A Day in the Life ~ February 2017

Sometime before 7: J crawls in bed with me. I hope today is one of the few days he actually falls back asleep. He squirms around and sighs periodically until O comes in, then leaps to his freedom and the two go off to play.

7:38 Turn my back on A (who came into my bed at some point in the night) and check and return messages on my phone, including renewing library books I haven’t returned yet and corresponding with some people in China about an RC boat my daughter bought on Amazon. Today happens to be Valentine’s Day, and my hubby has texted me “Happy Valentine’s Day” from his TDY in Texas. I text back a meme that I think is funny and tell him that’s his Valentine’s card. Army love.

I still have 6 texts and 2 voice mails left when I decide it’s time to get up. Stuff like this really gets the best of me when my husband is gone on these longer trips.

8:01 I attempt an elaborate, ninja, replace-my-body-with-a-pillow move and sneak out with A still asleep.

My neck is really stiff. Probably because of the high population of people sleeping in my bed lately. When my hubby’s in town, he plays bouncer, because I don’t usually wake up to kids crawling into bed. So when he’s gone, I just wake up in the morning with lots of people all over the place.

I head to the room where the kids sleep and grab all the grading I did last night while everyone was falling asleep. I come downstairs and the boys are playing a middle-eastern version of Uno that my hubby brought back from his deployment.

A comes down. My ninja tricks don’t work like they used to.

Start prepping breakfast, then O reminds me I promised him a game of chess first thing today.

8:27 Chess with O. He captured my queen early. I was still confident I would win, but he beat me.

Start a fire.

8:45 Back to food prep.

Everyone eats eggs with the promise of potatoes to go with it soon. I’m clarifying butter to cook them in and it’s not done yet.

I happen to look over right when one of my children elbows another, and then the child who did the assaulting pulls back and says “Ow!” like he was the one assaulted. Why???

The offending child is as angry as if he was attacked and is offering no clues as to why that would be. He is also not interested in discussing the morality of any part of the situation, what might be done now, or anything else I suggest. I ask if he’d like to go to his bed and read a chapter of his book and maybe he’ll want to talk after that. He says yes and goes. I try not to spend too long sitting with my face in my hands. That never really seems to help.

Tell the elbowed child to start his schoolwork and go back to the kitchen and skim the ghee. It’s ready to strain. The kids and I are doing the Whole30 while the man of the house (who wouldn’t do the Whole30 for probably anything) is gone, and I learned to make ghee so we wouldn’t have to give up our butter. It’s quite yummy. Make some fried potatoes.

A starts her math so she can be just like Big Brother. I know her motives because she announces them. She is suddenly (as in I really just noticed the past few days) understanding her math. She’s had a math workbook for a long time, but only because she’s super-offended whenever her brothers have a workbook she doesn’t have. I was sort of teaching her what was in it, but mostly just letting her do what she wanted in it and waiting until she was ready. She definitely seems ready now.

A writes all numbers mirror-image. Every single one.

Potatoes are ready. Two kids start eating them, and the third comes down more willing to talk. He has some potatoes and we work on math together for a bit. The coping skills don’t last very long, though, and he goes back up to his bed to “rest” for 15 minutes.

Scan in some flash cards I’m making for the kids. I have searched online every way I know how to try to find custom flash cards I can order, but I can’t find a thing. I really would think this is something that would come up for other people, too, but apparently not. Or I’m just really bad at searching online. A real possibility. If I find them one day, it will be as glorious as when I found the website where I could generate my own copywork!

Brush A’s hair.

Ask O to read his chapter of “This Country of Ours,” our American history spine. He asks me what chapter he’s on and I say, “I don’t know. What chapter are you on?” We negotiate whose job it is to keep track of what chapter he’s on. He reads his chapter and narrates it to me.

More math help. I read the chapter of “This Country of Ours” that O just read, and we do “fact and opinion,” a game/activity that I made up after reading “Make It Stick” by Peter C Brown. The game/activity is simple: after all involved parties read the material, each person gets to ask one fact question and one opinion question about the text. It’s easy and fun, and sometimes leads to interesting discussions.

Help J with his Explode the Code. And “help,” in this case, just means sit next to him and make sure he does all the things that he was supposed to do yesterday and didn’t complete.

A made a math assignment for me on a post it note, so I take a break from teaching and do my math homework.

Boys work on their lists. Lists include both school assignments and chores. The kids are arguing about the socks they have to fold, and I’m having this ongoing debate (that feels like it’s becoming near-constant) with myself about how often to step in and how often to sit back when they argue.

I do school with A while the boys work and argue.

J comes by at some point and tells me he’s going to go clean up by then back door. I say, “Ok… Why? What happened?” and he says. “I slipped in a patch of mud!” and leaves. I’m confused, but I just keep working with A. He’ll either clean up whatever it is sufficiently, or I’ll deal with it later.

Boys do the part of their recitations that they quiz themselves on. For part of it, they say the answer (which is on the back of the card) out loud and have A tell them if they’re right or not. She loves being included and helpful, and the boys came up with this on their own. It makes me so happy when they’re sweet to her unprompted.

I’m working on finishing the flash cards I’m making while they all do this.

11:39 Kids go on break. I take a shower and get ready.

12:10 J does his chapter of “This Country of Ours.” He’s not ready to read and narrate an entire chapter, so he narrates after each paragraph or two while I make lunch.

When he’s done, I read his chapter so we can do our fact and opinion game. I keep meaning to get in the habit of reading their chapters the night before, but haven’t managed it yet. As I read J’s chapter, I realize both of them skipped a chapter. This book lists chapter numbers in Roman numerals, and I thought that would be a good way to learn Roman numerals “organically.” I think I’ll get some bookmarks and we’ll learn Roman numerals another way.

12:34 Lunch for everyone, then “fact and opinion” questions with J.

1:08 Owen practices piano. I sweep. As I go to dump out the dustpan, I find J standing over the garbage with a pair of fabric scissors and a pair of his pants I told him to throw out because they had a big hole. He’s harvesting all the parts he thinks he can use off the pants.

Pick up the living room for J’s harmonica lesson. There are wood scraps everywhere. I love fire season, but the lack of sawdust and sticks in my living room when it’s over is always nice, too.

1:29 Recitations with A. Recitations and spelling with J, while holding one end of a keychain that O is making out of paracord.

1:41 Pick up the dining room. 19 minutes before his lesson, J has realized his harmonica book is missing and goes on a mad hunt for it. He doesn’t find it, but he does find the origami paper that everyone was distraught about losing last week.

1:47 Spelling and recitations with O.

O does a Times Tales crossword puzzle, and I help J look for his book.

J’s harmonica teacher calls to say he’s running late because the roads are bad. I look outside and it’s SNOWING!! It’s been raining all day and it’s too wet out for any of the snow to stick, but it’s actually snowing a little!! We all stand with our mouths open at the window for a while admiring the Valentine’s Day Miracle.

I check on the beets in the oven and realize that someone carved a big ‘A’ onto one of them. I hadn’t noticed when I put them in. Apparently she’s claiming that one.

2:20 J’s teacher shows up. O goes upstairs to read one chapter of “Little Princess.” I have him do it during J’s lesson because it is very hard for O not to be involved in things, so if O is right in the room during J’s lesson, it’s more than he can handle not to join right in. A works on an activity book, and I cut up all my homemade flash cards.

After O’s chapter, we talk about his latest Latin lesson and I make sure he’s clear on the difference between conjugations and declensions.

2:48 Do reading lesson, narration practice, and handwriting with A. I told an impromptu version of 3 Little Pigs for her to practice narrating. This is her favorite school thing to do right now.

O is pretty much joining in the lesson over in the living room. I kept him occupied as long as I could.

3:25 Chat with J’s harmonica teacher. We’ve told all the kids they need to have 2 years of piano before we’ll pay for lessons for other instruments. J was dying for harmonica lessons, though; so for his birthday, he got 3 lessons that were allowed to be used before his piano time was up. I just asked the guy who plays harmonica up front at church if I could hire him for 3 lessons. He said sure and has been so sweet to J. He always stays way longer than his half hour.

3:34 J’s teacher leaves and A tells me she has a drawing that she’s ready for me to trace. I start to trace it and she totally panics because I am tracing in the wrong order. That’s only fair, of course, because I was just stressing the importance of order when she traced her letters only one lesson ago. I don’t recall panicking to the level she is, but perhaps it looked different from where she sat.

