A Day in the Life: October 2014

5:45       I overslept this morning.  I crawl out of bed, creep to the kitchen to make tea, read 1 Corinthians and write. I hear Sam in the shower.  I put oatmeal on the stove.

5:56       Sam is out, making his lunch and breakfast. He doesn’t have time to wait for the oatmeal.

6:30       He kisses me and is off to work. I make a second cup of tea and continue writing.

6:30       Aimee, our guest, is awake and wants to run, despite the darkness.  I coax her into eating a banana and waiting until the sun comes up. I try to keep writing, but conversation beckons.

6:47       I finish my word goal (500 words), close my laptop and change into running clothes.  Yesterday Aimee and I ran a hill loop.  She called it an “easy three mile trail run.”  I called it “Speed Work with a 17 year-old.”  My butt still hurts from it.  I let her mom, who is awake in the guest room, know we’re leaving.

7:02       Aimee and I sync our watches. She’s going to run hill repeats, while I loop around the park slowly for 30 minutes.

7:21       I really have to pee, but the bathroom is in the wrong direction. I head for the bathroom anyway.

7:24       I don’t have time to make it to the bathroom. Kegels to the rescue.  I turn around again and head back toward the car.

7:38       I’m late.  I see Aimee sprinting up the hill again.
Aimee, the 17 year-old rocket

7:40       We drive home.  In the bathroom, I realize I forgot to turn off my running app.  It logs my run with a 7:16 pace.

7:55       My running partner calls me and asks if Shalane Flanagan stole my phone. I’m pretty sure Shalane would have thrown her phone in horror if she ran a 7:16 pace.  The children are all awake, rattling around in the kitchen.

7:57       Now I’m really glad I made oatmeal.

8:33       Sue and Aimee head out to look at yet another college nearby.  We begin school.  Phoebe starts with copywork and Explode the Code.  Moriah begins with Duolingo (Spanish). The boys had already started: Rosetta Stone for Owen, Pre-Calc for Jonah.  While they’re all occupied, I shower.

8:46       Phoebe asks for help with math.  Singapore 1B is introducing multiplication in its casual way.  I love this curriculum.

9:02       Moriah practices “half” her piano.  I throw the laundry in.  Phoebe and I read library books: John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith; Lauren Child’s I Want a Pet and Maude, the Not-so-Noticeable Simpleton.

9:24       Owen comes out with a math question: how to do negative fractions. I tell him to skip that one for now.  Jonah starts Spanish, Moriah starts her math, Phoebe does her piano.  No one needs me, so I hang out in the kitchen, available.  Doing dishes.

9:47       The girls ask to paint.  No.  Instead, I pull out the clay.  I tell them we’ll be starting our family reading in the living room at 10.

9:58       I make another cup of tea and move the laundry to the drier and start load #2.

10:04    Close enough.  We are reading in Acts this fall, and then I read them To Fly: the Story of the Wright Brothers by Wendie Old.  Some conversation about aerodynamics.  Phoebe has made a “shot” and a band-aid out of Sculpey for her doctor.  She plans to give these to him later this week when she gets her physical (and flu shot).  The shot looks like a pink dagger.  Tell me how you really feel.

10:31    I excuse Jonah to do his science.  I pull out the science I’m doing with the younger three.  We’re on the periodic table.  I love the periodic table.  After ten minutes, I realize that Owen has not caught the joy of the periodic table.  Phoebe isn’t even sure why I keep using the word “table” to describe it.  Moriah is starting to get it.

10:48    It is clear I cannot explain the period table, which is frustrating to me.  It’s like when I tried to teach Jonah piano in the early days: when the topic is something I really love, I am not a good teacher. But I eventually figured out how to teach piano and reading… so maybe we just need to put it away for now.

11:03    The girls again ask to paint.  No.

11:04    I read the news.  It’s all bad. More tea.

11:21    Moriah sets the table, and I pull out the leftovers.  Owen asks why we’re always having leftovers for lunch.  I say that we don’t like to waste food, so while we have leftovers, that’s what we’re going to eat.  Moriah grumbles that I never make anything she likes to eat, and that’s why we have leftovers in the first place.

11:32    Lunch.  I have already eaten two pieces of meatloaf standing at the counter before the kids even started.

11:53    Sue and Aimee are back.  We pack their luggage into the car, and I take them to the airport.  The kids are supposed to clean up the kitchen while I’m gone and begin their rest time.

12:41    I’m back.  The kitchen is fairly clean.  Not bad.  Put load #2 of laundry in the drier and put load #1 on my bed to fold.

12:55    I sit down with the book I’m reading, The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.  I have very little left, but I know it’s not going to end well.  I read it for hours at the swim meet and could hardly put it down, but now I can hardly pick it up.  McBride is an amazing writer.

1:20       The boys appear.  “Can I program?” Owen asks.  I say I want to go over what he’s done so far.  He explodes, telling me how much he hates the book I assigned him for reading.  I knew this last week, but I was going with the “once we start, it’s good to finish” theory.  When he tells me this book is like Peter Pan—which in his world means full of arcane language and inaccessible to him—I tell him we’ll switch.  Good thing I have a basket full of biographies from the library.

