Friday, April 29, 2016

Day in the Life: Spring 2016

Today is Wednesday, April 27.
Tim: 41
Rachael: 36
Delaney: 8
Annie: 6
Timmy: 4
Joey: 4 months

6 a.m. My alarm goes off and I silence it in a hurry, lest it wakes up the little beast in the pack 'n play. He's continued a streak of about six or seven nights in a row of waking multiple times, after at least a couple months of smooth sailing sleep-wise. It's so hard being back to nights with a newborn. My under-eye circles are the biggest and darkest they've ever been, and I have been extra cranky.

I throw some clothes on, brush my teeth and my hair and go to wake up the other kids. They, like me, are super sluggish. It takes a couple tries to get the girls up and moving, but with Timmy it takes coaxing, cajoling, tickling, and sometimes even pulling (gently) off the bed. He asks me, "Is it a school day?" and I tell him yes. He doesn't understand the concept of days of the week. Lately he's been asking very morning he asks if it's a school day, and is disappointed when I tell him it is. Then he gets an unexpected reprieve on Saturdays and Sundays. Maybe I should put a chart in his room. I assume every night when we go through our routine that of course he knows what's going to be happening in the morning. But he's always shocked and sad that he has to get out of bed and get ready for school. Maybe a little more preparing him the night before would help?
6:20 or so. Once everybody's moving, I sit down and drink some coffee and observe my family as they begin their day. Tim comes back from his workout, sweaty and cheerful, and starts making his breakfast. Delaney comes out wearing a white Marine Corps t-shirt with her navy uniform scooter. It's Spirit Week at Delaney's school, in honor of Month of the Military Child, and today the kids are allowed to wear something that shows pride in their military branch of choice. She's in a good mood.

I've got no pictures to show for it (obviously, my hands were busy!), but this morning I spend a lot of time fixing the girls' hair. First I french braid Delaney's, and as usual it ends up clumsy-looking but secure after a lot of fumbling. Then at Annie's request, I make her a little braid that starts out as a french braid but then falls with the rest of her hair. There is some confusion on my part as to exactly what kind of braid she needs, and she gets frustrated with me. In the end she seems happy enough with the result, and I'm relieved. I think to myself, I don't know what I'd do if the second two kids had been girls too. I have no hair-fixing skills even with all the practice I've had.
6:55 a.m. We go out to the bus stop. I give them all a little hug before they leave, and I tell Delaney and Timmy I'll be seeing them in a few hours. Today I'll be picking Timmy up after his half day of pre-k, and we'll be having a picnic lunch with Delaney at her school.
7:15 a.m. Joey's up. He's doing his "toothless old man cry" where he sucks his lips in and cries. He stops when he sees me coming. That sweet little face looking up at me makes me so happy.
After I nurse him I lay him on a blanket while I do some other things. Tim comes in for a little while to play with him before he leaves for work.
I spend the next hour eating breakfast, cleaning up the kitchen, packing lunches for Timmy and me, watering the plants, and then I put Joey down for a nap. While he naps I make myself presentable and make the rounds of Facebook and my blogs. The time passes quickly and before I know it he's up and it's time to get our things together and get out the door.
9:50 a.m. I buckle Joey into his carseat and go through my little checklist. It takes a couple trips to get everything out to the car.
Baby in carseat: check.
Lunches: check.
Picnic blanket: check.
Ergo carrier: check.
Purse with wallet and phone: check.
My water bottle and Delaney's that she forgot this morning: check.
Mug of coffee: check.

9:55 a.m. We leave for school, and pick up Timmy at 10:30. We drive down the road to Delaney's school for lunch at 11. Joey's done #2 so I get ready to change him in the back of the car. For a very stressful minute I can't find the wipes. I keep a big grocery bag full of diapers/wipes/trash bags/changes of clothes in the car, and don't carry around a diaper bag.

Once inside the school we still have about 15 minutes to kill before lunch, so we sit in the cafeteria. Timmy tries to engage the little boy sitting at the other end of the table with his mother in some silly little games. I have to remind him that he can't run in the cafeteria and he can't stand on the bench. He has entirely too much energy.

11:00 a.m. Delaney comes in with her class and we all follow the crowd outside. 
There is not much shade to be found, but there are a few tables under a shelter, and that's where I lead them. But the two of them really, really want to sit on the picnic blanket and they ask if they can go sit by themselves. With a sigh, I say OK. I can't have Joey sitting out in the full sun. Delaney sees a small space in a row of picnickers along the side of a building. It's shaded. She and Timmy run for it. I roll my eyes, and then pick up the lunches and water bottles and follow.

As soon as I sit down and take Joey out of the Ergo, Timmy gets up and tells me he "really has to go," complete with a little dance. Raise your hand if you have a four-year-old who always has to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune time. Never while we are sitting around in a cafeteria waiting with nothing to do and too much energy. At Delaney's school, lunchtime is a strict thirty minutes long, and I let Timmy know I'm not happy with him at all for making us have to take time out for the bathroom. Then I take him.
Back on the blanket we chat a bit with Delaney's classmate Clara and her mom and little brother on the blanket next to us. Clara's mom, it turns out, is pregnant with twins -- a boy and a girl. And that's not all. In addition to Clara and the little boy who's almost five, there are three older kids in the family. I say, "You'll have a lot of help!" Clara is a happy, laughing girl who seems very excited about the new babies.

