I always enjoy reading about other people’s daily lives and routines at home (maybe that’s because I’m nosy?!), so in a desire to be authentic on this blog, and to record for my own memory what this season is like, I thought I would write about a normal day at our home. In a way there is no normal day, but for right now, today (Tuesday, June 24th) is about as normal as we get, so here goes:
7:00 On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, we wake up at 6:30 to exercise, but today Ben and I “sleep in” until 7:00. I had a little bit of insomnia last night—nothing bad, fortunately—but still it is hard to wake up and I end up hitting snooze until 7:15. Then I wake up and do a few push-ups, Kegels, and stretches.
7:30 By this time David is awake, and Ben has started him listening to the audio Jesus Storybook Bible, his daily morning quiet time. In the meantime, I enjoy cold brew iced coffee while having my own quiet time in the family room. Right now I am reading through Genesis and the Psalms, but soon I’ll be starting Beth Moore’s Bible study on James, which I’m really excited about. Verses that are meaningful to me today are from Psalm 36: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
Part way through my quiet time, David joins me in the family room to read Boris and the Monsters, mostly quietly.
8:00 I usually try to be showered and ready for the day before we get Elanor up, but today that didn’t happen. We always go in to wake Elanor a 8:00. On her own she would sleep who knows how late. It’s always tempting every morning to let her sleep in further, but we’re having bedtime trouble as it is. So I go in to wake up my princess. This morning she wants to stay in her crib for a little while with a sippy cup of milk, but at least she’s awake. This gives me a chance to wash my hair and face, while David outside the bathroom door loudly narrates Boris and the Monsters complete with commentary and questions.
8:30 Time to diaper Elanor, set out clothes for David to change into, quickly check email, and get everyone in the kitchen to start breakfast. Our fridge has been broken for the last 2½ weeks (including 1 week when we were out of town). Fortunately we have a fridge downstairs that is still working. This morning the technician comes back with the part we need. Ben already put everything from the freezer into a cooler to defrost everything, and by now he’s heading downstairs to his office in our basement to start work. I start David on a Language assignment while I scramble six eggs.
8:50 No sooner are the eggs scrambled and served than our foster baby arrives. He is in a transitional period where he spends nights and weekends with his family, and weekdays with us. I walk out to our driveway to get him and his diaper bag. He’s filled his diaper on the way here, so by the time I get him changed and in his high chair, the eggs are cold. I don’t eat much hot food these days!
9:00 David takes a plate of scrambled eggs to Ben in his office, and everyone else eats eggs upstairs while I make strawberry smoothie in the blender. We love smoothies in the summer. Our foster baby eats scrambled eggs and strawberry smoothie along with the rest of us, but it takes a long time to spoonfeed him every bite.
9:30 The refrigerator technician arrives. While he tinkers with the fridge, David and Elanor finish eating and start getting a little wild. I finish feeding the baby and wash the breakfast dishes while giving the kids frequent corrections to try to keep them in line.
10:00 Time to get the baby down to play, brush the others’ teeth, and take Elanor potty. I can tell she needs some special attention this morning, so on a whim I pull out our alphabet flashcards. She learns the letter A and we put together a song to the “Farmer in the Dell” tune: “The letter A says a …” She is beyond excited to be learning the alphabet and wants to go downstairs and show Daddy. I guess this counts as her first official day of preschool. I am hoping by the time she turns 3, she will have learned all her letters and sounds.
10:30 Elanor stays downstairs to play with toys. Her playing quietly by herself is a new thing, and though it doesn’t last long, we sure are grateful! This gives me time to do some school work with David. We just finished David’s first Kindergarten year at age 4, doing only 2-3 days of school a week. This upcoming year we’re going to do a little more school each week, but I also like doing school during the summer, so that we can keep a flexible schedule year round. Late June and early July are quiet for us, so we’ll have a few weeks of normal school routine before we start swimming lessons and go on a couple vacations in late summer.
David and I read his handouts from VBS last week, then the book Leading Little Ones to God, and finally a DK Eyewitness Reader Winking, Blinking, Wiggling, and Waggling. We have an entire shelf just for library books, and I’ve found a major way to save money home schooling (at least so far) is to borrow a lot from the library.
11:00 The baby’s been playing happily on the floor this whole time, but now he’s getting tired and ready for his nap. I put him down just as Elanor decides she is finished with quiet play. She needs another potty time, and then I start her watching an episode of Team Umizoomi, the kids’ current favorite show. (Past favorites include Winnie the Pooh and Octonauts.) Our tenant just got home early from her summer class, and we chat for a moment while Elanor’s movie starts. We have a split foyer floorplan; the upstairs is ours entirely and the downstairs we share with our tenant.
