at Kate and Sarah’s school around 3:15pm and heard the first clap of thunder. No worries, storms move fast in these parts. As we exit the school building with too very excited little girls there were very dark skies, another clap of thunder, and possibly a drop or two of rain. Rain! What? Do you think we are afraid of getting wet?

Off to the park we go. There is funky music playing. There are hot dogs being grilled. There are cookies and chips ready to be eaten. There is rain, thunder, and now a bit of lightening.

The dignitaries began to arrive; Deputy City Managers, City Commissioners, and the Mayor. Kate was very excited by the Mayor’s arrival. Would meeting him hold up to the hype?

Kate met the Mayor who was dressed in a dignified grass skirt. After shaking Kate’s hand and a brief conversation the Mayor asked to be excused so he could cut the ribbon to officially open the pool. Kate grabbed the Mayor by the hand and said “first you need to see the pool with me”. As the crowd waited they surveyed the pool together and shared some conversation to which Sarah and I were not privy. I hope she asked that property taxes be lowered and historic homes preserved. Kate then allowed the mayor to return to his duties of cutting the ribbon. He graciously invited Kate to join him. First, she modestly declined not wanting to steal the lime light. Then she agreed. Meanwhile, Sarah flirted with the lifeguards.

Later, Kate was hobnobbing with the Mayor’s wife. I believe they were comparing proper princess attire. As they spoke I saw Kate gaze across the pool at the Mayor, who was discussing something with other City Staff members. She announced that she needed to go hug the Mayor. Off she went and gave the Mayor a hug.

Finally, they allowed the kids in the pool. They splashed. They giggled. They shivered and turned blue. Alas, the water in the pool was pumped from the well just that morning.

Sarah has no fear of the water and was among the group of the first children in the pool. Kate watched to make sure it was safe and then climbed in herself. Soon, Kate was venturing off into the deep water. They both had a blast. The sun finally cam out and it was a successful day! Finally, tired from all of her fun and fanfare, Kate sat down on her towel. Steve and I requested that she follow us into the dressing room to change out of her wet suit. Kate called to Peggy, the City Manager, and said “pick me up and carry me in there.” And she did.

Music Appreciation

I consider it my responsibility to imbue my children with, if not appreciation for, more than just passing familiarity with, every kind of music I can think of (except Irish folk music). There's just so much of it, you see, and I want to be sure they understand that all they music of their time is just building on everything that came before it. I expect to hear Kate sophmorically denounce songs she hears on the radio as derivative by the time she's 6.

Of course they both get plenty of classical music, especially at bed time because as everyone knows, Mozart makes babies smarter. I put my "Mozart at Midnight" CD on for them as they bed down and say "how about...a little night music?" (I don't speak German). They are forced to endure jazz on Sunday mornings because Jeremiah and I cannot give up our Sunday morning ritual of coffee and jazz and bacon. As yet, they don't complain; I think the bacon helps. Sarah seems to like Dexter Gordon.

Both girls love to dance to the Latin beats, too. Thank goodness for the latest works of Ry Cooter. Not that his earlier stuff wasn't great, too. We have them listening to a lot of Taj Mahal for their blues awareness, though.

Mainly these days, we're focusing on the rock greats. How embarrassed would we be if our kids couldn't readily identify the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin (etc.)? Very, that's how. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin seem the most kid-friendly to me. Actually, so do The Kinks. I find that XTC, Tom Waits and, of course, all They Might Be Giants is also excellent children's music.
When Kate was born I attempted to listen to The Beatles whenever I nursed her. Mostly because I wondered if I could cause her to feel both hungry and strangely comforted any time she heard a Beatles song later in life. This harmless yet amusing bit of conditioning might have worked but the kid just ate so frequently...I needed to change up the music. Still, she's taken a real liking to Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

This morning we got in the car en route to daycare. I asked what she'd like to listen to (Sarah is still too little to manage to voice her opinion in this arena, except that lately, she's been asking for the 1,2,3s). To my great delight and pride Kate sang out "Let's listen to The Beatles!" That, I thought, is my girl. With a warm heart I slid Sgt Pepper's in the player and made a mental note to explain to her why I think Revolver is a better album.

Let's all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born. Though she was born a long, long time ago. Your mother should know...your mother should know...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fun With the Camera Phone

Sarah "Bubbles" Drueke Gets the Stink Out

Kate Gets a Kid Sister From the Grocery Store

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jeremiah!

