Day in the Life- Jan ’16

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been doing DITL posts for years now.  So even though on this particular day I only managed to take a measly number of poor quality photos…and even though it took me over a week from the day at hand to actually finish typing it all out… Here it is.  A winter day of 2016.

7:10  Josh wakes me up.  Phin, Mal, and Alyosha (obviously not his real name…for obvious reasons) are playing in the living room.  I get dressed, get tea, get a bottle.

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I pop the baby in the Ergo after his bottle and say my prayers, do my make-up, make my bed.  By now Zeke is awake too and I make everyone breakfast.   Leftover waffles and scrambled eggs for the big ones, pear raspberry something for Alyosha.  I send the kids upstairs to get dressed while I get our books ready.

8:30 Morning Reading.  While pacing, of course.  Because baby…back in the Ergo.

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After we read we head out for our 9:30 WSLP meeting.  This is one of the 2x a year I check in w/ the teacher overseeing my homeschool (a requirement to be part of the parent partnership).  We are in and out in 20 minutes and head up the hill for our weekly nature group.  Alyosha gets a short morning nap in the car.

We see a flock of turkeys on the way.

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10:00 Nature Group.  We meander about the frozen wasteland that is Spokane with our friends.  The boys get much needed energy out.  I get some laughs with a few ladies that totally get it.

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12:00 We head back home fro lunch.  Mac and cheese, carrots, and ranch dip.  Alyosha gets squash.  The boys work on their nature drawings and weather charts while I cook.

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After we eat Zeke starts on his school work while Malachi sits on the floor with me and Alyosha and reads Dick and Jane.  Who knows where Phin is?  Upstairs in his room?  In dads closet sneaking ipad time?  No one know.  No one asks.  He’s not in our faces begging for a playmate.  That’s all that matters.

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Then Mal does his math and writing while I work with Zeke on everything that he needs help with today.

2:00 We take a break because the social worker I have a meeting w/ today is here.  We chat about Alyosha.  Zeke does his reading.  Malachi and Phin go upstairs to play with Legos.  The baby falls asleep halfway through the meeting and I move him to his crib.

3:00 Time to finish school with a history lesson.

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4:00 We are finished with school and the boys all cuddle in my bed to watch Pokemon.  I enjoy FB for a while before starting up an audiobook and a load of laundry.  Then I make a library order and do the dishes.

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5:00 The kids start their chores and I start dinner.  Of course Alyosha wakes up so I cuddle him instead with a bottle and then start dinner at 5:30 instead.

Once dinner is started I play with the baby until Josh gets home.

6:30 We eat dinner.

7:30 Alyosha gets a bath so he’s nice and clean for his mom’s visitation in the morning.  The boys all brush their teeth and head upstairs for stories and prayers with Josh.  I fold laundry while Alyosha plays on the floor and when he starts to fade I pick up his toys and make him a bottle.  He’s out by 8:15.  I do the dishes and make a grocery list.

Josh heads to the grocery store around 9 and I collapse into bed with a book.

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“Do whatever falls to your hands…”

There’s not much that sums up my life right now quite like trying to make my bed whilst a 3, 4, and 5 year old all jump on it.  It’s not an act done in desperation, or annoyance, or long-suffering…but it is done very slowly and imperfectly.

What I’m striving to relate here is that I’m not making my bed because its going to make a difference or because it’s fulfilling.  I know full well the improbability of doing it well, or quickly, or having it noticed or even for that matter noticeable within a few moments.

It’s just that it’s the task before me.  And I accept that.

And maybe that’s insanity.  I’ve gotten this idea into my head that I have a mission in life- creating small order in the midst of overwhelming chaos.  And I have to admit that sometimes (like when I’m timing the pulling up of sheets against the jumping of 6 bare preschool feet) it seems more futile than other times.  And sometimes (like when I’m singing 3am songs to a frightened 6 year old) it seems more insufficient than other times.  And sometimes (like when the cps calls roll in) it’s overwhelming and sometimes (like when the cars drive away) it’s disheartening…

But I can’t simply walk away from messy sheets.  No more than I can walk away from these kids.