1:49       Knowing that prolonged silence is often a danger sign, I go upstairs to check on the girls.  Moriah is reading, and Phoebe has just cleaned her room. All by herself.  (Normally, she finds this task overwhelming. Her room has gotten so bad lately that I am overwhelmed, too.)  She tells me how she did it: “First I put my dirty clothes away, then the clean clothes, then the books, then the ponies…” And she really did.  I am truly amazed.  High fives all around.

2:01       I send Owen, Moriah and Phoebe to clean the bathrooms. Jonah’s assignment is the chicken coop.  I get the paints out.

2:15       Inspired by Phoebe’s diligence, I fold our laundry.  This sound like something easy, but somehow it is the task I never get to.  At the end of the day, I may have done five loads of laundry, but it’s all still sitting in wrinkled mass on our bed.

2:42       The girls are still painting.  Jonah and Owen have an argument over who should get to practice piano.  They both come to me with their superior claim to practice now.  I reflect back to both of them how it’s not about superior claims.  They work it out.  Owen practices now, while Jonah studies for his physics test.


3:00       I realize the dinner hour is approaching.  I can’t find my journal (where I’d written my meal plan for the week) anywhere. Decide on Quiche for tonight, and I’ll pick up salad when I go to the store.

3:20       The quiches are in the oven (a plain cheddar one for the kids; leek and artichoke for us.)  I remind the younger three to come eat a snack before we go to swimming.  The girls finish painting.  I can’t face cleaning up the mess of paints and brushes.  Ugh.

3:29       I check my email.  This turns into a computer-based rabbit trail of looking for the summer swim times.  Owen’s times have really improved. I call him over to show him how much time he’s dropped, and he says, “Am I in trouble?”

3:38       Still can’t find my journal.  Remembering that I had planned beef stew for one day, I pull the meat out of the freezer and make a grocery list, blind.

4:14       We head to swimming.  The girls are picking at each other in the car.  I yell at them to stop. Not a highly effective strategy.

4:27       Owen & Moriah sprint into the pool.  Phoebe wants me to go with her.  She changes in the locker room and needs help with her swim cap and goggles, but then she kisses me good-bye and goes into the pool without me.  Across the locker room is a harried mom with her two toddlers.  “She’s very independent,” the young mother says wistfully.  We share a smile. Just yesterday, it seems, mine we all littles, too, who couldn’t do anything for themselves.

4:33       I go through my coupons before heading to the store.  Most of them have expired. I cross my fingers and hope that Jonah remembered to take the quiches out.

4:41       It’s a novel thing to go to the grocery store by myself.  I am able to compare prices and nutrition labels without children bickering at my side.  No one has to go to the bathroom.  I know it’s supposed to be a “great learning experience” for them, and “you can teach them so much math!” at the grocery store, but frankly I find taking children to the store exhausting (and not just because someone invariably says, “Are they all yours?” and “You have your hands full!”)

5:43       Check out, drive back to pick up the children.  They are all in good post-swimming moods. And are very hungry.

6:02       I unload the groceries from the car.  Jonah helps.  The girls are fighting over my shower.  (They have their own, but for some reason, mine is the favored one.)  Sam has started making a salad.

6:20       Owen, starving, refuses to eat the Quiche, but he is silent at his place, refraining from complaint.  When I offer him hardboiled eggs and an apple, he jumps at them.  The artichoke Quiche is a bust, but the spinach salad is good.

6:44       I send the girls to clean up the basement, where they find my journal. Hooray!  Jonah puts the chickens away for the night, while Sam and Owen clean up the kitchen.  I do fifteen minutes of yoga.  My body is very grateful.

7:03       The girls are still putting toys away, but happily.  Owen and I play double solitaire; Jonah and Sam play Scrabble.  There is an intense discussion of whether or not Jonah can use the word “EW”.  The Oxford New American Dictionary and Merriam-Webster both say no.  In the end, he found an N to connect it to.

8:01       I go upstairs, where the girls are ready for bed.  We read LaRue Across America (Mark Teague), The Little Red Hen Makes Pizza (Philemon Sturges and Amy Walrod), and Say Cheese (Lauren Child).  Kisses all round.

8:34       A hot bath for me. I never got to Owen’s negative fractions or to the dirty brushes and paints in the kitchen.  I read another few pages of The Good Lord Bird, but I don’t want it to end and switch to Runner’s World instead.

9:17       Sam comes in to brush his teeth and finds me dozing.  “Go to bed,” he says.  Very grateful that the bed isn’t covered with clean laundry, I do.

A Day in the Life: April 2012

5:07  I wake up.  No alarm, just birdsong outside.  Yesterday I woke up at 4:26, which is just too early.  At least after five I feel like it’s reasonable to get up (and still expect I’ll be functional till the children go to bed).  I go downstairs, put the kettle on, and pick up random toys strewn around the house while I wait on the water.

5:15: I have my tea and turn on the computer to write.  Sam comes down to exercise.

6:45 I hear children stirring.  At this point it’s always a race to see if I can reach my goal before a little person appears downstairs at seven.

7:01 One child appears and starts his schoolwork.  I don’t actually have to stop until child #2 appears.

