Before It Changes Again: Our Days, These Days, Spring 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

It's been two weeks longer than I would've preferred between blog posts. I'm stuck in this funky photo-paralysis right now where I've been working so hard to capture more daily moments with my "big camera", but then not managing time to cull and prepare them for any kind of blog post.... but wanting to post them and share.... so there I sit, ready to blog, except, not ready. 


And the longer it takes, the more photos I take, and the further behind I get. 

This is the recurring theme of my blog life. My angst. My ennui. 

So let's keep sticking our head in the sand, shall we? Instead, I shall post some late-March, early-April iPhotos and post a little about our current routines these days, as I've tried to do on a annual or semi-annual basis over the last few years

So, our day, these days--- 

Our day typically begins around 6:30 (for Joe), 7:00 (for Noah) and 7:20 (for me). Joe wakes early to shower and get some quiet moments before getting Noah up/dressed/fed and then heading off to UMSL for work himself. Noah gets woken at 7:00 and has 37 minutes to rouse, wake, eat, dress, read Minecraft books or talk more than stay focused, etc. Joe comes to wake me right as he's about to head out the door to work, and I gingerly step down the stairs as I wait for my recently acquired plantar fascitis to ease into non-pain for the day. (It doesn't take long--- usually just that first walk down the stairs, and then I'm good for most of the day.)

 From 7:20-7:37, I'm nudging Noah along, trying not to be hurried or naggy... just persistent. I help him prep his backpack, remember a jacket, etc. I really should try to add in a morning toothbrushing to this, but there never seems to be enough time. Bad mama. 

His bus drives past our house at 7:37 and picks up a few kids before turning around at the end of the dead-end block and coming back for Noah, so that he doesn't have to cross our street to board. I love having that first "warning" drive-by. It helps us to get him out the door and at the end of the driveway at the perfect time. Noah will stand there at the end of the driveway and wave, non-stop, to me until the bus comes back. He just waves and waves, often not even looking at me, and often ending up with a tired-armed, half-hearted wave.... but he keeps it going. And he wants me to non-stop wave back the entire time. Crazy kiddo. On the off chance Quinn is already up and with me, he will stand at the door with me and wave when the bus comes into view. 

After Noah heads off to school, I pick up his Mai, books, and often his discarded-but-not-put-away pj's and get them ready in a neat stack on the stairs for the next time I head up. If the little ones are still quiet in their beds (or if Quinn is murmuring/chatting to himself but not upset), I'll take a few minutes to myself to hop on the computer and do some work, check into the my online world to see what's been happening since the night before, etc. 

By about 7:45, Quinn is usually ready for me to get him, change him, and get him downstairs and in his high chair for breakfast. He nearly always has 1/2 or a full banana as part of his breakfast. Other add-ons might be a nutrigrain bar, some yogurt, scrambled eggs, some cereal. Usually only 2 items total.  Quinn is a super cheerful morning guy, and I love the morning light in our dining room, and seeing Quinn eat and smile in his high chair in there. 

While Quinn is anchored in his chair, I'll go check on Lucy. 50% of the time she is still sleeping and won't wake until 8:15-8:30ish. The other 50% of the time she is awake and laying in her bed, contentedly flipping through a book and waiting for me to retrieve her. She gets a diaper change and then grabs anywhere from one to 5 "special items" (different every day, save for Bunny Bunny) and we head downstairs for her to eat breakfast--- usually the same things Quinn is eating. Lucy also downs a full sippy of milk at this time, without fail. Girl LOVES her milk.

