anyway, my parents play it constantly; mom buys sudoku game books in japan & dad copies the daily sudoku from the la times. it's an activity (like golf and mahjong) that my parents can enjoy together but (unlike golf and mahjong) they don't really have to talk to each other. everyone wins!
i resisted playing for some unknown reason, but lately i've played a game here and there (especially after i found the link to web sudoku from grudge girl's blog) and i can see how people get addicted. i personally like the web version because it lets you check your answers as you go along and it's easier to "erase" your mistakes. basically, it's less frustrating.
last night after dinner at my parent's house, they were settling in for another evening of sudoku. the boy shows some interest (because he loves numbers) and my dad basically pounces on this opportunity to teach the boy how to play. not surprisingly, the boy catches on quickly and we all comment on how he's smarter than my sister (who happens to be 21). well, we were just sort of kidding since the boy still requires a bit of help to complete the game and my sister did, eventually, catch on. [A, if you're reading this, i'm just kidding -- i swear!]
today, after school, i sit down with the boy to play web sudoku on the easy level. it takes a bit longer to play with him because we talk through each step, but he totally gets the logic behind the game. for the most part he figured it out on his own. i wouldn't be surprised if he could do the easy ones without help in no time if he keeps this up.
so, parents out there -- if you have a kid interested in numbers or logic games, i highly recommend sudoku! sure, it sounds nerdy but i'm confident it will come in handy in the future ... somehow.
early this morning i was sort of asleep, but i was also aware that i was dreaming and what i was seeing wasn't real. i was on an incredibly high bridge over a river. i had my legs dangling over the side, looking either way to see how wide the river was. in the background, someone who sounded like ord from "dragon tales" (a pbs cartoon), was saying that he had a friend who jumped off this bridge for fun. immediately to my right, i see my son (who can't swim) standing on the ledge of the bridge. "i can do it, too," he says. and before i can say anything, he lets go and i watch in silence as his little body falls and falls and falls. the bridge is so high. the longer i watch the more uneasy my legs feel, like they're going to give out from under me, even though in reality i'm lying in my bed. my eyes open before he hits the water.
i hate dreams like this one, but i wasn't too shaken up. i even went to the bathroom before checking up on the boy. i always do after a bad dream. i looked at his sleeping face and the calm i felt before vanished. just the thought of something happening to him, even in a dream, made me cry. if anything were to happen to my baby (as i still think of him sometimes) i would be devastated. that was the only word i could think of: devastated. so i stood there and just watched him sleep for a couple of minutes, trying to get a grip.
i realize that my pregnancy hormones are making me a bit more emotional than usual, but i had a hard time falling asleep after that. i lay in bed, thinking about how much my little boy means to me. even though i don't pay attention to him all the time and i go around doing my own thing, he really is number one in my life.
i haven't felt anything remotely similar to that with the girl in my belly. of course, i want to protect her and love her, but i don't yet know her. and, because of that, i'm not sure if i can shed tears for her the way i have for the boy. that's not to say i won't eventually feel the same way about both my children, but the boy has five years on the girl. five years of being an only child and being the sole light of my life. (JR is an entirely different kind of love, so i don't count him here.) i wonder if that will make a difference ...
this last weekend JR cleared out more space in the garage to start setting up my new craft area. i don't want to be in the garage, but i have so much stuff there's really no other alternative (short of buying a new house with an extra bedroom). i also started moving some of my scrapbooking stuff into the living room area. my craft room is coming apart.
the picture shows just one corner of the incredibly messy room in its current state. there used to be a big desk between the overflowing table and bookshelves under the window. the brackets on the wall once held yellow shelves with a light green pegboard underneath. and that's just a few of the big things that have been moved out of the craft room. there's still so much more that needs to be done.
it makes me sad walking into the room as it is now. i don't know what to do with myself when i come in here. it used to be that i'd come in and plop myself down at my desk, whether to craft or read. i can't do that anymore and it makes me sad.
i should be incredibly excited and happy about creating a space for my daughter but, honestly, i haven't yet reached that emotional point yet. am i a selfish mother? probably. but that's the honest truth right now. we'll have to see how things change as we finish moving things out and really start redecorating.
my first treasure is something i probably won't be able to get rid of for awhile longer. it was a gift from my maternal grandmother when i started playing the violin back when i was 11 or so. it's a small figurine made out of wood (i think), measuring 3-1/2 inches tall. it used to sit on top of the upright piano in my parents' living room and it looked down on me as i practiced the violin everyday.