7:08 Child two appears saying, “You know what’s funny, Mommy?”  (As I write this now, I have no recollection of what was so funny…)

7:20 They’re all downstairs.  Sam is heading off to work.  I heat the milk for the yogurt.

[Important backstory: we’ve been having some discipline– as in, self-discipline– issues with one of the children: I’ll call it (or him/her) Pat-Chris.  Realizing the stalling can no longer be tolerated, I am planning to crack down.]

7:22 I sit down with Pat-Chris and explain the plan: all today’s work must be done, as well as yesterday’s, in order for fun to happen today.  S/he reads to me yesterday’s reading assignment.

7:43 Reading done.  Pat-Chris asks if we can make waffles together.  Can do.

7:45 We have four cookbooks out, looking through all the indexes for a waffle recipe that involves “separating the eggs” because Pat-Chris reminds me that this is what makes waffles fluffy.

7:50 Waffle recipe is chosen.  I separate said eggs, and Pat-Chris does the rest.  I’m actually impressed with him/her.

8:15 The five of us sit down for waffles.  I have some whipped cream in the fridge (leftover from Easter) so we have that on the waffles.  They think it’s a party.  Hooray!

8:37 Everyone is done.  The children try to put off their kitchen chores “until our work is done” (trying to capitalize on my fervor for finishing our daily work– I’m on to them!).  “Nope,” I say (because I talk like this, really), “until you’ve done your kitchen work, I can’t do mine.”  Kitchen work is done.

8:40 Milk is ready to be cultured, but the vanilla is missing.  One of the children made cookies yesterday, but s/he has no idea where the vanilla could be.  We both search the kitchen to no avail.  Guess it’s going to be plain yogurt this time.

8:52 I sit down next to Pat-Chris to supervise his/her notebook work.  SweetP and I play two of her preschool games, one with words and one with numbers.  She loses interest about halfway through the second game.  It’s good while it lasts.

9:05 One of the other children claims to be done with his/her work.  We look at the assignment sheet together: nope, three more things left.  [I’m sensing a pattern for all of us: I am so busy doing all the other things involved in running our home that I have been taking their word for it that their work is done.  I wonder how many times there have been omissions (intentional or not) as I have handed over more of the responsibility to managing their own time.]


9:10 I start Pat-Chris on his/her computer work (geography and Spanish).  Another child practices piano.  The third is doing math, but independently.  SweetP and I sit on the porch swing to read Brian Wildsmith’s beautiful book, The Easter Story.

9:14 Another child comes out to read to me and gets sucked into the book with me and SweetP.  I love snuggling and reading together.  If it’s on the porch swing, even better.

9:25 Reading done.  We rotate piano and computer learners.  SweetP helps me make the salad dressing for dinner.


9:40 My neighbor calls to invite us to play outside.  SweetP goes to ride her bike.  I sit down to do Latin corrections and math with the other children.

10:05 I hang out the boys’ wash.  J starts playing a song from “Quest for Camelot” and O is singing at the top of his lungs.

10:15 M goes to do math on the front porch with chalk and the floor as her chalkboard.  I love homeschooling.

10:20 SweetP is back.  I give everyone notice that at 11, we’re going to go to the grocery store.

11:05 Not bad. We’re in the car.  We’re listening to The City of Ember by Jeanne duPrau.  The kids are riveted.

11:17 SweetP has disappeared in the grocery store.  Panic.  I place two kids where we noticed she was gone and one at the exit.  I try to ask the guy in the vegetables for help.  He makes a storewide announcement. I pray pray pray pray pray… Two minutes later, J sees her dashing across an aisle in her own panic, and the store workers stop her.  I pick her up, and we are both crying and shaking.

11:21 We review.  “If you get lost, what do you do?” I ask.  Everyone says, “Stay where you are!” My heart rate might return to normal by June.

12:18 We are in the car again.  I can’t stop praying my thanks over and over.

12:36 Home.  The kids are piling out around me as if this is a clown car, and I’m totally overwhelmed.  They take the book on CD in because they want to keep listening in the house.  We carry groceries in.  I make lunch and make us eat it on the patio because it’s beautiful out.

1- We read from Luke and  The World of Captain John Smith.

1:10 The phone rings.  It’s my office, calling to clarify an MRI order, and when I look up, all the kids have scattered.  I yell that someone had better be looking for the missing vanilla!

1:30 We bring all the dishes in from outside, and the kids do their kitchen jobs.  I need nap.

1:45 I send everyone upstairs for rest time.  SweetP says, “It better not be a long rest time!” By long, she means more than 18 seconds, which is as high as she can count.  It had better be longer than 18 seconds, I think.  I read her a book.

2:02 “Is it done yet?” SweetP asks, appearing on the stairs.  “No,” I say. “Go back to your room.”  Hearing my voice, M appears, asking for the stapler so she can make miniature books for her doll.  (She was inspired by The Borrowers, which is one of her reading books.)  Alas, the stapler is lacking staples and I am not up for searching for them.

2:15 I sit down to pray.

2:35 I make dinner and wash the dishes.

2:36 SweetP wants to know if we’re done yet. No.

2:38 SweetP wants to know if we’re done yet.  No.

2:45 SweetP wants to know if we’re done yet. No.

2:58 SweetP wants to know if we’re done yet. No.

