I realized it's been a long time since I've written about a pretty typical day in my life. So - to record and remember - and to maybe make others feel motivated and comforted at the same time - here's a snapshot of a day in my life. This is the play-by-play of last Thursday.
I woke up to our neighbor calling for his cats, "Buddy!" "Buddy!" "Peyton!" "Egypt!" My kids love the 12 or so cats that live next door. Jared not so much. Personally, I like cats but I don't really like that the cats think our patio furniture is their bed and that we can't just go sit out there without getting out the vacuum and making a big production of it. But there are worse things.
I was tired. I fell back asleep.
7:20am.I heard Jared start starting scriptures with the kids and laid in bed until I could talk myself into getting up. Then I blearily stumbled into the bathroom before putting on the clothes I wore yesterday (still perfectly clean so why not?). I only shower on the days I go running or exercise - showers every other day works great for me and it forces me to exercise when I tell myself I can't shower until I do... I brushed my hair and saw it needed to be wetted down to tame some bed-head but decided to do that later (didn't happen - had to pick up the kids from school with my still-messy hair - oh well - I know that if I don't get all the way ready first thing in the morning, it just doesn't happen).
Headed downstairs to spray down and brush the kids hair while Jared led scripture study. Helped dish up the oatmeal Jared made (that's our main breakfast staple around here - can't beat good old quick oats with a bit of brown sugar on top) and remembered we have some left-over sliced strawberries in the fridge from the Retreat - became a hero to the kids when I plopped those puppies on top of their cereal. Gave the big boys some big hugs as they headed out to bike to school (trying to keep up with my post-Retreat resolution to give each child at least 4 hugs a day). Had the twins change out of their old basketball uniforms and into their school uniforms - they'd erroneously thought today was field day when they're supposed to wear clothes that can get wet - it's actually next week. Wiped down the spill on Liza's shorts. Hugged the younger kids goodbye so Jared could drive them to school.
8:05am.Got myself some breakfast - my favorite - pumpkin flax seed granola from Costco mixed with plain oatmeal (I think the granola is way too sugary w/o the oatmeal mixed in - plus doing 1/2 oatmeal makes it cheaper per serving by far...), sliced bananas, sliced strawberries (had to save some of what I gave the kids), plain yogurt. Ate while checking my siblings and parents blogs then dove into the 50 or so emails that piled up since I last checked email last night at midnight after saying goodbye to all my Learning Circle friends (I hosted the group last night - great discussion on what our intentions are as moms, as wives, as people - stayed up too late finishing the Power of Moms newsletter that had to go out this morning after my friends left but it the great conversation was was well worth the late night...). Sat here in quiet for hours working away until my rear-end ached and my tummy growled.
Every other day, I start the day with a 3-mile run. Sometimes it feels great. Sometimes it feels pretty bad. But I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I get my run done. I listen to Pandora on my phone while I run - Plain White T's station quite a bit lately but sometimes symphonic classical music and sometimes random mixes of all the music I've got on my phone. I'm getting tired of music. I need to make some time to put some podcasts on my phone to mix things up. The fresh air and beautiful new leaves and gorgeous blossoms and flowers totally energize me.
It still amazes me the amount of quiet time I get some days now that my kids are in school. Sometimes it gets lonely but I'm so blessed to have this time to get things done on my own w/o feeling torn and being constantly interrupted as I was for the past few years while working on Power of Moms while trying to be a great mom to preschoolers. I miss the social time I used to get with friends at parks and playgroups when I had little kids who needed the time with friends as much as I did. Sure, the conversations were extremely interrupted - but they happened! Now I interact all day with great people but mostly just via email. I do wish I had some friends to go to lunch with sometimes. After so many years of wrangling preschoolers, I looked forward to the day I could enjoy a quiet lunch with friends while my kids were in school from time to time. But my friends mostly still have preschoolers so that makes things tricky plus I've always got so much work to cram in while my kids are at school! I do make a point of getting out for lunch at least once a month with a friend and once in a while I get to go to lunch with Jared. I sit there and enjoy my lunch and a great conversation in peace and marvel at my good fortune.