We’re done with all our school for the day. It’s still raining pretty hard, and it’s weird not to be going outside at all. My kids consider it inhumane to be kept indoors all day long. We decide on some games. A picks Uno, and J and O pick a game of chess each. While I’m playing chess with O, A shoves her hand entirely into my back pocket and shouts, “There! There’s some fuzzy things for you!” I’m afraid.

I lost to O at chess again. I really need to practice.

When we’re all cleaned up from games, I check my back pocket. Thankfully, the “fuzzy things” were imaginary.

3:59 When we checked the forecast, it looked like today would be the last day that it wouldn’t be too warm to have a fire, so we’ve had a fire going all day, and we decided earlier today that we should all sleep in the living room. This could very well be our last fire this year, and we’ll be in a new house long before next winter, and may not have a fireplace. Plus, fun stuff like this is a good morale-booster for when Daddy’s gone. So now we wipe down the floors and haul down some mattresses.

4:18 Toy clean-up upstairs. I help this time, mostly because I’m all done being patient with kids’ arguments for today.

4:50 Kids haul in a bunch of wood for the night and do dishes. I make some dinner.

5:30 Dinner. Then teeth, faces, jammas, etc.

6:17 Watch two Disney shorts we’ve been wanting to see from our beds all set up in the living room.

6:30 Build up the fire and read two chapters of “The Princess and the Goblin”. Last time we read it, A was too little to follow, and the boys and I loved it, so we started it again recently.

7:13 Prayers and snuggles. The fire is much louder and brighter than what might be ideal for sleeping. I get up several times to rearrange the fire, attempting to calm it down a bit. I was unsuccessful and it took the kids a long time to settle.

8:08 Kids are all calm or asleep. I bring all the grading and school prep over by the fire.

9:02 Crawl into my bed (on the floor) and write in my bullet journal. Wow, does it really take me an hour to grade and prep?! There was some texting with my hubby in there, too.

9:28 Sleep. I really want to throw on a log as I’m falling asleep, but it’s not worth risking a repeat of the fireworks of earlier.

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Day in the Life ~ July 2016

4:45 The hubby gets up for work. I kiss him and go straight back to sleep. When he got up at 5:30, I could manage getting up with him most days, but not 4:45. That’s ridiculous.

6:02 A’s up. I pull her in bed with me to snuggle and she falls back asleep.

6:20 J’s up. I snuggle him for a bit, too, but he never falls back asleep. He’s not allowed up till 6:30, so he lays there for 10 minutes, wiggling and flopping around.

6:30 Kick Wiggles out of bed and ease out of bed myself, hoping A will sleep longer. She’s happier when she does. During my attempt at a stealthy escape, O pops in the room and tells me he’s up, then disappears somewhere.

I head downstairs and start breakfast for everyone. I’m out of eggs and that’s pretty much all I serve for break fast, so I feel lost. I go “do” my hair, which, for long curly hair that’s been slept on, means braiding it and pinning back the remaining crazy. Back to the fridge, where I decide I really can’t create breakfast from what I have. I forgot I was going to go the the commissary yesterday. I hate when this happens. Hubby’s new schedule (which changed dramatically about 2 weeks ago) means he’s often home for breakfast. I might be able to get to the commissary while he’s home.

7:00 Hubby home, earlier than expected! I assault him with my commissary needs and he says go. I make myself a weird breakfast of dinner leftovers (because unlike the rest of my family, I cannot function if I don’t eat within an hour of getting up) while I throw together a shopping list. It has to be under 30 items, since it’s early-bird hours until 9:30.

7:20 Leave for the commissary. I really wish I could find a time to go regularly.

7:55 Back. A’s still out, and since she fell back asleep in my bed, I’m starting to get nervous. She just stopped wearing pull-ups at night and has a far-from-perfect record. I go move her back to her bed. It’s late enough that I don’t care if she wakes now.

Back downstairs to put away groceries and make breakfast. The man of the house and O are building a rocket he bought over the weekend and J is unloading the dishwasher.

A comes down and I take a break to sit and snuggle her. She wants me to go read to her on the couch and I’m so tempted to ignore everything and do it, but I send her to Daddy to do it instead.

Print the kids lists, which are their chores and independent school for the day. Independent work today is math, Bible, Explode the Code, copywork, and Latin; and chores are putting away all the common folded laundry, one bathroom, taking out garbage and recycling, and cutting nails.

Serve a disorganized breakfast.

One of my children has a complete and total meltdown about oatmeal (and, of course, not about oatmeal at all…).

8:18 Meltdown resolution is less than satisfying, but can’t be taken any further right now. I expend a considerable amount of energy convincing myself not to write off the day. Too often, days that start like this continue like this…

Prep school stuff.

8:26 Tell everyone to start breakfast jobs (which are the jobs everyone has to do right after breakfast: teeth, hair, vitamins, clean up breakfast, etc.). They all ask if they can have eggs. This is funny, because I know they got their egg obsession from me. It’s just not breakfast until someone’s had some eggs!

After eggs and breakfast jobs, the hubby reads to A, the boys quiz each other on recitations, and I clean and chop all the veggies I just bought. I’ve only had the boys quiz each other once before (as opposed to me quizzing them), but it went really well. I think this is going to be happening a lot more!

8:46 Hubby leaves. A needs to finish some breakfast job stuff.

8:50 I ask O to please stop banging on the table. This might not seem worth noting, but it’s this new habit he’s developed of banging on things right in the midst of people attempting to interact.

8:54 Ask O to stop banging on the table.

9:10 Boys are done with recitations and head off to their 15-minute break that always follows breakfast jobs.

A emerges from the bathroom and, because I assume, I tell her to go back and flush and wash her hands. She says, “I did,” and I said, “So I can go look?” and she says, “no,” and walks back in.

Brush A’s hair. While I’m doing so, I notice she has green all around her mouth.

Me: “Why is there green all around your mouth?”

A: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Well, you can’t play until you figure it out.”

A: (no hesitation) “Playdough.”

Me: “So you ate playdough?”

A: “NO-WUH!… I just pressed it around my mouth!”

I can’t get the brush through her hair, she needs a bath anyway, and apparently she’s been “pressing” herself with playdough, so I tie her hair up and tell her she’s scheduled for a bath later. She heads off to play with her brothers.

9:18 I notice the boys clean laundry unfolded on the couch and add it to their lists, then finish prepping for school and make myself some more food before we start.

9:25 Break timer’s up. J comes down when he hears it, and while I finish making food, he spits on his hands and starts rubbing them together. I make a face and he says, “What?! Lots of people do it!” (I’m not sure what gross people he’s talking about.) “You spit and rub till they’re really sticky, then you have more tension for flips and handstands. Wanna see mine??” I wonder what word he was going for with “tension”. Traction, maybe…? So he attempts a handstand (on our hardwood floors), goes over too far, and crashes on his hip. He immediately pops up and says, “Yes!”, like that was really fun and/or he meant to do it. Then, to definitely convince me it was on purpose, he says. “Now do you want to see my just-regular handstand??”

A comes down and presents to me, with great pride, what she tells me is a “tin bag.” It is the metal top that peels off a can of peanuts. And she has shaped it into a bowl.

9:35 As soon as the kids see that I have food, they all realize they are dying from starvation and must get more food before we begin.

9:40 Start family worship time. They argue over who gets to light the candle, and who got to light it last time, and who always get to light it. I tell them I’ll light it, and if anyone would like the privilege of ever lighting it again, they may make a chart to show whose turn it is. This is pretty much how I handle arguments like these. Because if they don’t care enough to create some sort of tracking system, I sure don’t care who lights the candle. (Or shakes out the tablecloth. Or picks out which pool we go to next. Or, or, or…) But if they truly care enough to put something together, then we have a handy reference sheet that took none of my precious time to create! (NOTE: the candle was not important enough to anyone to expend the energy. However, a few days ago, the tablecloth was. Fascinating.)

J is leading worship time today. A couple weeks ago, O asked if he could be “the pastor” at our next family worship time. It went great, and the kids have been rotating in ever since.

When we’re done with what we usually do, which is prayers and a section of a devotion book we’re working through right now, J says he wants to read a Psalm he loves to us. I really want to start school, because it’s almost 10, but how do I say no to that? I ask him if he knows exactly where it is, and he says, “Yes… [long pause] …I just need to find it.” After a few moments of shuffling, he says, “Mama, how many Psalms are there?” Against all odds, he finds it quickly and reads it out. Sure enough, he’s highlighted a line he likes in there.

10:03 We’re done with family worship time, and the boys announce they’re hungry. I say they may eat only if it can happen while doing math and copywork. I do a reading lesson with A. When she’s done, I read her Jesus Storybook Bible and then she narrates the story back to me. The boys are still completely captivated when I read this one, so none of their work gets done while I’m reading.