While Elanor is watching a movie and the baby is sleeping, David and I have more quiet school time together. We decide to start a thank you note to Aunt Lara, since we’re taking the month of June off handwriting to write thank you notes for birthday presents. No sooner have we planned our note, picked our color markers, and started the word “dear” when David realizes he needs to have a bathroom time. I catch up on a couple of texts and get myself more coffee while I wait for him to be done.
The freezer and fridge are working now, so I unload the cooler back into the freezer while David writes a couple more words. Things are still quiet and calm, so I get online to look at a fresh ham recipe I am planning for tonight. As usual, everything unravels the moment I sit at the computer. David manages to topple his stool over, hurting himself and waking up the baby. Elanor’s show finishes at that moment, and she needs to go potty. It takes a little while to get everyone stable again. The thank you note is abandoned and I realize I had better make lunch.
12:00 Lunch today is easy, since we have leftover pasta from last night. I serve it up, and then go downstairs to get a couple more things out of that fridge. I’m down there for about thirty seconds, but it’s enough time for trouble to happen. I come up to find Elanor has found a travel bottle of what looks like lotion, and the baby has the cap. I get the cap from the baby and the bottle from Elanor, and look around to make sure there is no lotion mess on the floor, which thankfully there isn’t. Meanwhile David is talking to me about the blue-tongued skink in his pop-up book.
Everyone finally gets settled in to eat lunch. Ben comes up to join us for a couple minutes until he needs to prepare for a phone call at 12:30. I am really grateful Ben can work from home. His hours are usually 8:30 to 5, sometimes more when a big project hits, and some days are more flexible than others.
Once Ben goes back down to work, Elanor finishes eating and starts playing with Duplos—her second time playing happily today. She’s been in a bit of a terrible 2’s, high-drama stage, so every minute of her playing happily by herself feels like a breath of fresh air.
I look up that fresh ham recipe again and start preparing the ham with onion slices and BBQ sauce for dinner. Meanwhile, David continues his thank you note and after he writes each word, he gives the baby one cheerio. This is the first time the baby has had cheerios and he’s doing great with him. We are all excited about telling his family about it tonight.
1:00 Elanor’s play time has ended with Duplos all over the kitchen floor. We clean up, and while I read Elanor a story and put her down for her nap, David keeps the baby entertained with toys. I answer a few quick emails while Elanor falls asleep.
1:30 Now it’s David’s turn to watch Team Umizoomi. He selects an episode, and I pull the baby up in his high chair to join him. This gives me a few minutes to take a nap. I started power napping when David was one, and I have found it to be so helpful. For awhile I felt guilty about it, and then I realized that was silly. I’m a sensitive person in a busy season of life, and I do much better with a few minutes of dark-room time in the middle of the day.
1:50 Naptime over. I fix myself a cup of cold coffee. Baby is showing some tired signs, so I put him down for a nap, and when David finishes his episode of Team Umizoomi, I help him begin a quiet time in his bedroom listening to an audio drama of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I am a huge fan of audio books for children, especially as an alternative to too much screen time. Awhile back, we set up a CD player and speakers on top of David’s dresser, and now he has audio book time every day. He usually plays with toys while he listens, and sometimes I wonder if he is tracking more with Transformers or with Narnia, but at least he is having fun!
In those wonderful moments while David is quiet and both babies are napping, I have a quick Bible time—about 5 minutes or less to review what I read this morning and bring my heart back to center. I try to do this every day. Sometimes our mornings can seem 24 hours long in themselves, and I need to refocus!
Usually I spend my short afternoon quiet time on teaching work. Over the school year I plan classes and grade papers. This summer I’m not teaching, but I’m putting together my student workbook for the fall. I got a fair amount done yesterday, though, so today I blog instead. The baby wakes up in the middle—he only catnaps these days, and there are too many variables in his life for me to get him on a better nap schedule. But he joins David in his bedroom, playing with toys while David listens to the audio book, and I get a little more writing done.
3:00 Quiet time is truly over when the princess herself wakes up. I reassess my afternoon plan as I get her up. I was going to take her and the baby to Costco and drop off David on the way to play with friends who live only a block away. It looks like it’s going to take me at least half an hour to get the babies out the door, though. This is when I’m thankful again that Ben works from home. He can take a 5 minute break from work to drive David down to the friends’ house for the afternoon.
To care for three children ages 5, 2, and 1 can be a challenge. So much of our lives centers around toddler/baby activities, and I am always trying to make sure that David has enough age-appropriate stuff going on. I know he will have a lot of fun playing with friends while I have baby time this afternoon.
3:30 Sure enough it takes me half an hour before I’m backing out of the driveway to get to Costco. When Ben and I were in Mexico, it was a marvel how we could say, “Let’s go out for coffee” and I would just grab my purse and shoes and we would go. With two babies, going anywhere is such a lengthy production that it is really tempting just to stay home. Except for a day like today when we’re almost out of groceries!