3:02 They descend the stairs like elephants.  O has built Hogwarts out of Legos and is very excited.  J wants to tell me about the book he’s reading.  M made her doll a backpack.  SweetP is here to tell me that rest time was WAAAAY too long.

3:04 Pat-Chris and I sit down to the last of the work.  The other children play/read in the backyard.

3:35 Pat-Chris has finished.  S/he is very exited and wants to join the outside play.  Yes.

3:55 The children ask if they can mow the neighbors’ yard now.  I take down the laundry and listen to the mower swishing and the girls’ laughter.

4:45 We all rush to the car to go to soccer, and I find the keys still in the ignition.  The battery is dead (my fault.)  We pile onto bicycles– SweetP is most excited (J not so much)– and ride over to soccer.

5:10 While the big kids practice, SweetP runs lap after lap after lap around the fields.  This is a good thing.

6:50 We make it home.  Sam is home, and we all have dinner together.  We use our new conversation jar.  It’s a good thing.

7:30 Dishes, showers, bedtime routines… Sam is putting away the various bits of today’s activities and calls from the school room, “Hey, any idea what the vanilla is doing in this drawer?”


8:40 I can’t stay awake another minute. Today was full, full, full, and required a kind of attention– supervision– that I find exhausting. I hope it pays off quickly.

A Day in the Life: October 2011

5:25  I wake up.  I’m too cheap to turn on the heat in October, and our room is cold.  I roll over instead of getting up to write.

5:55 Still cold and awake.  I get up.  I go and look at the files on my computer.  There’s some serious inertia going on here– facing two hard re-writes, I find it easier not to do either.  I go downstairs and make tea and read After You Believe.

6:40 The first cup of tea is gone, and the darkness outside is just starting to change.  I pull out my St Nicholas Day knitting (have to do this in secret, right?).  I’m working on the Micro Tracy Triceratops, and when I bought it I had no idea the pattern was fourteen (FOURTEEN!) pages.  The rows are all short, and there’s going to be a TON of ends to weave in (as I feel like I’m always snipping off ends and attaching new tiny balls of yarn).  The good news is that no one can actually tell what it is as I knit each individual part, and it’s using up stash yarn.

7:30 O and Sam appear.  O asks what I’m making.  I ask what does he think it is.  He frowns and says, “A hat for an elephant?”  So I guess I’m safe. O pulls out his notebook and starts his work.  He adds decimals beautifully, practices guitar without waking anyone up, and writes in his journal.

8:10 Everyone else is up (after being up too late last night) and I run upstairs to dress while Sam is still here to fill all the random breakfast orders.  Seriously, I need to start making ONE breakfast for everyone.

8:30 The boys are doing their schoolwork, SweetP is begging me to play with her, and M is futzing around the kitchen, stalling on getting started.  I take a ticket when she ignores three gentle requests to load the dishwasher.

8:50 The dishwasher is finally loaded.  I pull out the vacuum, and both girls want to help.  SweetP “helps” by carrying the attachments around (we’ve lost one of them this way) and M actually does vacuum the living room.  Hooray!  Man, it was filthy in there.

9:05 I arrange for us to meet some friends in the park for exercise at 11.  This gives everyone a little added motivation to be efficient.  O is almost done with his work; M hasn’t begun and is looking for ways to get out of it… and seems willing to do anything except play with SweetP.

9:20 I read a book, ostensibly to SweetP, but after the first page, everyone is squashed onto the love seat to listen.  I love my job.

9:30 O is done with his work.  I let him and SweetP watch a little Sesame Street.  The other two aren’t so happy about this.  J does Latin exercises aloud, and M flips through her notebook.  She is NOT inspired today.

9:40 J says he doesn’t understand his math.  I look at it.  Division of polynomials.  Do I understand it?  I stall for time and say we’ll work on it later.

10:00 I make O try on his pants so I can hem them.  He keeps trying to pretend I’ve stuck a pin in his foot.  If he does it one more time, I just might.  I ask him to go upstairs to find the black thread for me.

10:02 He says he’s looked everywhere and it’s not there.  I send him up again with express instructions.

10:03 He returns empty-handed.  I explain again where it is.

10:03:15 He’s back.  No thread.

10:03:50 J returns with two spools of black thread.  In tears, O falls down on the floor saying J didn’t wait for him (O) to look for it.

10:04:30 I show O how to crochet. He loves finger-knitting so much I’m sure this will be a hit.  I’m wrong.

10:06 He’s done crocheting, but at least he asks if he can Rollerblade.  YES!!!  I spend some time standing over M to get her going.  She does two pages of music theory and a page of math in 7 and a half minutes.

10:14 M and SweetP go upstairs to change clothes.

10:55 We head to the park.  Our friends are there and we spend forty-five minutes with [almost] no whining.  Exercise? Check.  Vitamin D? Check.  Brief teacher conference for the purpose of encouragement? Check.

12:00 We’re home for lunch.  M sets the table while I make quesadillas.  SweetP has a tantrum over… actually, I’m not quite sure what it was about.  After three minutes of crying, she wails, “I’m hungry!!!”  Ah, that was the reason.