Recitations with A. The girl cannot remember her birthday for the life of her. (It’s the new memory fact she’s working on.) She got my phone number down a while ago: a senseless string of 7 numbers; but somehow she’s not getting this one. It’s literally been weeks working on it! I think it’s because her birthday happens to be October 31st, so all her life, when people ask when her birthday is, she says “Halloween”. Apparently now the date is completely new information.

Short lessons for A in writing, Explode the Code, and math (she’s making swirls off various points of every single number); and 2 rows of a knitting project she started in co-op that I’m making her finish. At 2 rows a day, she should have the headband done well before she graduates high school.

Last for A is illustrating a Jesus Storybook Bible narration (I record them when she narrates and type them up later, so she’s illustrating a previously narrated one.)

This is basically all her school. She does some group stuff with us, but little of it is mandatory at her age.

11:20 Record all the food I’ve eaten so far today. Because apparently weight management is never going to come easily again. (Did the bitterness come through on that? If not, go back and re-read it bitterly.)

11:27 A decides she wants to learn piano like brothers, so I take her upstairs and show her what I’ve gleaned from sitting in on her brothers’ lessons so far. I absolutely cannot pay for a third child in piano lessons, so I hope this will satisfy her and she won’t be devastated by the number of years she will have to wait to get “real” lessons.

11:37 Tell A to go play. She stays at the keyboard and works on perfecting her new skills.

O is on his second math problem. I think (hope?!?) that’s he’s done some of his other work in this last hour and a half. I need to be better about tracking what they’re working on. What he has shouldn’t take him anywhere near this long!

Spelling and dictation with J.

11:48 Tell O to take a break from the math and go have “special time” with A. This basically means they can do anything they want as long as they’re playing with her. It (usually) keeps her out of trouble, and I like to think it strengthens her relationship with her brothers.

11:49 Hubby’s home for lunch.

J’s done with spelling and dictation and plays a game with Daddy.

I go scrub out the tub for A’s bath. (I left cleanser on it overnight.)

12:04 Tell O to pick one of his readings. He picks Robinson Crusoe, and he and I head upstairs to his room. We started this one as a family, because I’d never read it and thought it was going to be like The Swiss Family Robinson, which we read together and all loved. It is, of course, similar to Swiss Family in many ways, but with the addition of cannibalism and other such mature content. We kept reading together when it was mentioned that cannibals may be populating the land closest to where Crusoe is stranded, but I finally took the time to read ahead and decided it should probably wait for the younger two; so we picked a good stopping point, and O and I are finishing it alone.

12:50 Done, and he narrated it well. I’m glad he’s following, because I don’t always feel like I read this one well. Some books are just hard to read aloud.

The hubby took off to go back to work right about when we finished reading.

J chooses his reading, which is one he reads by himself, so I get some food for myself while he reads, and then he comes and narrates it to me. It was a science reading about how water creeps up a straw. We try it ourselves, but none of my straws are transparent enough to tell if it’s working.

J reads me a poem by William Blake, and then we practice his piano together. We just started a few months ago, so I still sit with them often during practice. I’m not sure how long before they do it all on their own. To be honest, I like doing it with them for now. I never learned piano and I love learning along with them.

1:32 Additional meltdown from the fragile child of the day.

We all learn the difference between to, too, and two. Then we play hominictiony. This is an invented game (and an invented word, made up of the words homophone and Pictionary). We have a running list of homophones that we add to whenever any one of us comes across one, and during homonictionary, we draw two or three squares on our page, and have to draw a representation of each of the words. When the guessers guess which homophone-set is being drawn, they have to spell each word that corresponds to each picture. We each do one when we play. Today’s word sets were steel/steel, knead/need/kneed, and bawl/ball. Then A just draws whatever she wants and we all guess. As A is drawing for her turn, I notice that while we were playing, she has grown kitten whiskers on one side of her face. The whiskers are the same color as the marker she’s drawing with.

J and A special time. O spelling and dictation. Then we co-read his William Wordsworth poem, because it’s a long one.

While he’s writing out his dictation, I fix the to/too/two worksheet I found online, because the one I found, instead of having blanks for them to fill in, has all the wrong ones and they have to correct them. I can’t stand stuff like this, so I take a screen shot and replace all the incorrect to/too/twos with blank spaces. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t just look up a different worksheet. Surely there are others with spaces…

2:28 Piano practice with O.

Set O and J back to their lists. I hate it when the lists go this late. They usually don’t.

2:43 I find a piece of drawing paper in the bathroom, with a smaller piece of construction paper “painted” onto it with hand-soap. The paintbrush that was used to create this work of art is lying on top of it. I remember asking A at some point earlier in the day what she was doing, and she said painting. I knew the paints weren’t out, but didn’t have the good sense to follow up on what she may have meant by that.

A and I pick up school stuff and then set up blob maps. She’s very thirsty from the more-than-one minutes of work, so she asks if she can go get a seltzer. I release her and keep picking up.

Upon checking on her, I find that she has poured the seltzer into one of my nice wine-glasses (that she would have had to stand on a chair and get from the top shelf of the china cabinet). I pour it back into the can while I tell her what will happen to her if she ever touches those glasses again without asking.

2:57 Head upstairs to help A put away her laundry. We each take a pile of laundry from the laundry-folding table in O’s room and head to hers. Now I see why she said she can’t put away her laundry. Special time was spent on making forts, and from her dresser drawers are sprouting several of the walls of this multi-room fort. I do my best to lean around it and stuff clothes in anyway, and she has a panic attack and tells me the fort is “delicate”.

3:05 Dump A in the bath, go downstairs, and try to think about dinner for the first time today. Before I figure anything out, though, O is asking for game-math. When he feels really overwhelmed, we play a short game (chess, mancala, etc.) and he alternates doing one problem and taking one turn. I’m not sure how long ago we came up with this, but it seems really effective for the days he’s overwhelmed. If it happened a lot, I’m not sure I’d have the patience for it (or that it would be healthy for him), but he seems to be able to gauge when he needs it and doesn’t overuse it.

3:29 J’s done with his list and is begging to go outside. He makes sure I know that no one has even been outside today other than to take the garbage out. I actually do feel bad about that. O asked to do outside school this morning, which we do often, but I said no, because we have a shortened school day tomorrow, so I was being really ambitious for today; and outside school just takes longer, what with all the shuffling of stuff in and out, and the inevitable bird-watching. I tell J he can go out as soon as O can go out with him. I tell him he can help with O’s chores if he wants him to be ready sooner. He decides it’s not worth it and heads to the couch to read.

3:35 Back to A’s bath. She’s upset because she fell off her bike yesterday and has some decent scrapes on her hand. She tells me it’s the worst bath ever. She dresses, I comb her hair, cut her nails, and make a fuss about “taking care” of her scrapes. She reminds me that it was the worst bath ever.

3:51 O’s done. Both boys head outside.

4:02 A’s done and heads out, too. Now… to think about dinner.

4:03 J’s back in because it’s too hot. It’s about 100 degrees out, so it’s legitimate; it’s just funny given how hard he argued to go out. It’s 100 or more every day around now, so he knew.

4:20 O’s back in and says it’s too hot. A isn’t allowed outside alone, so she comes in, too. Someone suggests fort building (the delicate one, I presume) and all 3 of them clamor upstairs.

I make dinner, as well as make ahead some things I’ll need for the next 2 nights’ dinners. I make myself a latte while I cook and enjoy the mostly-quiet.

Last Valentine’s Day, the kids and I bought a bunch of eye screws, some string, a hinge, and a tension rod. We sanded a board we had laying around (maybe 7” X 5”) and painted it and stuck decorative stickers on it that said, “Service, Please”. The hinge outsmarted me, so I made a makeshift hinge out of packing tape and attached it to the wall in the kitchen next to the table. Then we made a path of eye screws from the board in the kitchen up along walls and over cabinets to the wall in the dining room. We strung the string from the “Service, Please” sign into the dining room beside the table, so that when the string is pulled from the dining room, the sign flips up in the kitchen and shows “Service, Please.” Then we put the tension rod in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room and hung old curtains on it, and the kids made a “Welcome to Date Night” sign to pin on it. On Valentine’s night, we surprised the man of the house with a dinner date with his wife. The kids took orders, served food, and cleaned up. It went so well, we decided to make it a regular thing. We rotate through each parent and child, with two Mommy/ Daddy dates in there. We’ve always tried to be good about one-on-one time with the kids, but time and money constraints have always made it a challenge. This way, there’s no extra time or money needed. We all eat the same thing; the non-daters just eat in the kitchen (and take turns serving the daters when summoned by the sign), and it’s time we would all spend eating dinner anyway. After dinner, the daters either read a book together, play a game, or go for a short walk; while the non-daters clean up. We shoot for about once a week, but with the hubby’s irregular schedule, it’s never worked to set a day, so we just work it in whenever we can. Daddy and J are up in the rotation, and the hubby mentioned at lunch that we should shoot for a date night tonight, so I set up the date-night curtain and sign while I’m cooking.

