Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A day in the life...

Probably this will only be interesting to my future self, husband, and children (and possibly the grandparents) but I just love the idea of recording the events of an entire ordinary day.  I really wish I'd done this periodically when my older kids were little, and while I was still homeschooling.  But, better late than never!  Enjoy!

Around midnightAustin is standing in his crib at the side of our bed, crying.  I pick him up, kiss his soft cheeks, and bring him in to our bed to nurse.  We're both asleep again within minutes. 

4:00Austin is awake again.  He turns onto his tummy and sweetly pats the bed with his chubby little hand.  I turn over onto my side, hoping that he'll go back to sleep if he thinks I am, too.  Every now and then he raises up to pat me, as though to reassure himself that I am still there.  I roll back over and rub his back.  I consider getting up since I'm wide awake and the alarm will be going off in less than an hour, but eventually we both fall asleep again.

5:19Oops!  Guess I didn't hear the alarm!  I get up, prop some pillows against Austin who is still sound asleep beside Darren, and head to the kitchen.  I start a pot of coffee, pet the kitties, and fill their food dishes. I get in the shower and think of all sorts of important things I need to do today, none of which I can remember now, while I'm lathering up my hair.

5:45Waiting for the steam to clear from the bathroom before I finish getting ready, I go check the kids, who are still sleeping peacefully.  I fix my first cup of coffee, finish dressing, wake Darren, and apply a bit of make-up.  My hair will have to keep it's curls today; it's too hot and humid to try straightening it!

6:00I remember to put the kids' juice filled water bottles into the freezer so they'll be nice and slushy by the time we're ready to leave.  Since I still have a little bit of time before I need to start waking everyone else up, I sit down at the computer with a little snack pack of graham crackers and a second cup of coffee.  I e-mail our AHG troop coordinator to let her know I won't be able to make it to our next meeting and briefly check facebook.  I empty, reload, and run the dishwasher.

6:20Time to wake the kids! I start with Dylan, opening the blinds on his window and singing him "Good Morning to You" in the tune of "Happy Birthday to You". Eyes still closed, he smiles and stretches. I sit on the side of his bed and rub his back for a minute, then move on to the girls' room. Sitting on the side of their bed, I sing to them, too. A cheerful rendition of "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory", followed by kisses and tickles, has them up in no time.  They ride the Mommy Express to the dining room, where I deposit them from my back into their chairs.  Peanut butter toast and glasses of milk are served for breakfast, then it's time to start getting ready.  Since I'm feeling so generous, I make their beds for them while they brush their teeth and wash their faces.  :)  We listen to Justin Bieber songs on YouTube while they dress in the clothes that we laid out last night, and I have just enough time to try a new hairstyle I saw yesterday on Meghan.  I style two french braids in Caitlyn's hair and ask her to please get me some clothes and a diaper for Austin.  She's such a good helper!  Dressing him quickly, I have the kids put their backpacks on, then I add ice packs and their water bottles to the lunch boxes I had filled last night.  I think we're ready to leave!  Out in the garage, I'm buckling Austin into his stroller seat and realize Dylan and Caitlyn aren't wearing their glasses.  Quick!  Go find them and put them on!  Okay.  Now we're set.  But where's Cait's watch?  Another run through the house but it's not to be found.  I'll try to find it later today. 

7:30With Kristen and Austin buckled into their seats of the double stroller and Meghan standing on the back platform, we head off down the street towards their school. It's a beautiful morning, breezy, almost cool. We talk about the day ahead and I kiss them goodbye at the fence. Meghan is worried that she won't find her teacher, so Caitlyn holds her hand and leads her to one of her little friends. I help her line up with her class when the bell rings. I wave to her as she's walking into the building, but she doesn't see me. I stand and talk with my cousin, whose son is also in kindergarten (but in a different class) for a little while before heading back home. I let Kristen hop and skip alongside the stroller and she lets me stop to photograph the lovely Slender Dayflowers blooming in the great expanse of desert bordering the school yard. We inhale the aroma of desert shrubs and pine trees, listen for different bird calls, admire other peoples' yards, and are greeted with barks by every doggie we pass. Kristen collects rocks and pine cones for her collection. I sing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood".

8:20We're back home. Our neighbor crosses the street to deliver some mail that had been mistakenly put in his box, including a Country Door catalog, which Kristen and I enjoy looking through while we have our breakfast. (Honey Nut Cheerios for her, a soft buttered cinnamon raisin bagel for Austin, and a toasted bagel with cream cheese for me.)

8:40Austin and Kristen color pictures for me at their little table while I start typing this blog post.  We play with Mega Blocks on the living room floor.   We read Honey...Honey...Lion! by Jan Brett.  (Kristen's current favorite.)  After cleaning up toys, we get out a My Little Pony game and Kristen plays with Austin.  I upload some photos from my camera and am so pleased with a few that I took this morning.