Our conversation is halted in its tracks by a piercing whistle and a voice calling, "Third graders! Line up!" Delaney hesitates a moment before dropping her lunch trash on the picnic blanket, and then scampers off along with her friend. A few seconds later she turns around and comes back to give me a little hug. It warms my heart. With that the picnic is over for us and we begin to pack up. I say goodbye to Clara's mom, who now has a 5th grader on the blanket in Clara's place.

12:15 p.m. We're home after a quick stop at the dry cleaner's. Timmy decides it a good time to finish his letter B homework. For the last couple months his teacher has been giving him one worksheet a week to complete at home for a "special sticker." After some initial enthusiasm about the sticker, he stopped completing them. But this one is easy and fun enough for him, I guess. 
12:45 p.m. It's time for a story, and then naps for two boys (I hope!), and maybe a nap for myself. I sure could use one.
After saying goodbye to Timmy, I go into my room, nurse Joey and lay him down. But he's not going to make it easy for me. As I sit in the glider rocker and wait to see what he'll do, he rolls to his side and I see one of his eyes peering at me through the mesh. He stays like that for a couple more minutes, then rolls to his back and starts to fuss. Come on, buddy!
2 p.m. He's finally asleep and I've maybe gotten to doze for a few minutes. I go out into the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea and sit down with a book. Timmy comes out and sits down next to me with the iPad.

I'm reading The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith. This is one of the few books that I've bought myself after searching for it in the library system in vain, and deciding I need it in my life anyway, after reading another blogger's recommendation. For years I've struggled with how to make a house into a home, especially as we've gone from one rental to the next, each one having its own set of quirks. My sister Anna, for whom I think many of the ideas in this book are intuitive, even tried to help me with putting together a Pinterest board with ideas for our current house. It was so huge and blank inside, I didn't know where to begin making it feel like a home! I've found myself paralyzed when it comes to choosing things for a house, because I don't know what it is I like, and what I like now may not be what I like a year or two from now. Paint is too big of a deal for me to even bother. I've also tried to make things work because I liked the way they look even though they don't function well for our family. All these things and more. And then just when I get comfortable and happy with what I've (we've) done in a given place, it's time to move. The author encourages people like me to take chances and make changes in order to make whatever home we're in ours. Because life goes by quickly while waiting for the perfect time or the forever home.
She also urges readers to see and appreciate the positives, to focus on what's there rather than what's not. That weird empty space on the other side of the living room (that's supposed to be the dining area but no way would that work for us)? Perfect for the kids' dance parties and wrestling matches with their dad. There is a wall in the entry that could use a little demilune table, but I've never gotten around to buying one. One less thing for me to worry about when Joey starts tearing around the laminate floors in his walker. 
That little bench in the upper right tries valiantly to be a drop zone for backpacks and shoes, but it is no match for these kids and their stuff. I really do have to embrace imperfection in this season of life.
3:15 p.m. The girls are home from school and Joey is up from his nap. It's a whirlwind of activity.
It occurs to me that we have no dinner plan. Normally, we make a menu and stick to it for the most part; but for some reason this week, we have no menu and Tim just grabbed things at the commissary. I could make white bean chicken chili, but oh no -- I've got five chicken breasts frozen in a bag together. I can't separate any of them. If I thaw one, I thaw them all. What else..? A pound of ground beef in the fridge. Mushrooms, onion.. We are running low on food, so I haven't had a good snack either, and I'm getting hungry. This is why we need a menu! I'm going to have to find a new recipe with the ingredients that I have on hand. Don't be like me, frantically inputting random ingredients into my phone at 4:00 while I'm hungry. Have a plan.

I find a casserole recipe, and I'm inclined to reject it because we don't like casseroles. But I'm willing to take a chance on it because the ingredients are all things I like and more importantly, things that I have: beef, mushrooms, onions, rice, chicken bone broth, sour cream, milk, spices and shredded cheese. We have a winner! I get to work thawing the broth and cutting up the mushrooms and onions while Joey is still happy.
Delaney's planting the bee garden packet her teacher gave her today. Does she really want bees all over the back deck?
3:30 to 5:30 p.m. It's the busiest part of the day, so no pictures. Just trying to manage the chaos until Tim comes home from work and today's concoction comes out of the oven in time for dinner at 5:30. Being able to sit down to dinner all together at 5:30 is one of the biggest blessings of Tim's current billet and living on base. When he's not traveling we can almost always count on him being home at a decent time. I'm being spoiled by that, I know. 

I've got no pictures of dinner, either. I was too focused on eating it. It turned out well and it served its purpose today, but I won't be adding it into the regular rotation. We're not really casserole people.
6 to 7 p.m. We clean up from dinner, Tim makes a batch of superpower muffins and forgets the bananas, but they're still delicious. Lunches are packed, those who need to be bathed are bathed, somewhere in there a baby is fed.. At 7 everyone sits down to watch Wheel of Fortune.
Once that's over, all the kids go to bed. Once all is quiet in the bedrooms (and it hasn't taken long lately because they're exhausted from their long days), we turn on an episode of The Walking Dead. We're in bed with lights out by 9:30.

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