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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To My Child

To My Child

I hope you learn that life isn’t fair.  But that that doesn’t mean it is all bad.

I hope you smile at people, even strangers, and look people in the eye.

I hope you chew with your mouth closed.

I hope you learn how to listen – really listen – to others when they need to be heard, and to the quiet beat of your own heart.

Headed down the path together.

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I hope you learn to win and lose with grace.

I hope you love and appreciate the beautiful, intricate, amazing body you’re in.

I hope you can be silly for the joy of it, and can laugh at yourself and with others kindly.

I hope you have good manners and know when to use them (almost always) and when to relax them.

I hope you trust. In others, and in yourself.

I hope you know how to make something with your own brain and hands – a song, food, a painting, a stone wall.

I hope you learn, without too many tough consequences, that attempts to escape problems, hurt, and heartbreak never really work for long.

Flying!

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I hope you pick up after yourself.

I hope you decide that it is wise and healthy to get enough sleep.

I hope you learn how to advocate for yourself without demanding, complaining or whining.

I hope you understand that stuff is just stuff.

I hope you learn you can expect goodness, but not perfection, from other people. Or from yourself.

I hope you learn how to own up to your own misdeeds, mistakes and slights without excuses, blame or deflection.

I hope you keep learning, about the world, about other people, and about yourself.

I hope you work in any small or large way to make your community, corner, city, world, a tiny bit more just and beautiful.

And I hope you know that when in doubt, you should just put stuff in the trash, and not the garbage disposal.

Things I Love Thursdays

Stick-eez Clothing Labels by Oliver’s Labels

I have 6.5 years of labeling experience now and I can state with confidence that my favorite labels are the Stick-eez Clothing Labels made by Oliver’s Labels.  They are meant for clothing, but I’ve put them on everything.  They are tiny (a feature I prefer) and they survive the washing machine just as well as they survive the dishwasher. The designs are great and totally customizable.  We are currently loving the Eric Carle “Brown Bear” themed labels.  Plum was two before I figured out that if I put only my family’s last name on the labels I could use them for the entire family!  (Duh.)  They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it (says the woman who has recently purchased 3 replacement water bottles because she forgot to label the first two. Ugh.)

labels

 

One-Man Band Toy by Vilac

What a cool toy! I might even travel to France to buy a few of these for my nieces and nephews.  C’mon, what kid wouldn’t love this?!  I do think, however, that the parents of said nieces and nephews are probably glad this toy is so far away and so hard to get.

homme-orchestre-vilac

 

Casco Bay Butter Co.

I’m pretty sure good bread with good butter is one of the world’s most perfect things. Truly. Simple and indulgent. You have to try these amazing butters made in Maine by the Casco Bay Butter Co.  I’m a sucker for the traditional sea salt, but every one I’ve tried is excellent.  Blue cheese butter melted over a steak?  Garlic and herb butter stirred into mashed potatoes? Yes, please!

logo

butter

 

(Links are for your convenience only.  I don’t get any money – or free butter – for recommending this stuff, it is simply stuff I think is great.)

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.

 

 

Mother’s Little Helpers

Though I do make an effort not to over complicate or over schedule our lives, life can still be pretty hectic sometimes.  There’s just a lot to remember and a lot to do to manage a household, parent, work, make it all work.  I’m certainly not the most organized, or the most motivated. Example: yesterday I ate some Oreo Thins and took a nap instead of prepping meals for the week and organizing the toy room (a task that desperately needs to be done – we’re drowning in Matchbox cars and Duplo blocks!).  But I have found some tools and things that help me get stuff done, so I thought I’d share them.

 

Stuff that makes my life easier/more fun/less complicated…

I’ll start with the most obvious: my husband.  He’s amazing.  I’m also very lucky to have supportive family nearby and a kind and moderately flexible employer.  I am so grateful for all of these.

My crew on the move.

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A shared calendar: My husband and I use a shared Google calendar.  We use an app called Tiny Calendar on our phones to access it there, too.  I could just use Google Calendar, but it didn’t work on our phones when we needed it 4 years ago, so we ended up with Tiny Calendar.  So I stuck with it.  I like it.  Admission: our calendar is color-coded, but only a little bit.

tc

A housekeeper:  For the cost of dinner out for 2 (with an adult beverage or two), I can get my house cleaned beautifully.  We hem and haw over this luxury.  Because it IS a luxury.  And it is not something we do all of the time. But it makes a huge difference in my stress level.  I love having my entire house clean at one time.  Someone once told me that when it comes to house upkeep and maintenance, you can pay with your time or you can pay with your money.  At this point in my life, though I am certainly capable and willing to clean my house (and I do!), my time is precious.  I’d rather spend three hours on Sunday with my children picking strawberries, or playing at the park.  So we occasionally pay to have the house cleaned by a professional.  I never feel like it is money wasted.

