Saturday, December 20, 2014

What We're Reading: A Little Princess

Whenever I talk to my mom about how I read books to the kids, she is impressed by how much they enjoy being read to, and that they will stay still and listen for so long.  I guess I've taken it for granted that she read to me when I was little, and now I read to my own kids.  It's fun!  When I think about it I do realize that this quiet activity we share together really is a special thing, and it's not always easy to make it a priority.  As they get older and life gets more hectic, this may not happen as much.  But for now we do have the time and my kids still like my company (amazing!), so I'll just be grateful for as long as that lasts.  At bedtime, not every night but as long as we have a book and it's not too late, I sit on one of their beds and Annie plays with my hair while we all get lost in a good story.  Delaney always busies herself with something while she listens, and sometimes that something is another book.  But she always asks questions that reveal she's been hanging on every word.  Timmy plays with toys and sometimes makes a nuisance of himself, but he never wants to miss out on story time.
Right now the book is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I read this book a long time ago myself.  My 5th grade teacher gave it to me for Christmas.  (I also read A Secret Garden by the same author -- that book was gifted to me by two different relatives in the same year.)  A few weeks ago I happened to see it on a shelf at the library and grab it.  We've been working our way through it off and on, and I've had to renew it once and probably will one more time.  We started off a little slow with it but as we get closer to the end it is harder to stop and I've been reading two or even three of the longwinded chapters at a time until my voice starts to go hoarse.

I had long forgotten how the rest of the story goes beyond the beginning: Little Sara Crewe's father takes her from India to the boarding school in London; she is fabulously wealthy and treated like a princess; then he dies after making a bad investment and leaves her penniless.  Now I get to enjoy the entire rest of the story along them as if it's the first time.  I can't wait to see the ending but I don't want it to be over!

Reading this again as an adult, here are some of my impressions:

The vocabulary is hard.  In the beginning there are several French words and phrases that I felt like an idiot trying to say, that had me wishing I could have spared maybe just one of the five years of Latin I took in junior high and high school, just to learn a little bit of French and how to pronounce things.

As far as the English goes, there are lots of very quaint-sounding descriptions, and words that I don't recognize.  We rely heavily on context to figure out what is what, for example a "brougham."  (It's a carriage.)  Many times Delaney asks me, "What's that?"  and I can only give her my best guess.  When I say "quaint" descriptions, a good example of that is the frequent use of the word "queer" to mean "strange", frequently used to describe Sara who is not like any of the other girls.

One of Sara's friends speaks Cockney English and it's not too hard for me to decipher since I'm reading it and not hearing it, but Delaney usually needs me to say it again in a way she can understand.  I want to see the movie so I can hear Becky talk.

This book might not have made much of an impression on me when I was Sara's age myself, but  I love this strong, courageous little heroine.  When her beloved father loses his fortune and dies, she is left alone and at the mercy of the horrible Miss Minchin.  Angry at being burdened by the child, she takes away every single thing she has and works her to the bone.  Of all the servants, she is the lowest, and endures abuses from all of them who enjoy tormenting the former "prize pupil" of the seminary.  She is sent out into the harsh London winter with holes in her shoes, and she is often made to go hungry.

If any one of these things happened to any ordinary person, it would be enough to drive them to despair and even madness.  But Sara, a keenly intelligent child with a vivid imagination, has always seen herself as a princess -- one who is noble, kind and generous.  And she is determined even more so to be a princess even in the worst of times.  The things that happen to her and the way she reacts to them have me almost in tears as I read.  Would that I could even have an ounce of her fortitude and selflessness in my character!

Right now we're watching Elf until it ends at 8, and we'll read one more chapter afterward -- just one.

Since we're having a quiet Christmas here in SC, and two weeks of no school, I foresee us finishing this book in the next couple of nights and looking for something else to read.  I'm thinking maybe The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be a good one for winter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grandma and Grandpa visit and first ballet recital

We just had a lovely visit with Tim's parents.  They came down here on Thursday and left the following Monday (yesterday).  Since this was also a big ballet weekend, I fretted that their visit would be dominated by that.  Their dance class is Thursday afternoon, and then they had their big holiday performance on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  So it was pretty much dominated by that, but it worked out anyway.

Visits from family are the highlights of our year.  We talk about them for weeks and months beforehand, and then it's a tough adjustment when it's time to say goodbye.  This time it was a double whammy with Tim leaving for a few days for work as well, and all of them leaving for the airport together right after I took the girls to school.  The girls did not handle this so well, and it has been challenging times around here to say the least.  But I think we're over the worst of it and tomorrow's going to be a better day.  Timmy is absolutely fine, and he's been unfailingly chipper throughout our tense moments, trying to make funny remarks so we'll all laugh.  I love his sunny personality.

But back to the visit..

Timmy and I picked them up at the Savannah airport Thursday afternoon.  They flew direct from Boston and were looking forward to a break from the cold.  For at least the first couple days SC didn't disappoint.  It was sunny and in the 70s for Thursday, Friday, and maybe Saturday, but it got pretty chilly and windy on Sunday and Monday.  We went home and had a quick cup of coffee before it was time to pick up the girls and take them to ballet.  Carolyn and I went to get the girls and left Sr, Jr and III at home for naptime.  It was such luxury for me not having Timmy with me, and having adult conversation while I went through the whole Thursday routine of picking up, dropping off, all the waiting that happens in between, and then this time a trip to Walmart for a few things.  She is great company.

