Tuesday, March 30, 2010
8:30am I settled the little girls into PBS at the teacher's house and then sat in on Will's lesson. During the lesson I checked his homework and signed his "agenda" - an assignment notebook checked by the teacher every day. Then I started to look over the material for the music docent presentation I would give later that day in Elizabeth's kindergarten class. It was the first time I had looked at it. I picked Andrew Lloyd Webber and "Cats" this month. What a weird, weird musical, but I knew it would be a hit with the kindergartners. Cool animal costumes.
9:15am Will insisted on playing his piano pieces for his cello teacher as I loaded up the little girls in the van. Elizabeth had a friend coming over any minute. Come on, Will! Dropped Will off at school, headed home, and sure enough the friend was there waiting. I got Rachael, her blanket, snacks and sippy cup, my purse, the cello, the cello music, and the music docent folder out of the car. Dropped several things along the way and went back for them. Turned on a Easter video for Rachael and went to try and style my horribly frizzy air-dried hair. Finished last night's dinner dishes, as well as the mess made from breakfast and sack lunches. Put the wet laundry in the dryer, and a new load in the washer. Ding Dong! It was my electrical friend coming to fix some issues. I heard the big, little girls yelling for me from my bedroom. They learned about "Google Earth" in computer lab at school and wanted me to help them find the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China. After a while they moved on to photobooth- current favorite at our house - and started making videos of themselves in Andy Warhol mode. They were jumping and screaming on my bed and that got Rachael mad! So mad I couldn't understand a word she was screaming! This went on long enough that I finally told the girls to go do something else so I could solve Rachael's problem. After about five minutes of screaming her head off I got her calmed down. (Who needs caffeine in the morning when you have a screaming toddler?)
10:30am I got a phone call from William's friend's mom, Neena, telling me she was in the hospital with her husband who had fainted unexpectedly. Poor Neena! Sure, I can get the "cub grub" for scouts and sure, Brandon can go check out his chart and talk to you guys. I'll call him right now. Called Brandon while making cheese quesadillas and fruit cups for the girls for lunch. Brandon also wanted me to search his "pile" for a phone number he needed. Not in the pile. Not in yesterday's slacks or jacket. Back to cleaning up and more laundry. (It's always piled high on Monday!)
11:35am Time to go to kindergarten! I tried to put a quick ponytail in Elizabeth's unruly hair and there was a sticky spot. The tears began. Go get your sweater from my bedroom, Anna! Get your backpack, Elizabeth! I finally got everyone in the car, but Rachael started yelling for her "gempie" (blankie), so I went back into the house. Dropped off the girls and headed to Trader Joe's for cat shaped cookies as well as "cub grub". Cheese sticks, fruit bars, Pirate Booty, water bottles. That should do it for a bunch of hungry cub scouts after school! (And I couldn't resist the unopened daffodil bunches for $1.79! The highlight of my day!) Rachael was whining for some of the white cheddar Pirate Booty so I let her hold the bag in her lap while I loaded the groceries. Big mistake. Within minutes it was EVERYWHERE and she was covered in that white cheddar powder stuff. Took the groceries back home, talked a few things over with my electric man, grabbed the "Cats" video and cat cookies, and headed to my sister-in-law's to drop off Rachael. Noticed that Rachael was clearly in need of a nap. This did not bode well for anyone. My sister in law and I talked on the porch about mommy bloggers for a good twenty minutes.
1:00pm Finally arrived at the school with folder, cookies and video in hand. Helped with April calendar art project, did my little ditty on Andrew Lloyd Webber and "Cats", gave "spider rides" to a line up of kids on the kindergarten playground, stuffed the weekly information folders, gathered up Elizabeth, Kate, Will, cousins Ty and Nicole and best friend Rithik and headed back up the hill to trade Ty and Nicole for Rachael. Ty invited Elizabeth to play and we arranged for me to pick her up later.
3:15pm Dropped off Kate and Rachael (after Rachael had another HUGE tantrum in the car about something - so tired), got Will's scout shirt and kerchief, looked for his book to no avail, grabbed the "cub grub", listened to two phone messages about carpooling to scouts (too late!) and car pooling to batting practice in an hour and a half. I had noticed hours earlier my cell phone battery was dead and my car charger was in Brandon's car so I would have to call this mom back "later".
3:40pm Ten minutes late to scouts and I forgot to bring a hammer. (They were making tool boxes.) Passed off the "cub grub", borrowed a hammer, headed back home. Called back both carpool moms, Brandon to see if he visited Rithik's dad, Neena to see how he was doing and also to assure her I would pick up the boys. That's when I noticed Rachael has fallen asleep on the couch and I remembered I needed to pick up Elizabeth before getting the boys from scouts. Left Rachael with Kate and ran out the door with semi charged phone.
