5:00 a.m. I hear an alarm, a very pleasant-sounding chimey melody, and I realize it's Tim's, not mine. Good. I see the time and think, have fun! I nod back off and he gets ready and heads to the gym.
6:00 a.m. My turn to get up. At the sound of my alarm, I reach over and turn it off. The promise of taking my first sips of coffee in solitude compels me to swing by legs over the side of the bed instead of falling right back asleep. I've managed to keep up this habit for several months and it is one of the best things I do for myself. I totally understand not doing it if you're not getting a full night's rest, as I know many of my peers do not. Getting a head start on these kids in the morning is very advantageous.
|The top sign says, "No trespassing, pirates' property." The bottom one says, "No boys aloud exept Daddy. Secret code 'frozen' (written backwards and upside down)." Annie also penciled in "Mama is not aloud" one time when she was mad at me.|
7:15 a.m. Tim is back from the gym and starts making his usual breakfast of oats with peanut butter, honey and bananas. He enlists the help of Delaney to stir the oats while he gets dressed. She's already completed her tasks for this morning, eaten breakfast and I've already fixed her hair, so things are going well today. Annie's eating breakfast at this point and she's not in a mood to have her picture taken. So I back off with the camera with the caveat that one day when she's reading back through these kind of posts, she might wonder why she isn't in them. Just a thought.
A few minutes before it's time to leave, I check the forecast on my phone. It's a chilly day in the Lowcountry. 34 right now and only 47 for the high. I tell the girls they'll need jackets and hats. They both wear gloves too, but Annie doesn't want to wear her hat. I decide that's OK.
My reminder must have made a difference to Annie because she agrees to pose for a picture with Delaney a little while later. It's Delaney's idea for them to take a picture with their little tubes of Chap-Stick. They've got to have that today! I notice for the hundredth time that these girls have outgrown these jackets and it really is time for new ones. Especially poor Annie.
7:35 a.m. This has been an easy morning. This is what every morning ought to be like. Kids have done what they're supposed to do when they're supposed to do it, and I am not frustrated and barking at everybody. Why can't it be this way all the time? We part ways, Tim to work and the kids and I to school. Timmy is in his pajamas still, because we're going to be coming straight back here after we drop the girls off.
8:30 to 10 a.m. Timmy and I get back to the house. On the agenda this morning is yoga at 10:30 and nothing else. I let Timmy watch TV after he gets dressed. I have my customary breakfast of three eggs and a banana. After I clean up the breakfast mess I spend some time perusing the local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. I'm getting to be a little addicted to tell the truth. It's that, what did we call it in psychology.. intermittent reinforcement. You never know when you're going to see a great deal pop up. Usually it's little things. A week ago I swung by someone's house on the way back from school and picked up a couple pairs of 4T jeans for Timmy, $3 each. A couple weeks before that I scooped up a pair of little Sperrys, excellent condition, for $5. People leave the things on their front step and you just grab and go. I've had all kinds of luck finding things for Timmy, not as much for the girls. No luck at all finding stuff for my bare empty house. Then what do I see in my feed this morning? This beauty.
I nearly swoon. This is my dream table. This table was hand-built in North Carolina, most likely by that same guy who advertises in Craigslist but never returned Tim's emails while we were still living there. It's 8 feet long and 3 feet wide, so definitely adequate even if it's a little narrower than we'd prefer. And it's only $300 for everything! Amazing deal. It sells within seconds and I'm disappointed and relieved at the same time. I have no business looking for a new table and chairs. We just bought a set used a few months ago and it's nice enough even though the upholstered chairs are driving me crazy. No, we don't need a new dining table. Why can't I be content with what I have? What we could really use is furniture and decor for the still bare and unfurnished areas of our house that embarrass me and keep me from inviting anyone over.
I have also been selling things. Since I wrote this, I have been finding it easier to let things go. A couple weeks ago I sold the pack 'n play and our infant carseat and base. That was a no-brainer for me when I looked at the sticker and saw that it expires in August 2017. Yesterday I posted our double jogger for sale, finally got Tim's blessing on that because he didn't want it to go even though we have not used it in the longest time. I've gotten a lot of interest in it and this evening I have someone coming to look at it. Selling is fun too, and a great way to clear the clutter.