4:40 Hubby’s home early! This is the most I’ve seen him in 2 weeks! He changes (out of the inhumane uniform the army has their soldiers wear in 100+ degree weather) and comes down to talk with me while I finish cooking. I send J to take a shower.

4:51 Hubby heads upstairs to investigate the source of some screaming. Not sure what happened, but A is sent to come help me and O is sent to the shower. J is done with his shower and dressed, so I send him to the dining room table where his date awaits.

5:02 Send A out to take drink orders. She uses a combination of drawing and newly-learned phonics to record the orders, and comes back to the kitchen and prepares them. She tells me that J has requested a “fancy glass” and wants permission to go get one. Never mind the fact that she probably prompted him for that since she had to give the glass back earlier today.

5:18 O’s down from his shower. 27 minutes is a lot longer than it should take for a 9-year-old with a buzzed head to shower, but I was busy and didn’t remind him every couple minutes to keep progressing forward.

I finish arranging two plates of salmon and biscuits and hand them off to two short servers. When they return, I ask who doesn’t like salmon. Everyone says they do. This is a problem… because I could’ve sworn one of my kids didn’t like salmon and I only made 4. And the leftovers I was going to allow my non-salmon-fan child to have is not compatible with my diet. I serve both kids and try to figure out something for myself. This is going to make it a lot harder to resist the fresh biscuits brushed in butter that I made.

I remind the kids to watch for the “Service, Please” sign, and A says she’ll watch carefully and suggests that when she sees it go up, how about she makes a loud “NEE-NOE-NEE-NOE” sound like a siren?

After I figure a way to dress up a plain chicken breast passably, O says he has decided what he would like to do, month by month, when he grows up; and would I like to hear about it? Sounds like it might be some sort of yearly cycle? He’s been planning his future business, Sugar Cane Airlines, for quite a while now, and is near constantly making additions and improvements to his business model. As he discusses some policies he’s settled on for his employees, A asks what food he plans on giving them “for them to survive.”

We start the oven for cookies. Date night also means dessert.

I tell O that he needs to stop talking now and eat some food. I can tell he’s still talking in his head, because he’s acting out flying while he eats.

A announces that she’s going to live in a mountain when she grows up. And that her husband will live in the mountain right next to hers.

6:15 Clear dishes, put away leftovers, clean stove, and do dishes. This is the first time I’ve loaded the dishwasher today. My husband does it a lot. It hasn’t always been so, and I’m very, very grateful.

The daters did teeth and jammas and faces while we cleaned up and are headed out for a walk.

Non-daters do teeth, brush hair, jammas, and face washing. A doesn’t like to go upstairs by herself, but we’ve recently come up with the plan where I sing to her while she goes, and then it’s not so bad. I’m not sure if it sounds any good when I sing at a regular volume, but Twinkle Twinkle Little Star sung at the top of my lungs is not lovely.

6:28 A’s ready for bed, so I tell her to get a book and bring it into the kitchen right by me and read. She’s most especially mischievous when she’s getting tired.

Daters are back.

J lets me know that some of my hair is gray. I tell him yes, I had noticed that.

6:46 Head upstairs for reading. Generally, we do a read-aloud as a family, but I bought Geronimo’s autobiography and we started it as a family, but a few chapters in, we decided we might want to wait until A is a bit older for some of what’s in there. Especially if we’re going to read it last thing before falling asleep. (Not sure how I didn’t see that one coming. I know in general how the Indians were treated…) There’s really no other good time for the hubby to regularly read to them, and the boys wanted to finish it, so we’ve been splitting up for reading time. I’ve just been reading picture books to A at night. I’m really anxious to get back to a good family read-aloud, though. I think I ask my husband every single night how many chapters are left. (And I’ll need to pay a lot more attention to which book I pick next, because Robinson Crusoe was the one I picked right before Geronimo!) Plus, I do my mending when I’m the listener, and my pile is stacking up.

7:16 The Hubby and I trade off every night doing prayers and snuggles with different kids; one of us has A and the other has both boys. I have A tonight, and I usually stay in there until she falls asleep, which is sometimes fast, and sometimes not so fast. Tonight is not so fast, but I use the time to do the day’s Bible reading along with snuggling and praying with her.

7:22 I ask A what she’s chewing on. It’s a rock. Awesome.

8:20 I stayed in after she was out to finish my reading, but now I head into my room and write a few things in my new bullet journal, which I am absolutely loving. I’m tempted to add a thousand word essay on my bullet journal here, but I’ll abstain.

8:23 A comes in my room and asks me to snuggle. I know I should probably be grumpy about “having” to stay with her until she falls asleep, but she’s my baby, so I’m just cherishing it while it lasts. I already have two that are much too old for all of that, so I know how quickly it goes. I take my journal to the glider beside her bed and finish it there.

8:43 Now she’s for-real out. This is pretty late for her, and I fear grumpiness tomorrow. I am a super-grumpy person when I’m tired, and I seem to have passed that gene on to my children. I wonder if that gene is dominant or recessive. (Why, yes… we are studying Gregor Mendel…)

Head downstairs and talk with the hubby about our days. He was too busy/ tired the first couple weeks of his job switch to do this, and I really missed it.

9:30 Shower.

9:39 I really want to go to sleep, but there are dishes undone, I have 10 unread text messages, and there is grading to do. And I just realized that I was supposed to call the doctor and dentist today to reschedule those appointments. You know… some days it’s really hard to have faith that I spent all my time in the right places. It suddenly seems like I spent too much time on school and not enough on the rest of life. But I know (from experience!) that entertaining these thoughts just leads to a bunch of self-doubt and discontentment, which is really just a way of spending my time being self-absorbed, so I remind myself that God can use all my (far-)less-than-perfect efforts to bring about his purposes, and that my time is better spent making my list for tomorrow, prioritizing as I think is best, and releasing everything about everything into God’s hands. (If this sounds a little dramatic, I’ll pretend it’s because it’s late and I’m tired, and not because I’m always this neurotic…)

Upon making my list, I decide returning texts and grading ought to be done tonight. I do it in bed, so that I’m kind of going to bed with my husband, and because if I bring only what I intend to do into bed with me, then I’m less likely to get “on a roll” and stay up till 1 A.M. “getting stuff done”. I fall prey to this especially on nights he goes to bed before me (or nights I’m struggling with obsessing about all I didn’t do), so this is my defense. He’s twitching next to me within a few minutes.

In the grading box is a letter to my mom from A. I stuck it in there so I could make a key to go along with it, so my mom can read it. I think I’m smiling the whole time I’m writing the key. I love the way new phonics learners take off with writing. “Gramu” is “Gramma”, “tralr” is “trailer”, and “1fngrspac” is “one finger space,” which she knows is supposed to go between words. She’s forgotten to space out two of her words, so she wrote “1fngrspac” (with no spaces… :)) and drew an arrow to where that space should have gone. If mom my thinks this letter is half as cute as I do, she’ll keep it forever!

Grade until I can’t keep my eyes open, fall asleep, and wake up tomorrow to another day in paradise!

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Day in the Life ~ August 2015

A little after 7: J and O are in my room whispering and asking if they can get up. They’re not allowed up before 6:30 and both of their watches are broken. I check the time and say yes. This is actually impressive for J. He’s up almost every day at 6:30. They head downstairs and I roll over and snuggle A, who snuck into my bed sometime last night. We fall back asleep for a little bit.


When she wakes up, we talk and snuggle. Then I tickle her, and as I listen to that adorable giggle, I think about how much my husband must miss it, so I record a Voxer message her giggling and send it to him.


Then we get up and start some oatmeal. J comes in while I’m cooking to show me an elaborate drawing of his future home. Which, by the way, will be tunnels and caves inside a mountain. He’s been set on this for a while. He announced out of nowhere a day or so ago that if I ever come over and I do not see him in his kitchen or dining room, that I was NOT to go searching the rest of the house for him. I said okay, I’d be sure to remember that, then asked him why not. He said I would DEFINITELY get lost. Sure enough, his drawing today shows a complicated tunneling system inside a mountain, complete with lots of labels, and even a toilet drawn in the bathroom.