12:15 We’re at the table and I’ve eaten enough to begin reading.  We read Proverbs 3:5-6, and J gives an example from his reading to illustrate the idea of Trusting in the Lord and not on your own understanding.

12:17 A chapter of Foster’s The Life of Christopher Columbus and Sons.  Then a second chapter, by popular request.

12:30 Make more quesadillas.

12:32 The Long Winter, the chapter called “Wheat in the Wall”.  We had a lively discussion the other day on whether Almanzo would share his seed wheat or let the town starve.  Today we found out the answer.  I only cried twice.

12:45 I read a book (A Chair for My Mother) and tuck SweetP in for her rest time.  Everyone else heads upstairs.

1:02 M is screaming for me about how she needs more kleenex.  I’m so irritated I can’t help myself, and I throw the box into her room (but don’t hit her with it).  I don’t know why she is so able to push my buttons.  It’s uncanny, really.

1:03 I review Division of Polynomials.  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.

1:15 SweetP is asleep.  Thank goodness.  I check my some blogs, my email and log into the remote computer for my office to check labs.

1:45 (Where did that half hour go?)  J comes down so I can teach him polynomial division.

2:00 O and M come down.  O reads his two chapters to me.

2:10  O has his free computer time.  Everyone else whines that they want to watch, but their work isn’t done.  Oh, well.

2:20 O is done and doesn’t know what to do with himself.  He tries crocheting for another five minutes.  Finally he decides to read.  I sit down with M.  She does the rest of her notebook work; I mend the too-long pants.  We plod through the rest of J’s and M’s work (reading, writing in their journals, checking on their science experiments-in-progress, practicing the poems they’re memorizing.)

3:15 SweetP wakes up.  I vacuum the room where she was sleeping and the stairs.  She and Owen watch part of Wild Kratts.  Everyone else is still working (Rosetta Stone, Latin…)

3:55 Everyone finishes.  They all pour over the Rainbow Resources catalog, then build stuff out of recycling.  I find everyone’s swimming gear and get dinner started.

4:30 They sit down to spaghetti and meatballs.  I read Paddington to them.

5:00 We’re in the car to drive the swim team carpool.  Renee will keep SweetP until Sam can get home.

5:30 I drop the big kids off at the pool and plan to go to a coffee shop for an hour, but I pass the new yarn store… and double back to pop in.

5:55  $17.35 later and without being super impressed by this store (I think I’ll keep my Denver shop) I drive back to the pool and park.  I pull out my laptop and notecards to blast through the writing block I’ve been having.  (Editing block?)  Sometimes all we need is a change of scene, right?

7:20 The kids are out.  We drive home and have “swimming yogurts” (these aren’t yogurts with chlorine. they’re just the individual cups we save as a post-swimming treat) and leftover birthday cake.  By eight, everyone is in bed (although M is yelling for me again).

8:15 Cut Sam’s hair.

8:30 Search through Ambleside online’s original Charlotte Mason writings for our next CM group’s reading… I’m having a hard time narrowing it down to less than 70 pages.  Does that mean I’m feeling insecure, or just that she really had a lot of good things to say?  I’m hoping the latter.

9:15  Good night.


A Day in the Life… in April

6:15 I wake up hearing a regular, intermittent beeping.  It takes me a few minutes to realize that it’s a smoke alarm whose battery has run down.  Outside our room, the smoke alarm at the top of the stairs dangles by its wires, and a step ladder leans against the wall.  I wonder how early Sam was trying to fix it… and why he gave up.

6:45 I come downstairs after a good, hot shower to find everyone playing.  The boys have half the living room floor covered with Pokemon, and the girls are playing house with the plastic dinosaurs.  SweetP: “You be the mom.” M: “No! I always have to be the mom!  I’m not playing with you!”  So much for that.  Time for breakfast.

7:05 After being the short order cook– bagels with cinnamon sugar, bagels with cream cheese, cereal with yogurt, cereal with milk, hot chocolate– I finally get my own bowl of oatmeal.  I hate breakfast.

7:12 After eating (you’d think all that work would keep the happy for more than 7 minutes!) everyone does their kitchen jobs and resumes playing.  M is unaccountably happy now to be the dinosaur mom.  She’s yelling at all the other dinosaurs to clean up their rooms.

7:30 I put in a load of laundry and spend half an hour answering emails and attending to prescription refills and lab results.  (Even though it’s a drag on my family time, I’m grateful our work EMR allows me now to deal with urgent issues from work in a timely fashion.  It’s a good thing for my patients.)

8:15 I take the laundry onto the porch to hang it up.  It’s supposed to be 70 today, but right now it’s cold.  I wish I’d put on my rubber gloves.  The morning is beautiful, with a blue sky.  The robins have made a nest in our crab apple tree and are chirping at me when I cross too close to their tree.

8:30 My neighbor is out trying to turn her sprinkler system back on.  The girls appear and want to “help” us.  When my neighbor and I try to figure out what’s wrong (without success), M pulls about 8 big weeds out of the rocks in front of her house.  Who knew she was such a good weeder?  Why doesn’t she spontaneously weed our rocks?

9 Sesame Street is on, and SweetP goes to watch it while M and I sit down to her piano lesson.  I encouraged the boys to begin their notebook work.  Instead, they watch Sesame Street.