And the best part was when we got the girls from dance class, brought them home, and dinner was READY.  This is definitely not the norm on Thursdays.  The kids and I usually come home ravenous at about 6:15, Tim may or may not be still at work, and we eat a crockpot dinner that still requires some preparation before it can be eaten.  So to have the table set, dinner ready, and all of us together..  that to me made it a festive occasion.  We feasted on rigatoni with meatballs and sausage, garlic bread, and the most delicious salad with house Italian dressing.  My husband is an awesome cook.

We have some lucky kids because Grandma and Grandpa brought some presents for now and some for Christmas morning.  Everyone got a new outfit and toy, and we discovered the joys of Lego Friends.  Delaney and Annie loved their little sets which they put together, took apart and put together over and over.
The girls went to bed happy because I told them I would not be sending them to school in the morning.  What it was, was I was told I would have to have them at the high school on Friday afternoon, dressed, hair and makeup done, at 5 p.m. (and by the way, their hair was to be "half up/half down and curly" instead of the bun I had been prepared for all these months, good lawd)  I don't even get them home from school until a few minutes before 4.  And the school is 20 minutes away.  So I would need to be a magician in order to get all of that accomplished in 40 minutes.  I thought about having them stay for half the day, but if you remember their school has two campuses several blocks away from each other, so that would be two separate checkout procedures.  Also, it would mean another 25-minute trip to school just three hours after I'd dropped them off in the morning.  Too much hassle.  Besides, having Friday off would mean that much more time to spend with their grandparents.  So it was decided.

Friday morning I slept in until an absurd hour, I think almost 9:00.  So I don't even know what happened until then.  But when I woke up I was upset because I had a couple errands I needed to run, and now I would have no breakfast and I would have to take my coffee to go.  I had to drop off a dessert at the K-1 building for the teachers' appreciation luncheon (thank goodness I'd picked it up at Walmart the night before instead of thinking I'd get up early to bake it!) and go to the house of someone from playgroup to shop her little boy's hand-me-downs for Timmy.  I got some nice stuff!  Here's a picture Tim Sr took of Delaney and Grandma reading while I was gone.
Once I got home I gradually began the process of getting the girls ready for their big night.  First I gave them a bath and after letting their hair dry for a little while, I put in rag curlers.  I'd had a lot of success with this method before but as I would find out later, it works best when the rags can stay in overnight OR when the hair is a lot more dry to begin with. But then that makes it harder to wind up in the rags, so overnight is best, which unfortunately wouldn't work with our schedule.  The rags are actually just the product of one of Tim's old t-shirts and a YouTube video.  I like how Little House on the Prairie it is.  
They hung out for a few hours with the curlers in.  I packed what I called their "backstage lockdown survival kits" full of snacks, paper and pencils, a book, and whatever else they wanted to throw in.  I had been told that once the girls are checked in, they are to stay back in the dressing rooms for the entire duration of the show, and there would be a security guard at the door to make sure only room moms and runners with photo ID badges would be allowed in.  And also, in the event of an emergency, if we needed to get them out we would first have to obtain a letter from the director and show it to the security guard.  

At about an hour before it was time to go, I did their makeup.  I'd been instructed to use pink blush, pink lipstick and a little mascara, "nothing crazy."  To me, putting makeup on little girls is always crazy.  But then I was never a ballet dancer myself, save for a few weeks when I was four that ended badly; and I don't know what kind of ballet mom I'll be.  On this weekend, I was a grumpy one.  This is a lot of work, and the girls were not always happy and willing to let me do it.
When I took the curlers out I was dismayed to see that their hair hadn't dried enough, and it would only be in waves, not curls. Oh no!  I got the bright idea to get out my curling iron, which hadn't seen the light of day in who knows how long, and had a 1.5 inch barrel anyway, because I was in a panic.  Timmy walked in the bathroom and said, "What's this?" grabbing the barrel without hesitation.  Luckily it had not been on for long enough to get too hot, but still it hurt the poor guy and he cried for a while.  So stressful.

Finally, once the girls were dressed and done up as well as I could manage, we took a few pictures before they had to leave.  
After this little photo session was over, Tim and his dad took them to the show, and the rest of us stayed home.  Tim took some good pictures, or as good as it gets with a point-and-shoot and no flash.  They danced to "Silent Night" and it was really sweet.  Out of a two-hour long show, including 20-minute intermission, their part lasted just two-and-a-half minutes.
They got home around 9 and the kids got to have a treat of Dunkin Donuts blueberry muffins before going to bed.

