Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Day In The Life: October 8, 2015

I came across a young mother's "day in the life" blog entry a couple of days ago, and as I was tucking the kids in (figuratively, of course, since James decided to sleep on the floor as usual and the girls were both too squirrely) it suddenly occurred to me that I ought to do something like that every once in a while. Maybe a couple of times a year? And no fair planning in advance so you do all the cool stuff on that day either - it has to be at least semi-random, with no (OK, minimal) whitewashing. :)
Let's see how it goes.

Lucy unusually sleeps in past 7 am. OK, technically she was up at 6 and 7, but I convinced her to back to sleep both times (in my bed, the last time!) and she stayed asleep while the rest of us got up at our regular 7:45 time. Anyway, James serves himself Honeynut Cheerios for breakfast and I put a coule of waffles in the toaster for Grace before making David's sandwich and pouring a bowl of pumpkin seed and flax granola (a Costco splurge) for myself.
David gives both "snugglers" hugs on the way out at 8:15, and I decide to try something slightly different: I read our chapter out of Mark while the kids are finishing up instead of waiting for school time an hour (or two!) later. We also briefly practice our Bible verse (2 Cor 13:14) before James and Grace run off and Lucy appears sleepy-eyed about 8:30.
I serve Lucy some Cheerios and make myself some coffee while I tidy up the kitchen and get the dishwasher ready to run.
When I finally stir out of the kitchen, I notice that James' "Snap Circuits" kit hasn't been picked up, and I ask him to do so for the second or third time. There is also a "fort" started in the sunken room. I may have started to get grumpy, because I remember telling him that he has until I get Lucy changed and dressed to have his stuff squared away, or I'm taking it.
I dress Lucy and myself while enjoying my Irish Creme (syrup!) latte - Grace has actually already complied to my instruction to get dressed, probably because it's Ballet day and this is actually good motivation to get out of her PJs.
It's only about 9:15 when I get the kids set down at the dining room table for school, or what passes for it around here. This is almost unheard of, but there was no pressing housework outside of the kitchen and I know we have to leave the house at 10:30, so I am motivated to get the show on the road.
We have been doing an Apple Unit this week, by which I mean I printed out a bunch of themed pages helpfully compiled by another homeschooling mom and have been slowly working through them. We've played Memory - frankly the most successful activity so far! - put together a few simple puzzles, discussed the basic life cycle, and yesterday I chivied James through some simple math worksheets. (Grace needed help, but not to be "chivied!") Today I am determined he will do some writing practice, which he despises. (Note to self: he was not only willing but eager to write a note to the tooth fairly last night. If I can only find things he's Interested in writing, it isn't so much of a fight!)

Anyway, we discuss the various parts of an apple (skin, flesh, seeds) and how they can help us understand the Trinity. (I got some help from a site I literally Googled at 7:50 this morning!) We also practice our Bible Verse again which both kids are finding more challenging than usual - surprising and annoying, since I chose it to coordinate with the Trinity lesson from this morning and it appears word for word in one of their bedtime songs. Oh well: some things just can't be predicted!
We wrap up after something like 15 minutes, and I extract a promise from James that he Will write the three parts of the apple on the appropriate diagram while I go upstairs to work on a reading lesson with Grace. Wait, make that "while I go upstairs, change a dirty diaper (hey, Lucy, how's about potty training?!), and work on reading with Grace."

Side note: When we started "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" about 3 weeks ago, I thought for a couple of days that the need to compete would keep James engaged. Then it became clear that he was further ahead of Grace then I thought (he actually read a whole simple CVC book the other night!), but also quite unable to keep his own mouth shut while Grace answered questions and worked through problems. So I separated them and let him skip ahead several lessons. This is working OK, except that one or both of them manages to skip their lesson nearly every day.

Anyway, today Grace struggles through a new sound ("i"), the rhyming game, and sounding out several words culminating in the amazing sentence "See me read."
I'm honestly questioning whether I should continue with her right now. She's still 6 weeks from her 5th birthday, and she's not "getting" it yet. Letter sounds are pretty easy, but just like James 6-8 months ago, she finds it almost impossible to get from "mmm-aaa-ttt" to "mat."
On the other hand, she really Wants to read, and despite the frustration seems to really enjoy practically anything academic, especially when she gets 1x1 time with me. So I'm not quite ready to abandon it yet.

