A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

(which was a regular work/school day during tax season – so apologies in advance for this being both the longest AND the least interesting post yet…)

5:55am – Wake up (no alarm – we don’t use alarms).  Bathroom trip. But then I crawl back into my warm bed. Usually, I’d just get up and start my day, but today the siren call of my duvet was too strong.

6:25am – Plum (age 5) visits. Good morning!  She actually climbs up onto our bed (a rarity!) for a cuddle.  We chat and wake up Dad.

Head downstairs.  I allow a TV show pre-breakfast and pre-getting dressed (never a good idea).  Pack three lunches because Pickle (age 6) has opted out of school lunch, because it is “Cook’s Choice”.  Lunches include some combo of yogurts, cucumbers, apples, Cheez-It, baby carrots, string cheese, and sandwiches.  The littles get a special treat – ½ of a leftover birthday cupcake each!

While I make lunches with Tyler (he was helping with lunches, making coffee, packing bags for the day and doing dishes) Pickle arrives downstairs.  A 6:30am wake up is late for him!  He wants to take a shower because his hair is unruly.  I agree, on both counts. I de-fat, de-bone, shred and sauce the pulled pork I had cooked in the crockpot overnight.  That will be dinner tonight.

7:08am – Upstairs to shower.  And brrrrrr, it is a cold one.  All thanks to the hair-obsessed 6-year-old who used 94% of the hot water.  Thanks a lot. Step out of the shower to hear Pistachio (age 3) bellowing for me.  Wet and half-dressed I go see him. “Is it wake up time?” he asks.  Indeed it is.  As I had suspected the night before, this guy was tired and/or growing because this is a very late wake-up time for him, too. He wanders downstairs, and I finish getting dressed.  I run a brush through my hair and yell down to Ty to let our neighbor in (we are giving her a ride to school today).

7:30am – Time to get Pickle and the neighbor to school.  I go downstairs to find Plum screaming and naked on the love seat (reminder to self to talk to her – and my husband? – about being naked in front of non-family members), Pistachio is eating an English muffin in his PJs and chirps happily, “Bye Mama, have a good day!”  I leave him and naked Plum in the competent and patient hands of their father.  He will get them dressed and off to school.  I have my usual argument with Pickle about the need for warm outerwear, which delays our exit, but eventually I get him out the door.

The thin fleece he believes is appropriate for 15 degree temps.

7:45am – Drop Pickle and his classmate/our neighbor at school.  Stop at the local corner store for an iced coffee and bagel – a treat, and only $3.50! Sit in my car for a second to update my Moment app and sign up for “Moment Boot Camp”.  Moment is an app that analyzes how much time you spend on your phone each day.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks and have determined that my numbers are too high (yikes) so I sign up for their Boot Camp, which sets daily goals for using your phone less.

Drive to work listening to CD 15 of 16 of Bruce Springsteen’s Autobiography “Born to Run”.  Bruce reads it, and I’m a fan, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having him read to me during my commute.  It is a fun history, and some of the writing is just fantastic. I’ll be sad when the last CD is done.

Park in the garage (I should park in the lot, but today I just don’t feel like it) and clock-in at my desk.

8:28am – Work. The regular stuff.  During breaks in the day I pack up and send a toy I sold on eBay, and fill out a kindergarten registration form.  We have our yearly benefits meeting at work (open enrollment – yippee) and I lament the brokenness of our health care system and its costs while simultaneously being thankful for pretty good insurance coverage.

Lunch – I had texted my husband that I was craving shrimp and he told me to go get some at lunch.  So I do.  And what a nice treat!  I go to the (fancy-ish) steak house next door, sit at the bar, have a lovely lunch including some shrimp, and read a little bit of my newest book – The Atomic Weight of Love.  It is a great break in the day, a delicious meal I didn’t have to cook, and some time alone with my own thoughts.  Awesome.

4:30pm – Work done.  Head out.  Call my mom on the way.  I call her most days during my commute home.

5pm – Pick up grumpy oldest.  He often complains about pick-up time, being too late or too early.  Sigh.  Mostly he complains because he is hungry.  Thankfully he tucks in to his uneaten packed lunch because he had, indeed, opted for the “Cook’s Choice” which happened to be calzones. Blood sugar and mood improve.

