This is my life.

Life has been a little hard lately. My kids have all been battling a long-lasting stomach bug, which means no school, no schedule, and lots of TV. I’m feeling the need to get back into a routine, but it will have to wait a little longer as we wait for wellness to return. But last week I wrote a blog post describing one whole day in our life. So, this is before we got sick, and is a pretty normal Wednesday for us. I like to do this every so often so that I can look back later and be reminded of what life was like.

Today began at just a few seconds before 5:30am. I know it was a few seconds before because my 5:30 alarm went off as I was getting out of bed to check on a whiny Dietrich. Good timing really, since I got to sleep all the way until my alarm and also had something to force me out of bed so that I didn’t have to struggle with the “just a few more minutes” phase of my waking up process.

Dietrich thankfully wasn’t actually ready to get up at 5:30, he sleeps usually until 7, but often he needs something in the night. I kept his light off and got right up next to his little face peering over the side of the crib and asked him quietly what was wrong. I didn’t actually get a response from him as he has very few words in his repertoire yet, but I figure he might still appreciate being asked. I searched with my hand in the dark for his pacifier and found two sitting right in the middle of the crib where he could have easily found them. But he thankfully took the offered soothers and snuggled back into his blanket without complaint. I covered him with his other blanket and snuck back out.

Now, it is time to start my day. I got up at 5:30 because the temperature was supposed to be above freezing, which meant it was a walking morning. I found my workout clothes in my room and tiptoed down the stairs to the living room. Once there, I found my ipad and attempted my 30 day challenge workout for the day. 50 burpees and 50 kick back crunches! Yikes! This is only day 3 on this particular challenge. There is no way that I can do more than a handful of either of these exercises as is, so I modified them to the point that I could do them and dutifully worked through 50 of each. Even if neither is still recognizable as the exercise they were created to be, both worked muscles and got my heart rate up. By this time, it was time to head out the door in order to make it to my sister’s house by 6:00am to meet her to walk. I grabbed my headband and gloves and put on my shoes and headed out. Unfortunately, even though I had seen Bekah the evening before, I had forgotten to mention that I was planning on walking today. So, when I showed up at her house, all the lights were out and there was no sign of movement. I waited for a bit, but it didn’t look like she was up. Oh well. It’s not as fun to walk by myself, but I still need the exercise.

The sun was just coming up as I headed down the home stretch. I was eager to get back as I always feel like my mornings are a bit of a mad rush once I get the kids up. It was nice to have that hour of quiet though. I returned to a dark house. The shower was going, meaning John was up and getting ready for work, but I didn’t hear anything from any of the kids. I quietly headed back up my creaky stairs and sat on the floor in my room in my usual place for morning prayers, which take about 10-15 minutes. Prayers complete, I gathered my clothes for the day and headed to the shower. When I passed the boys’ room I notice that they were up, but just playing quietly still in their pajamas. “Go ahead and get dressed, boys,” I said as I entered the bathroom. After a wonderfully refreshing hot shower, I headed back to my room to finish getting ready and noticed the boys were still sitting on their floor and were still in their pajamas. After a quick consultation with Seth where I discover he had unfortunately wet the bed again (that’s three nights in a row now after I thought we had this figured out), I gave them their second instruction to get dressed. I peeked in Elise’s room on my way to my room and told her to get up too.

A few minutes later I gave the boys their third instruction to GET DRESSED, as they still had made no progress towards accomplishing it. Will asked if I had washed his jeans yet, to which I replied that yes, they were probably downstairs in the dryer. “Can you go get them for me Mom?” “No, you’ll have to get them yourself. I’m headed downstairs to start breakfast.” I went first to Dietrich’s room to get him up. He was thankfully already awake, just quietly waiting for me to get him, arms crossed on the crib rail. He was very cheerful, which is such an improvement on yesterday, which was a very grumpy day all around. His pajamas are wet all the way through in the front, which I realized, is probably why he was awake at 5:30 this morning.

So, after searching out a clean diaper and putting on one of his new outfits from the Rhea Lana sale I went to yesterday, I was finally able to start breakfast preparations. I started by cutting open English muffins that I made last night and sticking them in the toaster. Then I made a strawberry frappe, which is just milk, strawberries and honey in the blender. Dietrich was pretty excited about the frappe and subsequently got the first taste after his adamant noises expressing his interest. Soon I had him in his high chair with a cup of frappe and one half of an toasted English muffin with honey and butter. Each of the other kids soon followed as English muffins came out of the toaster. They were all instructed to eat fast as we all had to get out of the door in about 15 minutes. It was now around 7:30am.