So here I am.  A small circle of order.  A tiny little house that’s warm and clean and full of food and laughing kids sitting smack in the middle of a world that seems darker and more chaotic to me every day.

My word for 2016 is Accept.  It’s accepting each task before me, each child before me, and doing what I can.  Slowly and imperfectly.  Whether it makes a difference or not, whether it’s fulfilling or not.  Even when I can’t do it well or quickly, even when it’s not going to be noticed, or even for that matter noticeable within a few moments.

Just accepting what’s before me.  And doing what I can.

 

“Do whatever falls to your hands, in your circle and in your situation — and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is required. It is a great error to think that you must undertake important and great labors, whether for heaven, or, as the progressives think, in order to make one’s contribution to humanity. That is not necessary at all.”
-Saint Theophan The Recluse

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“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Zeke and Malachi lately.

Let me back up and start with this: Malachi and I have been having talks about going to the local Montessori school next year.  The kid is social in nature, and much to my surprise, incredibly incredible smart.  Could I continue to homeschool him successfully?  Yes.  100% I can do that.  Would it be the most stimulating and challenging enviroment for him that I could offer?  To be honest, no.  I’m pretty sure that would be the Montessori school.

Malachi consistently votes to continue to homeschool, however.   His reason?  He wants to be with Zeke.

At first I waved this argument aside as nervousness.  My oldest two kids are very close in age.  They have had very few (if any) experiences away from each other.  It’s natural to not want to launch off on his own.  It’s also not a good enough argument to not go to school.  Zeke’s panic attacks are a good enough argument not to go to school.  Not to mention his sneaky tendency to do bare-minimum amounts of work, but quietly enough to fly under a busy teacher’s radar.  But Malachi would thrive at school, and he’d enjoy doing it.

But a comment from their co-op teacher, about their “twin-ness”, set me off onto another train of thought about the matter.  It’s not the first time someone has commented to me that my boys act like twins.  A twin once said it, and a mother of twins has said it.

You see, I don’t like to special-snowflake my kids (despite special snowflake being a nickname for my oldest child).  They are of average intelligence and average naughtiness and average adorableness.  I know this and I remind myself of it often.  And so I’ve tended to think that their relationship with each other was also just an average sibling relationship.

Thing is.  Maybe not.  Maybe this is something rare.  And even if it isn’t rare, maybe Malachi is right.  Maybe this is something to be cherished.  Over a great school option?  I don’t know.  But we’ve had public schooled foster kids now, and I’ve seen first-hand how much of our day they miss.  It’s not that they cant be friends, not even that they can’t remain incredibly close, if I keep one home and send one to school but they are going to have wildly different experiences.  You could even say wildly different childhoods.

Do I want to do that to them?  This early?

Education is important.  I’m incredibly committed to giving my kids the absolute best education I can manage. But I’m also aware that they are going to be with each other longer than anyone else.  Longer than me, longer than their spouses, longer than any friend.

I haven’t decided what to do yet.  But I keep thinking about how when they were toddlers they used to take two pair of socks and split them, each wearing one of each pair.

It seems like such a small detail, a random memory.  But it also seems important.

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“You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the job.”

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We were licensed and quickly got our first placement.

Well, perhaps more honestly we were selected for a placement, being the best/only available match, and then licensed in short order to make it happen.  That probably should have been my first warning.  And in all honestly we probably should have said no.  Two kids under 1 and a half is no way to ease into things.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a baby in the house.  It’s been even longer since we’ve had two at the same time.  We were very definitely overwhelmed.

But we survived.

And it was everything they said it would be.  A mad rush of appointments, social service visits, and my phone never really stopping ringing.  Every single step rescheduled at least once, and often 3 or 4 times.  Every single thing I was told about the future either vague or incorrect, or both.  The social worker both overworked and not necessarily on our side.

And then after a week, they left.  Their pick up date having been moved ahead at the last minute, of course.  I packed them a suitcase, stuffed with new clothes I rushed out to buy the night before, and a box filled with diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, stuffed animals, blankets and books.  I was relieved, to be honest.  And also sad.

