Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day in the Life: Spring 2015 (with a mini Stitch Fix review)

Today is Tuesday, April 7.

4:30 a.m. I am awakened by Timmy at the side of my bed saying, "Mama, I had a bad dream. Can I come in your bed?" This rarely happens. "Fine, get in," I mumble, and immediately go back to sleep.

5:30 a.m. I hear giggling and talking in the direction of the hallway. You've got to be kidding me. Most days it takes several minutes to get these girls up and moving, and now they're talking and giggling at 5:30.  "Girls, be quiet and go back to bed," I try to say loudly enough for them to hear, but not so loud as to wake up Timmy. I have to say it again and I'm not happy about that..  I think they're starting to get really excited about our trip to Ohio this Friday, and they might be talking about their packing lists. The anticipation builds.

After this, I try to go back to sleep. I still hear some noise from the girls, and I know they are wide awake. It's going to be a very long day for them, for us all. I really need to be up and going BEFORE they are. It works out so much better that way. It really messes up the morning the few times they wake up too early.

6:00 a.m. My alarm goes off, not that it matters because I never got back to sleep anyway. I go to the kitchen and start a pot of coffee, go back and make the bed and brush my teeth. By then Timmy's up too, and I've sent him to stay in his room until I tell them all to come out. I go to the living room with my coffee and phone, read my daily devotion and pray. I'm feeling pretty tired from my interrupted sleep. Not only did Timmy come in at 5:30 to sleep, but he also woke up crying and confused at around 1, the way he sometimes does when he needs to pee. So I had to help him with that too. So I sit there for a little while and I do what I can to get my mind and heart in a good place and ready to attack this day.

6:40 a.m. The kids' usual wake-up time. I'm just going to go ahead and skip over the details of what transpired between here and 7:30, because it was the worst morning we've had in awhile. It would be very long and tiresome to read about in detail. I do want to share something that occurred to me later in the morning: When we have just babies and toddlers, we do everything for them to the point where it's as natural as breathing. We carry them around, clean up their messes, feed them, dress and undress them, pick up after them, and don't think twice. And it's a lot of work, very physically taxing, even more than I remember, I'm sure. But it's automatic, and it's just what needs to be done.  What I find to be much more difficult as they grow bigger, smarter and more able-bodied, is teaching them to do things for themselves and to help out. That is the real challenge -- not doing it for them, making them do it. I get a lot of resistance from them. I'll tell them to do something, and they'll be like, "I know!" All exasperated. Then I'll walk away and come back and it won't be done. I feel like I might as well bang my head into a wall a few times as tell them again and again to do the same stupid things that ought to be a habit by now. Add to that a meltdown or two (by the kids, not me!) and you've got yourself a recipe for a bad morning.

I feel so defeated at this point, but in the last five minutes before I take them to school I try to salvage a little bit of my time with them and read today's devotion from their VeggieTales book, and say a morning offering. I have to keep trying.
7:30 to 8:30 a.m. I take the kids to school, a 25-minute drive each way.

8:30 a.m. I make and eat my breakfast, three eggs and a halo. I open the silverware drawer and this is what I see. Grrr.
A little token of the particularly horrendous time that a certain eldest child of mine gave me this morning
8:45 to 10;30 a.m. For awhile I am pretty productive this morning. The drama earlier is over and now it's time to focus on getting things done. On today's list: put away laundry, change sheets and vacuum the girls' room, water the plants, and get dinner started in the crockpot.
The girls' room.. sigh. I am so sorry for all the whining in this post, but it doesn't seem to matter how much we de-clutter and organize in here. There is always clutter in here. It's like debris, just little pieces of things here and there. Maybe it's just one of those days. I see several toys carelessly thrown onto the shoe shelf of the closet, and I say to myself, 'If they can't put it where it goes, I'll just throw it in a bag and put it up for awhile.' They may not ever notice.