The boys empty the dishwasher and set the table. We eat, then everyone changes into running clothes, cleans up from breakfast, and I load the dishwasher while our food settles. (A’s running clothes include a hand-me-down dress that was worn in a wedding. Sure. Why not.) Also, she only has one shoe out of every pair of shoes she owns. I scowl at her and tell her I’m not finding her shoes.


9:15 We load into the car and head to a track on post close to our house. O and I race a mile (he beats me). The other two alternate walking and running for probably a full mile, since they do it during our warm-up and cool-down laps, too.


10:00 Back home. Showers for all. It was seriously hot today. We’ve had a few cooler days lately, and even ran in the rain twice, but today was broiling. Both O and my mile times were slower than usual today; that’s probably why. Kids ask for 15 minutes to play before we get started on chores and school. I think that’s a great idea. I love to get dressed and ready in peace. But J doesn’t make it the 15 minutes before lying to me about whether he did or did not throw grass in A’s hair, and loses the rest of his free time.


10:45 Skype the man of the house. It’s 6:45 pm his time. The kids all talk while I make some food. Actually, J and A talk while O works on his Extreme Dot to Dot book, his newest obsession. (If you’ve not heard of it, look it up. It’s pretty cool.) O comes in at one point and, after asking permission to go online by me, buys another Extreme Dot to Dot on Amazon Prime while I finish cooking.


11:00 My turn to Skype. Doesn’t last long, because the hard boiled eggs are done, and suddenly everyone is dying to peel their own eggs, so the kitchen is loud and crowded. We all have hard boiled eggs (well, 2 of us deviled ours!) and fruit and veggies.


11:23 Stir my sourdough starter. I just started a new one last Sunday after not doing it for a while and I cannot WAIT for it to be ready! It smells so good. It’s also too big. (Because I can’t handle throwing food in the garbage. So the discarding part doesn’t usually happen.) I found a recipe for sourdough crackers that are made using discarded starter. I want to try them so badly. But I’ve made crackers before, and while it is indeed easy, and fun, and delicious, it is by no means quick. So I pull off 1C (which is what the recipe calls for) and set it aside. I’ll decide later. See how the day goes. 


11:29 I sweep the kitchen while the kids finish eating. A says, “Eeeeehhhhhh… What’s up, Doc?” after every single bite of carrot, until I tell her I need a break from the what’s-up-doc-ing, please. She eats 2 bites in silence, and then starts up again.


11:35 I move on to “sweep” the living room and dining room. It’s not really sweeping at this point, because the ground is covered in clothes (when/ why are they even stripping in common areas??), shoes, art projects, art supplies, games, toys, etc. So I “sweep” it (I push it, using a broom) into a giant pile. The kids come in, I put on some music, and they get started on Mount Everything-They-Played-With-In-The-Last-48-Hours, and I start putting away everything on the dining room table and craft table.


12:08 J emerges from going to the bathroom and I send him back in to flush and wash his hands. This happens approximately every time. He goes back in and I hear the water run for about 1.5 seconds, then he comes back out. I steer him back in by his shoulders and stand over him while he washes his hands for real, all the while insisting that this is “almost exactly” what he did last time.


12:15 We begin what we call an auction, although that really makes no sense: it’s a giant pile of creations on the table, and I hold each thing up one by one, and they each claim it or reject it.


12:20 Kids finished the pile a while ago and moved onto the tables with me. We have a little left on each table and we all work together to finish up.


I start some water to make iced tea. I never drink enough water unless I have iced tea. Then I head downstairs to switch a load of laundry. It sounds like the ceiling is going to come down on me. My kids were not made to live indoors. I come up after the mere 1-2 minutes it takes to switch loads and 66% of my children are missing and there are two chairs blocking the entrance to the kitchen, one tipped over. Why?? (I don’t bother asking.)


12:45 “Auction off” the last of the creations. Everyone puts their claimed creations in their creation bins and heads off to unload the dishwasher. I put away all the creations that were ruled as gifts to me and pack up some creation overstock to bring to A’s baby box in the basement.


12:55 All kids are sent to rest time. I take out recycling and get some things ready to take to the post office. My parents visited last week, and after they left, O voxed my dad and told him he left a little carving here and did he want us to mail it? Then A voxed him and said he left his water and did he want it? It was a to-go cup from McAllister’s. She was serious, because she’s 4. And adorable. My dad, because it’s his sense of humor, sent the kids a message back saying we could keep the carving, but he’d like his water, please. So we vacuum sealed it, and A wrote, “Here’s your water, Grampy” as her “school” for the day, and we’re sending it. 🙂


The other package is some cookies and a magazine to be shipped to the Middle East. This is a very happy package to be sending, because it will be our LAST. 


Quiet is so good for my soul. I just can’t describe how wonderful it is to listen to the quiet.


I switch laundry loads, clean up the kitchen, load dishes, and hand wash whatever dishes didn’t fit. Then I make some breakfast sausage. This just entails mixing spices with ground turkey.


A is hooting. Like an owl. I realize this is harmless, but I REALLY want a little more quiet, so I ask her to stop. She stops for about 10 seconds and starts again. I ask her to close her door so it’s at least a little muffled.


J comes down and I mouth answers to his questions instead of speaking them. Because… the quiet…


1:53 A door slams. Made it darn close to the full hour with mostly-quiet.


1:55 Call kids down to set the table and make scrambled eggs. It’s breakfast burritos for a sort of late lunch.


2:09 J opens a jar of salsa and O drops the f-bomb. Oh, are you surprised? Yes, me too. I spin around, trying desperately to look as though I was turning casually around, and said, “What did you say?” And he promptly repeated it. Now, if we were back in Wheaton, I probably would’ve assumed I misheard something. But here, the kids hear it ALL the time. (Normally, when we hear a swear or other inappropriate word, I talk with them about it. But I haven’t covered this one yet. Even though they’ve heard it tons, I haven’t been able to bring myself to say, “Hey, guys… Did you catch how our next door neighbor just stuck her head out the back door and screamed at her son to pick up his @&$%ing toys…?”) So I asked him why he said that, like what had happened to make him say it, and then he just said it again. At this point I lost whatever sorry grip I had on nonchalant and shouted, “Stop saying it! Stop saying that word! What happened to make you say that??” He said, “J opened the salsa jar and it sounded like ffffff-uK!” 


So that awkward conversation? The “Hey, did you hear how she said #%^?” Yeah, that’s in my near future. For now, I move on like salsa jars cussing at us is no problem, and we pray and eat.


The tortillas taste like cardboard. Every once in a while, I try using whole wheat again to make tortillas. Then they taste like cardboard. Then I go back to making them with white flour and they’re delicious.


Over lunch, O says he’s decided what he wants to eat all day on his birthday. Sounds like I’ll be in the kitchen all day. 🙂 I ask him if he wants to wait until his daddy-birthday-celebration, and maybe on his actual birthday we’ll do less-elaborate-but-still-fun foods? The calendar says his daddy will be back 10 days after his birthday. The kids don’t know this, but it will likely be a few days sooner, we just don’t know yet how many. Making it by O’s birthday is unlikely, but not out of the question yet.


I ask O to please stop whittling his carrots with a steak knife.


I really, really need a table manners chart for the kitchen like we have in the dining room. Every time they get up without asking, or burp without covering mouths or asking to be excused, or the like, they lose a token. They have 3 tokens, and if they lose them all, they’re done eating until the next meal. It actually quite effective.


2:40 Everyone is done and O starts challenging thumb wars. This is new. I pin his thumb a few times and we all clear the table. Then we head to the dining room for some school. We almost never start this late. The major cleanup this morn set us back. We’ve been out and about for several days and the house got away from us.


I like to build up slowly after a long break from school, so this week, they all pick one class a day (and we all do it), next week they pick 2 a day, then 3, then we go back to a full schedule. First chosen class today is a drawing lesson. (Left over from yesterday, actually.) We did a still life out of our drawing book yesterday, and today we’re supposed to set up our own. They don’t turn out nearly as well as yesterday’s.


3:16 O picks recitations for his one class. I added left and right to memory drills because they weren’t coming up with it quickly when I’d say it. So I say, “raise your right hand!” to O, and he spins around and bounces back facing a certain direction, then pops up his right hand. He did that last time, too! What is he facing… north? Mecca?? I need to get a compass and see if he bounces to the same direction every time he does that!