There he is, the man of the hour! My main squeeze. Doesn't he look wise? This morning I woke him with a kiss and pointed out a gray hair. He's lucky to have me. The girls presented him with the gifts they'd selected for him off his 12-page wishlist. Kate picked out the cards from both her and Sarah. The one from Kate has a beautiful fairy princess on it and talks about how glamorous the card's recipient is. She saw it and thought of her Daddy immediately. Then she picked out gift bags that play music. She played the gift bags over and over until I managed to wrench them free of her grasp and hide them.

We took the day off together to celebrate the anniversary of his birth. We took those kids we made together to daycare and headed out for some kid-free fun. Jeremiah wanted to see Iron Man which was fine, I wanted to see it too, but we really needed to enjoy at least some of the beautiful day outside. So, we biked to Atlantic Station and saw the movie there. We left early, stopped at the Flying Biscuit for breakfast on the way, and took a leisurely ride through town and Piedmont Park. When we left the movie it was about 3PM, and hot as Georgia asphalt. I know this, because we were on Georgia asphalt. Still, it was a lot of fun.

Later, while Jeremiah was grilling his own birthday meal, I set up the gift I built for him with my very own hands (and Steve's tools and...actually, a fair amount of help from Steve on those folding legs. But only because I am not to be trusted with a jigsaw). Here it is! It's a fabulous new grill table. Have grill table will travel - yes, it folds up and can be carried around by that handle you see there on the front. It's pure cedar! No additives. Yesterday it received a final sanding and was oiled. He seems pretty happy with it but I can tell he wishes I'd gotten him a gift card for iTunes.

Happy Birthday my love! I'm so very glad you were born.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Look Dad, No Holidays!

Memorial Day weekend. It looks to my coworkers like I'm really on vacation. I took off Friday and I took off tomorrow (because it's Jeremiah's birthday). But really, I've spent the past 4 days mostly just painting. The new bathroom, which we decided to paint a deep purple called "dewberry" took 3 of those days. I finally gave in and made Jeremiah roll out the rest of the rooms. It seems like such a tiny addition until you try to paint it.

Jeremiah and I are the Odd Couple of room painting and typically, I do all the painting because I'm a bit on the obsessive side. Very tidy. Very particular. And it's possible, very much a bossy pain in the neck. Jeremiah assumes that "painting a room" applies to the entire room and includes the person doing the painting and anything he might be standing on or around. And sometimes he leaves those noticeable splotches of space my Dad calls holidays.

I don't truck with holidays. And I'll tell you why. It's Dad's fault. Washing the car, painting a room or cleaning windows...if you carelessly left a spot undone he would point it out, taunt you loudly for doing "a halfass job" and then make you do the whole thing again. To this day I cannot even vacuum a room without moving every piece of furniture and vacuuming under it. I still take the cushions off the couch and vacuum those. I do not want to be made to do it all again before I can go outside and play with my friends. So it took me three days to paint the bathroom. holidays. And no holiday weekend, to speak of. The bedroom is mostly done, too, but it's color is so subtle you can't see it in the pictures. This is the best I could do:

Max dreams of escape.

The girls, meanwhile, got to hit the grand opening of the McKoy Park Pool on Friday with Aunt Jo Jo. Here are a couple shots of this fantastic pool and Kate actually swimming in it. This is something she will not come close to doing at the Y. We signed her up for "Gym & Swim" which is 30 minutes of gymnastics followed by 30 minutes of swim lessons. We quickly changed the name to "Gym and Refuse To Go Anywhere Near The Water". So, we are pleased with the new pool. We went back for an hour or so on Saturday. What? I needed a break from painting! Sheesh. More pictures of the grand opening are coming. Kate hobnobbed with the Mayor of Decatur and ended up getting to cut the ribbon. Joy is going to ask the city for the pictures.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Progress Report

Last night, as the storm clouds bearing more tornadoes loomed overhead and the tornado warning sirens at Agnes Scott blared unrelentingly, we grilled yet another dinner. Despite the threat of decimation and the fact that we were both pretty sick of grilling, we were in high spirits because as of last night, we had cabinets up in our kitchen (sans doors, those came today) and our bathroom was fully tiled.