We did learn a lot.  Like that we shouldn’t take in 2 kids under 2 again.  That I need to admit that other stuff needs to be allowed to fall off the radar during those first few days.  Maybe even all the other stuff.  That my kids are way, way, more resilient than I give them credit for.  That my community of friends is amazing, and so so eager to help in every way.  That things get better after the first week and everyone gets to know each other.  That every little success makes it all feel worth it.

I gave myself a few days before I cleaned up the room.  Put away the bottles, washed the sheets, put the highchair and the baby toys back in storage.  I’ll give myself another few days before I transform the room into a fit space for our next placement- a 5 year old boy we are taking for a weekend respite.

The break is nice.  I’m glad we decided to stick to short term for a little while.  I’m still gauging how the kids are taking it, still deciding what ages will work best, and how much I can honestly take on.

But that empty room… I do like it filled.

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“Love me!… Why?”

Every morning I get to wake up to the smallest coldest lips all over my forehead, my cheeks, my mouth.  “I love you sooo much.  You are sooo special to me.  I love you all the way to the trees…to the birds…to the pyramids.”

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Well no, I don’t really wake up to it.  I wake up long before, to the sounds of Josh getting ready for work and Phin following him around (or more likely insisting on being carried around) endlessly endlessly talking.  But I always stay in bed until I hear Josh say, “It’s time to go wake up Mom.” and then I close my eyes and wait for him to deposit Phin on the bed.

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He calls it “snuggle cuddle time” and If I dare to get up before it’s happened it causes the biggest of tantrums.  Not that I need the threat.  This is my third boy.  I know to hold onto snuggle cuddle time for as long as I can.  He just turned three.  It will be over all too soon.

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Lately I’ve been wracked with uncertainty.  Which is rather new for me, to be honest.  I am confident to an absolute fault.  Prideful, you could call it.  But this month… I wonder.

Maybe they should be in school.  Maybe we spend too much time together, and I’m taking my attachment parenting ideals of baby and todlerhood too far…straight into childhood in other words.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to want to be with your kids all day, or they aren’t supposed to want to be with you.  Maybe the education they are getting here is subpar.  Maybe I’m fooling myself that I can compete with the schools and their 7 hours straight of education when I can hardly fit in 3.

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Maybe this whole foster care adventure is the beginning of the end of my family.  We are so happy, we are functioning and everyone is developing and our marriage isn’t really all that hard.  Why am I insisting on rocking the boat?  Why can’t I just take care of my own and call it good enough?  Maybe I’m not strong enough for this?  Maybe it will break me.  Or us.

Maybe I should be doing more to try to cure my headaches.  Throw more money at it.  Try yet another new diet.  Maybe I need to just suck it up.  Stop complaining.  Maybe I need to be volunteering more at church.  Maybe I need to volunteer less, and spend more time at home.  Maybe, maybe, maybe on and on till the end of days.

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Sometimes snuggle cuddle time is the only place I feel like I’m doing this right.  This little three year old loves me to the moon…to his dad’s beard…to Boise Idaho.  That’s got to mean something, right?

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“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

Summer!  Oh how I will miss thee!

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I was totally planning to take an adorable “First Day of Second Grade/Kindergarten” picture of the boys.

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You know, something cheeky with everyone reading in their underwear (not a rare occurrence).  Or maybe something straightforward, looking all studious with brand new workbooks and binders strewn on the table (this would be obviously staged).  Or maybe even a quick shot of those inevitable first-day tears…I mean nothing says back to school like a child sobbing over the correct formation of the letter b, right?

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But the thing is, we kind of eased into this year, starting with our normal summer school routine and slowly adding more work and new subjects.  Which left me here, nearly halfway through September and wondering… was today the first day?  I mean, until today it was always get school over with in the morning and then run over to the church to clean it together, or go hiking in the morning and then head home to get some school done in the afternoon, or do a bit of school then take a break to play because we are babysitting and then finish up during quiet time, or some other combination of field trips, appointments, book clubs, park days, and bits of school stuffed in between.  Today was the first full, staying at home and doing school all day, day.  It was the day we finally hit max load on subjects.  But I sure feel a few weeks into it.