3:31 All 3 done with recitations. A still can’t say “proverbs” correctly; it’s so adorable. She kind of says, “prof-rebs.”


J picks poetry. I used to not like poetry at all, but now it’s probably my favorite class. I think mostly the change came when I gave myself permission to enjoy poems without understanding them. Or not understanding them all the way. Or being fine with the possibility that what I think I know may be all wrong. When we do poetry, they each pick an “old favorite,” which is just any poem we’ve previously read, and then they pick a new one from any of 3 books we have going. The boys both want Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll as their old favorite. I love that they choose a poem with words like brillig, wabe, and frumious! Shows they’re not growing up with my poetry flaw! This is one of so many reasons I adore homeschooling. I get to go back and pick up what I missed out on.


3:56 Done with poetry. Pack up and head out to the post office. It’s blazing outside. The chapel we passed said 104, but it feels hotter than that.


4:20 Back. I absolutely love how close everything is on post. (It only took as long as it did because we had to wait in line.) I have the commissary (grocery store), PX (think Walmart), PXtra (think department store), outdoor and indoor pool, spray park, post office, and library all within a few miles!


I talk A into choosing cooking class so I can make those crackers I’ve been thinking about all day. I give the boys a pass, since they won’t enjoy it so much (and while I want them to have basic cooking skills, homemade crackers is probably beyond “basic.”) However, the alternate activity chosen by the boys is playing in the sprinkler outside, so now crackers don’t sound so fun to A. I shoo all three of them off to put on suits and play in the sprinkler and I start on the crackers. I love this stuff. Maybe if I didn’t homeschool I could do a food blog. Or make and sell some kind of food. (I’d have to charge like $2 per cracker to make those worth my time, though, so I wouldn’t sell crackers.)


4:47 I remember that I have letter shaped cookie cutters and I think how adorable letter shaped crackers will be. Yes, I know that won’t streamline the process… I can’t stop myself.


5:00 Call the kids in to change into dry clothes. They want to help cut shapes, so I say anyone in dry clothes can help. I have 2 helpers in short order and O is back to his Extreme Dot to Dot (EDTD). 


After obtaining permission to use some new cookie cutters, J asks if I want to keep the ribbon or if he should just cut it. I say to cut it and thanked him for asking. Immediately following my response, he says, “I was like, ‘Do you want to keep the ribbon or should I cut it?’ And you were like, ‘You can cut it. But thanks for asking.'” He does this ALL the time. Immediately plays back the conversation we just had. Sometimes more than once. He’s been at it a couple months now. Maybe longer.


5:18 Call the kids back from wherever they’ve gone to set the table.


5:20 J is holding his shirt up and licking it. I ask him what he’s doing. He continues, except it’s not regular licking and now he’s picking tiny pieces of salt off the table and eating them. I tell him to cut it out and he shouts, “IT WORKS!!” I ask him what is going on, and he says, “My experiment book says if you dry your tongue off really dry then you can’t taste tastes anymore! I tried it and I dried my tongue all the way off and I put salt on and it WORKED! I really couldn’t taste it!!”


5:30 We all sit to eat. The crackers are coming out in shifts. And they are really, really good.


(By the way, if you have never made crackers before, it does not always take an hour! I was multitasking, and making letters instead of cutting into squares, and my children were making gingerbread shaped crackers, etc. Do not let my cracker-a-thon evening discourage any interest that may be inside you. In fact, call me. We’ll do it together. I love making crackers. And anything else edible…)


During dinner, the boys brought up, for some reason, how A talks aloud when she’s alone in the bath doing pretend play. She kind of laughs, but looks like she might be embarrassed, so I say that I used to do the same thing, and that their Auntie did, too. Then I asked the boys if they remember what they sounded like in the tub at that age. They said no, so I let off a long string of sound effects including honking, crashing, sirens, squashing, splashing, etc. They were all belly-laughing and asking for repeats. That led to more “remember when” stories. It was a lovely dinner.


6:15 Clear table. O empties the dishwasher, everyone flosses and brushes teeth. A takes a bath, the boys wash faces, and everyone changes into jammies. This is almost always my least favorite part of the day. They’re all starting to get tired and either wound up, cranky, or both. And J is incapable of cooperating when I “check” his flossing and brushing. Checking, by the way, is flossing and brushing them after they do it themselves because all 3 of them still do a really poor job.


6:35 Both boys are in bed doing EDTD. I switch a load of laundry and take A out of the bath. I send her to her room with a pull-up and instructions to put it, and jammies, on.


Then I clean the toilet. A can’t reach the ground yet from sitting on the toilet, so she has to kind of slide off. Which necessitates a toilet cleaning in certain situations. TMI, I know. But I’m going to look back on this post and I want the reminder to be grateful when this season has passed.


Remind A that she’s putting on her pull-up and jammies, not performing at a dance recital.


When her jammas are on, I hand her her toothbrush with toothpaste on it and tell her to brush and come to me to check when she’s done.


I head into the boys’ room and get our read-alouds out. J asks if he can go get his oil pastels to bring into his bed to fill in one of the dot-to-dots he’s competed. Not a chance.


A comes in with her toothbrush and a nail file. She’s kind of brushing with one hand and holding the nail file out in front of her with the other, flashing smiles and pressing on it with one finger. She stops to inform me that her “other mom wants a screen shot” of her brushing her teeth. I ask if perhaps she means “selfie,” not “screen shot”, and she says, “ya” and takes a couple more nail-file-selfies. I ask if she’d like me to take a picture and she says yes, so she poses with her toothbrush and she reminds me to “say click.” Then she takes it back and starts shooting nail-file-selfies while jumping on a crib mattress on the floor and trying to tell me about another shot her other mom wanted. I called her over so I can check her teeth brushing, and after she’s climbed in my lap, O comes over and asks if she wants him to take that other shot for her other mom. He’d been listening while working on his EDTD, and apparently the other shot was supposed to be of me checking her. He’s such a great big brother. He’s so consistently sweet to her.


7:08 Read one chapter of Anne of Green Gables. They all laughed so hard when Anne was trying to convince the Cuthberts to call her “Cordelia.” At the end of the chapter, both boys shouted, “Another!” O had been sure he wasn’t going to like this one. I told him he had to give it 3 chapters, and if he still didn’t care for it, he could go read something else during the rest of the chapters. Tonight was the third chapter. 🙂


7:23 A’s picture book of choice this evening is Akiak by Robert J. Blake, one of our favorites from the post library.


7:32 One chapter of The Princess and Curdie. 


7:49 Both boys shout, “Another!” when I finish the chapter. I’m tempted, but it’s already later than we usually go.


Prayers and snuggles with J. O holds A’s hand to help her wait. (Seriously. He’s awesome to her.)


8:04 O closes his bed-fort curtains and turns on his headlamp and goes back to his EDTD while I snuggle and pray with A. The bed-forts are 2X2s that I screwed onto 3 posts of the bed, then spanned up top with 2X2s, a few inches from the ceiling. Then I made curtains with thick-ish black on the inside and the fabric of their choice on the outside. Works absolutely perfectly in situations like these. So I rock A in the glider and sing while O does EDTD and J falls asleep.


8:29 I dump A on a crib mattress on the floor, tell O he needs to read at least one chapter of one of his chapter books, and read my bible.


8:50 When O and I are both done with our reading we pray together and snuggle. I stay a little longer than usual, because he asks me to, and he doesn’t do that as often these day, what with him being so grown up and all.


9:16 Load dishwasher. I try to talk myself into hand washing the rest of the dishes, but I’m not convincing at all, so I don’t. I’m exhausted.


I stir the sourdough starter. It probably doesn’t need to be stirred, but I like to stir my sourdough starter.


9:28 Make lists for tomorrow. Sometimes when I leave them out, the boys will even start them in the morning if I stay in bed with A.


At this point, on any other evening, I would argue with myself about whether to fold laundry or go to bed and read (lots of self talk in the evenings, apparently). Usually going to bed to read would be a quick win, but I have Voxer messages waiting from one of my best friends, who’s currently living in Scotland, so I’m dying to listen to them, and folding laundry would be the perfect time. But the argument never occurs, because tonight’s activity is to convert my scrawled notes from the day into a blog post! (Because, if I wait, I will totally forget what the notes mean. Already I have an entry from 11:55 that says “Broom Break.” What does that mean…?!) Then off to sleep to do it again tomorrow!


P.S. It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t record a day in the life entry for the day after this, because I ended up cutting a plastic reusable drink bottle off J’s finger with a coping saw as it slowly turned more and more purple. Never a dull moment, folks. Never. :).