Costco carts are wide enough to have two babies sitting side by side, and it is so much fun to push them both around. Other than the moment when the baby accidentally scratches Elanor and they both start screeching, they have a wonderful time riding in the cart. Whenever anyone smiles at Elanor, she says something like, “This is my foster baby. He’s three.” (Which he’s obviously not.) No one else understands a word she says, but she monologues on about the blueberries we are buying and the cheese and how she would like another snack of veggie straws.
4:45 Finally back home! By this point I’m pretty tired. Ben is out mowing the lawn when I get back, which means he is having a very quiet work day. We expected he would be busy with a major project this week, so I was anticipating he would be working every waking hour like he was a few weeks ago. But the project is temporarily on hold, and I love having him a little more available. He helps me bring in the groceries and then gets back to mowing.
Both babies are getting a bit fussy, so I fix them a snack of cheese and peaches while I put the groceries away and start the ham roasting in the oven. Before I know it, it’s almost time for our baby to get picked up, so I quickly change his diaper and give him a bottle so he’ll be happy during his car ride.
5:30 After he leaves, Elanor starts playing with Duplos again, and I take the opportunity to go through mail and review our monthly bank statement. I get interrupted in the middle when Elanor starts to fuss and David gets home.
5:45 David is ecstatic because he gets to borrow some sort of talking dinosaur toy. He gets washed up, Ben comes in, and after pulling the ham out of the oven and fixing a quick salad, we all sit down to dinner together. I am grateful for quiet family evenings together. Over this past school year, we had David in soccer, gymnastics, Tball, and Awana (fortunately the sports were only one at a time). They were all good experiences for him, but it meant that we were gone at least 2 evenings a week. We’re in a little bit of a lull now before swimming lessons start, and I can’t say I mind more home time.
6:45 After dinner, I’m realizing how exhausted I am. Ben takes the kids outside to pick sour cherries from our neighbor’s tree—they have extra and invited us over to harvest. I am going to be doing dinner dishes, but to be honest I’ll admit I end up slumped over my computer looking at Facebook. I took a Facebook fast earlier this year and I think it may be time for another one. I like how it helps me keep connected to people, and I like the interesting links to blogs and news articles, but I find it does tend to consume too much of my time, especially when I’m tired. I must admit though, it is nice to sit down in a quiet place for a few minutes after such a busy afternoon of shopping with the babies!
Eventually I pull myself out of my slump and manage to get the dinner dishes done before Ben comes back in with the kids. I listen to “Broken Hallelujah” by the Afters, which I also heard on the radio on the way to Costco. It seems to capture perfectly how I feel about losing our baby, and is one of my favorite songs right now.
7:30 Now we have a bucket of sour cherries to pit! The kids help me get started while Ben does a little more work outside. He’s currently in the middle of refinishing our deck. He meant to do this in May before it got too hot, but his work was really busy then, so it’s happening now. I love having a home and a yard, something we dreamed about for years before we moved here, but it certainly does come with a lot of work.
8:00 Ben comes in to shower while I fix the kids a bedtime snack. We have pitted enough cherries to mix with yogurt and honey. I use our immersion blender to turn it into some kind of smoothie drink that the kids sip up with straws while I read aloud a few stories from Frog and Toad to them. It can be challenging to find a story that David and Elanor both like at their ages, but Frog and Toad is one of them.
8:30 Our goal is to have the kids in bed by this time, but tonight we’re just beginning the bedtime process. It always takes a little while, especially because the kids like to draw it out, but by 9:00 they are both quiet in their rooms. For Elanor this is actually a major achievement. She’s been having bedtime trouble lately, and one night last week she was still awake at 11:00, fighting sleep and determined to make as much ruckus in her crib as possible. Thankfully that’s not happening tonight!
9:00 I finish going through the bank statement I was in the middle of earlier, and answer a few texts and emails, before washing my face and changing into pajamas.
9:30 Yesterday night Ben and I started a movie about Temple Grandin, an autistic woman. I’m not even sure how we heard about it, and I was concerned it might be a long and boring documentary, but it actually turned out to be a fascinating story. We watched an hour last night and have an hour more tonight. This gives us more than enough time to finish pitting cherries, and tomorrow I’ll make a cherry crisp.
10:30 We finish the movie, I look up Temple Grandin on Wikipedia, and we talk for awhile before going to bed. 10:30 is supposed to be our bedtime but we’re not that great about making it. It takes me awhile to fall asleep again tonight—midnight again. Insomnia is always my indicator that I have too much stress in my life, or I need to somehow cut back or think through about how I’m handling something. Fortunately the insomnia is mild right now, but it motivates me to make time for more quiet, stay-at-home days, especially in the few weeks before our baby leaves. For now, I’m grateful to fall asleep at midnight, knowing we’ve had a good day of getting things done and being together.