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Maybe we’ve simply hit full homeschool saturation; where this is just….our LIFE.  It doesn’t start and stop anymore, it just….kind of is.

Anyways, one way or another, we started.

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As far as the foster stuff goes….we all need flu shots/TB tests, and I think that’s it.  At least on our end.  There are reams and reams of paperwork on the state’s end and I have no idea how long that will take.  We could be licensed as early as October.  It could also take months.

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And as far as this blog goes…  I know I’ve been absent.  I’m trying to find a balance where I keep writing in this space, because it’s meant a lot to me over the last 7 years, but I’m also aware that I just don’t have the time I used to, nor will I have the ability to speak as freely about everything that’s in our life coming up pretty soon.  Plus there is that evil siren song of Facebook, so much easier, so much faster.  The blog, as a media, is dying.  I think what it comes down to, though, is prioritizing this.  Because I do love it.

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Day in the Life

Because some traditions can’t be bucked just because I don’t have the time for them.

Day in the Life, my SIXTH July straight.

7am  I wake up with Phin wrapped completely around my head.  The “I love you mommy” that he says upon waking up every morning makes up for the sweaty uncomfortableness of it.  That’s what I tell myself, at least.

Eventually Zeke joins us.  And when the cuddling turns to wrestling I announce its time to get up.

8am  Malachi joins us just in time for breakfast.  I feed the dogs, start water for tea, throw in a load of laundry, and say my morning prayers.  Then I sit and drink tea with the kids while they finish their 6,000th bowl of cereal.

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9am  The boys all head upstairs to play and I sit down with a second cup of tea to work on foster training homework.  I’m feeling very, very, done with the month-long ordeal that is foster training….two nights and a Saturday left….

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Ack!  I forgot knit group is today!!! Everyone get dressed noooooooooow!  I rush to dress, make a picnic lunch, collect swim lesson gear, and curse foster training which has messed up my internal weekly rhythm.  We get in the car around a half-hour late, which, lets face it, is pretty normal for us in the morning.

We listen to A Cricket in Times Square on the drive.

10am  Knittin’ w/ my buddies.  The first time today I probably should have taken a picture today, but didn’t.  Hey, here’s a picture of us on a nicer, less child-filled, day instead.

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11am  Finish up what I’m doing, collect my children, and we’re off to a nearby park for lunch.  Obviously, the kids interest in actually eating is limited.

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12pm I give up on the kids eating lunch at the park and eat my sandwich while I push Phin on the swings.

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They each eat half a sandwich and a bunch of grapes in the car on the way to swim lessons.

7.30.15 0801pm We finish our swim lesson and head back home.  Phin goes down for a nap, and the bigger two head to the table to do their summer school.  Zeke works on fractions and Malachi yells out his answers.  Then Zeke reads a book while Malachi watches over his shoulder.  I switch the laundry and then sit next to Malachi in an attempt to get him to focus on his own tasks.  I’m limitedly successful until Zeke leaves.

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2pm  The boys head into the backyard and I start cleaning- dishes, picking up the toy room, vacuuming, you know, the stuff that really gives ones life meaning.  I finish off Jim Gaffigan’s audiobook while I’m working.

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3pm Phin wakes up and requires cuddles and a snack.  The big boys have a snack as well and then run down to the basement to play Minecraft.  I sit with Phin checking Facebook and picking out my next audio book.

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4pm  I leave Phin with his show and try to get more work done; folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom, ect and so on forever until you die…  I also put on some make-up to make myself presentable for class tonight.

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5pm  Everyone’s kicked off their various devices so that we can go pick up Josh.  He works in the same building as child welfare services which is highly useful.  When I pick him up I can just head upstairs for class and he can drive the kids back home.  Until tonight we’ve gotten a babysitter and both gone but Phin has been increasingly emotional about it.  We’re giving him the night off.

6pm Still in class.

7pm STILL in class.

8pm This class is so long you’d think I would have remembered to take a picture but no.  I’m staring at the clock at this point, willing 8:30 when Josh will come pick me up.

9pm I’m finally home and scarf down pizza and then crawl into bed to watch Parenthood.  So tired.

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