Because the news claimed the storm system was weakening we opted to go ahead and put the kids to bed upstairs. This has been no small task since Sarah moved out of the crib. Sarah likes to wander for one thing. And I think she's a little afraid of her new bed, though she refuses to admit it. Monday night we went up to check on them only to find Sarah had climbed into Kate's bed and couldn't manage to climb back down. Last night I went to check on them at 9, expecting them to be passed out because all was quiet, and instead found them both in Sarah's bed. Kate was lounging under the star nightlight, reading. Sarah was sitting next to her sister, playing with one of those horrid talking toys.

(I fear the talking toys. They object when you neglect them. It's just creepy. Sarah's got this talking globe that sings (only one song) and when you ignore it for awhile the dang thing chirps "Hi there!" As far as I'm concerned, those toys should all just have Glenn Close's voice saying "I won't be ignored, Lisa". And this, Kate & Sarah, is why we can't have a pet bunny.)

Anyway. I was pretty surprised to find them thus. It was such a cute scene I couldn't be mad, though. I re-tucked them in, allowing Kate to remain in Sarah's bed, left the room and assumed eventually they'd pass out. An hour later when we checked again, this is what we saw:

Moving on. The past two days have been all about tiling the bathroom (the shower looks gorgeous but being entirely white subway tile, does not photograph especially well) and installing kitchen cabinets. Here's what it's looking like at present.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Doin' it fo the shoatiez

Last Thursday I completed a project at work that took 5 months of planning. It was, quite often, a gigantic pain in my hiney. I frequently wanted to throw myself out a window. Or I wanted to throw someone else out a window. Or I wanted to throw my computer out a window. There was a major threat of some sort of defenestration at any given moment.

On Thursday, all of my company's 23 offices, around 200 employees, closed up shop and everyone went out into the world to do a volunteer project. Well, we nearly closed shop, we had to keep the phones up and running all day. There were t-shirts and other stuff to be ordered and distributed and a blog to be kept. A project had to be found for each office and for Atlanta we needed several because there are 80 of us here. Oh, and rain plans to be made. By all accounts, it should have been way more fun than any of the other projects I worked on during the same period. Sometimes it was. Since it was my project, I had had the distinct pleasure of selecting one of the Atlanta projects. That meant I could do something in my own neighborhood of East Lake.

Eleven of us headed over to East Lake Park to build a portion of fence to create a barrier between the very busy Memorial Drive and the playground. It's a split rail fence, because they can't put a fence in there that will block the view into the park from the street by the police and neighborhood watch types. We worked so quickly that we not only built our portion of fence, but indeed, completed the entire fence and mulched the paths around the playground. I'd like to believe this is because I supplied the team with coffee from Kirkwood's Gather Grounds and biscuits from Candler Park's Flying Biscuit Cafe. The coffee run resulted in some half & half spilling on the floor of the CR-V. This is a smell we have still not managed to remove.

All last week the weather was stunning. Sunny and warm with a light breeze...dandelion fluff floating everywhere. Every day last week except Thursday. Thursday had an 80% chance of thunderstorms. I took it personally. But the rain held off until mid-day and by that time we were so committed to our fence that we just worked in it. We were all completely soaked by the time we finished. But it was a lot of fun. And from what I've been told, everyone else's project was, too. A couple projects had to reschedule for Friday (those sissies at the National Park Service didn't want volunteers out on the river in metal canoes with such a strong threat of lightning) but they had fun on Friday. And so, like childbirth, I already am only remembering the delightful end-product of a painful labor and would probably easily be tricked into doing it a second time.

Below is my team. I love them!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going minimalist

Well, the kitchen's gone. When I walked in the house after work on Monday they'd taken out all the cabinets and put them in the shed, in an impressive bit of packing, like some teen-age practical joke. I stood at the doorway and stared and all I could think was "if I'd seen this sight when I was a little girl, I'd already have my roller skates on."

Here's what the kitchen used to look like:And here's what it looks like right now:What on earth did we do with everything, you ask?

And here's Sarah conspiring with Lola to move to Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve's house:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Where's My Straightjacket?

Anxious to get some dollars out of our original estimate for the house project, we decided to do the interior painting ourselves. Last week as John was finishing up the trim work he mentioned we'd need to go ahead and get the walls primed and the ceiling painted as soon as possible. I have no idea in what fantasy world we were residing when doing this ourselves seemed like a good idea, much less remotely possible.