I try to remember to eat some breakfast myself at this point, but I am in a really weird/bad place with food in my life. I DON'T want to prepare it, and I want junk. If someone else prepares NON-junk, I'll get excited about it and eat it. But that never happens, and the only way for it to happen would be to go somewhere, which would entail getting ready for the day and taking two little kids into the world EARLY so I could have a well-made meal. And you know--- that just doesn't happen in real life. I try to keep something like a Bolthouse smoothie in the fridge, or some Atkins chocolate protein shakes... something to at least get my tummy started for the day. But really--- it's not consistent. Not awesome. I admit it: I'm not in a great place with food. *head in sand*

After breakfast, I clean up the kids, sweep the dining room floor, and the kiddos usually run around a bit while I clean up a little. We almost always end up in front of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as we get close to Quinn's morning nap (I am SHOCKED-- this kids is still mostly a two-nap kid!!! My other two were WAY over the two-nap system by 15 months!), so that Lucy can chill and be contained while I take Quinn upstairs. But he has developed a love for the cartoon, and as soon as he knows I'm putting one on, he RUNS to the living room and anchors himself in the confluence of the two couches of the sectional, waiting eagerly for the music to start. And as soon as it does, he cannot stop himself from dancing. It's ridiculous. I love it so completely. I let him watch the whole opening while I get his lovey, his binkie, and a bottle. And when he starts to lose interest in the show--- about 8 minutes in-- I take him upstairs to give him 4 ounces of whole milk while I rock him in his dim room. He goes down for his nap around 9:30 and almost never puts up a fuss. 

I head back downstairs to finish the cartoon with Lucy, who is content to sit in a little nest on the couch, a quilt on her lap, her 1-5 treasures in her lap with her. She loves me next to her, and insists I have a lap-blanket, too. On days I need to just be low-key, I put on a second Mickey Mouse.... Sometimes just to sit next to Lucy and work on an iPad jigsaw puzzle while Lucy watches. Sometimes I'll get up and get some work done online in my computer/office/photo/playroom space. When Lucy's cartoon finishes, if I'm not next to her, she'll come pattering through the house to find me. And if I'm on the computer, she'll entertain herself near me while I work. If I'm puttering about the house cleaning or getting things ready for the post office, etc., she is content to do her own thing-- lost in her own imagination-- as long as she can orbit near me. 

I do not do nearly enough hands-on things with her... and this would be the time for me to do it. Noah at school, Quinn napping.... I need to get back to Morning Art. She'd LOVE it. I've been trying to get the kids in shoes and jackets and get OUTSIDE before Quinn's nap.... I think they will thrive in this if I can make it consistent. And the other day, in the middle of me feeling overwhelmed by the toppling piles of paperwork needing organizing, the work needing to be done, etc., I just decided to lay down on the floor and do nothing.... and Quinn and Lucy ran right over, plopped on top of me, and we had the BEST spontaneous 30 minutes of literal floor time. It was good for my soul, good for my kids, and good for my funk, and I need to do this WAY more often. 

Noah comes home from his half-day kindergarten at 11:30am, and usually by then, Quinn is ready to wake up and I have either gotten things ready for a midday outing: a trip to the post office, or a lunch at the park, or a grocery store run.... Or Lucy and I have been hanging out, just waiting for him to come home for a low-key midday. If we stay home, I prep lunch by about noon. Noah gets peanut butter and honey 100% of the time, with various sides. I try to always do a fruit, a veggie, and then a couple of other sides. He loves chicken noodle soup, so I'll add that sometimes. Lucy does NOT eat sandwiches, really, (though she likes a tuna sandwich. Weird.) so I am always prepping something different for her lunch-- cheese cubes and rolled up ham, or mac and cheese, or a hot dog, etc. Quinn gets a combo of all of the above, usually with an applesauce pouch or half a banana added. We eat lunch all together, since I'm needed to help Quinn and Lucy with various parts of their meals. Noah catches me up on how his day went, and I *DO* usually manage to eat a semi-real lunch most days. After lunch, we'll go outside, or run an errand, or Noah will get to watch a Jake and the Neverland Pirates (his latest cartoon of choice). Lucy and Quinn join him, of course. I clean up lunch, wipe down the high chair, sweep the dining room, etc. 