Saturday morning I again slept in until almost as ungodly an hour as the day before.  By now you're thinking 'must be nice,' and I know, I know!  But just a few days before that I had a horrendous night with Timmy who had a fever which gave him bad dreams.  I was up again and again through the wee hours of the morning, and practically delirious by the time I needed to start the day.  And Tim was not home to help me.  I suffer sometimes too, you see!  When I woke up I hurriedly wet the girls' hair and put the rag curlers in again.  Tim and his dad went with the kids to the farmer's market where they got to see Santa.  They came home with kettlecorn and raw honey.  I think the kettlecorn was from Grandpa; we don't get things like that when we go ourselves.
Before long it was time to start the process all over again.  By now Annie was just plain sick of it.  She had already decided weeks before that she didn't want to do ballet anymore, and I told her that she could quit after December because I'd already paid the rental fee for her costume so she was committed to doing this show.  Day 2 of all this did not make her happy.  She said the big room where they all had to stay was "boring".  I believed her and I sympathized, but she still had to go.  You wouldn't know from this picture Grandpa took, but she was mostly in a really bad mood that afternoon.  I really like this picture.  It's a nice keepsake from her short-lived ballet career.  
It was Carolyn's and my turn to see the show so we left around 1:30.  The girls needed to be there at 2 and the show started at 3.  I let them know before we got there that I was hoping to get a couple good pictures of them with their grandma and with me.  Delaney complied but Annie wanted to be a little stinker instead.
After the show, we met the three Tims downtown for dinner at a place I was excited to try because it had gotten great reviews (and because we hardly ever go out to eat).  The food was disappointingly mediocre for everybody.  Tim makes fish tacos that blow theirs out of the water, but I cleaned my plate anyway because I was starving.  When we were done we caught the very end of the Beaufort Boat Parade, and this is something I would love to see all the way through next year.  All the boats done up for Christmas.
Then we went home, got the kids in their pajamas and watched It's a Wonderful Life before falling into bed exhausted.  I love that movie.  I get tears in my eyes every time at the end when I see those people stream in the door with money and tell George Bailey how much he means to them.  

For Sunday we had nothing on the agenda besides Mass at 9:30 and CCD afterwards for Delaney and Annie.  I intentionally left the rest of that day open since it was Tim and Carolyn's last full day here, and I wanted it to be open for whatever anyone felt like doing.
Ready for church and sporting their new vests from Grandma.  Timmy's also wearing his tartan plaid cap (one of the things I got on Friday) because why not?  He's very dapper, isn't he?
We spent the rest of the day after getting back just hanging around the house.  The kids watched Frozen with Grandma and ate lots of kettlecorn.  Tim made hamburgers, hotdogs and drumsticks on the grill for dinner.  Later, we turned on the Patriots game and one by one dropped off to bed as it got later.

And then the next morning it was time for them all to leave.  No visit could ever be long enough but we are so glad when they come and see us.  They'll be back in May for Delaney's 1st Communion and that will be in just a few short months. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving

We had a quiet Thanksgiving here at home.  I went for a nice long run in lieu of a turkey trot.  The kids played all day down the street in "other" Delaney and Timmy's backyard.  Tim cooked us up a big old yummy feast.  

Lately I've struggled a lot with being grateful, even though I have countless reasons to be.  I can't keep the house clean enough, the kids drive me crazy, and we're getting into a busy time of year, and I feel bogged down with all there is to do.  But if I stop to look around, I am so incredibly blessed.  I've got these three beautiful kids who really are good despite their quirks (which I guess is what those who love me say about me), the most wonderful husband and father in Tim, and a nice big house in a great neighborhood.  We are at the beginning of a three-year duty station during which we can expect Tim to be home the majority of weekends and holidays, and not deployed at all.  We have our health and we have everything we need and most of what we want.  (Tim still pines for a Mustang.)

I miss updating my blog more often, but it's hard to even know where to start lately.  It just doesn't flow anymore the way it used to.  But it's been so much fun to have these past few years, I'd hate to let it fizzle out.  I've got Tim's parents' visit coming up, the girls' first (and maybe last) ballet recital, Christmas, and maybe all of that will be enough to jump-start me.  






Sunday, November 9, 2014

Marine Corps Birthday Ball 2014

Because this night always comes and goes so quickly, and it costs a fortune, the pictures we take before we leave are VERY important to me.  I knew that two hours alone would be spent in the car because we were going to Hilton Head.  Usually we get cocktail hour too, and I have a glass of wine and we mingle with the people we know there.  Another chunk would be spent at a table during the ceremony and dinner.  And that's it.  We go home right after that because we're paying a sitter $10 an hour.  

So before we left we had Delaney take a series of pictures of us out front with the nice soft light of the setting sun.  It's not often we get dressed up like this, Tim in his mess dress blues and me in my Badgley Mischka from Rent the Runway.  I had also had my hair and makeup professionally done.  After that we got in the car to leave and I looked in the viewfinder and saw that I had failed to suck in my belly adequately and these pictures would not do.  This dress accentuates every curve, even (especially) the ones you wish you didn't have.  It was already a little after 5, cocktail hour started at 6, and Tim had already taken off his stiff jacket for comfort while driving.  But he saw the look on my face and knew it was no use.  He went to get Kaycee to take a couple more pictures. This time I did my best to keep my shoulders up and back AND my belly in, while still looking relaxed and happy.  Good enough.  But now it was about 10 after 5 and we were just now getting on the road.