9:30 M did well in her lesson and goes to watch Sesame Street as well.  I use the half hour to re-pot our seedlings, which are all much too big for their little peat pellets.

9:55  Everyone returns from Sesame Street.  SweetP “helps” me with the re-potting, and the big kids start their notebook work.  M is determined and efficient.  J is not motivated to work on his math and diddles around with his reading and journal entries.

10:10 O gets bogged down in fractions and goes from okay to tears in 60 seconds.  I tell him to go to his room. He says, “It’s because I’m still sick!”  I tell him to go to bed– if he’s well enough to play Pokemon for an hour, he’s well enough to do fractions.  He goes to bed.

10:25 M is done with the day’s work, including reading to me from Beverly Cleary’s Socks and doing 15 minutes of Rosetta Stone.  While she’s putting R.S. away, she finds O’s missing mp3 player, and suddenly it works!  (It had been on the fritz.)  She runs it upstairs to O, who– oddly– is playing legos and “isn’t sick any more.”  I tell him to come back downstairs to finish his fractions.

10:30 I hang more laundry outside.  The temptation is too great, and I grab the step stool to see what’s happening in the robins’ nest.  Mrs. Robin is not at all happy about this.  I misjudge my angle, and the step stool falls over.  I have to jump down.  The repaired knee (post-op day 6) is not happy about this, but Mrs. Robin is seen chuckling as she settles back in her nest.

11:00 We all pull out clay and play dough and our read-alouds.  I am especially eager to read, as it’s the first day we’ve had together since my voice is back.  We read some of The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons, On the Shores of Silver Lake, and And Then There Were Five.  Oh, I’ve missed this– even all the interruptions to show me the clay x-wing fighter and the play dough carrot cookies.  Especially that.

11:55 I throw some spaghetti sauce and cheese on English muffins for lunch.  The kids are excited to try “the comparison game” from And Then There Were Five.  (One person tries to guess the identity of a person agreed upon by the others by asking comparison questions: “What vegetable is he/she most like?”)  It was great.  This person was the most fun– she was described as most like J in our family, the color purple, a beach, and a Newfoundland.  See, you knew it was Grandma Judy!

1:00 We do our kitchen jobs.  I read SweetP a Beatrix Potter story, and everyone goes up for rest time.  SweetP doesn’t WANT to take a nap, or even go into her room.  TANTRUM!

1:20 Instead of doing my knee PT, I categorize several months of old blog posts.  Do we even care?

1:30 The babysitter calls and CAN sit tonight (see how far ahead I plan?)  Excellent.  I google to directions to where I’m going and call her back– can I pick her up twenty minutes earlier?

2:00 The elephants descend.  There is much fun: more pokemon battles, chair ballet (and yes, she’s still in her pajamas), digging in the hole in the backyard, mud everywhere…

3:00 WordGirl comes on.  I let folks watch while I finally do my PT.  (Yeah, I should’ve done it earlier and used this time productively, but…)  Then I read a little and call two of my patients about referrals.

3:30  They: “Can we watch Wild Kratts?”  Mommy:  “If your work is done.”  But J’s work is NOT done, and he wastes another 15 minutes pouting about Wild Kratts and trying to bargain to use “today’s” computer time tomorrow if he doesn’t have time to use it today because of not getting his geometry done.  The answer is No.  He finally sits down to do it.

4:00 Legos, reading, bathroom chores, putting laundry away.  More geometry– or maybe it was only geometry tantrums?

4:45 Mommy: “In five minutes we’re going to pick up the babysitter.”  J: “Wait!  My geometry isn’t done.”  Very wordy discussion about making wise choices, and how I don’t feel bad for him that he chose to use his time today watching WordGirl and part of Sesame Street instead of doing geometry when the time was ripe.  Big, fat lower lip sticking out.

5:15 I’m in the car, driving across town for a Soup-tasting fundraiser.  We are guests of one of Sam’s colleagues, and I am his doting wife.  I spend most of the evening trying to think of something to say other than, “Well, you’re the one who chose to watch Sesame Street…”

9:00 We’re home.  I take the sitter home and come back to ice my knee.  Heading upstairs with my ice pack, I see Sam on the step stool, trying to figure out how to fix the smoke alarm.  It’s going to be a long night.

A Day in the Life: Oct 2010


5:26 I wake up and get up to write.  The kitchen is clean, but the bathroom is covered in sand– all dried on the faucet and sink and floor– so I clean that up before getting down to business.

5:45 Light a candle and sit down to write with the laptop and my cup of tea.

7:01 O appears and wraps himself on a quilt on the living room floor.  I put away the computer before everyone else arrives.

7:10 J comes down and announces he’s already cleaned the bathroom, brushed his teeth and made his bed (according to his definition of “made”.  it might not be the same definition as yours.)  He goes to start his schoolwork.

7:12 M arrives in pajamas and glasses.  She stands next to me and snuggles until she’s completely away.

7:20 “Mommy!!!! Me wake up!!!  Me get dressed!!!!”  SweetP comes down the stairs.  I’m able to coax everyone by J to the table for some breakfast– bagels and cream cheese, and apples from the bowl on the table.

7:30 Sam comes down for breakfast and I go up for a lightning-quick shower.