Just what I needed, another reason to be attached to Facebook.
I get an email from Tim Sr. It's a photo and the message, "Who do these kids look like?" I already have this picture and love it. It's Timmy Jr at the age of 3 with his sisters Sam and Kathy, who were 7 and 5 at the time. Just like our trio. Baby Karen was not in the picture, probably because as the fourth kid there are no pictures of her, as the family joke goes.
10 a.m. We leave for yoga at the Y. This is the first time in about three weeks that I've been able to make both the Monday and the Wednesday classes. There's always something interfering, like the 24-hour bugs that were circulating a couple weeks ago, or an appointment somewhere. I first started going to yoga when we moved here just because it was at a time that worked for me at a place that has on-site childcare included, and I knew from past experience that I've had positive results come from it (like more flexibility and no aches and pains). But I wasn't really excited about it because I remembered how antsy I used to feel in a yoga class, with all that dim lighting and deep breathing and holding poses and stretches for a long time. But now, a few months later I find all of it invigorating and not boring at all. It's challenging too. I was sore for a day after Monday's class, but a good kind of sore like muscles had been working. I didn't think I would like anything as much as I liked Piyo, but if I had the choice now, I would pick yoga over Piyo. I also don't think it's an accident that my running has improved as long as I've been going to yoga regularly.
|I have a big man wrinkle right between my eyes that appeared right before I turned 35. It doesn't make me feel old at all.|
12:00 p.m. We get back from yoga and I get lunch for Timmy and me. For him, it's the usual: fruit pouch, cheese stick, PB&J. I reheat some of yesterday's chicken tortilla soup. I made it in the crockpot yesterday. It is phenomenal, and it's the only recipe I've found that meets my three requirements for a good crockpot meal, which are:
1) It is a complete one-dish meal (If it's a crockpot "meal" that still requires sides to be made separately, that's no good to me, and that would include something like pulled pork that needs to be served on a bun and with a salad.)
2) It is ONE step - dump things in the pot and turn it on. No pre-cooking of anything, no dirtying of any other dishes. I'm OK with draining and rinsing beans, though.
3) It is delicious and at least three of the five of us will eat it on any given night.
It is unbelievably hard to find a crockpot meal that fulfills my requirements. An obvious idea would be beef stew, but we discovered that beef has a very unpleasant taste after being in the crockpot all day. A friend told me that you prevent that nasty taste by searing the meat first on the stove, but that's a violation of rule #2. (That nasty taste actually prompted Tim to make our old crockpot disappear years ago because he thought we had a bad crockpot but I was still trying to make it work.) I am always on the lookout for new crockpot recipes and would welcome any suggestions. I've been making the tortilla soup once a week lately, and I don't want everybody to get burned out on it.
After I take my soup out of the microwave, I put a few drops of lime juice, a few slices of avocado, and some crumbled tortilla chips on top. Yum.
12:20 p.m. Tim gets back from work and we talk about our day so far. He asks what's for dinner and I tell him that stir-fry is on the menu and we're going to use the shrimp we already have in the freezer. I tell him I thought about buying beef yesterday for stir-fry, but I couldn't justify it when we already had perfectly good shrimp. It's the shrimp that I picked that's not the kind I was supposed to get. I find shrimp to be confusing. Tim says, "Yeah, but it needs to be thawed, peeled and de-veined.." "You'll show me how to do that!" I say brightly. But what I really mean is that he's going to be there and he's going to do it. He changes and goes for a run, and I wrap up lunch with Timmy and get him down for a nap.
12:45 to 2:30 p.m. Tim is home for the rest of the day because we have a conference with Annie's teacher this afternoon. I opt to make tea and hang out with him instead of taking a little nap the way I usually do. He makes his lunch which consists of a lot of eggs and maybe some fruit. He decides we should go out to eat tonight. He says, "Look up that place in Bluffton that everybody liked." Hmm, OK. I am surprised. First of all, we hardly ever go out to dinner, like only a handful of times each year. Also, it's the end of January, which is a spending freeze month. But he's the budget master so if he wants to go out, we'll go out.