When we left the GPS said we were 50 minutes away, and I thought, perfect.  We'll be there right after cocktail hour starts.  Just like last year, Tim managed to hit just about every red light from here to Hilton Head.  Then traffic came to a standstill because of a wreck that had happened earlier, and what was supposed to be the last 5 minutes of the trip took about 25 minutes instead.  I kept saying, "All I want is to have one glass of wine before the ceremony starts; is that too much to ask?"  Finally we turned down a road that led to a few different resorts.  But everything was pitch black, no streetlights anywhere, and very confusing.  The GPS was of no help to us anymore.  At last we found the gate to the Westin, only to be told by the man standing there that we would need to turn around and go find another parking lot and wait for a shuttle because they were full.  More driving around in the pitch dark, more confusion and lots of annoyance.  I said, "That's it, we are not going to any more balls in Hilton Head!"

In the end, after not finding the parking lot we were told to go to, we drove back to the Westin and the man told Tim he could park in the underground parking lot.  (Why didn't he just tell us that in the first place?) He dropped me off at the door and parked the car by himself.  I got my glass of chardonnay with 15 minutes to spare.

We had a nice time and really enjoyed talking to the couple we sat with at dinner,  Before we knew it we were looking at our phones and going, "What, it's almost 9?"  Gotta go!  If we leave now we can make it by 10.

It's a lot of fuss to go to for just a short few hours, but at least we took some decent pictures!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014: In which we come out of hiding and talk to our neighbors

Trick-or-treating hours were from 5 to 7, which was the earliest we've ever done it, but it worked out very well.  My pictures turned out better, and it was nice to be done by 7, and able to get the kids to bed at a decent hour.  

We walked around with our next-door neighbors, keeping up with the kids as best we could.  It was fun to see so many families outside at once, in the daylight, and talk to them.   At one point we stopped on the sidewalk to chat with a family who have three kids, two of whom are named Delaney and Timmy.  I was so excited to meet them and asked them where they lived.  And you know where they live?  Four doors down from us.  And they've been there for as long as we have.  I felt like the biggest ass at that moment.  The mother must have felt the same way because she said to me, "I know I should have come over and introduced myself, but I've just been so consumed with life."  I nodded, completely understanding.  Most of the time when I'm home, I'm consumed with either housework or what's going on outside my back door since that's where the kids go out to play, and I'm always checking on Timmy.  Everything and everyone else escapes my notice.  I've never seen these kids, but I remember waving to their parents as we walked by their house one night about a week ago.  We have to be friends with them, we just have to!

Oh, and another jaw-dropping fun fact that I learned during trick-or-treating?  Delaney and Annie's dance teacher lives in the house directly across the street!  I do go outside sometimes, I promise I do.  I even look out the window because my shades are always open.  I'd met most of the people on my street before this night.  (Now I've met them all, except maybe one.)  But like I said, I am mostly concerned with what's going on behind my house since that is my kids' primary stomping grounds.  And I park my car in the garage which is in back of the house too.

What amazing discoveries we make when we all leave our houses at the same time and start walking around!  Back into hiding we go until next year, I guess.  I do want to have coffee with Delaney and Timmy's mom, though.  I wish I had a dog now, so I could have an excuse to walk by at least a couple times a day.  And yes, I know I have Timmy, but as anyone who's ever tried to go on a walk with a three-year-old knows, it is not the same.  
Delaney originally wanted to be a scientist for Halloween and I was really proud.  I bought her a lab coat and goggles and .. that was it, I couldn't think of anything else.  Then she saw Annie's fairy costume and asked for one just like it.  I couldn't turn her down, especially since the fairy costume was way cuter than a boring old lab coat and goggles.
I asked Delaney to pose with her BFF Norah, who lives next door, but Timmy wanted to be in the picture too.  He's a big cheese.  Norah is 7 and also in second grade at Delaney's school.  Her family are Patriots and Red Sox fans too.  They even have a dog named Fenway.
Delaney and Delaney down the street.  She's 6 1/2.  I'm not sure what her costume is supposed to be.  A bride?  She looks like it's her First Communion.  She is cute as can be, and I've been working on Delaney to seek that girl out and be friends.
Timmy and Timmy down the street who is 5
We went to every single house in our neighborhood and the kids all filled up their little pumpkin buckets to the top.  It was so much fun to watch Timmy's joy and excitement as he ran from door to door.  He started out running but by the end he was dragging as his bucket got heavier and heavier.  Eventually he needed me to carry it.  
All in all, a fun Halloween!  It was in the '70s that night and by morning it was 43 degrees.  You got to love the crazy fall weather fluctuations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day in the Life: Fall 2014

Today is Monday, October 20.  Delaney is 7, Annie is 5 and Timmy is 3.