I have to kick the other kids out of my bedroom where the lesson is taking place more than once (they hate this), but we do get through it by about 10:10, and now it's crunch time: we need to be in the car at 10:30. I honestly don't know what takes so much time, but suffice to say it is 10:47 by the time the engine is started. No biggie: the 11 am class never seems to actually start until 11:05 or so, and today is no different. This is her 4th class, and while she's enjoying it so much I've already signed her up for the next session, sadly the waiting room leaves much to be desired as a hang-out location for wiggly siblings. It's about 10 x 15 feet with chairs on both long sides, leaving about 6 feet of "aisle" to mess about it. There are puzzles and toys there for the kids, but anything they do is in the way of the foot traffic.  So instead of lingering I've started heading for the "Jet Set" coffee shop about 5 minutes away just as soon as I've got Gracie's wings and shoes strapped on. They make an Amazing dark chocolate mocha (decaf, of course. The first time I went full octane and was reminded anew that caffeine and I no longer get on: it dropped me like a rock a couple of hours later and I never really recovered that day.)  I pull out my Zentangle supplies, but neither James nor Lucy is in the mood to be entertained by doodling for more then 5 minutes. We don't have long to linger anyway: the class is only 45 minutes long. Eventually I'd love to get a little school time in for James in this waiting time, but I'm not sure it's realistic, especially with Lucy to worry about. So I should probably just be happy and enjoy my coffee!

We pick Gracie up (she learned to be a sail on a boat today and got an ugly Halloween sticker she did not like!) and I handed out the hand-wipes and lunches in the car. (As usual, Lucy managed to drop half of hers as crumbs into her seat.) James is full of plans for what to do when we get home: his priorities are either decorating for Halloween or playing a game of Forbidden Island - which he's been begging for since he got up this morning.

I decide that of the two I can handle the fall decorating more easily, so we get our flashlights and poke through the attic for the box of decorations. (The overhead lighting is on the fritz and awaiting rewiring by my father.) Along the way we find a light "saver", Tigger costume, and princess dress. Needless to say, 5 minutes later I have a Princess, Darth Vader, and a Tiger who is somehow also Sophia the First on my hands instead of my normal three children. We troop downstairs to decorate the fireplace and mantle area, with me somehow keeping something of an even keel despite a tiger and a princess who will not stop playing with delicate items and the discovery that someone "watered" my paper flowers in their vase in the fireplace display. Amazingly only a few are ruined!
I do my best with the decor, but there aren't enough fake flowers and leaves to fill my fireplace box. After some hemming and hawing, I determine to head out to Michael's to remedy this situation with their 50% off sale. (Yes, still in costume!) This should have been a disaster, but somehow it went pretty well. I had to remind Lucy every 15 seconds not to touch, but nothing was broken and we made it up to the cash register with $20 of faux flowers and a few art projects for the kids. The teller greatly admired their get-ups, wishing out loud that She could wear a costume every day!

It's now about 3 pm and James is dragging. He'd complained of a sore throat before we left, and since the girls have had coughs and sniffles for the last 5-7 days, this was hardly a shocker - I've got a headache myself and have No Idea why I'm not much sicker. (Thank you God!)
Once home I give him an allergy pill on the off chance that's all it is, and a warm lemon-honey-apple cider vinegar concoction on the more likely chance that it isn't. I know he won't drink it, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something. :} I also finally agree to play Forbidden Island, which is a cooperative game meant for ages 10 and up, but not really as complicated as all that - although a 2 year old who wants to be involved certainly makes it harder! We win easily and I try for the third or fourth time to suggest to James that he take a nap. He's having none of it, though, and shortly discovers that his friend Georgia (age 9 or 10) is outside and looking for playmates. (Despite being the second week of October it is in the mid 70's this afternoon!) I give up on the nap idea and simply insist that they change out of their non-washable costumes. A few minutes later James is back to beg permission to go across the street and hang out in Georgia's yard - something they have not traditionally been permitted. I realize there's no really good reason to say no, and escort them across the street before hurrying back to Lucy who was in the process of finding shoes and hasn't quite figured out her siblings are abandoning her.

My plan now is to start an art project I've been contemplating, namely "tangling" the kids' little black Ikea table. I gather my supplies and take them and Lucy out to the porch. Lucy begs to ride her big-wheel instead of staying to play in the sandbox, and since she does this all the time with her siblings, I decide to let her try it. Of course, within 5 minutes she's discovered the other kids are across the "big" street and she makes a beeline for them on her trike. I realize this about 10 second too late and have to sprint all out to catch her before she makes 180th - which isn't busy by any stretch, but certainly should not be pedaled across by an unthinking 2-year-old either. I drag her kicking and screaming back to the porch which I block off with a large baby play-yard that was sitting outside waiting to be put away. It isn't a perfect barrier but she bows to the inevitable and starts making a huge mess with the sand. I decide to (mostly) ignore the fact she's breaking all the rules about bringing water out from the house, making mud, and dumping sand out of the box so we can enjoy ourselves.