i loved my obaa-chan ('grandma' in japanese) so much. she lived in kobe and i visited her every summer from the age of three until i was a sophomore in high school. i spent at least 2 months out of the year with her and my ojii-chan (grandpa). and i visited them numerous times after that. needless to say, i was very close to them. they also spoiled me rotten because i was their first grandchild and i lived so far away. but that doesn't mean they didn't help to raise me properly -- they scolded me when i was bad, praised me when i accomplished something, comforted me when i cried, and taught me so much.
i think my obaa-chan gave me this angel so that she could watch over me, cheesy as that sounds. i know she loved me and wanted to be there for me always. but the distance kept us apart for most of the year, and i think she gave me stuff so that i would have reminders of her everywhere i looked.
and i can't say that, as a child, i understood or appreciated that very much. as you can see from the picture, the angel's fingers are broken, the bow is missing, and the violin neck broke off. it fell off the piano countless times and it never hurt me when a part of the angel broke. it was like, "oh, well." and that was it. it had no emotional meaning to me. but now i look at it and i always think of my obaa-chan and how much we loved each other.
my obaa-chan passed away after a long battle with cancer when i was a junior in college. i miss her so much, and my mom and i talk about how sad it is that she never got to meet her great-grandson. she would've loved him so much ...
[side note 1: as much as i love my obaa-chan, she was a crazy lady. no question about that. in fact, from what my mom tells me, she was probably a pretty crappy mother. but there's something about a grandchild that changes a person, i think (i see that with my mom, too). and she continues to be an incredibly special person to me. she taught me how to eat corn on the cob, but that's another story for another day.]
[side note 2: i don't really see the angel as a reminder of my violin playing days. i sucked at playing the violin ... and the piano, for that matter. i'm just not musically inclined, i guess. i played the violin for five years and i was horrible. i never learned the scales, all of the pieces sounded scratchy, and it was, honestly, a huge waste of time. my poor parents shelled out lots of money they really didn't have so i could have private lessons and i appreciate that. my mom drove me every week to my lessons, endured the horrible sounds coming from that instrument, listened to my lying ("uh, sure i practiced."), and had to pay money for the wonderful experience! sorry mom & dad. but at least i appreciate listening to good music!]
the boy's book fair, in contrast, is basically taken care of by scholastic, inc. and all i had to do was get some volunteers and advertise the event. but having never done a scholastic book fair and being new to the school i was a little lost. but with some great help (thanks barbara!) and a few sleepless nights just worrying about it, the event was pretty successful (we made more money than the last book fair -- something i was extremely worried about accomplishing) and i managed to implement a couple of new things. so, i feel i've done my share of pta volunteering for at least the first half of the school year. yea!
unfortunately, while i worked on the book fair, i managed to neglect all of the housework and the kitchen has, once again, fallen into a state of disrepair. i just don't understand why i can't, at least, manage to do the dishes everyday. well, actually, i know the answer to that mystery: my pregnant stomach does not allow me to comfortably stand in front of the sink without straining my back. yesterday my doctor said i should delegate that task to someone else, which made me very happy. one less thing for me to do!
instead of doing dishes i should be doing something else ... what should i do? i think i'll spend the rest of the afternoon thinking about it and taking a nap. sounds good to me!
what's more annoying is that people in los angeles just don't know how to drive in the rain. i don't know if you can even call it "rain" -- they don't know how to drive when the ground is even slightly wet! i live on a fairly busy intersection of our residential neighborhood and all morning long i've been listening to people's tires slipping on the road. coming home from the supermarket i saw a lady (in a suv -- surprise!) totally drive into the hedges of the median while trying to turn a corner. do these people not know to slow down when the road's slick?!
i'm sure if i turn the news on they'll have "storm watch '05" going all day long. ha! storm?? talk about la people being drama queens!
and, what am i doing up at 3am, you ask? do you even need to ask a pregnant woman why she's up at 3am?!
well, i'm down to 7 more weeks before unleashing this child into the world. things are getting a bit more uncomfortable:
my stomach sticks out more. i appear to be carrying more in the front than all around my hips and butt. JR attributes this to being my second pregnancy and my hips have already done all the expanding they needed to do during pregnancy #1. others have said it's because it's a girl this time.
bending over is out of the question, which means i can't: put on real shoes; cut my toenails; wipe very well after going potty; pick up things off the floor; get into the car very well.