At 1:00, I've run out of "Parent Juice", which means it is time for the universal Quiet Time. Noah will finish up his show while I take Lucy and Quinn upstairs to her room to change her diaper, tuck her in, and sing her a couple of songs for her naptime. She snuggles into her bed willingly and with a smile. Lately, she won't always SLEEP-- about 35% of the time she just putters in and around her bed her whole naptime, nearly ALWAYS having a good poop (sorry) and browsing books and talking to her toys and to herself. But if she sleeps, she sleeps hard. Quinn goes back down between 1-2pm, and has the same routine--- lovey, bottle, binkie, sleep. Every so often, he'll just murmur/chatter and not really nap, but I let him chill alone, because he is perfectly content. Most of the time, though, he really is still sleeping. 

Around 1:30, Noah will grab an iPod so he can check time, and take some books and Old Mai upstairs to my room. He doesn't get to play on the iPod--- he has to read or draw or lay and rest for one hour. He is meticulous about the time, though--- so if he starts his Quiet Time at 1:41, he will be done at 2:41, and sure enough, he will come downstairs at 2:41 on the nose. Noah really REALLY loves his screen time, though, so the way I've been able to work out a compromise that I can live with is this ongoing Quiet Time, even though he's too old for a nap (usually.) If he gives me one hour where he stays put in my room and keeps himself quietly amused, he can then have one hour of game time on the iPod. I can live with this. His current favorite games (not counting Minecraft, which he plays on the desktop and only gets to play twice a week, cashing in his one-hour banked screen time for it.) are Color Band, Pocket God, ClayJam, Jetpack Joyride, Scribblenauts, and Plants vs Zombies. Sometimes Fruit Ninja. 

I use this synchronized quiet time in one of a few ways: I tend to putter and tidy up. I will get to work if I'm behind on deskwork. Or I will veg in front of a DVR'ed show. a couple of times a week, I'll curl up on the couch with a quilt and nap. On my nap days, when Noah comes downstairs after his hour, he'll come sit at my feet, share my quilt, and play the iPod while I continue to doze a little longer. I love this. This time of day is the most peaceful of the whole day. The sound of the white noise machine in Quinn's room coming through the baby monitor, the sun starting to slant through the west windows, nothing pressing that has to be done, and nowhere to go... Just peaceful, for hours. It's a sacred time, really. 

Quinn often wakes before Joe gets home from work, between 4:30 and 5:00. If Lucy is still sleeping, I let her sleep. If I peek in and she's been awake, she'll greet me with a huge grin and I'll carry both her and Quinn downstairs to stretch and play. We'll go outside, or go check the mail, or just sit in the patches of late-afternoon sunshine and get back up to speed. the kids will happily take a snack if I offer, and we just hang out and wait for Joe to come home-- usually around 5:15-5:30pm. 

I confess I almost NEVER plan ahead for dinner. It's an Achilles Heel. Not something I love to do. I really should be better about it. But right around 5:00 I'll finally decide what to do and get to work. Joe comes home and almost always is kind enough to be "on" immediately, in his Dad role. He'll go get Lucy up if she's still asleep, and he'll go sit on the living room floor with all of them and let Noah talk his ear off, let Quinn climb all over him, let Lucy whine a little for attention... He is so good to field the kiddos' needs while I continue to work on dinner. Every so often, he'll come home to me and the kids being lumps in the living room and he'll see all the signs that I was just too paralyzed by MomExhaustion to get up and begin dinner work, and he'll roll up his sleeves and take over, making something easy so none of us go hungry. I really do love that man. He's a keeper. 

We eat dinner together at the dining table, and it's almost always a struggle to get Lucy to eat much. Noah used to be like this, but recently has been REALLY good about dinner. Hooray! and Quinn? Well, that kid LOVES food, and loves being in charge of his own food. So he happily make a mess eating almost nightly, and we all just enjoy each other's company. 