6:30 a.m. My alarm goes off.  I get up, go through my routine of making the bed and brushing my teeth, turn on the light in the girls' room --- "Time to get up and get ready for school!" -- then head out to the kitchen to make coffee.  It's so dark outside, and there's just a little chill in the air that makes the bed feel extra cozy, and makes it extra hard to get going in the morning.
6:55 a.m. Timmy never has trouble getting going in the morning.  He lines up his little Star Wars guys that his cousin Alexa sent him a few days ago because that's the kind of thing he does as soon as he rolls out of bed.
7:00 a.m. I drink my coffee, check email on my phone and sleepily survey what everyone else is up to as the clock ticks closer to time to leave for school.  Annie goes about her own little morning routine at which she is very efficient, not needing any prodding from me: Dressed and shoes on: check (she'd already draped her clothing choices over her footboard the night before). Teeth brushed: check.  Lunch removed from fridge and inspected, and frozen Gogurt added to the bag: check.  She notices that there are only three things in there instead of the usual four, and I say, "OK, I'll put a no-bake chocolate oatmeal bar in there."  Oops.  She approves.  Two types of cereal measured into a cup and poured in her bowl along with milk: check.  The only thing that remains to be done is her hair, and that's not a task that I'm ready to turn over to her just yet.  She has learned to put her hair into a ponytail and she practices all the time, but she can't get it to look pretty yet.  It kind of looks like something tried to eat her head.  So we have an agreement that I'll fix her hair before school and Mass.  I go back to check on Delaney a couple times and she is moving at a snail's pace.
By the end of the day, only a fraction of this deliciousness will remain, and most of it will have been eaten by me.

7:20 a.m. Annie is completely done and ready to leave as Delaney finally makes her appearance in the kitchen.  I catch her scooping up little crumbs of Tim's birthday cake from the pan that I've left soaking overnight.  "Do we need to have a sugar intervention, Annie?"  A couple days ago, for Tim's birthday, I made my first attempt at cake from scratch, even the buttercream frosting.  The cake was overcooked and crumbly but everyone liked the frosting but me.  It was so, so sweet.  Way too sweet.  The kids loved it best of all, so it's no surprise that Annie was salvaging what she could from the sides of that pan.  We don't eat many sweets in this house.  The no-bake chocolate oatmeal bars are as sweet as it usually gets, and that is pretty sweet but it has some healthy stuff in it too.  They know the difference.
Guilty!
7:28 a.m. Delaney sits down to her breakfast of Quaker instant oatmeal, and she has exactly six minutes to eat it.  I fix her hair as she sits there.  With time being of the essence, I do one small ponytail with the hair in the front of her head that has always had a mind of its own.  Get that hair out of the way and she's good to go.  I brush the rest of it until it shines.  She has such smooth, shiny hair.  I'm a little bit jealous. 
7:35 a.m. We start making our way out the door, and I make sure they both have lunches and water bottles.  Five minutes later we're backing out the driveway and I've got my travel mug full of coffee at the ready.  It's 59 degrees outside as the sun is just coming up.  Delaney took my advice and is wearing a sweatshirt but Annie opted not to.  The sunrise is so beautiful and I wish I could snap pictures but I can't because I'm driving.  By 8:05 I've dropped them both off.  All the teachers who are waiting outside are wearing sweatshirts and jackets, and after Annie gets out of the car I remark that I wish I could put a sign on her that reads, "My mother suggested I wear a sweatshirt."
They're in their assigned seats: Annie is in the middle row on the way TO school and in the third row on the way FROM school.  She's the first out in the morning and the first in in the afternoon.
8:30 a.m. We're home.  Timmy wants to pretend he's a "baby doggy" as I unbuckle him from his car seat.  He sucks on his hand and I say, "Do baby doggies suck on their paws?"  He's silly.
It's a typical Monday, which for us usually means housework for me and yoga at the Y and not much else.  We leave for yoga at a little after 10, so that gives me an hour-and-a-half to eat breakfast and do whatever else I need or want to get done until then.  I turn on Disney Jr for Timmy and make my usual two eggs to be eaten with a banana for my breakfast.  As the eggs are cooking I unload the dishwasher and load it with the kids' breakfast dishes.  Yeah, I haven't been making the girls do that since school started.:/  Then I start a load of laundry.  

Once I've eaten and cleaned up I take a picture.  I am really happy with the way it's looking now.  We finally got curtains -- why does selecting curtains have to be one of the most difficult decisions I ever make?  That took me weeks to accomplish, and even after they were up I second-guessed my choice (and that's the worst).  But then we got this 'new to us' table from Craigslist to replace the one we'd grown out of, and Tim repainted the old red toy bench so we have the perfect place for our shoes and bags and whatnot.  It's all come together and it looks homey.  And so functional.  This area of the house was a bare wasteland and a thorn in my side for what felt like forever but couldn't have been since we've only lived here for three months total.:)  But now I look at it and makes me smile.
This week's agenda
9:10 a.m. I have about an hour until I have to leave for the Y.  Today is one of those days I'm going to dig deep for the motivation to get us out of here. There is so much to be done around here and we're both so content at home.  Timmy can run outside and play whenever he wants and I have laundry to put away, rooms that need to be vacuumed and dusted, and bathrooms always hurting for attention.  The windows are open and the sun is shining, and on days like this I'm happy to clean.  But I know that the yoga is good for me and I'm always glad when I go.  So I'll have to see what I can get done in an hour.