10:00Austin's acting sleepy so I take him to my room to rock and nurse him. I doze off for a little bit and he falls asleep in my arms. I try to transfer him to his crib as gently as possible, but he pops up as soon as he touches the mattress and starts screaming. I leave the room for a little bit anyway, hoping he'll settle down, but to no avail. I try again with the same results--he falls asleep easily but won't stay down. Again, I leave the room and answer a phone call from Darren. We talk for a few minutes and I post a photo to facebook. Kristen and I play quietly for a little while and I listen from the living room, thinking maybe he's finally fallen asleep. But then we hear him talking and laughing in his crib, so we go to rescue get him.

11:00Austin's buckled into his highchair and Kristen's situated at the bar to help me make banana nut muffins. I had considered double chocolate zucchini muffins but remembered the strange contact dermatitis I developed the last time I made zucchini bread; I'll have Darren shred some for me tonight! I offer Kristen a real lunch while we work, but she's adamant about waiting for the muffins to bake. I do convince her to have some fruit and cheese, though. :) Austin is still so sleepy. He's reached the exhausted cranky stage now...he's refusing lunch, refusing his sippy, and is an inconsolable mess. Poor baby. :(

12:00The muffins are baked, Kristen's been fed, and I'm going to try one more time to get Austin down for a nap while Kris watches Tangled on the computer in the living room. Crossing my fingers that we're successful this time around!!!

12:15Okay, enough of that! Austin is obviously just not going to nap today. :( He joins Kristen watching Tangled with a mini banana muffin in hand while I unload the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, and sweep the kitchen floor. I enjoy a small bowl of cold pasta salad while checking my e-mail on my phone, then feed the dogs and cats. I give the toilets a quick scrub and empty the bathroom trash cans. Ahhhh. That's much better!

12:45I join the kids' on the living room floor with a basket full of clean laundry to be folded while we watch Tangled together. Austin helps by handing me all the towels and wash cloths. :)

1:30Yay! Darren's home! He left work early today so he could attend the first PTO meeting of the school year with me this afternoon. Kristen and Austin are so excited to see Daddy and tell him all about our day! I know the big kids will be so thrilled to see him when they come out of school. :) We put shoes back on and I retouch my make up, pack a small diaper bag, and we're good to go!

2:20We load up into the van, hoping the little ones will behave at the meeting!  Darren waits for Meghan outside of her classroom while I go pick up Dylan and Caitlyn at the designated pick-up spot.  We meet up outside of the library and head inside for the meeting.  There are so many other kids there!  I shouldn't have worried.  The PTO president, we discover, is a woman who was the sacramental coordinator at our church for part of last year (and who still teaches catechism lessons this year).  Awesome!  Another active Catholic!  :)  The principal and vice-principal sit at our table and our family stuffs envelopes for the upcoming jog-a-thon in an effecient assembly line fashion.  Cake and juice is served and everybody is happy!

3:30—Darren drops us off at home, then leaves to run a few errands.  I unpack lunch boxes (and discover that not one of my children ate the pasta salad I packed for them today) and review backpack contents.  Dylan plays an online video game for thirty minutes and the girls tell me all about their day.  Caitlyn, who will not eat a banana or even a banana smoothie under any circumstances, devours two of my banana nut muffins with a glass of cold milk.  Score one for mom!  :)  Austin climbs up into my lap to nurse and is finally, immediately, asleep for the nap he refused to take this morning.  I wonder what sort of mess this will make of bedtime tonight.

4:00—I send Dylan to his room to ready quietly, and I let the girls watch The Berenstain Bears in my room.  I get online to update this post and to read a few news articles and I chat with my brother for a few minutes when he calls to check on how the kids' second week of school is going.  Darren comes home and brings me a cold Strawberry Daiquiri SoBe.  I love that man.  :)

4:30—It seems that the chicken we planned to cook for dinner is still frozen solid, so it looks like it's hot dogs tonight!  Somehow, I don't think any of the kids will mind.  :)  I start searching through drawers and closets for complete school outfits for tomorrow, right down to shoes and accessories.  Darren works on getting dinner ready while the girls play in the tent Meghan made in the living room.

5:00—We sit down to eat.  Hot dogs, potato chips, and sweet tea.  I don't think we could have come up with a simpler meal!  When everyone's finished I put the food away, finish loading the dishwasher, and wipe down the table and counters.  My brother calls to say he's on his way over.  I start putting together lunches to save time in the morning.  Austin wakes up and I'm relieved that he didn't sleep as long as I thought he would. 

5:30—Robby arrives just as Darren is leaving for his nightly walk.  (It helps relieve his joint pain that is so bad by the end of the day.)  Rob's happy to hear that we're listening to a mix of David Archuleta and Justin Bieber.  :)  I give him the birthday gift that arrived in the package my mom sent me last week (his birthday is on Thursday) and have to tell him that his gift from us, unfortunately, will most likely be late.  He does, however, receive an absolutely amazing Super Mario Brothers picture from Dylan!  I wish now that I'd scanned it to save a copy before he gave it to him.  D'oh!