20 minutes before it's time to leave I realize that I'm still wearing my yoga pants and Cape Cod hoodie. I jump up saying, "What am I doing? We're going to talk with Annie's teacher and out to eat and I'm still dressed like a slob!" Tim says, "How set are you on the idea of going out to eat?" Now he's backpedaling .. the man can't make up his mind.
In a jiffy I've thrown myself together. I fail to notice how dirty the mirror is when I take this picture. I promise that's not snot coming out of my nose, it's a smudge on the glass.
2:55 p.m. We leave for school. How nice for all us all to be going together today to drive the maze of downtown Beaufort streets together. We pick Annie up quickly and easily, cut over five blocks to get in Delaney's line, but it is really long. Tim has to turn and try to get to the end of the line. No cuts, no buts, at least in theory... I don't know why the line is so long today. I start to worry that we won't be back to Annie's building for our 3:45 appointment. Meanwhile, Timmy has been telling me every two minutes since we left home that his belly hurts.
3:45 p.m. We've got the girls and are now arriving back at the K-1 building for the conference with Annie's teacher. Timmy says, "I gotta poop!" Impeccable timing as usual. Tim takes him to the bathroom and we are a few minutes late for our meeting, but oh well. The kids wander around the classroom while we sit down with Mrs. C.
She tells us that Annie is a great student, and if she could clone her and maybe a few others, she'd have the easiest class in the world. She says that she has already met her math goal for the year, and she is already reading as well as a first grader at the end of first grade. She says socially she is coming out of her shell and interacting more. It's hard for me to imagine since I've seen her go out of her way to not even look at teachers or other students, but there is a whole chunk of the day that we don't see. She shows us samples of Annie's writing. Recently she wrote a little fairy tale that goes, "Once upon a time there was a princess. She ate an apple, then she ate another apple and then she died." Oh, Annie.:) We once again marvel at the difference between the way Annie wrote her name at the beginning of the school year (so shaky) and the way she writes it now with so much more confidence.
Mrs. C remarks after prefacing that she knows we move a lot since we're military, that Annie would also do really well in a more traditional, structured classroom setting. In her classroom there are several stations set up and students enjoy being allowed to move freely from one to another, but Annie will just get a math worksheet from her and sit down and work quietly on it. "I think Annie would honestly be happiest sitting at a desk with a stack of worksheets." We all agree that Annie does seem to enjoy busy work and that structure and order really suit her best. She doesn't really know what to do with options. The point Mrs. C makes about Annie in a traditional classroom is helpful to me and I tuck it away.
We chat for a little while longer, and Tim makes a point of letting her know that we appreciate what a great job she's doing, and that we have noticed how much Annie's learning in just a short few months.
4:00 p.m. or thereabouts, we take the kids and go. Tim stops by the seafood market for some fresh local shrimp already peeled and de-veined, for our stir-fry. The shrimp we already have will stay in the freezer another night. By now I am so hungry. When we get home Tim tells me to get everything "prepped" and then he'll come cook. He collapses in the la-z-boy where he'll probably take a cat nap. Can't blame him for needing a break when his day starts at 5. I set the timer for Delaney to do Khan Academy (math games) on the computer for a half hour. Timmy keeps me company while I start the rice and cut up the veggies. I feel myself becoming clumsy and short-tempered as 'Hungry Rachael" begins to take over. I have to concentrate really hard on NOT cutting my fingers with that big sharp knife.
Timmy wants to help me by first by organizing the container cabinet -- even he's noticed that it could definitely use some help -- and then by taking a few pictures. He has a hard time getting his little finger to reach the shutter button but he doesn't do too badly.
5:15 p.m. Delaney's turn at the computer is over and now Annie is allowed to log on to Reading Eggs for a half hour or until dinner is ready, whichever comes first. She is very tolerant of having her brother and sister right at her elbows the whole time.