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A Day in the Life ~ May 2014

4: 00 O wakes up. He probably won’t go back to sleep. Thankfully he doesn’t do this terribly often, but it’s often enough that I know there’s a serious risk he’s up for the day.

6:00 My alarm goes off. I’ve been half-sleeping for the last 2 hours, because O never went back to sleep, and his version of lying still and trying to go back to sleep reminds me of a fish out of water. When he gets up that early, he has to stay in my room or he’ll “accidentally” wake the other two, so I semi-slept with him right next to me.

I’m exhausted, so I snooze twice.

6:30 Drag myself to the bathroom and put on workout clothes. There’s a whole bunch of floss unraveled on the floor in the bathroom. I don’t recall seeing it last night before bed, which means someone got up in the night to make a mess? Or maybe someone who was up at 4 made a bathroom stop…

Work out. I hurt my back a few days ago, and it was feeling a lot better, but all the jumping in this particular workout is not feeling so good. 😦

The other two got up at some point while I worked out. Boys mostly did Legos and held them in my face while I worked out. Girl mostly whined about how hungry she was.

7:07 Make some pancake batter and peel some oranges. Hubby gets home for his breakfast break. He finds the floss and demands answers. I was just going to let it go. In the name of picking my battles, you know. I should’ve picked it up if that was my plan. But now… no one has done it, someone is lying, and it’s an issue. This is probably the biggest issue in our home right now. The lying. No one will confess to anything that happens around here. The hubby and I go round and round about if they all get consequences, and if that’s fair, or no one gets consequences, but then they’ll never learn… I don’t feel like we’ve ever resolved the conversation. I’m not sure why… maybe we fall asleep? At any rate, one of them has confessed this time and must go get money from his allowance to pay for the wasted floss. The hubby and I agree to talk about the lying stuff tonight.

7:28 Tom fries up the pancakes while I go take a shower. It just occurred to me yesterday to ask him if he’d mind helping make breakfast since he has such a long break. He said sure. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

After showering, I get dressed, do my hair, print out the kids’ daily sheets, and open all the windows. We’re headed for 79 today. I’m thrilled. It’s been up over 90 and even as high as 95 already. I’m not ready for another OK summer!!

The kids’ daily sheets list all their chores and lessons for the day. Seeing it altogether cuts down on having to answer “Are we done??” after every lesson and every chore. They also really seem to benefit from being able to choose in which order they complete everything expected of them.

8:06 Head back to the kitchen and scramble eggs for the kids, make an omelet for the grownups, and load the dishwasher.

The hubby and I talk while I work. His schedule has changed a bunch of times since we’ve been here, and there’s good and bad about each schedule, but I love the extra talk time around meals that we get with this one.

8:30 Kids start their breakfast. We usually all wait and sit together, but it’s getting really late, so they start.

8:37 Grownups join in the eating. All the children’s eggs are in a bed of syrup. This would be one reason they don’t usually start without us…

8:48 The hubbyleaves to go back to work.

8:55 O’s done and is outside practicing on his stilts. Once J and A realize he’s outside, they’re suddenly full and headed for the door. I call everyone back in to clear the table.

9:01 After breakfast is family worship time. They’re all outside again, so I just go with it and head outside. We just finished Job, so today instead of reading from the bible, we just review by taking turns narrating the whole story of Job. The we pray. The kids praised God for popcorn. Then they thanked God for popcorn. Then they prayed that we would have popcorn today. (This isn’t the first time they’ve done that. You’d think I lace my popcorn with cocaine. I don’t know what it is.) Then we sing 2 praise songs.

9:15 We head off to walk around the block. I’ve been trying to do this to start our day lately, rather than just dive right into lessons. I tend to rush more than I need to, in many things, and this seems to help me start the day off in a more unhurried manner. And I listen to my children better when I’m not in the house, where I feel the constant pressure of dishes-and-laundry-and-cooking-and-cleaning-and-lessons. So it also seems to help set the tone of me being more attentive to my children. And my children love all things outside, so the walks make them very happy.

Today, O decides he’ll be walking on stilts. I remind him that I won’t be carrying his stilts if [when] he changes his mind partway through the walk.

Before the first turn, he tires of the stilts and asks if I’ll carry them. I say no.

When we reach the back of our house, halfway through the walk, he dumps them in the backyard. Now he keeps running in front if his sister and stopping and telling her she has to say the password to get by. He tells her the password is a kiss. He keeps doing it over and over, and she loves it. Then he starts making silly poses when he stops, but she still has to kiss him to get by. These are the moments I never, ever want to forget.

9:40 Back from our walk. It’s really nice out and not overly-windy, so we bring lesson stuff outside.

After we’re all set up, J and O each do their memory drills, while whoever isn’t drilling rides bikes and scooters up and down the block.

10:15 Get some snacks and math books. J’s first. We have a tradition of going out for ice cream at the end of each math workbook. Their workbooks are designed to last a semester, but our kids finish at different times throughout the year, because we work on math for a set amount of time each day, not a specified number of exercises. J is close to the end, so he asks if he can do extra. He makes it 32 minutes before he says he’s done! (We do 10 minutes a day.)

10:51 O’s math.

11:03 Clean up outside, distribute lists, charge lunch jobs, and start macaroni and cheese. Lunch jobs include washing hands, setting the table, passing out vitamins, emptying the dishwasher, and bringing the bible to the table.

Somewhere in there J did his journal page. He’s got a lot of initiative. I’m not even sure I realized how much until I started with those daily sheets.

The hubby comes home. I’m done making lunch, and I’m trying to strain some chicken broth I had going overnight, but it’s really hard with no clean dishes. I did that load this morning, but I still have countertops full! Mondays are always the worst, because I don’t do dishes on Sunday.

11:38 Serve macaroni and cheese to the hubby and the kids, and go back to make a salad for myself. Do you what I’d give to have the metabolism I had 10 years ago…?

11:52 Eat my salad. Everyone else is pretty much done. I wish this was a rare occurrence.

12:01 The hubby goes upstairs to put A down for her nap. This is the other awesome thing about his long meal breaks. He can usually put A down for her nap. And she goes down *way* better for him than me!

Send boys to clean their bathrooms. This just means emptying the garbages and wiping off anything they may have… ahem… “left” on the toilets by accident.

12:06 I’m done with my salad, and I start in on the dishes. J’s working on word searches. O is cleaning the toilet, but it sounds suspiciously like playing with Legos…

After close to an hour of dishes, I’m done, and I can finish up the chicken broth.

12:58 Start bread and a load of laundry. I realize the lunch table was never cleared, but the boys have been playing out back since dishes, and A is sleeping, so I just clear it myself. Then I grab the boys’ readers and head out back.

1:19 The boys have found a branch on our tree out back thats broken but still attached securly enough that they can swing on it.

They each do their reading lesson while their brother swings. We stopped during O’s reading lesson to look up L in Roman numerals so he knows what lesson he’s on. I knew X and I, but I’d forgotten L.

1:47 A’s up.

1:49 Reading lessons done. All three are playing out back. I go get my bible and prayer journal and a deck chair and bring them all out back. My preference is to do this alone in the morning, but I snoozed too much.

The boys are inspecting the exterior corner of the garage and the girl is hammering the back porch with a bubble wand. The weather could not be better.

On one of the boys’ trips by me, I can’t keep my curiosity contained anymore and ask whats so intesting out by the garage. The quick, matter-of-fact answer as he continues walking: “Just looking for skeletons.”

2:24 Bring my stuff in and call kids in. Set them back to work on their lists. Transfer bread to a pan to rise, switch loads of laundry, sweep the living room and dining room.
Write out the boys’ copywork.

Boys’ do their copywork, O does his journal page, and each of them reads a book to A.

While they read, I wipe down the table and make a shopping list. (I realized at some point today that I am missing a key ingredient for the meal I had planned for tonight. And key ingredients for the next several as well, so I can’t swap out.)

3:01 Leave for the grocery store.

3:40 Upon returning, J asks me if I realize that our tortoise is still in the bath [the bathroom sink]. He was out back with us and got put in the bath when we came in. And then… uh… totally forgotten about. I am *not* a good pet owner.

O was handsy at the grocery store, so he gets to put away my groceries.

I switch loads, move bread to the bread pan, start pizza dough, and shred the cheese for the pizza.

I dry off the tortoise, then he pees on me while I’m walking him back to his box. Clean up the floor. Clean up myself. Disinfect the sink.

3:50 A heads back outside.