i'm constantly pulling up my pants. what is up with these newer under-the-belly maternity pants?! slowly but surely they start falling down. the old-school maternity pants with the stretchy panel across the entire belly always stayed up, even if they looked funky. now i always feel like i'm exposing my butt crack to the entire world.
either i sleep too much or i can't sleep at all. some nights/days i'm so tired i'll get lots of sleep. other nights i get up at odd hours, tossing and turning, having to go pee, or battling a raging runny nose.
my nose is always congested. every night poor JR has to suffer the resulting snoring and/or sneezing/nose blowing.
braxton-hicks contractions are a part of everyday life. my lower stomach tightens up at least 2 or 3 times a day. and my pelvic bone always hurts (this isn't a new development, though).
but according to my online pregnancy calendar the baby should start moving less in my stomach because she's getting bigger and has less room to move around. so far she has shown absolutely no sign of calming down. great.
it wasn't long before i remembered one of the reasons why i called the plumber in the first place -- that dang phantom flushing. it started up again ... with a vengeance. i didn't notice it too much at first, but at 6:30 this morning it was going off every minute for about 5~10 seconds. over and over and over and over again. JR got up cursing and just turned the water off. after we were a bit more conscious he started tinkering with the flap and chains inside the tank (as per "ask this old house" on pbs) but nothing worked. so we headed out to home depot this morning and got a new flapper. of course, in the end, it was just a screw that needed to be tightened. at least, i hope that's all it is. so i'm keeping my fingers crossed -- i haven't heard the phantom flushing in about 2 hours now.
it's not that he didn't keep trying, but he was hesitant when he got close to the ball. his step slowed down the closer he got to the action and he was teary-eyed between periods, telling JR he was nervous. but he played through it and managed to nudge the ball around a couple of times. but clearly, this was not as great a game as last week.
the opposing team (we'll call them TT) was good, and they scored more goals, but something seemed amiss with one of their players. i have to admit i may be biased because we were playing against them, but this kid was playing kinda dirty. our team has younger, and therefore, smaller kids. that also means they're not as good, coordinated or skilled. but we have one player, #8, who has great foot work, kicking ability, and knowledge of the game (for someone his age). #8 had the ball when the TT player kicked him in the shin and tripped him, hard. from our standpoint it totally looked intentional but nothing was done. later in the game, something similar happened. neither the TT coach nor the referee said anything to the kid. but the TT coach was pretty vocal about strategy and telling his players where to be and what to do. it was like good sportsmanship and enjoying the game wasn't as important as getting the ball and scoring. now, i could totally be wrong -- maybe it was an accident, or maybe the coach had words with the kid. i honestly don't know. and, you'd hope that a 6-year-old wasn't being taught that it was okay to play rough and trip opponents. all i can say is that something about today's game made me a bit disillusioned. (it also didn't help that both my parents and my mil were in the background making silly comments through the entire game!)
JR was kinda pissed off about it and when we got home he said, "i hope i don't turn into one of those intense parents." but if there's poor sportsmanship and unnecessary roughness (especially at this young age), i don't think it's "intense" or going overboard to be concerned. i really believe that parents and adults are responsible for guiding children to understand what the point of the game is. if all that's going to be emphasized is winning at any cost, then i know what my position will be when next season starts.
the boy's final comments on today's game: "part way through the game i just wished we had halftime ten times!"
edited at 8:16pm: after the boy woke up from his nap we asked him how he felt about the game. he didn't seem overly phased by what happened and said it was a pretty good game. i guess my kid is more resilient than his over-protective mama ... and a good nap can fix almost anything!
edited the next day: the more i think about it, the more upset i am about those boys snickering at my son. i was so close to scolding them right then and there but i needed to make sure the boy was okay. what bothers me more is that the boy heard their laughing too because he later told JR the other team was teasing him. when i heard that, it really tugged at my heart and i wished there was something i could say or do to make those kids apologize. and it makes me so sad to see little kids with no empathy. JR must've still been thinking about it too because, this morning in bed, he said the TT team is kinda like the mean, bad team in all sports movies. i feel kinda bad talking about little 6-year-olds like this, but it's so natural to go into defensive mode when you know your kid has been hurt. such is the life of a parent.
i spent a bundle to get the floor fixed and have the new linoleum installed, but at this point, i don't care. i just want the "bathroom project" done. the boy is also excited to have his toilet back.
i hope we don't have any more "projects" (i.e., calling a professional) to do around the house ... i'm just not handy, patient, knowledgeable, or rich enough.
