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2002-10-24 - 11:28 a.m.

It is quiet now as the infant is sleeping, youngest toddler is watching Barney. The older toddler is off running errands with Daddy. They are heading to Lowes to meet with their kitchen design people to see how their work pans out compared to the work of the "Custom Kitchen Designs" place we visited a few weeks ago where we learned that a decked out kitchen costs on AVG $40,000 through them! Considering our kitchen in more than half the size of the average space, and we want TWO cooking areas with cabinets-- that was a good indicator that the other option of doing it all ourselves may become more and more appealing! We have been re-designing our kitchen by ourselves for a year now. In that time we have gutted a pantry, installed a new gas line (with the help of the gas company), installed new plumbing (with the help of a plumber), installed new electrical by ourselves, and put up dry wall and re-built the floor under the former pantry area. WE are at the phase where we are ready to paint and intall new cabinets. The big question we have been debating is whether to leave the existing cabinets and just match them, or to get all new ones, or merely change the doors on them so they have a makeover. WE decided that before we go ahead and finish the project, we'd get some input from pros and see if they come up with something we like better than our design. I personally think that at this point we might end up going with the plan we have- though we won't see the designers work until next week. The designer does not charge for the design work, I guess because its worth the gamble for her. If we love her work then we will buy cabinets through her and she'll make a huge profit. The cabinets she sells are top of the line which we can't get at Lowes or Home Depot. If we are not crazy about it we'll just do our own thing over the next year! One reason to go with the pros was that Westley was starting to get sick of this project and just wants it done. A pro will be faster! They have contacts for contractors who do the installation. I think Westley is anxious to move onto the next phase of our rennovation. Basically, since we have not found a builder yet, he has resigned to doing it ourselves. I'm Ok with this as I think its rather cook to learn how to do all this stuff. Quite fascinating to me as I came from a family in which the only time I can recall seeing tools used was when Dad put together bikes at Christmas time. I have a fond memory of my friend Barbie from college coming to NYC as she had some work with Elite as a fashion model. My blond Barbie girl was under the car giving assistance to my brothers in changing oil as they were challenged by that and she was an old pro having grown up with clunkers when she was fortunate to have any car at all! My dad dropped his car off for any and all service at the Texaco station a mile away where he must have been known as the local sucker. Ironically he is an engineer! However his area of expertise is as a CHEMICAL engineer, and he is not mechanically inclined.

Some day I'll have to share this site with some family as they may apprechiate it more than anyone else! I think I'll wait a while though as it is easier to write if I THINK no one is actually reading this! Writing on line paradoxically seems to me to be the easist way to have a private journal! In a house of seven people it actually seems less risky for me to write here than in a book someonw is MORE likely to find someday than this site!

Well the results are in and I once again FAILED the VA bar exam!! I was very disappointed- not so much at failing, but that my score only went up 13 points. Yes it was SO LOW previously that I anticipated a larger improvement! My theory was substantiated that the time I had taken it previously they must have been generous and just given me any points possible. This time I REALLY studied more, and REALLY understood the questions and gave answers that were TONS better than the last time, however I did not remember a number of specific details. At least I actually knew enough to identify what I had not known. A vast improvement over the big blurr it all was in the past. In summary, I really thought I would do much better than I did. Additionally, the biggest improvement was on the Multistate part, and thats 40% of the exam. I was VERY disappointed that the Va score was only 6 points higher than last year!!! That is not much of a difference! That upset me greatly. I thought I understood so much more. Perhaps I do-- now its the retention I need to improve!

Barney just ended! I came on line to e-mail the Oddessy of the mind contact at my son's school (I forget what

psudo name I have given him- something Nordic sounding for the blond boy... Soren?? ) Anyway... I had to really think about this alot before I said "Yes you can do it" as its another commitment on my part to get him involved in that activity. I am exciting about it though as it is an outlet for his artistic and scientific creativity which I think he can excel at.

Katerina is not playing soccer this Fall as I mailed her registration in this summer and it apparently got lost! She was so disappointed! It worked out best in the end though as due to the sniper activity in this general area (though it is not really at all near us!) soccer was cancelled for the rest of the season. Also it turned out that her violin lesson is the same day as soccer practice.

Early this fall KAterina had been whining about violin practice. Westley said he was sick of hearing her argue with me over it- and made her make a responsible choice of either playing violin and not whining about it EVER OR Quitting! He gave her a week to think it over and make a decision. After a week she was being indecisive and he gave her a half hour more and said "You decide or I am going to have to twist your arm to decide" He said "Do you know where that phrase comes from? You can find out.