Pick up the littles, who are just down the road. Our elementary school and preschool are really close to our house – like a mile.  What a win!  The littles were not required to wear snowpants on this day, which makes my life easier because there is far less schlepping of KID STUFF.

Tub time.

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5:20pm – Home!  I pick up the mail, get all of the kids and all of their stuff in the house.  They are in good moods, and are happy to play for a bit.  I unpack lunch boxes, then convince Pistachio to take a quick bath. The big kids agree to straighten up the toy room with minimal whining.  After bath the kids continue to play while I empty the downstairs trash cans and take out the kitchen trash.  I open a package for me from a cool Instagram group called This Is My Fav.  Basically, there is a theme each month, and you are assigned a group member to send a $10+ gift to.  It is fun – and a little bit chain letter-ish.  This month’s theme is Spring Cleaning, and I’m thrilled to open a box of Scrub Daddies.  I laugh because I sent Scrub Daddies to my gift recipient this month, too. They are great.

6pm – Get dinner ready.  It comes together quickly since I prepped it this morning.  I mix up some coleslaw (for me and Ty).  And we have pulled pork sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with sides of green grapes, carrots and cukes.  I typically insist on dinner at the table, but tonight, I allow dinner in front of our first pre-bed TV show.  The kids choose Johnny Test, which is really not my favorite.

After dinner and the show, the kids get into their “cozies” (our family word for pajamas).  This always takes longer than it should.  I put on their second and final show, and they get to pick their dessert/treat.  Usually they each have little bowls of ~20 chocolate chips.  Tonight, Plum and Pickle choose to have a leftover birthday cupcake each.  Pistachio sticks with the chocolate chips.  While the kids watch their show, I unload the dishwasher, reload with dinner dishes and straighten up the kitchen.  As show ends I realize that Pistachio has gotten a melted chocolate chip smeared on his cozies and the couch, so I do a quick clean up and rinse out the cozies so the chocolate won’t stain.

7:20pm – I declare it is time to head upstairs for our nightly routine and bed.  Major protests from all, but they know I mean business.  The big kids brush teeth (with help from me) and then state that they want to take showers (Pickle would shower 4 times a day if we let him).  It is pretty late to start showers now, but I relent.  While Pistachio uses the potty pre-bed, I wash Plum’s hair.  Pistachio walks off to his room to sit in the big brown chair and wait for me.  Plum finishes up, puts her cozies back on and climbs into my bed to look at a book.  Pickle takes his turn, and his time, in the shower.

Pistachio and I cuddle up in the big brown wing chair.  We brush teeth, which is still a bit of a battle, and then read some strange lift-the-flap book about two sisters, Madison and Ashley.  He loves lifting the flaps, but the story – mostly about girls playing dress up, gardening and cooking – is pretty awful.  I make a mental note to “lose” this book.  We chat a little bit about our days.  He declines a song.  He typically tells me “Mama, please put me in my bed,” when he feels he’s done enough chatting, but tonight he tells me he has to poop.  We truck off to the bathroom, and I find Plum and Pickle in my bed using the iPad, instead of reading books. Blargh.  I sit Pistachio on the potty, and take the iPad away (tears).  Pistachio decides he does not have to poop after all (poop is one of the most effective bedtime stalling techniques when you are newly potty-trained – he figured this out quickly, smart kid).  I plop him in his bed and go back to dealing with the big kids who are tired, and still complaining about iPad removal.

(Photo below is what they were supposed to be doing…)

He is a good brother. Sometimes they make each other crazy, but I love the way they love each other.

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8pm – I alert the big kids that it is now 8pm and since rules haven’t been followed, they have to get in bed without me reading books tonight.  Much sadness.  Many protests.  But they do get in their beds in their shared bedroom.  I leave them for a minute to attend to a hollering Pistachio who needs me to cover him up with his blanket. I do. And say a final goodnight to him.

I sing songs to the big kids, This Land is Your Land and some others I’ve made up.  And I agree to let Pickle read for 10 minutes.  He is reading Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, a great book, with fun big words, and he’s feeling very proud of himself.  I spray Sweet Dream Spray (some sort of linen/room spray that I have repurposed) and give kisses.  I retreat to my bed for a few minutes while I make notes about my day for this post and text a bit with Tyler, who is still at work.

