Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear Web Log, What Do I DO All Day?

Dear Web Log,

You know those dreams where you are kinda confused and then all of a sudden you are falling, falling before you jerk yourself awake? 

You know that feeling when you are rushing three little kids to the car, late of course, one who has no shoes, one with dirty finger nails, one you just spilled coffee on (not your precious coffee!!) and you sit in the driver's seat and know without a doubt you have forgotten something but can. not. remember. what?

You know that feeling when everything is undone, and there is so much to plan for and what in the world is everyone going to eat for dinner, but the kids are laughing outside and the breeze and the sunshine are mingling just so and you put everything down and just walk out the door and soak in that perfect moment for just a little bit: Isaac's smile, Momo's singing, Joseph's antics, God's joy?

I've been living a deadly cocktail of the three since we moved to the Beach House five months ago. Five months. Of this. 

Every morning I wake up hoping for the warm close feel of familiarity to set in, or just the centrifugal force to sloooow down so that I know exactly where I am and what I am doing. 

It takes a toll on one, to be perfectly melodramatic. 

Little bits of routine work their way into our lives, despite my undeniably magnificent ability to avoid obligation or accomplishment. 

Here is how our days are generally panning out these days, ever and constant variations of this theme, which sounds like this: fun or chaos?

5:20 my alarm goes off and I pry my limbs out of bed and stumble to wake up Peter, who always always always gets up as soon as he is called.

He showers, gets Jude up, or starts the 20 minute long process of waking up Jude. Usually either Obi or I have to physically remove him from his bed, so much fun. 

Jude not first thing in the morning

They generally take care of themselves in the morning after that, I make lunches, iron Obi's clothes, make coffee, and the boys leave at 6:30, and I call the little ones. And all that goes with that, you know.

By 7:30 we are all out the door, except for unschooled Joseph who is still asleep, dreaming of better things.

I drop the girls off at their school...

Florida school dress code, rough

...and normally these days, Isaac and I drive another half an hour to his "school," which is actually the Y so that I can exercise while he goes to the babysitting room.  This has been an enormously positive development for me: to get out of the house, to be around breathing humans who aren't dependent on me, to physically push myself reeeely hard for just one tiny, long hour. I have purposely been doing group fitness classes, which I have never in my life participated in. I have also never regularly done strength training, only cardio. I do not enjoy strength training, and it feels the same about me. We are coming to terms with one another through Pilates, Boot Camp and the extremely fun (absolutely no sarcasm, you're reading that wrong) Body Pump. Amazing.  Isaac meanwhile loves playing with the so nice ladies who love him to pieces, their toys, and at a very distant third place the other children.

We are home generally by 10 and I find Joseph lazing about on the couch with his computer doing German. He is taking an on-line high school German class (for credit!) and it is hard. Very hard. He generally works on this from the time he wakes up until lunch time. 

Joseph found this book on the beach, it's Catching Fire,
and now it's part of our scenery

After lunch Isaac naps, I help (force-feed)Joseph with his other subjects, do housework (laundrylaundrylaundry), do my computer thing, do housework (laundrylaundrylaundry) until 2:15 when Isaac and I pick the girls up at their bus stop. Their stop is right at a hotel that caters to trendy, cute Europeans, and it is almost part of our daily routine to walk back from the bus stop with a couple of Euros trailing us on their way to the beach exclaiming over my cute kids' cuteness. The kids smile and nod and I smile and nod, part of our day. Weird.

Jude is generally home by this point as well as and all five of them watch a couple of TV shows. This has never, ever, ever been a part of our lives, TV after school, but it is completely indicative of not having myself pulled together enough to parent everybody properly alllll of the time. SO...they get that hour of TV and snacks and it is a pretty peaceful time. 

Meanwhile I do laundry.

After the magical TV hour when I go in with the fierceness and determination of a gladiator prepared to die and turn off the devil's box, we go out to play! We go down to the beach, we play on the seawall, we go to the backyard with the treehouse, and it is good. I purposely did not put any of the little kids in after school activities this fall because I wanted this time so badly for us. This time is so fleeting, breathe a little. 

We are generally in before the sun sets, they do homework, argue, mess up the house, find fault with one another, and cuddle and read with each other on the couch. This and that. 

One of the major things I am working on in my mothering is getting dinner on the table earlier. We have historically been late dinner eaters, 7, 7:30 even: to eat with Peter and Obi who are rarely ever home by that time. But this is hard on all of us, we all end up snacking too much and dinner clean-up runs too close to bed time. Obi and Peter walk in when we are clearing the table, and so shameful to admit but they often sit there eating leftovers at a filthy table, gross. Sorry fellas. 
Obi's travel shot, when he flies I like him
to take a pic of himself when he arrives and
send it to me, cause I'm cute like that,
and he's...cute!

