My online journal.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's hard being a grownup!

or...

You're Asking Too Much of Me.

I just can't keep up. There is not enough time in the world to complete all the tasks I am being asked to complete -- to research all the issues and all the concerns I have -- to implement all the advice and ideas and suggestions and recommendations that are being fired at me from every direction.

Today at ECFE I got a very nice yet very serious talking-to about how when I sit down to draw next to Lucy, and she asks me to "draw a princess" or "draw me" I should NOT draw those things for her, but only draw in the same manner she is capable of drawing. Essentially, scribbles and curves and the occasional almost-circle.

I get it. I get why I am being asked to do this. I get that she's going to think she "can't draw as well as Mommy can" and grow up to think she "can't draw," period, and that somehow that's going to screw her up for life.

But WHEN DO I GET TO DRAW?!?! What am I supposed to do, draw in secret and then hide all my drawings from the children so they don't think I'm holding them up to an impossible standard? Should I also never ever sing or dance with the children, lest they think they can't sing or dance as well as I can? Should I never take the kids to an art museum because it's going to ruin their self-confidence? Or is that OK, because I'm "leaving art to the professionals"? I am having serious problems with this and this is where I think there may have been some misunderstanding: Lucy was drawing her own picture, and I was drawing MY own picture. I wasn't drawing a picture for Lucy, so she could get out of drawing her own picture. I was drawing, and Lucy was drawing, and we were both making perfectly good drawings. I'm no Rembrandt. But I like to draw, so that's what we were doing. Together. And if she grows up and thinks she can't draw then that is something she is going to have to deal with on her own. I grew up, and when I draw something I can look at it and say "Yup, it actually does look like a house/dog/dolphin/cat/whatever. I am not the worst drawer ever." Because I overall think I'm good enough in this life. And I don't think sitting next to Lucy and scribbling, because she's at a developmental stage where she scribbles, is going to help her in any way realize that she's good enough. I have a lot of other ways I'm going to help her realize that she's good enough. Well, I hope.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Now that she's back in the atmosphere...

I have a seriously quick three seconds to blog while Will sleeps and my kids eat Second Breakfast:

Happy Tuesday! It's sooooo good to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own beds, eating our own foods! Oh how I missed our own foods. I missed my coffee-with-raw-sugar-and-half-and-half, and I missed my oatmeal-with-raisins-dates-and-walnuts with the dates and walnuts sliced just so with my very own kitchen shears. I missed my own pots and pans and my Peru coffee mugs and I missed my creaky floors and my own alarm clock and I especially missed being able to run around my own house without worrying about disturbing any downstairs neighbors. Though to be honest with you, there could very easily be a colony of hobos in my basement, and I would never know -- it's a bit cluttered down there yet.

As I type, Lucy and Ed are fighting over a box of cereal -- there is one stupid drawing of a fish on the back of it and they both want to press their noses up against it. I mean, honestly.

Happy Belated Birthdays to Alison and Nikki!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Recap before rehearsal

Best wishes to my friend Heather who, assuming all went to plan, delivered her new baby boy this morning. Welcome New Baby!

It's 2:50 PM on Thursday, and I am actually reasonably certain it's Thursday, and I am happy to say it also feels like 2:50 PM. I think the kids and I never quite adjusted to California time, because we have rolled right back into our old Minnesota schedules. Including Lucy awakening in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Which is odd, considering during the 10 nights of living with Jean and 7 nights of vacation, she got up in the middle of the night... exactly once the entire time. Go figure. Both kids are napping (Lucy's in my bed, where I'd been attempting-but-failing to nap myself). The contractor and his dude are in our kitchen -- and WE HAVE APPLIANCES, ladies and gentlemen! And I actually witnessed water coming out of my kitchen faucet. It's a Christmas miracle.