4:05 J brings me a completed list to check and then heads outside also.

I do another load of dishes. Is this 3 loads?? Plus 45 minutes handwashing??

4:24 O’s list is done and he’s out with the rest. I scrub the stove and try to prep the veggies for dinner. I am determined to begin eating at the same time as my family for dinner!!

4:44 I pull out the ground turkey and realize I am out of Italian sausage seasoning. These moments are so frustrating. I already knew I was out of salad dressing and needed to make that. Now I need to make Italian sausage seasoning. I’ve already promised some children that the pizza would have sausage, or I’d put that turkey right back in the fridge! There are certain things I make from scratch for cost and/or clean ingredient reasons, and overall I don’t feel like it’s too much, but there are days………

5:00 Sausage done, pizza crust done. I start portioning it out into three like I usually do (everyone likes thin crust) when I realize I stand little chance of eating with the family again. SO… One big thick crust pizza it is!

5:15 Tom gets home, the pizza is in, we sit to eat. All of us. 🙂 The thicker crust was underdone, but it was worth it.

6:11 Dinner done, table cleared. I head up to give A a bath. Boys work on jammas and teeth and flossing.

6:44 Everone’s ready for bed. The hubby reads from Swiss Family Robinson. He just started it last night. I’m so excited. We’ve read the kids an abridged version twice and they love it. We’ve been wanting to start the real one for a long time!

7:20 Finished reading and prayers. Make rounds in the rooms for songs and snuggles.

7:34 Dishes. Seriously.

Mend Tom’s uniform shirt, make an alteration to his uniform cap, and make pasta salad for lunch tomorrow.

8:47 Watch a YouTube video the hubby found on how to texexturize hair. My sweet daughter decided she no longer wanted bangs and took the scissors to them a few weeks ago. I let them grow a little, then tried to even them up, and they look… bad. I asked a long distance hair stylist friend for advice, and she suggested texturizing. I haven’t a clue what that is, so here we are, consulting YouTube on the issue.

9:00 Make a math terms worksheet (we need extra practice on that), add phone numbers to our memorization cards, and dictate some word problem templates to the hubby. We need practice there, too, and he types faster than I do.

9:25 I don’t have energy left to read tonight. I’ll fall asleep praying my son does not wake before 6 tomorrow!

And I realize as I type this out, we forgot to talk about the lying… . We’ll talk tomorrow. 🙂

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2014 Book Thoughts –> “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard

I reread this book during Lent this year. It’s so interesting to reread books. Experiencing the same story, but this time knowing how it’s going to end. Experiencing everything about it from a different angle. While I read, the memory of what I experienced last time I read certain words is brought to mind alongside the story. There’s another character in the story: the me that read it last time.

I have come to appreciate in recent years the value of rereading books. This one will surely show up here again.

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2014 Book Thoughts –> “Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas”

I started this book during the 2011 and 2012 Christmas seasons, and got about halfway. This year I was smart enough to start where I left off the other 2 years and finish it. The book contains readings for each day from November 24th through January 7th, and the readings are extremely diverse. The readings were as different as they come in theological positions, writing style, and length. Some I thought were profound, beautiful, interesting, and insightful; and some I disliked and/or disagreed with. A few I don’t think I really understood.

I will probably return to this for a future advent, although I’m considering marking it up a bit next time and choosing some of the essays to be read yearly.

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Blog Surfing Thoughts and A Book Revisited

I recently added tags to my blog posts and attempted to organize my entries a bit, and I came across this post from November of 2011. It contains my thoughts on a book about marital submission. Or rather, it contains my explanation on why I didn’t want to share my thoughts at all. Reading it made me laugh and shake my head. I remember exactly how I felt when I wrote it.

I like reading blog posts and articles online. I try not to get sucked in and spend an inappropriate time doing so, but I love the variety of opinions, experiences, perspectives, and writing styles so easily accessible to us on the Internet. It helps me to challenge what I believe, sometimes changing my mind and sometimes strengthening a belief. Very often it helps me to better understand those I disagree with, which is something I feel has been invaluable in growing my compassion and love for those different from me.

What really gets to me, though, is how often the comment threads are downright vicious. I’m not sure if the authors of the comments I have read speak as unkindly when they are not behind a screen name, or if (as I have heard suggested) people feel less reserved and move to extremes online. Either way, I often come away from reading comment threads feeling very discouraged. When I read the book and wrote the post about “Me? Obey Him?”, I had also spent some time reading blogs on the subject. Marital submission is a controversial subject, I understand that, but I was very discouraged by what seemed to be several instances of bloggers posting their best understanding of what scripture says, presumably to help others, or start a conversation, or help other understand their views, and were ruthlessly attacked for it. So I was left with no interest in posting anything about my views about marital submission online.

Since then, however, some of my emotions have calmed (they calmed long ago; I just forgot about the post!), and I’ve realized that I have to approve comments before they are posted on my blog anyway. And I can close the comment thread on a post if I felt it best. Really, I mean, I could shut down the blog. I know, that sounds dramatic for a blog that is barely read, and mostly only by people I know anyway, but it’s a big deal to me. Christian blogs that descend into unkindness, either in the post or allowing it in the comment thread, completely discredit (in my opinion) any truth that may be contained. What is gained when we provide a forum for Christians to attack each other, or others? Regardless of whether or not the volatile things we said (or allowed to be said in the comment threads) are “true”?

SO… Want to hear some thoughts on marital submission? First, the book: What I liked about the book was how seriously it took scripture. I think when we come across passages that are hard to accept or hard to understand, sometimes we try to make sense of it and/or make it palatable by trying to fit it inside and amidst what we already believe about that topic. So maybe I would read that wives should obey their husbands and think, “OBEY? Well, I already know this doesn’t mean “obey”, so maybe it was only for that culture. Or maybe obey means something other than what I thought. Or maybe we only have to obey if our husband is following his scriptural mandates well enough?” Now, I’m not even saying any of those things are true or false, only that I question beginning the process with assuming “obey” must not mean just what it says. What if we started with considering maybe it means just what it says. Not in an unthinking way. Just being open to the possibility as we study scripture and decide if it agrees with other commands from God. From what we understand of God’s character. I like books (and people) who take God’s word seriously. Some of the mandates are cultural. Some were temporary. Many are very hard to understand. But let’s start by believing, and rejoicing, that every word in the Bible is holy and is there for a reason. And that we haven’t got it all figured out yet.

What I didn’t like about the book was what I felt were several false conclusions. She asserts things like that if we are submitting, we will never be put in a position where we have to disobey our husbands in order to obey God, and vice versa. She attempts to support this by saying if this is seeming to happen, it must be because the woman was not submitting at some point. Even if this were true, she doesn’t seem to offer any hope for anyone who has ever made a mistake. As in, what is the woman whose husband is telling her to get an abortion to do? That is a clear case of choosing between obeying the husband and obeying God. So even if the woman were to accept that maybe this happened because of some past non-submissiveness? Then what? She still has to decide about that baby. It’s been a long time time since I read this book, but I do believe that her stance in the book is that if the woman were to repent, God would change the husband’s heart. I do not believe this, or many other of her conclusions, to agree with what the scriptures say. I appreciated reading her thoughts and thinking more deeply about the matter, but I disagreed with much of what she writes.

Aside from the opinions in this book, does a woman have to submit to her husband? Even obey? My interest in this subject has far from faded since reading this, and I have since heard well-thought-out, thought-provoking arguments for many different positions. So where am I? I realized something relatively recently that has shaped my current dominant views. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. Which reminds me that Romans 12:18 tells me that if it is possible, as far as it depends on me, to live peaceably with everyone. I always knew those were there, of course, and I usually hear Ephesians 5:21 used to “fight back” against a woman having to submit to her husband. But what I realized is this: however I interpret Ephesians 5:22, I am called to submit to and live peaceably with everyone. Including my husband. Even if I heard a watertight case for “egalitarian marriage”, at the end of the day, when my husband is asking me to do something (or had a bad day and is grumpy and is telling me to do something) that I don’t want to do, the overriding principle in the moment will come from Ephesians 5:21, Romans 12:18, and Matthew 20:28. If I want to be Christlike, I must seek to serve instead of seek to be served. This covers the practical “what to do” in the vast majority of cases in my marriage.

But I understand: This is not the whole answer. There is still value in seeking to understand. There have been more moments than I wish there were in my marriage where the right thing to do wasn’t perfectly clear. So I’m grateful for this insight that covers most of our interactions, I continue to try to learn more, and I continue to walk– with fear and trembling.

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