This actually lasts for nearly an hour, at the end of which I have this (inspired by this coloring page)

I'm pleased, but when I finally look up I realize it's 5. I hear James shouting for me, so I leave Lucy on the porch and march across the street. They want me to "judge" their Lego house building contest! I manage to suavely come up with a prize category for all three entrants (Grace sat out, but Georgia's older brother Davis built one), and as I am about to drag my kids home Georgia's mother comes out to tell them they've got 5 minutes. Stephanie and I meet formally for the first time - I mean, we've only lived across the street from one another for three years and had our kids playing together off and on for most of that time! Oh well, at least we finally know each other's first names!

Of course, dinner has Not been started when David pulls in at about 5:25. I'm making breakfast - pancakes, hashbrowns from a leftover baked potato, and bacon - so it comes together fairly quickly but also makes a huge mess. Once again, and a bit unusually, I mostly keep my cool. :}
All 30 pancakes are devoured with gusto. The kitchen is a disaster, it's around 6:15, and James (of course) wants me to play another game with him. He's also clearly feeling a little crummy, and I think he should go to bed, but decide not to push it until about 7:30. I tell him the game is a no-go and get the kitchen under control. The girls go upstairs and start playing together peaceably. James hangs around the dining room table where David is playing a video game. I realize that I really can't start bedtime for nearly an hour, so I make the spur of the moment decision to do an exercise video. Normally this is about the time three kids melt down at once, but this time Murphy stayed in his cage and I made it to the last 5-7 minutes of my 30 minute video before all three of them converged on me and started threatening to drop heavy objects on my head. (The threat may have been unintentional, but difficult to ignore nevertheless!)  Lucy actually tried to follow along with the leg lifts for a few moments - absolutely adorable!

Finally, it's really and truly bed time. David already said their prayers with them, so I just need to read a story to James and Grace. Lucy has to be kicked out of the room because she really just wants to talk loudly to her toys. David thankfully takes her. We read about three chapters of "The Boxcar Children," which I started with James last night. I remember it from my own childhood, but as an adult am finding it a groaningly romanticized tale given that it centers around a recently bereaved and homeless group of children.  For heaven's sake, the only one that ever complains is 5-year-old Benny, and that's only when he's especially hungry or tired! Benny comes across as at least a year younger than he actually is while the others may as well be adults in childrens' bodies. It's a little frustrating. Still, it's a classic, and there are about a zillion of them. Also, the language is very simple, so simply I suspect James could be reading them himself by next year if sufficiently motivated. We'll see.

James is off to bed (in the middle of the carpet, a blanket half over him) and probably asleep 10 minutes later. Grace is down to the Box Room (aka the guest room), most certainly Not sleeping, shortly thereafter.  In fact, it's about 10 pm and I am afraid she still might not be asleep - this child has a Terrific difficulty falling asleep and I have no idea how to help. It's something that's been at the back (and sometimes the front) of my mind for several months now but I just don't know how to get any traction on it. I'm not wanting to give her melatonin...
Anyway, I then go up to rock, sing, and (yes) nurse Lucy to sleep. I've been waiting for her to be done with at least the nursing portion of this ritual - the other two weaned themselves by 2 years - but she shows no interest. Not high on my list of priorities to "fix," though - many more important things to worry about then a late-nursing toddler! Unfortunately, she does not quickly drop off this evening, and accepts that she must stay in her room tearfully and only after I lock the door. This is actually blessedly unusual of late - she's been a true terror at bedtime in the past, but really grown up a lot in the past few months.

And now we've up to the present. I played a few rounds of Angry Birds before starting this entry - actually, I filled several odd moments today with that little time waster, which James also has started begging for and occasionally gotten. Actually, it was pretty darn funny: right before dinner both he and Grace were sitting on the couch playing Angry Birds - James on my phone, and Grace on an old discarded clam-shell unit that could not have played a video game even in its newest days! Better yet, I think Grace was having more fun!
Anyway, I was going to watch the episode of Sherlock I started last night before Lucy woke up with a night terror and I had to spend 30 minutes getting her back to sleep. But it's 10:30 and I wasn't all that committed in the first place. I need something to do with my hands while watching TV, and I don't have any TV-friendly projects started right now. Instead I'll read a bit before turning in after some leftover mac-n-cheese David is heating up for me (Not a lot of protein in that dinner!)

It was a good day. A normal day, smoother than many, but not spectacularly so. Not a day that would normally get a scrapbook page - I didn't even photograph the kids in their costumes!  But honestly, it's the sort of day that I want to remember because it's the sort of day that makes up our real life - our real, beautiful, messy, confusing, chaotic, fun, God-gifted life. Thank you God once again!

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