4:45pm Picked up Elizabeth, picked up the boys, drove to the opposite end of town for batting practice, dropped off Will, drove all the way back, dropped off Rithik and had a painful (physically - my throat!) discussion with Neena and recently discharged Nirmal about how he was just dehydrated and had been exercising too much. I also learned that in India they have a phrase about the early 50's being the "jungle" years - if you survive those years you will live a long time. I will keep that in mind, but at that point I was thinking if I survived the late 30's I'd be doing pretty good.
5:30pm Arrived home to find the baby still sleeping on the couch and Kate doing her homework on my computer. I fell into my bed and didn't move for an hour. I was really feeling sick at this point. Another baseball mom brought Will home, Rachael woke up, and I started to hear rummaging in the kitchen. Dinner! Dinner? Seriously? I reasoned in my mind that in many, many countries around this big, blue world there were children who ate less in a day than my children ate in one meal. Couldn't the "cub grub" and after school snacks be enough just this one day? It would have to be. I just didn't have it in me.
6:30pm The phone started ringing. I couldn't bring myself to get up and answer it, but I knew it probably had to do with the 20 teenage girls who would be coming to my house a little after 7pm for an "Easter Amazing Race" thing at the church. Not kidding. Just then the doorbell rang. It was 2 of the boys from church with a big sign asking one of those girls to Prom, including an Easter basket with eggs containing the letters to his name so she could figure out who was asking her. I had to ask them more than necessary to explain it to me. My brain was fuzzy. That's when I noticed the 30 hard boiled eggs on my doorstep for the activity that night.
7:00pm I remembered I needed to get Kate to the activity and called Brandon. He had just pulled into the driveway. Can you take her? Great! Ten minutes after he got back and before he even finished changing his clothes the doorbell rang and in came the girls. Each of the three groups were asking me what "act of kindness" they could do (pick up the little girls bedroom, tidy the kitchen, water the plants) and then they were all over the backyard egg tapping. Then as quickly as they came, they left, and I went back to bed. Actually, I ate a hard boiled egg first. So did most of the kids. (That's probably a feast of a dinner in some parts of this world! Right?) Other than my Wheat Chex, banana, and skim milk I ate standing up and in between helping other little people get ready, I realized that egg was the only thing I had eaten besides some remnants of the little girls' lunch as well a "cub grub".
8:30pm I helped Kate edit her book review for school tomorrow while Brandon corralled the two middle children toward bed. Rachael had a date with Kipper on Netflix. (Some days you've got to do what you've got to do and this poor girl was maxxing out on her screen time.) She kept getting up, holding her bum and screaming my name, a common occurance these days when she feels something coming. None of my kids have ever had these kind of "issues" before, but after about a half an hour of this, she finally gave me a reason to get out of bed. Nothing like a big, stinky diaper change to top off my day!
9:00pm Blogging my brains out. If no one ever reads this but me, I will feel better. Brandon is now at the grocery store getting "Cookie Crisp" cereal as a special birthday breakfast treat for Will's 9th birthday tomorrow. (Another big day looms large . . .) Brandon also gave me some zithromax and Ricola throat lozenges and got everyone in bed, including the baby who is yelling her head off in there right now. She isn't crying, in pain, or even mad. She's just not that tired yet.
I wish I could say the same . . .
Monday, March 29, 2010
I just thought it was cute at first. First, she poured some milk into a bowl. Then she asked me to get her two eggs, and she got a little help from her older brother to get them cracked open. Next, I saw her putting chunks of banana on top of the milk and eggs. "Oh well," I thought, "milk, eggs and banana are pretty cheap. It's worth it to let her experiment and have fun in the kitchen next to me." I lost track of what was going into her concoction after that, focusing instead on the little flaps of potato peel my son was dropping all over the floor as he helped me peel potatoes.
At one point I had to ask her to get off the counter, and I handed her the baking soda she was after, telling her not to use too much. The next thing I knew, she was putting liners into a muffin tin and asking her older sister to help her pour the batter. Now I started to get curious. I looked into her bowl and saw what looked like legitimate banana muffin batter. "Did you add oil?" I asked. She hadn't. I told her to add about a half a cup, but whether or not she actually measured it I'll never know. (All four of my children were in the kitchen while I was making our favorite family dinner, Japanese curry, so there were a lot of things slipping through the cracks!) All I know is I put the muffin tin into the oven and set the timer for about 15 minutes.
Thinking this would be a great object lesson, I was already formulating a little speech in my head about following recipes and directions when the timer went off. Elizabeth was so confident of her creation, she could hardly wait for me to put on my oven mitts. Much to my surprise, the muffins looked as good as the made-from-a-recipe variety. What in the world would they taste like?
There would be no lesson on following recipes and directions. Elizabeth couldn't have been prouder, and I couldn't have been more amazed when I tasted her ever-so-slightly over salted (I think it was the baking soda), but pretty darn good chocolate chip banana muffins! She's five for crying out loud!
Maybe it was pure luck, but I think she was able to pull that off because she has helped me make banana muffins dozens of times. What I realized yesterday is that our kids are always watching us. Closely. For better or for worse, they will mimic our behavior, our language, our choice of entertainment, our decisions, everything. And we'd better make sure we are worth emulating.