7:40 Sam is ready for work.  We kiss him good-bye.  J unloads the dishwasher, M loads, and O sweeps the floor.  I start a batch of yogurt and oatmeal bread.

8:00 We all sit down at the table to do a little work.  After five minutes, J says, “I”m hungry.”  I think (and maybe say out loud) that if he would have eaten with the rest of us, he’d not be hungry now.  He goes to make himself some breakfast.

8:10 I sit on the couch with SweetP to read Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine by Eveline Ness.  M & O are next to us before I finish the title page.  What a good story!  “Read it again, Mommy,” SweetP says.

8:30 Everyone reconvenes at the school table for our “notebook work.”

8:40 SweetP is done coloring.  She’s done seven drawings of herself in different colors.  She’s taken the caps off all the markers and put them on her fingertips.  She’s “practiced piano,” thus getting residual marker on all the keys from her fingers.  She’s gone twice to change her clothes.  Now she wants to watch Kipper.  “Me watch Kifford!”  Sorry, no.  I talk her into doing a puzzle instead.  J says he has 44 math problems to go.  (He’s done 4.)

8:45 O is done with all his notebook work.  He goes to teach SweetP how to do puzzles.  (When he was two, he could put 50 piece puzzles together.  At the time I didn’t really realize how remarkable that was, until his speech therapist pointed it out.)

8:55 M announces her work is too difficult.  I’m not really sure how she’d know that, since she hasn’t actually tried any of it yet.  J needs help with factorizing x2-28x+192.  (The answer is (x-12)(x-16), in case you were wondering.) 

9:15 O begins practicing piano.  SweetP goes to change clothes.  J tells me he has 32 math problems to go.  M hasn’t started yet.  I go to put some laundry in.

9:30 The “Kifford!” chant begins again, and I give in… sort-of.  I put a Signing Times video in instead.  M goes to watch, and O begins his “school computer time” with a online puzzle of Asia.  J asks if he can watch O, but the answer is no.  Twenty-eight math problems to go.  I suggest he work on something else instead for a bit– his reading, or piano.  He says no.  I work in the kitchen for a bit.  O gets 28% on the math puzzle.  I don’t know where Azerbijan is either.

10:00 I punch the bread down and put it in loaf pans.  O has worked his way through the puzzle until he gets a 91%.  Hooray!  M and SweetP finish, and I move us all to the kitchen.  They play with play dough while I read a chapter of Joshua to them.

10:10 “Mommy, can I have free computer time?”  No.  “Can I have more school computer time?”  No.  “Can I look at my bottle cap collection?”  No.  “What can I do?”  You can sit here while I read to us. 

10:12 We read three chapters of Around the World in 80 Days.  It just got really interesting.  J wants me to keep reading, but the others are ready to run around.  I finish the yogurt and put it in to culture.

10:20 We head to the park.  M is wearing her friend’s rollerskates and takes nearly fifteen minutes to make it down the alley.  I want to scream.  Instead I just shout say there’s going to be a No-Rollerskate-In-The-Alley rule from now on. The neighborhood school is out for the day, and several of our friends are there.  We play.

11:05 A neighboring dad gets upset with all the stick wafare going on and snaps them all in half on his knee.  (His son had one, too, for the record.)  We go home.  I heat the oven for the bread.

11:15 I send everyone into the back yard for a bit while I make lunch.

11:40 We eat lunch at the little picnic table.  I read to them Pegi Shea’s The Whispering Cloth, A Refugee’s Story and The Journey by Sarah Stewart.  The kids are enchanted by both, in different ways.  They have a lot of questions about the Hmong people, which I try to answer.

12:10 We head inside and clean up from lunch.  The bread is done.

12:20  I send everyone to their beds to rest or read.  More laundry for me.

12:35 J comes back down to look for another book to read.  SweetP hears him pass her door and comes flying yelling, “Time to wake up??!!!”  No.  I ask J what makes his need for another book when he already has 400 in his bed already more important than his sister’s need for a nap.  He asks, “Are you being sarcastic?”  I tell him No, go back to bed.

12:42 On the way out of her room, I step on a light saber on the floor and twist my ankle.  Let’s just say I made sure the boys heard about it…  This is not a 5-star mothering day.

12:45 After getting SweetP tucked back in (though now she’s wide awake, and I doubt she’ll sleep), I log on to our work computer and refill prescriptions and and review lab reports for my patients.  I call two of them back to explain their results.  Of course, it takes longer than I think.

1:10 I sit down to knit and rest.  I’ve screwed up the gray pullover I’m knitting (I twisted the stitches when I joined, thus making a mobius strip instead of a sweater) and have to rip out three rows.  I get it rejoined when…

1:25 Everyone descends again.  M asks for computer time.  I say No, as she’s neither practiced piano nor done her notebook work.  She sits down with her notebook and gets her work done in 7 minutes flat.

1:32 M sits down to practice piano.  J starts his Asian geography.  SweetP and I build Legos.

1:47 O goes to the piano and M works on her computer geography.  I really online geography puzzles.  And online math flashcards.

2:02 O goes to the computer for free computer time.  M joins me and SweetP with the Legos.   Once they’re working well together, I fold the laundry.