6:00—Rob leaves and I start the first round of baths.  Kristen and Austin splash together in the tub and I can tell that they will both fall asleep easily tonight.  Darren arrives home while I'm dressing them and I get Caitlyn and Meghan into the shower.  Once they're out and dressed, I tuck Kristen into our bed and sit down in our big rocking recliner to nurse Austin.  His eyes keep closing, but he's fussy.  This might take longer than I expected.

7:00—Darren tucks Meghan and Caitlyn into bed and gets Dylan's shower started.  I can hear that the girls are not settling down right away but at least they're staying in bed!  When Dylan's finished getting ready he reads in bed for a while.  I lay Austin down in his crib and head down the hall to kiss all the other kids good night.  Kristen is still asleep in our bed with a tiny white kitten curled up in her hair.  :)

8:00—All is finally quiet.  Darren feeds the dogs and checks to make sure the house is locked up before we settle in to watch LOST.  I am so glad we started watching this series on Netflix!!!  We are so very much enjoying our evenings spent watching it together!

9:45—Darren checks a few websites while I check the kids.  We're both tired, but I want to wrap this up before I go to bed.  Just need to upload a few photos and I think I'll be done!  

10:10—Argh!  My photo editor isn't working and I have to restart the computer.  I go get ready for bed while it starts back up.

10:20—Well, let's try this again.  So far, so good!  Seems to be working!  Now to upload to blogger.  Formatting in the old editor used to be so easy.  

10:50—I think I'm done!  "Publish Post", and I'm off to bed.  Goodnight!  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First day of "real" school

Yesterday was the first day of school for Dylan and Caitlyn and a half day of kindergarten orientation for Meghan.  And honestly, I thought my heart might never recover from the exquisite pain of it all.  I thought we were prepared.  I thought we knew just what to expect.  But what I could have never prepared for with any amount of careful planning was the tumble my heart would take when I saw my sweet little homeschoolers join the throngs of other children on the great big playground for the first time.  I'm sure I should have felt proud--and I did, just a little, but not near enough to compensate for the sick jolt of loss and despair that cut me to the very depths of my soul.  Walking away from my babies, abandoning them there adrift in a sea of strangers, was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.  But, I really felt that we did have to do it.  For a number of reasons which I may or may not address in a separate post, this was the decision we'd made because we thought it would be best for our children.  And, after so much careful and prayerful consideration it just seemed wrong to not give school a fair chance.  "We know the alternative," we reasoned.  "If it doesn't work out we will not hesitate to bring them back home."

But.  The happy children who rushed to greet us upon our return yesterday afternoon were clearly not traumatized.  They were, if anything, more confident than they had been upon arriving that morning.  They had not only survived the day but enjoyed the day.  Caitlyn had made new friends and discovered that her teacher is an active parishioner at our church.  Dylan actually participated in class and remembered an astonishing number of details to share about his day, and was happy to see that one of his classmates is a girl from his catechism class.  Meghan loved the orientation she and I attended together and is really excited to return to her classroom on Thursday, her first day of kindergarten.  It's tricky business, this growing up.  It's so hard for me as their mother to see these beautiful souls as separate from me, but they are.  Each is truly a unique individual, made by and for our Father in heaven and I look in wonder and awe at His marvelous creations.  I was so worried about relinquishing them to outside influences, but one of my friends on facebook addressed that unspoken fear so perfectly that I have to share it here:  "Don't worry, momma, they won't forget who they are in public school- they'll be great kids anywhere they are!"  I love that!  I just have to hope and trust that Darren and I have done our jobs well up to this point and of course we will remain very much involved in their education and socialization.  I'm missing them terribly today, but have to reluctantly admit that I'm eager to see the new directions this path will take us! 
Thank You, God, for making me the mother of these beautiful children, 
and for the joy and privilege of being their first teacher.  

Monday, August 08, 2011

New beginnings

Hmmmm...Well, I had hoped that changing the look of my blog might make me more inclined to write here, but nope.  It's been three days now and so far I still have nothing to say.  Or rather, too much to say for such a small space.  Feelings too big to be summarily confined by the boundaries of a single blog post.  Big changes are underway here at our house and I feel like I'm right in the middle of a major identity crisis!  Those of you who are friends with me on facebook know that we've made the difficult decision to send the three big kids to public school this year.  We'll be registering them for fourth grade, second grade, and Kindergarten in a few days, and our family will begin a whole new chapter in this wonderful adventure!  I hope to continue writing here as a way to chronicle our family's happenings, especially for the grandparents who are so far away.  And, if any of you blog friends happen to read this, I hope you'll still stop by from time to time to say hello!