I poured a large glass of the frappe and doctored up Dietrich’s other half of English muffin for myself. I ate the muffin while sorting out whether or not all the food was packed for my grandma. (I cook breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for her throughout the week and deliver them every two days.) After glancing at the clock, I realized we were almost out of time. All the kids were sent to get shoes and jackets, both boys complaining since their breakfasts were not done. “They’ll be here when we get back,” I encouraged them. Dietrich also fussed a little when I took him out of his seat, but perked up I think when he realized he was going somewhere with us, he loves to leave in the car. I put on his shoes and jacket, grabbed my jacket, keys, wallet, and glasses, and started for the door, frappe in hand to drink in the car. John grabbed his bag and the food for grandma and Elise grabbed her trumpet. It took a bit more scrambling to get everyone in the car and buckled, but thankfully we were within my ideal leaving time to make it to the intermediate school drop off without Elise being late for band.

After maneuvering the drop off line, I headed the van towards John’s work. We have only one car right now, and today John needed a ride to work. It was just a few minutes after 8 when I dropped him off, so it is good to know that this is a viable option for days when we need to do it this way. I swung by my grandparents duplex to drop off the food and then headed home. The boys eagerly finished their breakfasts while I washed up the dishes. Will also was helpful enough to bring the trash can back from the road where it has been sitting since Monday morning. He tried to be creative though, and brought it to the front porch instead of the back porch. I’m not sure we’ll leave it there, but for now, I let it slide. IMG_0724Once the dishes were washed up, I got together the boys’ math books, inwardly sighing at my school corner, which currently resembled a trash dump, and got Dietrich his second breakfast. This, I have discovered is the only way to make it through math time without a very loud, whiny toddler. The boys have been playing on the front porch, so I called them in for math, only to discover Seth inside the trash can under Will’s apparent encouragement. Oh well, one more thing to add to my list of things I never imagined saying to my kids: “Get out of the trash can!”

Thus begins the delicate dance that is math-time. My goal is to have both my Kindergartner and my 2nd grader busy at the same time so that we can accomplish our math all before Elise gets back from band. This usually does work, but only with some frustrations to all involved. Today went fairly smoothly. Dietrich, for once, didn’t cause much disruption, and Will had an assignment he actually liked. Seth didn’t even complain about having to write his numbers. Unfortunately, because of our tighter schedule due to dropping John off this morning, we were running a bit behind and it was time to pick up Elise before the boys had actually finished. They each had a few items left that they were totally able to do on their own though, so I took Dietrich to run get Elise and left them each responsible to finish their own work. Less than 10 minutes later, we returned. Will had done all but two problems, which I helped him with, and Seth was almost done as well.

We all sat down to do our morning office (prayer time). I’m not sure how to describe this time. It is not the quiet contemplative time that I dream of it being, but we muddle through each morning with the hopes that maybe someday it will be.Today’s prayers were interrupted by Dietrich getting into the markers, Will tickling Seth’s feet, and other similar small and yet unbelievably frustrating issues. It is now 9:20ish.

Elise was assigned to do math, Will to do his language art assignment and Seth to work on memorizing his Bible verses. We were in a hurry to complete the most important school-work quickly because we had a play date scheduled for 10am. After each kid was situated in a separate room to do their work, I took some time to brush my teeth and fix my hair. This accomplished, I set about the not so fun task of prepping Dietrich’s dirty diapers for the wash. Due to a virus these last two weeks his diapers have been more frequent and much more nasty. Once they were in the washer, Elise grabbed my attention as she needed me to grade her math assignment. After a short intervention to deal with her frustration at not passing her test first try (She has a new book and she has to get 9 out of 10 problems right on a test before moving on in the book. This morning she only got 8. This is the first time she hasn’t gotten it first try, and she was a bit upset.) including an encouragement that a test is to show whether or not she needs more practice and that obviously since the book includes 5 tries for each test, they aren’t always expecting you to get it right the first try, we were able to move on. Elise chose to put off trying again until tomorrow, a choice I left up to her. She looked at her other assignments for the morning and decided that all of them could be accomplished during her quiet time today. Will was set to work on his Bible memorization, Seth was now done.

I still had some time before we needed to leave, so I picked up the laundry basket of clean folded laundry to put it away. Dietrich came running with his usual “choo, choo” wanting to catch a “train ride” on the basket as I took it upstairs. He’s getting a little heavy for this, but I can still manage it, so I let him ride. I put away all the clothes in the basket, taking time to weed out some clothes Dietrich has now grown out of in his closet, so that I had more room for the folded laundry. Then I headed back down, leaving Dietrich to play in Will’s tipi. It was only 9:45, so I took a few minutes to check email, facebook and type a little on this post. But soon, it was time to go. Thankfully, because we are going somewhere they love, they all came running quickly when I called and everyone was out the door pretty quickly.