So what I didn't actually get to say when I was posting all those photos is, we had a wonderful time in California. We flew into LAX at 11PM last Wednesday, and the kids were champs on the flight (Lucy slept and Ed happily watched Lady & the Tramp). We rented our car and drove down to Lake Forest (about an hour) where our hotel room was waiting for us, along with a lovely gift bag from the Morrows. The room was perfect for us -- 2 queen beds set off from the living area by a pocket door. The hotel was sufficiently shabby to give it some character, but certainly clean enough to keep us all from breaking out in hives. And the free breakfast was eggy and crispy-hashbrowny and the coffee was strong and we were so happy for the sunshine and the shirtsleeves.

We drove over to Alison and her family's house and met her husband and daughter and let the kids play in the yard for a bit. Alison and I remarked that we hadn't seen each other but maybe 4 times since high school -- but she hadn't changed one iota (except for being about 30 weeks pregnant!) and I remembered why I became her friend in the first place: because she is funny and sweet and easy-going and for some reason I love her hand gestures.

The Morrows took us over to Alison's parents' house (her dad is Lee Strobel) and it was great to see her folks again. We went out to dinner and the next day we went to Laguna Beach where Lu and Ed and Joel and I frolicked in the sand like a bunch of total idiots. Ed chased seagulls and Lucy picked up all kinds of "bee-ful" shells and rocks.

On Friday night we drove down to La Jolla to stay at the Strobels' condo. In the next couple of days we went to the San Diego Zoo (a really beautiful zoo with reasonable kids-lunch-package deals), Legoland (a surprisingly fun if unbelievably dirty kiddie amusement park -- Lucy LOVED the rides, got to drive her own car, and only hit her limit on a roller coaster that was a little thriling even for me: midway through the ride Lucy says, "Mommy I have to tell you something" and I said "OK what?" (Mind you we are zipping aroundandabout on this thing) "Is this ride for kids? I don't really like it."), and the beach (Carol, we did find the seals at the last possible moment before we were leaving! They were awesome!!).

This morning as the kids were eating their delivered Jimmy Johns, Lucy asked why mommies have babies instead of daddies. I said that mommies have a special place inside, next to their tummies, called a uterus, that's just for making babies, and daddies don't have one. I asked if that made sense, and she nodded and said "Yes!" and then she thought for a moment before asking, "Do I have a uterus?" I assured her she did.

But hooo, boy, there's trouble on the horizon. For ME.

PS! Next week I start taking care of my friend Tricia's little boy during the day. So, pretty much, there will be no more blogging. ;) Until I get my act together.

The kitchen


Ok, so the first three are taken from the doorway that goes from the living room into the kitchen. In the first pic you can see the hole where the dishwasher will go.

Here's the hole where the fridge is going... as well as my new little "to-go" desk.

Here's the desk again as well as the large hole for the new back door.

This is our new dinig room! AKA Ed's former bedroom. This photo was taken from just inside the new back door.

This is also taken from inside the new back door. The island's countertops aren't done yet; the big hole in the island is for the stove.

Home again, if this is what one calls "home"

I think I'm getting a headache.

We're home!

Our new cabinets are gorgeous. Looking forward to acquiring some appliances between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM today. Looking forward even more to having the hot water turned back on... and to figuring out what the heck happened to our home phone line.

I have no idea how I'm going to feed the kids lunch today. Here's what we have in the house for food:
1 small ziploc bag of pretzels
1/2 loaf whole wheat bread
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait Passionfruit yogurt
3/4 gallon milk
3 cans Coors Light
1 bottle (16 oz) grape syrup

...Wait, Jimmy John's delivers, right?? YESS!






Alison and me, in her folks' backyard



Abby and Lu, putting around


Joel and Ed on Laguna Beach



Ed finds a kindred spirit


In happier times


Ed chasing a pigeon. "Umback eeer!"


On a beach in LaJolla


Friday, January 11, 2008

Hangin' tough

Hey everybody! I'm so sorry, I don't even know what day it is. I had to sign something for the kids yesterday and I went to date it and couldn't even guess the date. The computer is telling me it's the 11th so I'm guessing that must be accurate within one or two days... right?