I start with the girls' room and Timmy keeps me company, rolling his cars around on the Lowe's box that Delaney used this past weekend has her "dollar store" table.  I'm always amused by the way he talks to himself as he does this, having the cars talk to each other and every so often breaking into song -- "Boom, crack.." (I just Googled and it's really "Boom, clap", I see.)
A Land of Nod catalog has been left on the floor open to a page full of tents.  A hint, perhaps?  I know Norah, their friend next door, has a tent of some kind.  I don't know about a tent for this room, but I grab the catalog because I could use some inspiration for decorating here.  We haven't gotten around to it yet but hope to in the next couple months.  I can't wait until we have curtains on these windows.  I wanted to use the curtains we got when Annie had her own room in NC for about five minutes, but we were short a couple panels and Land of Nod had stopped selling them.  Tim found a set of Land of Nod panels on eBay that claimed to be pink gingham, but in the picture they looked more purple than pink --which could just be the lighting of the picture --  but we can't take that chance.  We'll have to find something new.  Should I keep the pink gingham ones in case we could use them in the future, or sell them?  I'm thinking sell.  I've been selling a lot of things lately and it's addicting.

The girls have a lot of knicknacks that are crammed onto the dresser and bookcase, and there are many more still stored in the top drawer of the dresser.  A lot of them have sentimental value but we will never be able to display it all, and I don't know if we need to have all this stuff.  What do I do with the cupcakes they painted at Annie's birthday party?  What does one do with these things?  They have a nice shelf propped against the bookcase that, once mounted on the wall, can house their Precious Moments birthday train and a few other things that need to be kept out of reach.

So .. that motivated weekly chore planner that I was using in my last 'Day in the Life?' That fizzled out quickly once school started.  I now tackle housework the same way I suspect most people do: I notice something that needs to be cleaned and I clean it. Or else I try not to look at it too closely until I can get to cleaning it.  Some things like mopping the floors might wait an entire month.  But the kids' bathroom gets a disproportionate amount of time spent -- at least four times a week it needs some emergency cleaning session just to get it by.  And it always smells like pee, no matter what.  This weekend I gave it a thorough cleaning, floor, base of toilet and everything.  10 minutes later I walked by and caught a whiff of pee.  I know I could just plug in an air freshener and call it a day, but doesn't that just mask the problem?  Yes it does, and that's the whole point.  I do not remember having this problem with their bathroom in the last house.  And having someone paid to clean it twice a month could not alone have kept the pee smell at bay.  Hmm.
I don't remember what he was crying about here.  He was probably just giving me a hard time about something.
I run through Timmy's room with the vacuum and duster, and then it's time to get ready to go.  Here I am dressed for yoga -- pretty much the way I dress anyway if I have nowhere special to be.
Then I go out to the front porch to take pictures because I can't get over how pretty this view is.  And I want to show you the wreath that I made myself, of which I'm very proud.  The OSC also has a craft club, and all you do is RSVP and bring money for supplies, and the organizer tells you what to do.  I was like, 'Sign me up!'  As I'm out there taking pictures something catches my eye down on the floor next to the door.  We've been boo-ed!  Somebody left us a bag of treats.  What a nice little surprise. 
10:00 a.m. We need to leave in the next five minutes and Timmy's still not dressed and I need to fill my water bottle, make sure I have all my stuff..  I'm feeling so discombobulated all of a sudden and it's taking every ounce of will I have to propel us out the door and down the stairs to the car.  Timmy has to make sure he has no fewer than 10 cars clutched in his hands and he moves so slowly when it's time to go anywhere.  I can't find his sneakers which he prefers to wear, so I tell him he has to wear his Crocs.  I can't shake the feeling that I really would rather stay home.  But I like yoga and the Y is only 15 minutes away, I can do this!

10:23 a.m. We're there with a few minutes to spare.  I park in my usual spot, open Timmy's door, unbuckle him, and wait for him to make his way out -- in his own sweet time, thank you very much.  I grab my yoga mat out of the back and turn to see him finally emerging from the car looking like a cute little movie star.  So of course I snap a photo.
Then I'm like, "OK, let's go", and I steer him out of the way and shut his door.  And then before I can make a move to stop him he tries to catch the door (so he can close it himself, of course).  And to my horror the door closes on his tiny fingertips.  I open the door quickly, scared to death of what I'm going to see, but his fingers look absolutely fine.  He cries anyway and tells me they hurt.  I'm sure they do hurt, but they're going to be OK.  I hold and comfort him and carry him in the door.  By the time we get inside he's done crying but he's being uncharacteristically clingy.  I take him into the child watch room and he doesn't want to let go of my neck.  At this point it is maybe a minute until yoga starts and I'm worried that I might have to leave him crying here.  But the lady who works there chats him up and gives him high-fives and I slip out of there feeling immensely relieved.  And still shaking a little from how scared I was when the door shut on his fingers.

Something is wrong when I walk into the room where yoga is held.  The lights are on and some older guy is standing in the instructor's spot with an exercise ball.  People are arranged in a semi-circle, all with exercise balls.  I'm thinking, 'What in tarnation is happening here?'  I ask if the schedule has changed and am told that the yoga teacher is out and there will be a core stability class instead.  Then a friend of mine from OSC turns and gives me a bright smile and a wave.  She's here!  While we were making wreaths last week I told her how much I like this yoga class because she was talking about how she has a Y membership and is having a hard time making herself go.  I talked it up to her, telling her how it's all ages and abilities, I enjoy it so much, blah blah.  And here she is and there's no yoga.  Oh well.