We enjoyed a fun morning playing with friends. I even got a good mom chat in between refereeing the kids play and comforting kids when they came running in tears for minor scrapes and bruises. We had to leave promptly at 11:30 to go get John from work so he could make it to a lunch appointment and have the car for the rest of the day. He dropped us off at home at around 11:45. Everyone was hungry, but I needed to warm up the already made food. Dietrich was making his hungry whine, so I gave him a pita bread with butter and honey and a glass of milk to keep him happy until the egg casserole was done. There was a loud altercation going on in the living room between Elise and the boys. It turned out that they were “destroying” the couch, something they do often to build houses or make piles of cushions to sit on, and it drives Elise crazy. I don’t like it much myself, and so I had told them just a couple days ago that they were not allowed to do this unless they asked my permission first, so this is what I reminded them of as I started putting the cushions back. “Mom,” Will pipes up, “Can we destroy the couch?” “No!” I answer before sending both him and Will to play outside until lunch. I did some computer stuff, mainly typing this I think, while I waited, checking every so often on the food. Dietrich finished his whole pita and all his milk pretty quickly, so I scooped out some slightly warm casserole for him. He also wanted more to drink, so I gave him some water. Within a few minutes, the water had ended up in his bowl and all over his tray, so I decided that meant he was done. He got wiped up and put down and I started getting the other kids’ food ready.

IMG_0732It was just a little after noon when we were able to sit down to eat our food. Dietrich was grumpy again, so I handed him some raisin bread with honey so I could eat my food without him in my lap. Lunch would have gone well, except for Seth’s dislike of the casserole. Everyone else finished up, Will even getting a slice of raisin bread to finish filling up his tummy. Seth tried to get up twice, but I made him sit and at least try his casserole. Finally giving up, I told him that he needed to break this habit of eating his snacks, but not his lunch. So, if he decided that today he was not going to eat his lunch, then he was not getting a snack this afternoon or tomorrow morning. He, being the short-term minded person that he is, decided this didn’t sound too bad and took his still full plate to the kitchen. I’m never sure if this is the right way to deal with these food issues. I know that what I’m doing might increase the negative feeling associated with food that he doesn’t like, but I also can’t have him just pushing aside everything he doesn’t like to wait for the things that he does.

Elise had already started the lunch dishes, which is her routine job of the day. Since it was almost 12:30, I decided to go ahead and put Dietrich to bed. He had been so much happier than yesterday, but 12:30 always seems like a good time to start his nap even if he isn’t particularly showing signs. Thankfully, he thought this was a great idea, and happily waved to the big kids while saying “Digh, digh” as we headed upstairs. After a few minutes searching for his blanket, which had somehow migrated downstairs, he happily curled up in bed and I covered him up and shut the door.

Will and Seth took a little more effort to get up to bed. We always read their read-aloud books at this time of day in bed because I find they are much more relaxed and willing to listen during this natural quiet time of our day. But it took several calls and admonitions to get them both upstairs and in my bed to start. Sigh. I so wish they reacted and obeyed more quickly, but I know I haven’t been consistent enough to expect this of them. Something we need to work on for sure. We read a chapter of history, a page about a people group without their own Bible, and a chapter in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. All went well, and after a quick discussion it was agreed that Seth would sleep in my bed and Will would move to his bed for the rest of their quiet time. Will wasn’t thrilled about this, but Seth has been actually making less of a mess in my room than Will had been doing, so I am keen to stick to this arrangement most of the time.

I headed downstairs for my own quiet time, my little tiny reprieve in my otherwise busy, hectic, loud days. I got comfortable in my usual spot on the living room couch and did my midday prayers, which are just about 2 minutes long. Then I put on my headphones, took my laptop, and began my Rosetta Stone lesson. I’m attempting with the kids to learn Spanish, but this is the only time of my day that I can regularly fit in time to do it. The only bad thing about this is that I almost always have problems keeping my eyes open during the lesson. Hmm, sleep vs. language learning. Today was not as bad as sometimes, but still a struggle. After finishing up, I decide to start typing up this blog post, because it will take awhile, and at least for today I’d rather do that than take an actual nap. Yes, I know, I’m a bit crazy sometimes.

Our regular arrangement is that the boys will stay in bed until the cuckoo clock cuckoos two times (2:00pm). If they are quiet they can hear it in their rooms. Unfortunately, Seth almost always thinks that it has been too long and comes to ask me if it is time to get up before the clock actually has had a chance to cuckoo. Today he came down about 15 minutes early, followed almost immediately by Will. After the normal, “Can we get up yet Mom?” question and the usual answer of “NO, the clock has not struck two yet,” he immediately starts into a story of absolute heartbreak involving Will sticking his tongue out at Seth when Seth was apparently conferring with him about coming downstairs to check the time. I head Will’s feet on the stairs at about this time, and, not so gently, sent them both back to bed. At least they didn’t wake me up this time.