I let Tim know it's time for him to take over and I go out to check the mail. When I come back in I tell Delaney, "It's your lucky day, girly!" She's got two letters today -- one from her cousin Alexa in Massachusetts and the other from her Auntie Grace in Ohio. She is so excited. She opens them both and reads them in about two minutes flat. Isn't snail mail fun? Delaney has three pen pals now -- Alexa, her friend Lily from NC, and now Auntie Grace. We're trying to get her to follow through with the the writing and mailing process because too many times she starts a letter, maybe finishes it, but then it will never find its way into an envelope. Or it does and then sits around for a long time until we remind her to address it and put it in the mailbox. Or it gets lost, but as far as she's concerned she's done her part and now she's waiting for a letter back. The only reason she gets a letter from Grace is that Tim snapped a picture of a sweet note Delaney had written to her and then left on her bed. She can't seem to get it through her head that her good intentions alone do not result in someone receiving a letter from her. We'll keep working on that.:)
5:45 p.m. We sit down to eat at last. I am starvin' like Marvin! I also know that at any minute I have my person coming to see the double jogger. So I eat fast.
About 15 minutes into the meal, Tim tells me he sees someone driving up so I go out to meet her. She ends up passing on the stroller because her car seat adapter will not work on on an older BOB model. I feel bad that she's gone to the trouble of coming out here for nothing. She was even kept for a minute at the gate while the Marine called me to verify that I was expecting someone.
6:30 p.m. With dinner done we tell the kids to start getting ready for bed -- pajamas, teeth, and picking up their rooms. Delaney's in charge of their bathroom sink today so she has to wipe it off. I need to supervise Timmy because we are still unable to tell him to change into his pajamas and pick up his room, and then expect to see it done. I've tried the reverse psychology thing, i.e., "I don't know if you're a big enough boy to change into your pajamas," but he hasn't taken the bait so far. He will do it himself if I stay and watch and coax him through it.
6:50 p.m. Annie assists as I make the girls' lunches for the next day. We are getting low on everything. Not many snack foods left. I do the commissary shopping on Friday, and I never seem to get enough to last all week. The cupboards are getting bare.
7:05 p.m. Off to bed!
Before lights out I read them a chapter of Rush Revere and the American Revolution. My mom gave it to Delaney for Christmas and it's a fun book. It's like a Magic School Bus for American history and Delaney eats it up. Annie has the camera now, and she takes selfies and shots of Timmy's feet.
|He still has cute little baby feet.|
7:30 p.m. Prayers are said, kids are in bed. I check my email and I have one from Carolyn, Tim's mom, with pictures from the blizzard. She says, "You show a flowered tree and this is what we have. Good old New England." Here is my favorite picture of the bunch:
|One of my kids would be the one to open that door. Eek!|
They might be jealous of us this time of year, but come summer I am jealous of them because they don't have the kind of heat and humidity that forces you to stay in the air-conditioning from 9 in the morning until 9 at night. And their pools don't feel like bathwater. Plus, there is so much more to do in New England. Here, if you don't want to fish or swim, your only option is to drive to Charleston. Every place has its pros and cons.
I get on Facebook and message the next person interested in the stroller and we arrange for them to come over tomorrow. I think this thing's going to sell quickly. I do my bible study reading. I finally found a bible study! Or rather it found me because the mom of the other Delaney and Timmy who live down the street invited all of us in the Officer Spouses Club a few weeks ago. I jumped at the opportunity. I'm so glad to have this. I was sad to leave my bible study group in NC and hoped I'd find another here.
9:45 p.m. We both head back to bed. I make fun of Tim like I always do for wearing a hoodie to bed. He takes it off before he goes to sleep, but this is his pre-sleep ritual: hoodie, iPad and earbuds. And coffee -- he drinks coffee as he winds down for sleep. Who does that?
My hands are so dry and cracked just from walking outside this morning without gloves and then washing my hands a hundred times since. He laughs at me as I put gloves on over my lotioned hands before calling it a night. I guess we both have some strange ways.