I don't know if you know this about my husband and I, but we are people who like our home to be orderly, with a place for everything. When the girls were very little, I also thought this meant having a nice playroom full of toys, a Pinterest-worthy (ha! It was NOT, but that was the ideal) place for the kids to make-believe and have hours of fun. So, in NC we had this big room full of toys -- not as many as a lot of people we know, but still a lot. And every evening we would ride the kids until they got everything put away. Because we do not tolerate messes. Nor do we think it's our job to pick it all up. So much frustration ensued.
Over time, we found that the less we had, the less we had to worry about. We just kept paring it down over time. In the months before we moved here, we gave away or sold a TON of toys. And you know what? The kids don't miss the play kitchen or the little play house, or tool bench, or doll baby gear, or any of the things I thought they needed to have a happy childhood. Today we have a bare minimum of toys. Delaney is very attached to her stuffed animals, and little else. [Here's where I have to reveal what mean parents we are. When we arrived here we had a large appliance box filled with all the stuffed animals left AFTER we had gotten rid of many others. It sat in the garage for weeks while we deliberated about what to do with it. I knew if we opened it we would end up wanting to keep it all, and we didn't have space for a dedicated playroom here. We finally decided to just donate it all. I was sad about it but I couldn't let those things take over our house! Delaney still asks about things that she thinks were in that box once in awhile, and I feel like crap when she does. First world problems, right?] Annie has a few things on her bed but really doesn't care about or play with anything she has. She's a strange girl. Timmy has a toy box in his room full of toys that he doesn't care for much, either. He rolls some cars around sometimes and that's it. They all like books and we have plenty of those. But I'll tell you what, it is really nice not to be overcome with toy clutter anymore. We still have problems getting the kids to pick up, but there isn't nearly as much to pick up.

Still, as I look around their rooms, I think it might be time for another toy purge. They want to dump things out and then not pick them up and if that's the case they don't need to have it. We just want to teach them take care of their things and put them away when they're done playing with them. That's it. But this time we'll do something different. They will participate and decide what stays and what goes. Sometimes I think I spend way too much time thinking about things -- too many things, not enough things, what should I do with all the things..?. Do these things rule my life? Sometimes they really do. And that should never be the case.
Here I am in typical housework attire.
10:30 a.m. As I'm watering the ferns -- oh, those poor things! -- I see the FedEx truck arrive, and it's my Stitch Fix, a day earlier than expected! Speaking of materialism... Have you heard of Stitch Fix? (Note: that's my referral link. I get credit, I think $20, if you click and sign up.) It is a service in which someone picks out five pieces of clothing and sends them to you. You decide what you want to keep and pay for, and then send the rest back with free shipping. I tried to resist it, but after reading so many reviews from other bloggers, I knew I had to give it a try. I'm a fashion dummy, and having a personal stylist pick out things that are customized to my likes/dislikes, my size, and the current fashions is a dream come true

You can schedule shipments however often you like. I have mine scheduled for every other month, and I can cancel anytime. There's nothing to lose except the $20 styling fee, which is applied toward anything you keep. But be warned, the price tags are hefty. The first time, I was like, 'This shirt costs how much? I could get it for a fraction of that at Old Navy or TJ Maxx.' Then I remembered that I hadn't gone to the stores, looked through all the racks (I hate shopping!), and hadn't had to try anything on. And in the case of Old Navy, yes the clothes are dirt cheap but they are pretty much disposable after one wash, so is that really worth it? Instead, someone else had gone to the effort of choosing these things for me and sending them complete with pictures that show me how I can wear them in an outfit. So yeah, it's going to cost you. If you're accustomed to putting together cute outfits and getting great deals on clothes, then carry on. This service is not for you. Or maybe you want to try it anyway because it's fun.
The rest of my to-do list flies out the window as I open the box and start trying on clothes. This is so much fun! Timmy, who is still in his pajamas, settles in to watch.

I don't want to dedicate the time or space in this post to a detailed review, but I'll just post a picture of my keepers. My stylist missed the mark this time with a couple of things, but the more feedback she gets from me, the more things will improve in the future. And since I didn't buy the whole shebang, I have a few dollars to spend this month on clothes at a store.;) My favorite thing about this experience: my stylist has nailed my size every time, and I never have to worry about whether it will fit -- only whether or not I like it. That was the case with the black ankle jeans she sent in the first shipment too!
On the left, I had specifically requested a maxi skirt, and I love this one. On the right, I LOVE this top. I needed new tops for spring and summer and I also tried this one on with my white jeans and turquoise drop earrings. Perfect!
Just like that, I have two new additions to my wardrobe! I wish that Stitch Fix did men's clothes too. Tim needs new things all the time but he hates to shop and he doesn't know where to find what he wants. Also, sizing is an issue for him in the last couple years as he's become more fit. He's right between a medium and large in shirts. He's always telling me that things don't fall right on him, or feel right or something. He could really use some new business casual clothes for his work trips.

11:30 a.m. I feel bad for ignoring Timmy all this time. I make us lunch and tell him when we're done we can go for a little walk. It's another warm, sunny day and we can use some fresh air.
12:30 p.m. We go for a little walk. Timmy rides his tricycle.
12:40 p.m. It is a VERY short walk. We usually go for about 20 minutes, but I am tired after our rough morning, and then coming down from the new clothes high. When we get in the door I rush him to his nap and then go lie down for about 30 minutes myself.

I've been checking Instagram all day, eager to see a baby update from Nicole. When I wake up from my nap I am rewarded when an adorable baby girl pops up in my feed. Born last night right on her due date. Congratulations, Tully family!