Promptly at 2:00 all three big kids join me in the living room. Elise was ready to finish up her school with me, as I do her read-alouds at this time of day. We don’t have much to do today because I am still waiting on one of her books to arrive in the mail. During our conversation, Seth asks the inevitable question: “Can I have a snack?” I look at him and ask him what he thinks. “Um, yes?” “No, Seth, do you remember what we talked about at lunch?” Instantly he dissolves into tears. “But I’m just really hungry Mom!” And he sat down on the couch and adds loud wails into his tears. Elise and Will both started asking about their snacks, which of course only made Seth wail louder. Will and Elise went to help themselves to bread with honey and seconds later a fight breaks out when Elise won’t let Will put honey on his own bread, and he pulls his bread away and she spills honey on the floor. I don’t know if it was the loud yells from in there or just some random thing, but Dietrich woke up. This of course, frustrated me to no end. Even though Dietrich has been asleep for nearly two hours, I know this isn’t as long as he could sleep or even should sleep. I ran upstairs, gave him back his pacifier, laid him down, and covered him up. This almost never works, but it is worth a try. Amazingly enough, it worked, and I didn’t hear anything else from him.

Eventually Elise was situated on the couch to read while eating her bread with honey and I am somewhat impatiently waiting for Seth to quiet down enough for me to start reading our poetry for the day. Finally after being given the choice to go outside or upstairs to bed or to quit crying, he stopped his wailing, but still frequently asked me for a snack. During our poetry reading, I finally gave in and tell Seth if he is really hungry he is welcome to eat more of the egg casserole, but that is all. Elise switched her half eaten bread for more casserole too, after deciding that she didn’t really like the bread. Seth of course, had another meltdown when I denied his request for more snack after he ate a little bit of casserole. Finally, the poems are read, Elise’s questions for the day are answered, and she was sent to do her timeline assignments. Since Will and Seth are currently in the living room with me, we did their questions as well and caught up on their timeline activities as we were quite a bit behind. Then we are done with school for the day. I realized later that Will was supposed to do Rosetta Stone, but we’ll skip it for today I think.

The kids tried to play outside, but decided it was too cold, of course this was after Elise accidentally hit Seth on the arm with a stick. Elise decided to read to the boys in her room, which meant I had a good chunk of undisturbed time to type up this post. Yay! I know I could spend this time doing something productive, but instead I’ll do this. Now, at 4:00, I am typing away, but I will have to stop as I am surrounded by all three kids, climbing on couches, wrestling, arguing, and generally all begging for attention. We are going to go play a game. Dietrich is still sleeping, which is kind of amazing, but also pretty nice.

So, we played Carcassone, which made everyone happy except Seth. But he decided to play on my team and actually did seem to enjoy himself. It was really close, but Elise won the game. Since the sun was peaking out of the clouds, the kids decided they want to go play outside again. I assigned them the task of putting away the game, and went to take care of some other stuff. IMG_0723Dietrich had woken during the game after an epic 4 hour nap. He was so happy.

I decided it was time to start cleaning up the remains of our efforts at school and playing from today. So, I got a broom and started cleaning up. I called Bekah up to see what time she was bringing supper (we each bring each other supper once each week). It was going to be too late for Elise and I to eat before our evening plans, so we would need to warm up some leftovers, which is not a problem since I have a whole pot of chili in the fridge. So, at 5:30 I was warming up chili for Elise and me. Seth was complaining about being hungry, of course. I texted John to make sure he was going to make it back before I needed to leave. Dietrich climbed into my lap while we ate and tasted a bit of my chili. He was still in a really good mood.

We finished up eating and I ran upstairs to brush my teeth and redo my hair. Elise went to get ready for Club 56. Soon John was home and she and I headed off. I have choir practice that starts at 6 and she goes to Club 56.

Choir practice went well, difficult songs, but it is a good outlet for me. We got out about 7:40, which meant I had a bit of time to wait on Elise to get out at 8, so I waited for her in the car. When we got home, the dishes were not done, but since there were very few of them, I decided to put them off until morning. I don’t usually do that because I hate waking to dirty dishes, but oh well. The boys were all in bed since they go to bed early and Elise headed up to bed as soon as she got back. I helped myself to a small slice of my birthday cake that I’ve been slowly finishing up from our Sunday celebration and John I watched some Friends on Netflix. At around 9:30, we headed up to bed and to do our compline prayers, which John and I do together once we are in bed.

And that was my day. At this point in my life, my main frustration is not that I don’t have the time to get things done (though sometimes I really don’t), but that even when I do have the time I don’t feel like doing much because I either don’t want to to chance being interrupted or I’m too tired. But regardless, I do love what I am doing and realize that I can put off some of the other things I want to do until later.

Scenes from home.

Please enjoy these snapshots of everyday life here at the Lein house.