A lifetime of desserts depends on it.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Morning came anyway, and after a half an hour of quiet brain time, little people started to rise and wander into our bedroom. Let the marathon begin! We had a baseball game, a tennis lesson, Will's birthday party and a special program for the mothers and girls ages 12-18 at church. I managed to double schedule Will's party and the program at church, and we had yet to figure out the details of how it would all play out. Details like reserving a table at the pizza place, getting tickets in advance for the movie, where Elizabeth and Rachael would be during those two events, how we would get ten boys from the movie theater to the pizza place, how I would be in both places at once, when I would get the balloons, cake, plates, etc. for the party - just a few minor details to take care of in the hours between the sporting events of the morning and the 4:30 deadline for the party. Yikes.
In the end, I had no choice but to send Kate to the program with the blessed Potter girls and mother, Brandon got his 16-year-old brother, Brent, to go to the movie with him and the boys (and Elizabeth), and I dropped off, picked up, and set up at the pizza place with Rachael, who fell asleep in the car between 5 and 6pm. (She's been yelling in her crib for about a half hour now and it's 11pm. I've given up the fight at this point! What do we expect when the poor girl is submitted to the schedules and routines of children so much older than her! Brandon has given up as well and they are doing what they do many, many nights these days: watching M*A*S*H together. I think Brandon secretly likes it when Rachael won't sleep at night so he has an excuse to watch it.)
What got me through the day today were the FOUR uninterrupted hours of driving around alone taking care of business with nothing to slow me down. It was like therapy for me. I remembered gain that it really doesn't take much for me to feel rejuvenated. It wasn't just being alone, it was the manner in which I traveled. I took the freeway where I was going today and it was warm, sunny and windy. I had Brandon's car with the sunroof open and I rolled all the windows down and blasted one of my favorite mix CD's from Trenton and Laura. Great music, sun on my face and wind in my hair. All alone.
I really love my kids a lot more after a few hours of that.
Here's a clip from the party taken on our new FLIP camera! Seriously, I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
"The biggest mistake I made as a parent is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of my three children sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Anna Quindlen, Loud and Clear, 2004, 10–11).
Monday is my busiest day. It’s the day I’m re-charged after a weekend “off schedule.” I go crazy trying to get on top of the week before the inevitable unraveling process begins again. One of the gazillion things that happens on Monday is going to the grocery store with my two younger children while my two older children are at piano lessons. (The time limit helps me get out of there quick!)
One Monday a few weeks back I was a little annoyed when I noticed my wallet wasn’t in my purse and it would take too long to go back for it. I decided I could still be productive during that hour by going over the lists, schedules, calendars and loose post-it notes in my overstuffed planner. Unbelievably, I had managed to leave my planner at home as well! My last resort for using my time wisely was to call some far away family I hadn’t spoken to in awhile, but - you guessed it - my phone was most definitely hanging out with my wallet and planner.
What to do now? I felt like a fish out of water, like my security blanket of busy-ness had been stripped from me and I didn’t know what to do. And then as quickly as that feeling came, a new one took it’s place: the feeling of freedom! I had none of my usual “tools” that practically beg for my attention every time I’m in their presence. They were completely inaccessible so I had no choice but to wile away the hour with my two young daughters.
We climbed out of the car and spent the next hour playing in the tiny front yard of the piano teacher’s house, chasing each other like mad around her one, ant covered tree. They were both laughing hysterically, having the time of their lives being chased by Mommy Monster. I was having fun running and listening to them shriek and squeal. It was by far the best hour of the day and I was more than a little humbled to think how many moments like these I had lost to the tyranny of my to-do list.
It’s not that mothers want to run themselves ragged. I’ve always thought it ironic that the multi-faceted and never ending nature of a mother’s work sometimes makes it difficult for mothers to actually be with their children! We spend so much time caring for them (of course there is much value in that, as well as working together as a family) but how much time do we actually enjoy just being with them? Just as there are perks and rewards inherent to jobs in the paid work force, motherhood has its own perks and rewards (too many to mention here actually) and I believe one of the biggest is play time with children.
During that short, but sweet hour I remembered the feeling of freedom I had as a child. Life before adult responsibilities, life before cell phones and planners, life before errands and never ending paperwork. As I turned my back on busy-ness, I remembered that spending “quality time” with my children was not just about them. I needed those moments of human connection and play to get centered and feel the joy and freedom that comes so naturally to children; a feeling I sometimes forget to let in.
So here is the challenge for you and I: set aside a little time every day to put your to-do list, wallet, phone, computer, planner, book, exercise ball, spatula (whatever it is!) DOWN and slow down, get down and play with your kids. You will thank you.
For more mom-centric articles like this, go to www.powerofmoms.com. The website has received a major face lift recently with tons of new features like a photo contest of mothers with their children and a place to add your blog if you feel its content fits the content of the website.