We all stand around waiting, it's 10:35, and the instructor is making no move to start the class, just conversing with different people.  I get bored and start chitchatting with my friend about this and that.  Then I'm distracted by a hissing sound from behind her, and I glance out of the corner of my eye, and there is some lady trying to shush me.  Yes, and she's waving her arms.  Is she serious?  The nerve of her!  I look and see that the instructor is no closer to starting the class than he was 20 seconds ago, and then I smile at the shushing lady so she knows that I noticed her, and keep talking to my friend.  Because passive aggressiveness is a skill of mine.  I see her out of the corner of my eye looking madder and madder, and you know, I'm starting to feel mad too.  If this were yoga class and the lights were down, I wouldn't have to see her grumpy face.  Between this and the car door incident and Timmy's moodiness, this day is starting to go off the rails.  Now I know I should have stayed home in my nice little bubble.

When the class starts --and I shut my yapper, haha -- it is a core stability class intended for seniors.  It is very boring.  It's stuff like hold your foot out in front of you six inches off the floor, raise your left arm .. It's like an hour-long field sobriety test and it's not a suitable substitute for yoga.  I will send an email later on to the Y, asking them nicely to give notice via email or Facebook when the yoga teacher isn't going to be there so I don't waste my time and my gas.

11:30 a.m. Timmy and I are on our way home again, that nonsense behind us.  Time for lunch and a nap.  As soon as we get in the door Timmy gets to pick either a fruit snack or a Gogurt from the fridge.  He picks a fruit snack.  The rest of his lunch is PB&J and Greek yogurt.  I heat up a couple slices of leftover pizza for myself.  When he's done with lunch I let him pick a piece of candy from the treat bag we got that morning.  Then I read him a story and put him down for a nap.
12:30 to 2:30 p.m.  Now that it's Timmy's nap I clean up the kitchen, put the laundry in the dryer and water my little potted mums.  Then I try to take a short nap myself but it isn't happening.  I make a cup of jasmine green tea and read the new blog posts in my Feedly.  I check the 10-day forecast.  You couldn't ask for better around these parts.
2:30 p.m. I usually have to wake Timmy up at this point but he hears the recycling truck and runs out to the porch to watch it.  After he's seen it doing its thing we go through our little post-nap ritual of he uses the potty and then gets two Mentos -- one for him and one for me -- which we then get to put in our mouths once we're buckled up in the car.  The Mentos help us a lot both with getting him up from his nap in a timely fashion and with making sure he pees before our hour-long roundtrip to school.  He likes being in charge of the Mentos, especially when I ask for mine before I'm in the car and buckled up, and he tells me no, and I say, "But I really want it NOW!"  He doesn't mind having a taste of his own medicine.   And they help with stinky nap breath.:)
2:50 p.m. We leave for school.  We pick up Annie first and Delaney second, as always.  Then we stop at the library before we head home.  I am extra generous today and let them each pick out at least three books.  Delaney gets four because she speeds through her books and always needs something else to read.  We'll go back next Monday.  Before we leave everyone needs to use the potty.  There is a munchkin size potty in the children's section which Annie and Timmy like, but for some reason Delaney is freaked out by it and would rather wait until we get home.  Then we check out and everyone takes his/her bag of books and we head home.
Don't you hate it when you try to grab a paper towel and you just get tiny bits?
4:30 to 5:00 p.m. We're home.  Delaney sprints to the bathroom and Annie and Timmy help me bring in the trash can and recycling bins.  Then they have a snack and the girls do their reading and fill out their logs.  This is another thing that Annie does with no reminding.  I love the way she does things on her own.  When the books and reading log first started coming home, the log was supposed to be filled out by a parent, but Annie always wanted to do it by herself, not even letting me initial it.  She initials it herself.  When I mentioned it to her teacher during open house, she said she saw it and thought it was great.  As for Delaney, I looked at her log and saw it blank and said, "Why haven't you been logging your reading?"  She sighed, "I just don't have the time."  I laughed out loud at that and said, "How soon you forget what it was like for you last year, when you did homework from the minute you got off the bus until dinnertime, and then sometimes AFTER dinner..  You have so much more freedom this year."  And so do I!  
5:00 p.m. They go outside to play.  What a fantastic day to not have anywhere else to be.  It is beautiful here.  Now that it's fall this is my honeymoon with Parris Island.  We have chilly mornings and warm days with not much humidity.  I leave the windows open all day and breathe fresh air.  I hear the noise of kids playing and the shouts of drill instructors and recruits.  It's all music to my ears.  When it was still summer, I shut myself inside this house and tried not to break the seal.  Because the heavy, humid air.  The bugs.  The smell of wet towels, which is what the marshes smell like when it's hot.  Now they smell like the ocean.  When I was a recruit here myself 16 long years ago from June to September, I described it as the armpit of the world.  I would still describe it that way, for about a quarter of the year.  It looked nice and green outside my window but I just couldn't be out there.  It was uninhabitable as far as I was concerned.  I'd send the kids out to play for a little bit but I couldn't blame them when they came running back in after less than 30 minutes.
It's hard to imagine that was just a few weeks ago.  Today I am overcome with gratitude for such a nice place to live and watch our kids play.  I step outside to check on Timmy from time to time.  What a lucky boy he is to have so much space to roam safely.  I tell him he has to stay where I can see him from the yard and he has to look out for cars on that shared driveway.  It also helps that the speed limit in this neighborhood is 20 and is enforced, which makes a huge difference.  I look out to see him on the playground with some other kids or sitting at the picnic table with another little boy, rolling his cars around.  