the last three septembers i started in different capacities as a staff member at a local elementary school, which gave me a totally new and different perspective on school life. i expect this year to be a similar experience.
so, this morning, i headed off to the boy's classroom to volunteer. the moment i stepped into the classroom i could feel myself switching into "teacher mode." i'm not sure if that's good or bad yet. i'm not nervous around the kids -- i definitely know how to hold myself as an authoritative, but comforting, figure (because i'm an elementary substitute teacher). and i must say that i'm an efficient volunteer (from my experience being an instructional assistant). i'm just afraid that i'll step out of line and do something too "teacher-ish." not taking over the class, by any means, but doing something that's always worked for me, but may not be the way the teacher does it. so i have to watch myself.
i thoroughly enjoyed being in the classroom again -- more than i thought i would, in fact -- and seeing all of those excited and eager little faces i couldn't help but smile myself. and i love seeing my little guy do so well in class: his handwriting is neat, he sits quietly, answers questions, and really understood the point the teacher (mrs. R) was trying to make after reading a book. clearly, my boy is smart, but i'm gonna go ahead and give myself a pat on the back, too! anyhoo, i could go on and on about how great my kid is, but i won't bore you with the details. instead, please enjoy some art by the boy who absolutely loves little birds/chicks/ducklings. (peckie is the blue one on the left, and robin red is the one on the right.)
a little story from school today: i stepped out of the classroom during recess to go to the office. the class returned before i did and were wondering where i had gone. the boy proceeds to tell his teacher, "mrs. R, my mom's pregnant so she has to go to the bathroom A LOT!" thanks for sharing, little buddy!
but since i started thinking about decluttering and becoming more organized, i started keeping a to do list on my desk. it's starting to grow on me -- write the list in blue, check off in red, write the list in blue, check off in red. i'm beginning to understand the thrill JR feels when he gets to check something off his list.
but is it considered cheating if i do something first, then write it on the list and check it off? it makes me feel like i've accomplished more if i have more red checkmarks, especially on those days when i haven't actually done anything on the list.
let me first say that my son is a patient, fairly meticulous, conscientious child, bordering on perfectionist. it's kind of unusual, and slightly worrisome, for a kid his age. i know this to be too true because i've always been that way too, in many ways. my mother raised me to do the best work i can do, in a neat and proper way. that lesson, combined with my overly ambitious goal to be as perfect as possible to please everyone, resulted in me ending up the way i have (i.e., screwy, slightly obsessive compulsive, neurotic about weird things, eager to please, etc.). and even though i know it's not a healthy way for young children to behave, i've passed this along to my son.
as a result, it appears my son takes forever to pack up at the end of the day, thereby holding up the rest of the class. the teacher said that he puts each piece of paper into his folder one by one and packs up very carefully, trying to be perfect and orderly, despite her requests to hurry it along. i told her i would talk to the boy, which i did after we got home. i even plan to have him practice packing up quickly (i already showed him how to more efficiently put papers into his folder) before tomorrow. but what else can i do?
my son is who he is. his meticulousness is just "how he was made" (as the boy would say). it is, of course, important that he learn to function within the confines of school and society by working within the timeframe given to him. but one thing i'm proud of as a parent is that i've taught him to do as much as possible on his own, even if that means he takes his time. i feel like that lesson is being tossed out the window, albeit gently. and it's always hard to hear criticism of your child, even if it's something minor like he doesn't pack up quickly enough.
i know that because i've talked to the boy about it, he'll do his best to be quicker and still pack up neatly. he'll try hard to please me and do what his teacher asks of him. that's part of his sensitive nature. i just hope that it doesn't add unneeded "pressure" on him and make him neurotic at the tender age of 5 ...
the under-6 league for ayso is pretty casual … or so i was told. the kids don’t have practices during the week (just 20 minutes before the game), they don’t keep score (“everyone’s a winner!”), the quarters are only 5 minutes long, everyone plays, there’s no goalie, that kind of thing. that’s perfect for the boy because he’s small for his age and not the most coordinated of kids (he does, after all, take after me) – he does have heart, though, and it was clear that he was excited about playing soccer.