Randy is terrible at baseball, but really good at other stuff. The guy with the brains saves the day!

8:20pm – I’ve given them extra time, and still hear them chatting a bit, so I tell them it is truly bedtime, no more chats or books.  I give more kisses and sing their lullaby.  I close the door behind me and head downstairs.  I fire up my computer and organize photos on Shutterfly until 10pm.  I make albums for each month and for every big event or holiday, and put these on a Sharesite for friends and family.  It takes forever, and I’m behind.  I finish up November and December, and start on Christmas.  My husband’s phone and my phone update to Shutterfly automatically, and I upload the photos taken with my “real” camera there, too.  While I do my photo stuff, I “watch” This Is Us and blackish and drink seltzer with a splash of lemonade.

10pm – I close out of Shutterfly and check Facebook for a bit while I wait for Tyler to get home.  I always wait up for him.

10:20pm – Tyler gets home.  He’s tired. I am too.  I leave him on his own to make pulled pork sandwiches and wind down and I head up to bed.  I decide to read a few pages before bed and end up staying up too late reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I’m considering reading the series to the kids, and wanted to read the whole series myself first (I had only read the first 4 books previously).  I’m finally on book 7.

11:28pm – Whoops.  It is definitely time to turn off the light and go to bed.

1:11am – Up. Too much seltzer.

2:40am – Up.  Way too much seltzer.

6:09am – Plum appears by my side of the bed, ready to start her day.

 

 

 

 

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Books of 2016!

I set a lofty goal for 2016 – to finish 25 books.

I didn’t make it.

But I DID read 20 books. Over 8,000 pages. Not too shabby!  (I track my reading using Goodreads which syncs to my Kindle).

Here are my 20 books of 2016:

books

 

My least favorites of the bunch?

  • The Paying Guests (too long, not particularly compelling, and I just didn’t care about the characters very much)
  • Shrill (I wanted to like it, but I felt like it was billed as something new, brash and fresh, and it just wasn’t)

My favorites of the bunch?

Goals for 2017?

  • Read 25 books (I just finished my first book of 2017 – The Muse)
  • Finish the Harry Potter series (I am planning to read these to my children, and wanted to read them all myself, first)
  • Finally read The Goldfinch (it has been on my nightstand for 2 years)
  • Read at least 3 non-fiction titles. I’m thinking Between the World and Me, When Breath Becomes Air and Born to Run will make the cut. Speaking of…
  • Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run on audio book (an awesome Christmas present from my dad!) I was going to read it in hardcover, but Bruce reads the audio book version himself. I’m a big fan (I’ve been to 50 shows!) and the book is poetry, so I’m going to dedicate my commute to listening. And yes, I’m counting it in my 2017 total.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017? Suggestions for books you think I’d love? Books to avoid?  Please let me know!  And connect with me on Goodreads, too!

Happy reading!

Stuff It Real Good

Stockings!

I love the tiny treasures that stockings hold, but it is a challenge to fill them each year.  I try to find a balance of fun stuff (that isn’t complete junk) and useful stuff (like socks and floss).  Here are a few things my kids will find in their stockings this year.  All of the links are to Amazon, but I didn’t buy all of my goodies there.  You should be able to find most of this stuff in a store near you.

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  1. Slinky!  These are endlessly entertaining to my kids. And I’m glad they’re cheap, because they inevitably get bent and/or tangled in about 27 minutes.
  2. Little Brown Bat stuffed animal – My three kids each get little stuffed animals peeking out of their stockings most years.  This year I went for the non-traditional: a bat, a llama and a raccoon.
  3. Body Doodlers – Nontoxic bath crayons made for doodling on skin.  My kids love any type of bath-time art, so I expect these will be a hit.  Fingers crossed they wash off as easily as they are supposed to!
  4. See Thru Music Box – This one plays Plum’s favorite, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and it is less than $5! Win!
  5.  Hexbug Nano Cat Toy – Because our cat Elsie needs a present or two, too.  These little Hexbugs skitter around the house like cockroaches. (I’ve actually never seen a cockroach, but I’m assuming they skitter similarly.)
  6. Flossers for Kids – Every stocking needs floss and socks.  It is the law.
  7. Edible Bubbles – We like to try to eat regular bubbles, so I’m guessing that ones that don’t taste like soap will be a big hit.  I also found some touchable bubbles that harden after you blow them, and can then be gently touched or stacked.  I’m kind of excited to try those myself!
  8. Cow Popper – Pistachio, my youngest, loves cows. And I imagine he will also love using these to shoot the balls at his sister.  I’m predicting that all of the balls will be lost by 12/27.
  9. Hair Paste – My 6-year-old loves looking stylish, and his hair IS pretty amazing.  So styling products have begun to appear in his stocking each year.
  10. Butterfly Hair Clips – We’re in the process of letting Plum’s hair grow back into a cute bob from a pixie.  She has specifically requested some “pretties” for her hair. Added bonus these are GOLDEN.