As it gets closer to 5:30 I get hungry so I heat up last night's spaghetti and meatballs and steam some broccoli.  I'll wait awhile to call them in since they're having so much fun.

6:00 p.m. I call them in for dinner.  When Delaney and Annie see me waiting there taking pictures they start making goofy faces.
They eat their spaghetti and meatballs, pick a piece of candy from the treat bag, and then I let them go outside for just a little while longer until it's time to come in for bath and shower.  Delaney is sad because as I'm making them come in, her friend Norah is just coming outside.  But it's starting to get dark and Norah won't be out for much longer either.  This does not make Delaney feel better, as she wishes to spend every waking moment with her friend.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. I give Annie and Timmy a bath, Delaney takes a shower, and they all get in their pajamas and brush their teeth.  While we wait for Delaney to finish up and join us, Annie looks at one of her new library books with Timmy.  
I read them a Bible story.  Tonight it's Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.  Then we say our prayers and I kiss them goodnight and turn out the light.  Then I bring Timmy over to his room and do the same.  But since we've just been to the library, Delaney really wants to read and so I look the other way when she goes into the bathroom, shuts the door and doesn't come out.  She'll read on the toilet for about 20 minutes until I make her go to bed.  Timmy took the Bible with him when he left the girls' room, and now he brings it out in the hallway where there's a little bit of light, to look at one particular picture.  The picture is of Joseph's brothers dragging him to toward a hole in the ground.  He's dressed only in a loincloth, the beautiful robe his father gave him is lying on the ground, and I think it's all pretty self-explanatory.  But not to Timmy.  "What is that guy doing?"  "What is that guy doing?"  "Why does he have that look on his face?  What's he saying?"  This isn't the first time he's looked at that picture and asked the same exact questions.  I'm sure that he is listening intently to all my answers; he just likes to hear them again and again, especially if I say them in different ways.  
Annie alone lies in bed with the blankets up to her chin, ready to go to sleep.  I give her hugs and kisses.  You wouldn't know it tonight, but she can be my most challenging and complicated child.  But there is so much sweetness and goodness in her too, and today she's been standing out as a great student and a wonderful child to me.  When she's good she's very, very good..  

8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Once they're all settled, I make the girls their lunches and clean up the kitchen.  Delaney has forgotten to bring home her lunch bag and her water bottle.  I'll have to dig up another lunch bag and she'll have to bring Timmy's water bottle.  That girl.. She forgets things all the time.  Annie never forgets her stuff -- thank goodness one of them is capable of taking home everything she brings to school!  Delaney is capable too, but she'll need some tough love.  Tim shared an article on Facebook today about the "no-rescue" approach to kids who forget things.  You forgot it?  Oh well, you do without.  Otherwise you never learn, we all know that.  There is a quote in there that I take to heart: "A kid who always forgets has a parent who always remembers."  I agree with that, but the thing is, when Delaney forgets her lunch or her water bottle in the morning, I have to take it to her.  She can't starve, and a school lunch has to be purchased the week before.  I know this because I called and asked one morning if it was OK to just buy lunch so I wouldn't have to make the 25 minute drive to school.  They have no extras, I was told.  As far as a forgotten water bottle goes I say, "Delaney, can't you just drink out of the water fountain for one day?"  That's what I did as a kid -- we didn't tote around water bottles.  She says, "I could, but the water fountain is broken."  (I know I need to clarify with the teacher that there is no single source of water in that building for a kid who has no water bottle.  That seems fishy.)  There was one time she did without a water bottle all day and she was so thirsty when I picked her up that afternoon that I felt bad.  I know how I feel when I go one hour without water.  Like my mouth is cotton.  She went all day.  I was a forgetful kid too, who never learned to remember things until my own safety net was gone.  So I try not be too hard on her.  But it is frustrating and stressful to have her forget things all the time.
See, I told you.
How interesting the aspects of their personalities that have emerged now that they're both in school.  I've heard great things about them from their teachers so far, but they have very different ways, that is for sure.

I take a shower and spend some time relaxing on the couch before bed.  I look at the photos from this day and begin this post.  I talk to Tim for a little while before I go to sleep.  He's in Virginia this week.  He tells me about how he had dinner with his good friend and his family who live in Stafford, and how he has a new job he hates.  He gets up in the wee hours every morning to commute to the Pentagon, works long days, only sees the kids for a few hours on the weekends, and it's really rough.  He's only a month-and-a-half into it and it's stressing him out and wearing him down.  I really feel for all of them.  Their kids are Delaney and Annie's ages and they must miss their daddy so much.  I am struck by how good we have it here.  Tim does a lot of traveling, but when he's here, he's here.  Tim says a deployment would be easier than their situation and I would have to agree.  I know Tim is doing everything he can to steer clear of the Pentagon for the rest of his days in the Marine Corps, and it's also good to know that he has 20 years in and he can retire if push comes to shove.

We say goodnight and I turn out the light and go right to sleep.  And that's another Day in the Life!