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.
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.
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!