"Send in the painters" we flatly stated, defeated. In they came, a team of them with sprayers. They worked for about 4 hours on Saturday and when they left our addition looked like a mental institution. Not the look we were going for, but probably appropriate. Everything is stark white for the moment. Anything unable to move out of the way fast enough. They got the doors that hadn't been installed yet, event the attic door that's sitting on the porch right now. Even the floor is white. The box that contains one of our medicine cabinets that happens to be sitting in the bathroom is white. All the mosquito larvae growing in the shower where John's keeping water to be sure no leaks appear in the lining are white. I wondered hopefully if the paint chemicals might kill the mosquito babies. White, white, white.

At least Lola matches.

And Sarah's summer dress just pops!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bunking with Kate

For the first time, and sooner than I expected, Sarah slept in her new bed last night. Each night since we acquired the bunkbeds we've been reading stories while sitting in the lower bunk. But after showing a great enthusiasm for the space, Sarah would end up asking to go in her crib.

Last night we read several stories, lying on Sarah's bed. Kate lingered down there. Lola, banished by Kate from the bed, snuggled up to the side of the bed, keeping me from just rolling onto the floor. When I finally convinced the willful Kate, who lacks the understanding that she should simply do as she's told without argument, to get up in her bed, I asked Sarah where she wanted to sleep. She burrowed herself into the pillow and insisted on being tucked in. So I tucked her in and she immediately kicked off the sheet and insisted on being tucked in again. I feared this was another stalling game and said "that's it, kid, let's get in the crib" and she stopped squirming and stared at me. "Want kiss!" she said, puckering up and letting me know she was just about done with me for the night. So I distributed hugs and kisses and the evening's final answers to life's pressing questions. I walked out, blowing them each a kiss, and closed their door behind me. Then I went and sat down at the computer in the office down the hall to listen. Nothing.

When we checked on them a couple hours later, Sarah was on her shoulders and arms, butt up in the air in the familiar frog pose. Her stuffed dog on one side of her, a book opened on her other side. "Well, what do ya know..." I thought.

This morning they awoke at their usual 6:45 but instead of yells for mommy and daddy, we heard them playing together. It was glorious. We lazed in bed until 7:30; it felt like midday when we finally got up! Jeremiah and I went together to get them, because we both wanted to see the aftermath of the first night spent in a bed. The room had been trashed rock star style, but they were having fun. They'd discovered the finger puppet theatre from Aunt Jude and Uncle Kevin and were doing performances. Kate very much the director. Sarah takes direction poorly, I'm sure Kate will fire her soon. But for the time being they were happy.

Kate's all set to get that crib out of their room. I don't know why, but she talks about it a lot. I think I'm going to leave it there for a bit, just in case. And maybe a little bit because the sight of my two big girls sleeping in their bunkbeds is something I need to get used to incrementally.

All The Girls In The House, Playing In The Big, Empty Kitchen

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Survey Results

Yesterday I was banging around in the kitchen, getting ready for work. The ever-present sound of NPR provided background for my tasks. Sometimes I pay close attention to the news, sometimes I just like to have it on as white noise. Yesterday I was moving in and out of those two states. " over 22,000 confirmed dead in Myanmar...40% chance of afternoon showers...a new poll shows 43% of women would take a pay cut to spend more time with their children..." What? Nothing else on the poll. Just that. I instantly knew I fell into the other 57% but instead of recognizing that I am in the majority, I began to feel guilty.

Guilt is a major component of being a working mother (especially if we were raised Catholic). I think it might be slightly worse for those of us who truly want to work. I don't go to work because I have to pay the mortgage. I mean, I do, I couldn't afford to quit my job. But I go to work because I enjoy the process of work. It's not that I fail to see the myriad wonders parenting affords me, I know that I get as much if not more from my mothering as my kids do. But I look to work as my mode of personal development. I often wish I could linger a bit more at home, hanging out with the kids. And I sometimes get distracted from what I'm doing at my desk by adorable pictures Kate and Sarah. But there is no shred of my being that longs to be with them so much more that I would work for less.

I have no difficulty understanding parents who do want to quit working and raise their kids themselves. I'm just not wired that way. I have always known that. For years and years I thought it meant that I would be a bad mom and should therefore not have kids at all. I thought the fact that I was never baby-crazy was a tell. I thought I should like being pregnant (I hated being pregnant). All those things I thought, that I never quite lived up to, contribute to today's guilt.

I stared at the radio, thinking of the 43% and wondering if any of them lied on the survey. I thought there would be more results from that poll for them to present. I thought they might tell me what percentage of fathers would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids. As usual, though, it hadn't been a question.

Sunday, May 04, 2008