2:30 to 3:00 p.m. Timmy sleeps on. I email Tim pictures of me trying on the clothes I got today. I've already decided what I like, but I'm curious to see what he thinks. Last time he got to see me try them on in person, and I ended up keeping something he didn't like. It was a cargo vest. It grew on him after a week or two. Then I have to wake up Timmy so we can pick up his sisters.

3:05 to 4:00 p.m. Again we drive to school, 25 minutes each way, plus a five or 10-minute wait in a line at Delaney's building. I'm counting the days till the end of the school year, when I don't have to drive two hours every day. And since we won't be sending them to this school next year, that will be the end of it entirely. I'll let my tax dollars do the driving, as my mother-in-law once says.

4:00 to 5:10 p.m. Here goes the whirlwind that Tuesday afternoons are this spring. As soon as we get home I send the girls to change into soccer clothes while I hastily get dinner on the table. Delaney and Timmy don't like tortilla soup so Delaney eats a couple hardboiled eggs. Timmy has .. I don't even know what Timmy has. As little as he can get away with having, I'm sure. (I only make the tortilla soup twice a month or so, so it's not like I'm tormenting them all the time with foods they hate.) Then they all run outside and play while I race through cleaning up the kitchen before we have to leave. I do not want to come home to a messy kitchen ever if I can help it.
5:10 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. We go to soccer practice.  Annie's practice with the five- and six-year-olds is the first hour. My neighbor Kim has her Delaney and Timmy on the team with Annie. We chat and I tell her about my bad morning. That somehow leads to talking about food and the pickiness of my kids. I tell her how I'll let my kids substitute something healthy for whatever dinner I'm making that they don't like. Something that doesn't require me to do anything extra, like a hardboiled egg, banana, or PB&J. Tim will actually make other meals for kids, and he is especially nice to Annie when he's in the kitchen. He'll ask her, "What will you eat?" And then make it. He does it because, for him, it's easy. He's not here every day. Heck, lately, he's here on weekends and that's it. And he wants those to be good times, not battles over food.

Kim tells me about an 18-hour standoff with her Delaney over a piece of meatloaf that she once refused to eat for dinner. She asked for a snack later. Kim said, "Here's your meatloaf." She refused it. Next morning, Delaney was hungry for breakfast and Kim said, "Eat your meatloaf." Delaney refused. Finally, she came to her mom a couple hours later, by now really, really hungry, and Kim gave her the meatloaf and she ate it.  Kim says in their family, you get the meal the family is having, and there are NO substitutions. No ifs, ands or buts. You eat it or go hungry.

I said, "You know, I think you've got the right idea. I'm such a wimpy mom. I hate the idea of my kids going hungry. But that's the way it ought to be, take it or leave it. I think we are creating our picky kids." It's a revelation for me. I sigh as I stare at the soccer field. I think we need to be making some changes in our household. Things are not working. At every meal I frantically throw food at them "zookeeper style" as Tim calls it, just trying to get them to fill their bellies (especially Annie, because she's like the worst little hungry monster there is, who never knows what she wants). I just want them to eat enough food that they'll leave me alone. I've failed to realize how undisciplined this is, and how impractical and unsustainable (not to mention wasteful, if I can't finish all the leftovers) it is to keep making meals that only one or two of us will eat, while raiding the fridge for the others. We are spoiling them. 

I feel convicted after talking with Kim, but also heavyhearted. How did we let it get this bad? For as much as we love order and discipline, we let this food issue get way out of control. (First things, and now food in this post. Truly, we are blessed if these are the kind of problems we have.)

At 6:30 Kim and her brood leave. She usually takes Annie and Timmy with her back home with her, but she's forgotten to put the seat she has for Timmy back in her van. She feels bad about that, but it's really OK. The practice takes place at an elementary school with a nice big playground. Annie and Timmy run over there, and I watch some of Delaney's practice while swatting at the sand fleas which are increasing in number as the evening wears on.
Delaney is thrilled that the team mascot "Carolina" is joining them for practice.
I join Annie and Timmy at the playground and swing on a swing. I watch Annie's face a couple swings away. She's beaming with satisfaction because I'm not swinging as high as she is. I'm afraid to. I can feel the thing moving and hear it creaking and groaning. There are no sand fleas, and even if there were, they wouldn't be biting while I'm swinging. Ahh..
7:20 to 8:30 p.m. Delaney walks toward the playground saying, "Can we leave now? I'm sooooo itchy." Poor Delaney. Itchy from bugs, itchy from eczema too in this weather. I say, "But it isn't time to leave." She says, "But it is!" I look and see that, indeed, everyone else is leaving. 10 minutes early, fine by me. 