As much as I don't agree with his methodology and think he went WAY overboard by the threat-- I have to admit it is quite amazing that the histrionic whining and arguing over violin practice has ceased! At the end of that half hour we came back to her room and said "What is your decision" She said "I don't know" and Westley said "COme on - make a decision of come over here and give me your arm. Are you going to play or not?"

She blurted out "Not" and we said "So you want to quit?"

She said "YES"

We said OK then.

Katerina then got hysterical and burst into tears crying. We took her violin out of her room and told her to calm down she'll feel better in the morning. SHe had previously (during the week of deliberation) said she was was only playing to please me and that she wanted to quit but was afraid to because she didn't want to disappoint her father and grandmother.

The day after the decision to quit Katerina then told me she only quit because she had to make a quick decision or Dad was going to twist her arm. I told her that she had a week to think about it. She then said she doesn't REALLY want to quit. It appeared to me that the method of threatening used by Westley had given her an opportunity to avoid any accountability for her decision. By threatening he had given her the opportunity to resent us for her NOT playing, and by the behavior of complaining and whining about practice ever day when she was playing she set up a situation in which she could resent us for FORCING her to play. (Despite the fact that she always had formerly insisted she really wants to play and didn't ever want to quit whenever the option was mentioned!)

I talked with Westely about this and indicated that I thought threatening was never helpful. He understood and said he was just trying to get HER to make the decision as she was not doing so. She definately HAD been trying to avoid the responsibility of a decision.

Westley and I then allowed Katerina to have ANOTHER week to reconsider her decision to quit. We encouraged her to go to the lesson that week to talk with her teacher, and encouraged her to talk to her DAD in NY and Grandmom there. I told her that I expected that they would be supportive of whatever she wanted to do- like we are here. She said, "But Grandmom told me she thinks I should never quit."

I told her that she should not keep doing something just for OTHER people, and that no matter how much everyone else enjoys her playing, we'd all still love her and get over it if she doesn't play anymore.

After talking with her teacher- the wonderfull Gabriella Bohnett at the Little Mozart Academy in Leesburg ,VA (NOT a psudoname as she is so very talented as a teacher that she deserves a REAL plug!), Katerina decided she DID want to continue with the violin. She said the reason is that she does not want to miss out on opportunities it may offer her in life. She also said she'd like to go to Julliard one day. After talking with Gabriella she believed in her ability and was open to possibilitys she had not thought of before. She also felt less overwealmed because Gabriella told her that if she has alot of school work some days that it is OK to not play the violin those days as school should come first.

Since the first few weeks of school which were overwealming, Katerina has DEFINATELY improved her time management and is doing a MUCH better job of getting homework done faster. She has an increased work load as she is in the school's gifted and talented program and has to make up the missed classroom work at home for the day she is pulled from the regular class once a week. I think the decision to quit was also initally motivated by the fact I signed Katerina up for Orchestra through school and she was afraid of playing in that new environment with older kids. Because of her experience as a violinist, she is playing at the middle school with kids two and three years older than herself which was intimidating for her at first. After a few it became clear that Kathryn is the best player in the Orchestra, and she knew some of the kids (from both LMA music school , and the Futura program which is a multiage group. Her fears about Orchestra have passed! She was opting to quit out of fear of the unknown! Fear of the new older stange kids, and Fear of Failure as she thought she might not be good enough!

The best part of this story is that Westley had Katerina make her decision in a letter to us. She was forced to take ownership of her decision! And subsequently, the dramatics of practice and resentment of up making her follow through really have subsided! YAH!! We are good parents!! (If not perfect!! AS time goes on the method of negative threats by Westley is being employed by him less and lesss!!! YAH!!!)

Once in a while he resorts to that.... but I can let go of my anger at that as we have improved SO MUCH at CO-parenting, and he is open to discussing things and even going back to UNDO damage (if we can!!) I have learned that if I support him EVEN in what I see as a bad decision, then he also supports me in what he sees as a bad decision on my part. OVerall we try to act as a UNIT-- and is is so wonderful to truly be CO-Parenting rather than arguing with each other on how to do things. WE have hit moderation between out opposing styles!! IT is a wonderful thing!

The littlest one is awake and Hungry! Time to tend to her.

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