After dinner we usually have some time to spare, so we'll toss the kids outside, or Joe will veg a little with them and put on a cartoon. And in a little bit, close to 7:00pm, he'll take Quinn upstairs for his nightly bath and get him ready for bedtime. Joe loves doing Quinn's bedtime. He says it's relaxing for him, and a bonding time with Q. I love that he loves it. I try to get  Lucy and Noah to clean up messes, and if it's not their bath night, I get them in jammies and get started on their bedtime routines. Some nights after Quinn goes down, we all sit around the table and play with toys/legos/games.... Some nights we stay outside til bedtime. And a few nights a week it is bath night for the olders and they get squeaky clean and into pajamas. They still bathe together about 50% of the time, and the other 50% of the time, Noah wants a shower on his own. We've been doing "color baths", using the color tablets you can buy at the store to dye the water. They love it and it gets them revved to get upstairs for bathtime. After Lucy and Noah are in jammies, we do teethbrushing, stories, and have been trying to do a nightly scripture study where each of us reads one verse. We do family prayers, and then they get tucked in and I sing two songs to them. Lights out, sound machine on, and lately we've been doing a lot of "I Love You! Cheers", where we make the "I love you" ASL sign and knock them together like clinking glasses. It's a cute ritual and I would love it if it stays a "thing". 

Once they're down for bed, they're usually pretty well-behaved, but a couple of nights a week they need intervention when they get too loud and wild in their room after dark. Those kids really love each other, and I love that. But you know--- once it's lights out, it's not so cute. But they never come out of their room and they respond well to our stern warnings, so it's manageable. 

After kid bedtimes, I retire to my computer to work for the night. I watch some Netflix if I'm doing photo editing and primarily using my right brain. I listen to Pandora if I'm writing or communicating with people and need to be thinking with my left brain. Joe will settle into his spot on the couch in the other room and catch up on DVR'ed shows or watch a movie and he'll do homework or play games on his laptop. We're trying to be better about sitting next to each other a few nights a week and actually spending more time together afterhours.... We miss each other, and sometimes we forget to reconnect when there are always things that need to be done after the kids are in bed. But when we make time to just snuggle and watch a movie, it's so good for us. (Never mind that I fall asleep 85% of the time if we watch a movie together. I'm so pathetic-- if I stop moving for any stretch of time in the evening, I completely shut down!)

Joe usually needs to get to bed by 10:00pm, and I try to be in bed by midnight. And then.... well.... we start all over the next day. 

There is nothing remarkable or elegant or innovative about the way we live our life here. The patterns are set and the responsibilities stay much the same day in and day out. But this is our life, and every day is another thread in the tapestry.... and like my friend Julia tells me--- we weavers usually only see our tapestries from the backside-- a mess of individual strings. Some beautiful, many just bland and ordinary. And some very ugly ones. But if we step around to the front, somehow, we can see that every strand matters, and all of the threads, all of our days, make up one really lovely masterpiece. This life is a lovely work of art. And if I can't SEE the tapestry, most days, I can trust that it's coming along nicely.... One strand at a time. 

(I love to put my iPhone photos together in groupings because seeing them all in one place is sort of like seeing a part of that tapestry from the front. It often makes my heart stop a little to look back and realize how lovely this little life really is.)


  1. My first thought was that our bus does the same thing (partly because we're on a dead end street) so Stratton also gets that warning pass- it IS super helpful!
    My second thought is that it was a joy to be part of that rhythm a little while ago. I love the groove of your little family, especially in the evening with everyone together - and having that yard is really lovely.
    And my third thought is just reflecting on the similarities and differences in our family rhythms, w/ our families' different places (me w/ being out of the house 2-3 days a week and kids old enough to help, you working from home and w/ kids young enough for quiet time). But somehow both finding a routine and flow that most of the time works for us...

  2. It's fun to see how your routine is so different from ours. Both work so that is great, but I find myself equal parts jealous over bits of your routine and thankful that it is not mine. Know what I mean? I should write down the same thing for our family for remembrance.
    I also have thoughts on your breakfast dilemma but only if you are ready to try and solve it. Not a problem that needs to be "solved" unless you want it to be.


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