The first couple dance rehearsals for High School Musical went pretty well -- maybe even great! I am only a little behind where the director wants me to be as far as finishing all the dances in Act I before I go on vacation. I am having SO much fun with the kids; we worked on some partner-stunting activities last night (flips, lifts, double-cartwheels, etc.) and laughed a lot. And I'm really pleased with how the dances are coming out visually. It's hard with such a large cast (41 kids!) to make sure everyone gets a chance to try everything. And by "hard" I mean "impossible." There are almost twice as many girls as boys (of course -- welcome to theatre), so the girls who are not extremely vocal and outgoing often kind of sift toward the back wall and disappear. I regret that, but I know that they will have to learn to stand up for themselves. I remember learning the same thing in high school -- if you hang out in the back for rehearsals, you will wind up in the back for the performances.

Speaking of which, if you would like to buy advance tickets for High School Musical at a nice discount, please email me and I'll set you up with the info. Tix go on sale to the general public on Jan 17 (next Thursday) via www.ashlandproductions.com.

The kids and I are still at Jean's. Joel has been working like a white-mouthed Mississippi mule at the house -- Joel saw Ed awake-and-not-strapped-into-a-car-seat for the first time in 5 days this morning. The walls are still torn out but the sheetrock/drywall is going up as I type. We have our new back door framed in, and the electricity is all set to have walls put up around it. I swung by the other day and saw the little blue boxes where my new outlets are going to go (you may remember that I had been running an entire kitchen on ONE functional outlet) and I got a little misty. And, living at Jean's, I've been getting quite used to having a dishwasher and let me tell you, having my own is going to make me a very happy woman.

Ed's had kind of a nasty cold all week (which didn't preclude us from taking him to ECFE; my apologies to the other kids, but seriously I had to get out of the house) and Lucy has taken an vow to wear her big blue pretty dress for five days. And nights, since she's worn it to bed the last two nights. We're on Day Three. It's got a giant hole torn in the lining but for love or money I cannot get her to take it off.

Jean's in Chicago for the weekend. I was going to take the kids, too, but at almost the last possible moment a broken-hearted-sounding Joel called to say he was finishing his chores at the house and if we could just not get on the plane he could spend almost the whole weekend with us as a family.

I'm taking a Day of Rest here at Jean's... the kids are parked in front of Sesame Street and I'm going to try to organize some of our personal flotsam and jetsom. Is that how you spell that?

Monday, January 07, 2008

A series of mini-vacations

That's how Jean has summed up the Life of Gronau in January, 2008. Here's a more accurate description:
Hobos!
Transients!
Vagabonds!

Saturday morning I piled up the kids and drove up to Oak Grove where Becky and Adam were housesitting for Adam's sister's family's gorgeous abode. We sledded (I hope Beck will post pix, it was hilarious!) and napped (well, the kids) and I choreographed while Becky made homemade Buca-di-Beppo (AKA "Becky-di-Beppo). The Dalys and Mathews arrived later and we drank, dined, and delighted in each other and in our adorable progeny. Joel, meanwhile, tore out the north and west walls of our kitchen, right on down to the 60-year-old studs (I'm going to get some oldie-porn hits for that, I'm sure) and insulation.

Joel drove up later and we Gronaus spent the night, overstaying our welcome in the morning and skipping church. When we got back to our house around noon, it quickly became apparent that we couldn't hang out there much longer -- with the basement as the only dust-free place, we decided I should take the kids over to Jean's house.

Which I did! And here we are. The weird thing about being here is that when Jean's at work and the kids are napping (as they are, bless their poor little homeless hearts), I am bored senseless. There's no laundry, no dishes, and no cooking (I toted over the entire contents of our fridge, since our fridge's circuit was busted in the demo). Jean has a lot of reading material on hand, fortunately. I started reading "Princess Bride" again -- awesome book.

Soooo... here we sit. Oh! Lucy started her new tumbling class this morning. Super-cute, though Ed was devastated that he couldn't join in. You should email me, or comment, or something. 'Cuz it's a little lonely.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Head on the table, I like shirt

Today one of the teachers in Lucy's room caught me after class and said, "Your daughter is a riot." This was not news to me. But apparently today they were pouring out juice for the kids, and the pitcher was getting kind of low and some of the kids were starting to clamber to make sure they got their juice before it ran out. Lucy sat back and said: "There's a lot of juice. I'm not going to worry about it."