As for me, I’m hoping to get some scratch tickets, a whisk, post-it notes, and of course, FLOSS! Happy shopping!

All the Things

Things I Know For Sure:

  • When they say that wrap-style dresses flatter every figure, they are lying.
  • Tea and toast can cure any number of problems.
  • These are a terrible idea.

cham

Things I Am Good At:

  • Reading aloud to my kids.
  • Keeping my calendar up to date.
  • Buying good/cool presents.
  • Being silly.

bfg

Things I’m Not Good At:

  • Owning plants.
  • Caring about/for my eyebrows.
  • Writing lunch box notes.
  • Decorating for holidays.
  • Meal planning.
  • Knowing military rank hierarchy.

Things That Make Me Cry:

wonderful

Things I Should Admit:

  • I try not to judge, but I might feel a little bit sad for you if you don’t vote, eat steak well done, or don’t read actual books.
  • I like the smell of skunk (from a distance of 15 feet or more).
  • I have never watched Titanic, or Casablanca.
  • I currently have 6,404 photos on my phone.  And 558 videos.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with all of those beautiful photos of kitchen renovations that don’t include upper cabinets.
  • I’m really tempted to dress my youngest in knee socks like Prince George.
Image from the adorable website "What Kate's Kids Wore" - click on the photo to go there.

Image from the adorable website “What Kate’s Kids Wore” – click on the photo to go there.

Things I Love Thursdays

A few favorites for September…

Enchanted Forest Mural at Anthropologie

I seem to be drawn to cute, strange, twee things.  This mural is no exception.  My ceilings are too low, otherwise, you can bet this would already be hanging in my house.

mural

Light Up Balloons

These things are really cool.  We brought these out on the 4th of July and they were lovely – and glowed for nearly a month!  They are probably better for kids who are a bit older than mine; the warnings inside (what is IN there? Glass? Chemicals?) were a little frightening.  But I will definitely buy them again.

light-up-balloons

Unpaper Towels by Marley’s Monsters (on Etsy)

I have a collection of dish towels but it is probably time to spring for some good, flannel towels for use around the house.  I like the fun patterns, and I’m sure these would pay for themselves in no time at all.

il_570xn-906539789_4wm2

 

Hope your week has been great, and as Nature Cat says, “Onward and yonward!”

First Day and Everyday

Pickle

First grade starts next week.

First grade for my kind, freckled thinker who is finding his voice, and up at night pondering the merits of inboard motors.

He will be fine.  What choice does he have other than to be fine, to navigate his life on his own, at least a little bit, and figure out the way of the world through the small, significant, triumphs and heartbreaks of childhood.

The skinny-legged boy with the too-big backpack (aren’t they all?) will walk into school and I will drive away.  And get a coffee.  And drive to work.  I will not worry.

I am ready for the big moments.

I am ready for first steps, lost teeth, first days.  I am ready to watch them glide away without training wheels, to sound out books on their own, to tie their shoes.

My tender heart catches when I least expect it.

When the biggest helps the littlest with his shoes.

When the middle uses a big word I haven’t heard her use before.

When the wobbly toddler gait all of a sudden becomes smooth and coordinated.

We may mark the time with first steps and first days.  But it is those tiny changes, the ones we almost don’t see, that add up to people, our people, growing a hair’s width every night.  Our little people whose lives slowly and beautifully start to become their own, separate from us.  One millimeter, one second at a time.

In the cool dark, the clock ticks and they sing our bedtime songs with lyrics of their own.  And then a quiet pause as they drift away into dreams that are theirs alone.

 

 

Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

She loves Prime.

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My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

First Mate #nofilter

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