Along with replying to lots of emails and moving some projects along that way, I updated our Power of Moms trainer manual (something I've been trying to get to for ages), uploaded tons of beautiful photos I got from our Retreat photographer (will have to post some soon), wrote a blog post about Mother's Day, put up a new Deliberate Mothering Video on our website ("lunch lessons" - great idea), polished the product page for our new Virtual Retreat after finally finding a photo of a mom at a computer that was pretty decent to use to illustrate what this program involves (when I searched stock photography for photos of moms at computers I was amazed at how much cleavage and skanty clothing I saw - really, who wears provocative clothing as they sit at their computer at home???). I carefully read over and signed the lease on our St George house (yeah! we finally got renters that seem great), and did some research whether or not it's OK to cut through tree roots to install sprinkler pipes and how much dirt we need to fill up the planter boxes we just put in in the backyard (Jared was working away on the back yard and needed someone with clean hands to do a little internet research...I learned that 1 cubic yard of dirt weighs about 2000 pounds and that we probably need 2 cubic yards - wow - dirt is heavy...).
1:35pm.When my rear-end was aching and my tummy was rumbling, I paused to grab some trail mix (my very favorite is a mix I make myself using stuff from bulk foods - it's raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, semi-sweet chocolate chips and craisins - try it - but watch out, you might get addicted) and got back to work. Some days I get so busy trying to cram several days' work into the hours the kids are at school, I don't even have lunch. I mean to take a proper lunch break and maybe even go for a walk or run an errand or two to break up the day (and many days, I go for a run after my initial morning email-check which is really nice) but I generally stay pretty glued to this poor old computer (several keys have the letters rubbed right off and Ashton was pointing out the other day that my computer is seeming like a dinasaur. But it works!).
2:23pm.Started getting hungry again and needed to go to the bathroom but wanted to just finish a couple of things including editing the email that will go out to all our Bloom subscribers on Sunday. It was all about how moms need to take better care of their personal basic human needs. Pretty ironic that I was putting off going to the bathroom and eating to finish editing that content! I stopped and took care of myself for a few minutes then felt much better and quickly finished a few more things.
3:07pm.Took off to get the kids at school. They get out at 3 but pick-up is a zoo if you get there much earlier than 3:15. I end up getting there at 3:20 most days. I was feeling bad that I was usually late until Eliza told me that she loves it when I'm in charge of pickup because she has more time to talk with her friends and the twins chimed in and said they like me to come a little later too. I guess that's one less thing to feel guilty about! I made sure to "light up my eyes" when walked into the school to get the kids gave them big hugs and ask them what they did for someone else that day and what they learned that day on the way home from school.
3:25pm.Dropped off neighbor kids we carpool with, got my kids started on homework (luckily there's not much at the end of the school year - I'm so ready to be done with school!). Made some guacamole to bring to a BBQ with Silas (just avacado, cilantro, chopped sweet onions and tomatoes plus lots of lime and salt and pepper - the whole family rejoices when I make the time to make fresh guacamole) and Silas really wanted to learn to slice the tomatoes so I had to watch and help very closely (Silas is SO into cooking with me lately. Eliza wanted to tell me all about her field trip to a pioneer museum but I had to put her off a bit to focus on the knife and tomatoes. Ashton needed help with his final math project (well, he didn't think he needed help but he did and he was being rude to me so we had to stop and have a talk about respect and I had to email his teacher about a part of the project he insisted was right but made no sense to me - he NEEDS an A on this project - it's been a rough term in math...).
4:20pm.During the math and field trip and guacamole stuff, my friend showed up with her little girls who my big kids had agreed to babysit so we paused everything to focus on these cute little kids for a while and get the little one calmed down (she was having some serious separation anxiety). Isaac did a great job with the baby and Eliza took the other little girl upstairs for dolls and crafts and Silas and I finished the guacamole while Ashton was marginally nicer about the ongoing suggestions I was giving him on his math project.
6:00pm.Time to hurry and get to the church BBQ. We enjoyed a little time with friends from church and Silas was pleased to see how much everyone loved "his" guacamole. Then we'd promised to also go to this event at the new community center where they let us hold our Children for Children Concert - there's this great group that's received all these big grants to fix up big pieces of our neighborhood.
(On a more typical day, I'd be working with one of the kids to make dinner and generally not starting dinner as early as I should have so while we're supposed to eat at 6, it's often 6:30 or even 7. With it getting dark so late, it's hard to think about dinner as early as I should. I go through spurts where I'm really good about planning dinners a week in advance and doing lots of crock pot soups and meals so we're ready for dinner in a more timely manner. I really like cooking - and like doing it one-on-one with my kids as much as possible. But some weeks I don't plan well and we end up with some pretty basic stuff. For nights when I haven't planned ahead, I've usually got some pasta and red sauce on hand - or part of a big batch of pinto beans I've cooked and mixed with spices and tomatoes and put away in the fridge or freezer that can be served over rice or in burritos.)