a couple of weeks ago the team got together to kick the ball around and do some drills. it was cute. it was nice. it only took 30 minutes. i thought, “this is great! the boy’s having fun, getting exercise, and learning teamwork.” but then we had a meeting with the parents. this is when i got a funny feeling that perhaps i was getting myself into something more involved than i had imagined. the idea of a team banner was mentioned at our first meeting. JR and i really didn’t care about having a banner; we just weren't thrilled about shelling out more money, but whatever. i guess you can't argue with all the other parents who emphatically said, "we have to have a banner." we have to? apparently, we do. because, you know, in case our 4~6 year old boys end up in the championship or something, it'd be shameful if we didn't have a banner. [sarcasm here]
well, silly us, we clearly didn’t understand the soccer culture because almost every team in the under-10 leagues had a banner at the opening ceremonies on friday. our area, apparently, is one of the largest regions with over 140 teams. we sat through a parade of every single team and looked at all the pretty banners. and, to be honest, i was glad the boy’s team had a banner … or else it would make us look like we didn’t care enough.
then the big day came: the team’s first game. we got to the field a little early for practice. i have to say it again – it’s so cute to see these little guys running to kick the ball, sometimes making it, sometimes missing, but always trying. plus, their uniforms are too big so they’re running around in baggy shorts and shirts, which makes them look even smaller. so, i'm all smiles watching my son trying his best. and then, just before the game, during the team huddle, we could hear from the sidelines the coach asking, “are we ready?” the kids yelled back, “yeah!” and then, get this, the coach asks, “are we gonna win?” “yeah!!” win?? i thought there was no winning. and JR said the coach never asked the kids if they were just going to go out there and have fun. hmm ...
the game started and it was more exciting than i thought it would be. there was a bit of sideline coaching by the parents, but for the most part we just yelled and cheered to encourage the boys to keep trying. and in the case of my boy, to make sure he was still paying attention towards the end of the game. there are a couple of pretty good players on his team so the boy only touched the ball a few times, but he did manage to kick the ball between an opponent's legs. my mom (the little asian lady) totally got into it and was yelling through much of the game, which JR thought was amusing.
in the end, the kids did have fun and our team did win (5-0) even though we aren't supposed to care about that. but, of course, the only thing the boy wanted to talk about to people afterwards was how his team won. not surprising, huh?
JR and i just dropped off the little guy for his first day of kindergarten. i have mixed feelings, but nothing too overwhelming (more on that in a later post). i think the kid was pretty okay about the whole thing, too. until he saw that we followed him into the classroom ... that's when he got a bit teary-eyed, which in turn made some of the other moms teary-eyed. oops. but he got over it pretty quick, and i know that by the end of the week he'll be totally fine.
the thing with kinder is that it's shorter than preschool. in the last three years, he was in school longer each day than he will be in kinder. that's a problem for me -- it clearly doesn't give me enough "alone time." especially after the girl arrives in november, 3 hours and 50 minutes each day is not going to be enough time to do my thing and some housework. what'a girl to do?
anyway, this morning has not been as emotional as i thought it would be. it's just the start of a new routine that'll last 13 more years (for the boy) and a lot longer for me (what with the girl being 5 years younger).
that's actually what he said. how in the world did i end up marrying him?!
as i sit here in the office writing this, the boy is in the living room entertaining himself out loud. at first, he was making up rhyming words -- one of his favorite alone-time activities after doing math problems (seriously) -- but now he's acting out some sort of story he's made up. it's always a hoot to secretly listen in on him while he's in make-believe-land. a small snippet of his story went like this:
guy 1: knock, knock
guy 2: who is it?
guy 1: it's tony hawk
guy 2: tony hawk?! i totally love you! [as in: you're the best!]
and then he proceeded to fling himself around on the couch as if he were skateboarding and crashing.
that was followed by this:
guy 1: let's bake betty crockers.
guy 2: i thought you didn't like betty crockers.
guy 1: that doesn't mean i don't know how to bake betty crockers.
where does he come up with this stuff?!
i gotta hand it to him, though, he's very good at entertaining himself. it's from years of training (i.e., neglect) by me, i guess. but, as a good enough parent, let me explain: it's quite important that parents realize children do not need constant stimulation and entertaining by their parents. not only is it crucial that kids learn to keep themselves occupied, but it's important for parents to not kill themselves trying to come up with more ways to stimulate and "smarten up" their kids. sometimes kids just need to be kids and do the crazy things they do.
of the boy's 3-year stint in preschool(s) ...
of the toilet being in the backyard ... not quite --> unfortunately, i didn't get the floor guy to do what the plumber needed him to do so the toilet can be properly screwed back into the floor. the toilet continues to sit -- sad and lonely -- in the backyard. i did give it a good scrub this morning to let it know we still thought about it. (that, and it's a $500 toilet.)