If it is early enough, I try to head out for a run while Obi plays with them, but this plan goes awry far more often than it is accomplished.

Revisiting the sand city they built the night before
and seeing the destruction the tide wrought.

Everybody's a developer in Florida

Table gets cleared, kids get in the bath, teeth brushed, and we try astronomically hard to sit down, all eight of us, for prayer time. I read the Bible, or Youcat, or a story of a saint, conversation ensues, Isaac seizes the opportunity to jump repeatedly WWF style on every single one of us, and we pray a decade of the rosary. Just a decade, shameful, but guess how much more prayer a decade is than no prayer? 

A monumental difference. 

By 8:30 AnneMarie, Momo, Isaac and I head into their bedroom where AnneMarie reads to herself, I read to the little ones, sing to them, and we all slowly drift off. Usually by 9:30 Obi wakes me up, or I wake up on my own to find the big boys goofing around and Obi asleep on the couch. 

Very tired, I usually enter into some philosophical discussion the boys are having (recent discussions have included "why is it logistically improbable  for a teenager to live on his own in a hotel?;" "what are the defining characteristics of a psychopath?;" "why is it that Peter and Jude own a combined three single socks?" good stuff.) 

All the while Obi and I clean up the kitchen, Peter homeworks away, Joseph schemes, Jude teases all of us, on and on. 

And then we collapse. I don't know what time it is, between 9:30 and midnight, right about there. I read in bed, Obi works more on his computer in the chair in our bedroom (seriously) and somehow sleep finds us.

And then my alarm goes off at 5:20.

Dear Web Log, are you still listening? I'm done now, laundry awaits.     


  1. I'm having the same sense of uncomfortable floating. Ken's schedule has never been, shall we say, "conducive to normal family life", but so far we've been able to more or less weather it. But now, the combination of an even more volatile "schedule" coupled with an increasing student load at home means that a schedule of some sort is even more needed, yet more impossible to achieve than before.
    As a result, we're also late eaters. And early risers. But very very rarely do I cooperate with grace in the way you do- specifically in limiting TV viewing to an hour and deliberately putting off homemaking chores to be present with the kids outside.
    So good on you, and God help us both.

  2. So enjoyed this, my friend...

    So enjoyed spending your day with you!

    You inspire me...

    And I am with you...the after school stuff...ugh!

    Always made me!

    Enjoy your beautiful family, my dear friend!

  3. I love this, I love Isaac's adorable hair cut, I love LOVE that the kids don't do after school activities (sometimes I feel like the only mom who doesn't take her preschoolers to different sports and classes and, um, preschool...), I love it all!

  4. That piano playing guy was crazy fun to watch! You are a busy busy mama. This was a fun post.

  5. A busy, beautiful life! Thanks for sharing it.
    Those are cute cuties getting off the bus. And Isaac's smile is ...precious and a little precocious.
    I love those late night serious conversations with the older ones. I'm missing them so much lately with oldest off at college and husband traveling, so now it's just a lot of girl talk at night (which is pretty fun too).

  6. Finding an affordable gym with awesome group classes and childcare seriously changed my life. Heavenly!

  7. Fun post with great pictures!
    What did you used to do immediately after school? We also have about an hour of TV and it seems to work really well ~ then they are ready to change into play clothes and play without constant bickering. BTW have just now signed them up for indoor soccer as a chance to get a bit more running off energy with the shorten day ~ and it is only one day a week.

    1. Great question! Before I was driving to after school activities nearly every day, and as we lived far out, it consumed a large portion of the afternoon. We also lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks, parks, and neighborhood kids in and out of our doors all afternoon. So, very much a different life.

  8. A beauty-full day and and a beauty-full life...

  9. I love you and I love hearing about your days. As chaotic as the mundane (or is it "as mundane as the chaos?") may seem. it is a beautiful life, a grace-filled life. I'm sorry it's been so volatile. That is hard. Really hard. God is working something in you, though. You're moving and growing in grace and love, no matter the minutiae. Hugs, friend. Hang in there.

    And now I need to find a gym that will take all 4 of my kids for an hour a day because that sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

  10. I am about to nix all after school activities in order to just be as well. I need it, they need it!
    As to this post, I just love this Bohemian, yet not Bohemian approach to loving your life.

  11. I loved reading about your is a beautiful life...sometimes volatile lives are the most beautiful. And, I would love to sit in on your teenagers; conversation...I want to know the defining characteristics of a psychopath. Your girls are just gorgeous and it sounds like you got a great rhythm to your days.


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