6:45pm.We left the kids at the BBQ with friends for a while and hurried over to the community center event where we got a chance to chat with some great people. Then we picked the kids up at the BBQ and went back to the community center to enjoy this great documentary about urban farming in Detroit called Urban Roots. The kids were thrilled at the candy and popcorn and tasty snacks they had for the movie. We learned a lot about how much gardens can do for communities and how working hard and seeing things grow has transformed many people's lives - the movie totally kicked us into gear to get our own garden planted this Saturday - something we've had to put off for too many weekends.
8:30pm or so.Past bedtime (we go for 8:00 for the younger kids, 8:30 for older kids, then 1/2 hour of reading time each - but lately with it staying light late, we've been later). We snuck out of the movie to get kids home and to bed (they watched really well for almost an hour but were getting a bit restless anyway). Walked the one block to our house with 4 kids and enjoyed a gorgeous evening with roses out all over the place - Jared took Ashton to the store for the poster board I thought we had for sure but apparently I was wrong and he needed it to finish the math project. Sent kids to the shower but realized the shower curtains were in the washing machine (they're fabric ones). Put up wet shower curtains and got kids in showers. Went from shower to shower to encourage some hurrying by telling them they could have a "Puggy and Chu-Chu story" if they were done quickly (the twins and Liza are way into these stories I make up with their help about the live versions of their stuffed pug and chiuauia dogs). Helped everyone straighten their rooms and set out their clothes for the next day.
9:00pm or soAll kids in bed except Ashton. But it seems some of them forgot the steps of brushing teeth and going to the bathroom so we rectified that. Even though it was late and they didn't entirely hold up their side of the bargain, we still did a Puggy and Chu-Chu story. I can't resist their cute faces and bright eyes so intent on the crazy stories I come up with. This time Puggy and Chu-Chu won a drawing for free cruise tickets to China (they had to go to China so they could meet up with another stuffed-animal-turned-real friend, Pandy the panda). The kids' eyes were wide as they heard about the worries about whether or not the cruise line would allow dogs to come but thanks to their blind friend who could go with them and they could be his seeing eye dogs, the cruise line said the dogs could go. Big sigh of relief there. They went to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and most importantly - the Panda Preserve where they met baby Pandy who was very sick and who they were able to help nurse back to health...Tomorrow we're going to look up about seeing eye dogs and the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and pandas on YouTube right after school. We're all excited.
After lots of hugs and Oliver telling me I'm the best mom in the whole world several times and Silas singing me his "mom, I love you so so much, I will never stop loving you" song a couple times and then both of them needing a couple more hugs (they really are the sweetest most loving boys ever and I'm so blessed to be their mom but I have to close things down gently but firmly after a while) and then Eliza needing help finding school clothes to set out for the next day and Isaac remembering last-minute that he needed to fill out his reading log, everyone was finally completely tucked into bed.
9:40pm.Helped Ashton with the final details on his math project and sent him off to bed - happily on a happy note. Then finished some emails and a couple things on my mind while Jared finished up some stuff he needs to have ready for this trip he's taking next week to oversee the installation of this invention he's been working on for many months with some friends - fingers crossed that all will go well and this will grow into something wonderful.
10:30pm.Went upstairs to watch a recorded episode of Modern Family with Jared. That's our one show we watch together pretty regularly and we laugh pretty hard. I need all the laughs I can get. Jared watches lots of basketball and I'm trying to get better at watching sports but my mind wanders. Often, I sit by him during a game and do computer work. It's nice to be together even if we're not really doing the same thing. Jared is great about supporting my rare but serious little TV obsessions. Lately it's Downton Abbey. Jared rolls his eyes at my near-constant interest in British costume dramas - but deep down, I think he really appreciates this stuff...
11:10pm.We actually went to bed pretty much on time. We said our prayers together and fell into bed. It had been a long few days with a lot of late nights. About once a week we do manage to get to bed close to 11pm but often it's midnight or later as we take advantage of the quiet hours to get stuff done or get sucked into Downton Abbey...
And there you have it. A day in my life.