We tried Alison's "Island" idea with Lu yesterday during naptime and it worked out all right -- she spent about 45 minutes playing alone in the basement, then she came upstairs and delivered the address from yesterday's post, and then she went back down and snuggled in on the couch to watch "High School Musical" and fell right asleep for about an hour and a half. See, this is what gets me: she does still need a nap sometimes. Today she actually requested "The Island" so she's in the basement again. So far, not so bad. Although she did just come upstairs to go potty, and I reminded her there was actually a potty in the basement. She atragott.

Lucy has written a song.
Head on the table, meat and cheese.
Head on the table, pen and cup.
Head on the table, I like sleeves.
Head on the table, chair and hot.

So, Mozart she ain't. But it sort of rhymes... sort of. And it's kinda taken on new life in our house as a mild expletive: Ed spilled his milk again?! Head on the table!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reasons why she can't go downstairs and have some quiet time while Mommy cleans up the kitchen

"For one, I have to get a drink of water.
For two, I have to work on my computer.
For three, I don't really know what's going on.
For four, I don't have any work to do.
For thirty-nine, I have to go somewhere."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I can't remember... is this "normal"?



Happy New Year everybody! Welcome to Chaos in the Gronau home. It's de- and con- struction season!

Last week we moved Ed out of his beloved old bedroom and in with Lucy. Nights have been going great -- they have been singing each other to sleep, and then sleeping well. Naptime is another story; Lucy is eschewing naps almost entirely and Ed has been suffering the consequences. It's going to be fine as soon as I can figure out what on earth to DO with Lu for three hours in the afternoon, while I try to make dinner, do laundry, sip tea and whatnot. But really, the nights have been a breeze. For the most part.

Lucy: "Let me tell you a story about sleeping."

Me: "OK, go ahead."

Lucy: "Eddie said 'Mama, Mama, Daddy.' And I went to sleep. But I don't think he stopped."

Joel took up our generic-Pergo kitchen floor on Friday or maybe it was Saturday. He started horking into it during breakfast, and I asked, "Is this really the best time to be doing this?" since the kids and I had just sat down to our cereal/"See-YO!".

Joel paused with crowbar and hammer in hand.

Lucy took a beat to look at Joel. Then a beat to look back at me. "Mommy, I think you're right," she said. "But I think he's going to do it anyway."

Sunday, Joel dropped the kids off with his parents and then we started knocking down the kitchen wall, with assistance from the Lovely and Talented Jean.
And old-but-serviceable "before" shot of the wall.

Joel, with the wall halfway down.

Monday we cleaned up a bit and then went skiing with the Alleys at Afton Alps. I really love to ski and wish we could do it more than once a year. We rang in 2008 at the chalet with one very modest plastic glass of champagne, wolfed down the First Mini-Tacos of 2008, and were home in bed by 1:30. A low-key NYE but just perfect. No skiing injuries either, which is a double-bonus and I think Joel had only one wipeout, on the first run of the night (that is unless you count the multiple times he and Alley Joel got tangled up in each other while dismounting the chair lift. Alley Joel on a snowboard is dangerous and hilarious).

The wall all cleared out. The plastic makes it hard to visualize. Recognize that floor?

Today, we mopped sheetrock-dust out of the kitchen all morning until the Gronaus dropped off the kids around 1PM. Joel goes back to work tomorrow for the first time in what seems like a month. We slowly swing back into our regularly scheduled activities... I still have a mostly-functioning kitchen (for the next few days, anyway -- the cabinets and sheetrock are going away this coming Saturday) and we leave on vacation in just over 2 weeks! Yikes!

Blogging will be light for the next several weeks because the kids and I are going to move in with Jean next week while some of the electrical work gets done. Also, the demise of Lucy's napping is going to cut into my computer time. Also, I have to get my choreography/curriculum done for these dance classes I'm allegedly teaching for St Paul Parks and Rec, even though I can't find any sign of them online. Frustrating!

Anyway, some pix from the end of 2007:

The happiest Grampa.


Mmmm, coconut cake batter!


Sweet kids.