16989150

Grocery list app:  There are several out there, but we use AnyList.  Mostly we use it for groceries (duh), since we share the shopping and cooking duties but you can make all sorts of lists.  Each week, my husband and I add items to the list from our phones and when one of us shops, we can use the list and cross things off with a touch.  We have a list of favorites that are easy to add to the weekly list, and updates are pretty much made in real time. Often I’m adding things to the list while he’s on the way to the store.  Very handy.  We also share a more general “to do” list using this app.  Very helpful when things get busy, or when we’ve got to pack to go away.

alist

Shutterfly app: This is a little glitch-y and imperfect in my experience but for the most part is a good way to make sure that the photos I take with my phone actually end up somewhere other than just on my phone.  The app is on my phone and my husband’s, and photos get uploaded to one account, so everything is in the same place.

sfly

Chatbooks: I really love this app.  It links to my Instagram account.  Once I’ve reached 60 new photos, Chatbooks prints them into lovely 6×6 inch books ($8 and free shipping!). My favorite part is that you can set up subscriptions – so the lovely little books ship out automatically to grandparents and special people in your life. There is NO extra work on my behalf.   Win!  I also love that the books are customizable – the photo of my kids painting the walls of the shower au naturale isn’t really Instagram-appropriate, but it IS adorable, and I can add it to my Chatbook before my book goes to print.  I order the slightly more expensive hard cover edition as a keepsake for myself, and let my kids enjoy the soft cover ones.  Use my code to get your first book free: CYKKMXVK.

cbooks

Amazon Subscribe & Save: This is useful with small kids and saves on trips to Target (which always cost at least $75 more than planned).  I set up to send diapers and wipes on a monthly basis and there are some other household goods we get less frequently.  It is a time saver for me.  Prices typically end up being comparable to my local Sam’s Club.  I suspect I’d love the Dash Button too, but I’m reluctant to commit. Plus, I’m a little concerned that my kids would find the buttons and we’d end up with 45 packages of paper towels.

subs

 

Stuff I’m working on…

Who has advice on the best way to deal with all of their iPhone videos?  I do back up to the Cloud, my computer and an external drive, but I’d love to put them in a format for my family to enjoy. Advice?

I’m going to try to devise a way to keep in better touch with people who are important to me beyond Facebook.  I’ll let you know how I do!

 

PS – No affiliate links, they are just provided for your convenience.

Just a Tiny Bit Magic

He thumps quickly into the bedroom, breathless and scared.

“Mom, I had a scary dream,” he says, voice shaky.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.  What was your dream about?”

“There was a bad man with white eyes who made me go to jail,” he says, crawling up into my bed and into my arms.

“That sounds very scary.  But you’re safe.  No one is going to take you to jail. You’re safe,” I repeat.

He sighs, his body relaxes, but his heart still pounds.  We snuggle in the pre-dawn light. I can just hear the birds starting to sing.  After a quiet few moments I ask, “Are you ready to go back in your bed?”  He nods.

“Will you carry me?” he asks, voice low.  It is a rare request.

“Of course,” I say as I pick him up and he wraps his thin, strong, spidery limbs around me.

I place him in bed, pull the covers over him, kiss his head and return to my bed.

Three minutes later I hear his footsteps again.

“Mom, I can’t get the pictures out of my head, can you erase them?”

I nod.

He climbs into my bed, and I reach up to rub the back of his head.  I brush his hair from his eyes, and massage his scalp, mumbling as I go, “Yes… got it… right there… this should work.”  This is the nightmare erasing ritual I created a few years ago, based on an improvisational parenting moment (aren’t they all?), based on an idea I had given my little sister post-nightmare, 25 years ago.  It is perhaps a bit dishonest, in the same vein as kissing away the hurt.  But it is a version of the mother/child pact that has probably existed as long as there have been mothers and children.  Moms make things better.

Someday, he will understand that I don’t have the power to erase anything.  That I can’t really fix very much, that I’m not even “just a tiny bit magic” like he thinks I am now.  He will realize that the world can be big, and mean and complicated.  Perhaps he’s started to figure this out already.

But tonight, in the dark, I am his mom, and I have the ability to fix it.  I can heal, I can help, I can calm.  And I can make the bad dreams go away.  I do not take that loving trust lightly.

“That’s better,” he whispers.  And this time, we hold hands as I walk him back to his room and warm bed.

Comparing our eyes.

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Magical Moments

I am cuddled in the wing chair with my littlest, he is winding down for bed, begging for just one more book.  We are snuggled in, chatting about our day.  He is 2 and he has a lot to say.  I tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, I tickle him a little to hear his gravely little laugh.  He reaches up and touches my nose gently.  “Mama?” he whispers.  “Yes, Pistachio?” I coo back at him, in love with him and the tender moment we are sharing.  “Poopy butt,” he whispers – not because he has one, just because he is 2,  those are funny words and he knows how to say them.  I laugh.

Long weekend snuggles.

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After a long weekend of fun, activities and probably too much sugar, my oldest is weary.  We have brushed, flossed, chatted, read books, and he has had the 4 million after dinner “snacks” he requires.  (Seriously, the nicer and more complete the dinner, the more they feel the need to gorge late night on the contents of the fridge.) “Tomorrow is a school day,” I say, peeling back the duvet on my bed, to lead him to his.  He groans loudly, overtired and forever complaining about the 20 foot walk from my cozy bed to his.  “Let’s go, Sweetie, it is late,” I say, leading the way.  I’m surprised when I feel his thin arms encircle me from the back.  He hugs me – hip level – and sighs “Mama, I love you.”   And the unexpected, nontraditional hug from my grumbling little guy makes my Mother’s Day the best one yet.

Comparing our eyes.

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I’m perpetually exhausted, but oh what fun it is being mom to these amazing people.  It is tiny moments like these that make my heart pop.

One of my favorite views. And the reason we probably need a king sized bed.

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