I get them home and get them all to shower, brush their teeth, and put their clothes in the hamper (only took telling them three or four times). I put Delaney's eczema medicine on her after her shower. An 80 degree day + running and sweating = eczema flares. 

Once they're in bed they go to sleep fairly quickly. I pack lunches for tomorrow and go plop down on the couch. Then I remember that I doused myself in Skin-so-Soft and I could really use a shower too. I go do that, change into something comfy, and then go look at my email and Facebook on the couch. I don't last too long, though. At 10 I start the dishwasher, go to bed, turn out the light and gratefully drift off to sleep.


  1. Hey! I found your blog through a Money Saving Mom post. I just felt like clicking on someone's link and here I am. :)
    You sound like me in the morning when I don't get to wake up before the kids. It really IS so much nicer to be awake first.
    I liked seeing what you got in the stitch fix box. I keep going back and forth over whether to try one.
    It was fun reading your post. I'm just getting back into the habit of blogging.
    ps. I really like the growth tickers on the side, I might use that on my page. :)

  2. I LOVE this, such a real, honest account of the day! We are very similar in how we like our houses kept neat; my kids even say sometimes, "mom doesn't like messes." I sometimes feel bad, very dictator-ish that I make them clean up their toys and don't like messes or spills, but...whatever, that's just one of my things as a mom! I really think I'm going to need to try Stitch-Fix sometime, it seems like everyone is doing it, but everyone ends up with super cute clothes - and I would gladly pay those prices if I didn't have to a). go to the store b). try things on and c). possibly return them when I buy them too quickly and don't think about whether or not I like them or they truly fit, haha!

    1. Let me know if you ever figure out how to get them to clean up without you standing over them the whole time.

      I love Stitch Fix. My next one is scheduled for right before our beach vacation in June, and I'm going to ask for new sundresses.:)

  3. Thanks for sharing your day! Your theory on toys is interesting. We have a playroom downstairs that rarely gets played in and I've often thought the same thing - why do we have so much? I think I could get rid of most of it and my 3YO wouldn't notice.

    I've been using Stitch Fix for about 6 months and I really enjoy it too! Glad you found some things you liked :)

  4. Many days I wish we just didn't have to eat. Planning meal, making meals, battling over meals is the worst part of the day for me. I have a very picky eater and we've tried many tactics - lots of times it's one step forward two steps back. I don't think I could only 'offer the meatloaf,' I just don't have that in me. But, I feel the same as you. I probably created this mess (because I hate to cook, do lots of solo parenting and Am Tired) and it feels too late to turn it all around now.

    Anyway - you're not alone!

  5. Hi, I found you through the Day In The Life roundup. I love your point about how much harder it is to teach kids to be independent than to just go ahead and do it for them yourself. Living through this right now with my seven year old : )

  6. I'm on board with minimizing toys and trying to get my kid to eat what we eat, but my husband keeps buying all the things for our kid and always is willing to let her eat whatever she wants. My battle isn't just against my kid - my husband is the real problem. Luckily he's a great dad - otherwise it might tick me off more. I've learned it's not worth fighting that battle.

    1. That is so true; you've got to focus on the positive!

  7. Clicking over from DITL. My daughter is only 17 mo old so we are not quite at the cleaning/eating problem stages, but I really wouldn't beat yourself up about it. Those two issues are (from what I read) very common and all parents struggle with it. Just do the best that you can and maybe institute your neighbor's eating strategy.

  8. Coming over from Julia's DITL roundup! Your perspective on how parenting older children can be much more challenging in many ways was interesting. I had never thought of it that way, having just started this parenting gig, but that totally makes sense. I expect I'm going to have a hard time with that as well, as it sounds so much easier to just 'do' for them and get it done.

    Very cute clothes from Stitch Fix!

    1. Thank you! I guess every stage of parenthood has its own set of challenges. I catch myself thinking about teen years and then telling myself not to go borrowing trouble. One day at a time.

  9. The best ever book about feeding children (my bible!) is called How To Get Your Kid To Eat: But Not Too Much by Ellyn Satter. I can't say enough good things about it! It covers everything from infancy to adolescence. The main theme is that it's your job to choose, cook and serve the food: it's your child's job to decide whether to eat it & how much. Brilliant concept and with two daughters I am constantly reminding myself that they will not starve. If they don't eat one meal, there will always be another!

  10. oh man I hate meals sometimes. You work hard preparing a meal and your kid doesn't eat any of it. We do the you don't have to eat it but you don't get anything else either stance around here, but I always put something extra on Aria's plate - cheese or veggies usually. If your kid is truly hungry they will eat, right? Maybe make that your new motto =)