2:40 I realize we’re leaving for the Lake in five minutes.  I start popping popcorn and yelling at everyone to put shoes on and go potty.

2:45 I make tea for the thermoses (thermi?) and salt the popcorn.  No one has shoes on. 

3:10 We arrive at the Lake to play.  Our friends are right behind us, and we all head out toward the “log lake.”  The minute I’ve crossed the bridge, my mood undergoes a complete shift.  Was I suffering from an acute attack of Nature Deficit Disorder?  Perhaps…

3:45 Something twisted and bitter in me has released.  I’m full of light and autumn colors and the aroma of cottonwood leaves under my feet.  The boys are banging sticks to their hearts’ content.  SweetP is wandering around without her shoes (I hope she doesn’t step on anything) and M and her friends are drinking tea and eating popcorn at the picnic table.  Why didn’t we come here at nine this morning?

4:47 We’re on the road back home.  Sam will be home in half an hour.  Everyone is dirty and happy in the car.  Best of all, the wretched angry thing inside me is gone.

Part Two, A Day in the Life

I posted recently about one of my “work days,” and several of you asked if I would share about a “school day.”  I’m happy to, and here’s that day– as typical as any of them are, which is to say, not very.  One further note though, about a “work day”: Sam and my parents alternate being with the kids when I work, so the days that my parents are here look like “school days” in the morning, and then I go to work for the afternoon and evening.

5:25 I’m up and go downstairs to read/pray.  I’m still reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope and loving it, as well as Jankowski/Gershoni’s Confronting Fascism in Egypt.  I’ve been on a WWII kick lately, and have learned so much that I never knew.  It’s a shame how much I don’t know about… well, everything.

6:20 M appears, creeping down the stairs in her sleeping bag.  “Your Sluggie Baby is here,” she says, wanting to snuggle.  It’s a little early for me to snuggle, so I tuck her onto the couch in the other room to rest until 7.  I’m done reading and knit while I pray and ponder what I’ve just read.

7:01 “Mommy, is it time yet?” M reemerges, and we snuggle.  I put away my knitting.

7:15 Sam comes down with SweetP.  He starts making breakfast for the girls while I go shower.

7:30 I’m back, and we eat a casual breakfast: homemade bread, oatmeal, bananas.  The boys straggle down one by one.  O is pretty grumpy (he’s not a morning person).

7:40 Sam is out the door.  I start making the yogurt and more oatmeal bread.  I put a load of laundry in.

8:10 O is awake enough to join us at the table.  I read us our scripture for the day.  We’re in Matthew 13.  Everyone takes a turn telling me what they heard.  O & M have really grown in both their desire and ability to narrate this year, and their narrations have forced J to be more complete, since he goes last.

8:30 Everyone is at the school table with their notebooks out.  SweetP has pulled A Room of One’s Own off the bookshelves and is carrying it around as her book.  Last week it was the Bluedorn’s The Fallacy Detective.  Everyone is having a hard time with math today– J with the area between two concentric circles, O with long division, M with money.  O gets the award for the biggest tantrum.

8:55 O takes a break from math to practice piano.  Another tantrum.  Is this a sign that he stayed up too late last night?  M finishes her math and goes to play with SweetP.  They start by playing house, but then somehow SweetP is wearing a superhero cape and is jumping off the couch.   For the record, she can’t fly.

9:10 O completes his 15 minutes at the piano with a few tears. “I’m terrible,” he says [about 8 times].  “You’re not terrible,” I say, though my the 6th time, my voice is a little clipped.

9:11 Everyone is begging to watch Sesame Street.  I let them watch Sesame Street and work on the bread, the yogurt, and the dirty kitchen.  Somehow the accumulation of yesterday’s stuff takes me twenty minutes to put away.  I think how I ought to have the kids doing it, but their giggles as they all sit together watching Sesame Street are sweet.

9:45 O, M and SweetP head outside to play in the yard.  J goes back to his math.  And Latin.  And Capitalization Boot Camp.

10:10 O comes running inside.  “Mommy, Mommy, there are frogs in the sandbox!!!”  In the sandbox?  Really?  I give him a container for them.

10:12 “Mommy, it’s not a frog, it’s a purple salamander.”

10:13 “Mommy, Mommy, it’s baby rabbits again!!!!”

10:14 I’m outside in the sandbox.  It is, indeed, baby rabbits again.  If I had any idea how to link to a post, I’d link to the one last September about how we spent 12 days bottle-feeding infant rabbits formula, because after we disturbed their burrow in the sandbox, we were afraid the mama wouldn’t come back.  [Spoiler: they all died.]  I am determined not to repeat the experience, so I tell the kids we’re going to leave them alone.  I gently try to replace all the sand/rabbit fur/grass from the burrow and say a little prayer for these bunny kittens.  Everyone comes inside to wash their hands.  [Spoiler alert: these all died, too.]

10:30 We get the puzzles out, and while the kids work on a geography puzzle, I read aloud.  SweetP climbs all over me during the process, and when she vacates, M squeezes herself next to me.  The chair is really not big enough for us both.  I manage to get through two chapters of On the Banks of Plum Creek and one chapter of We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea (our curret book in the Swallows and Amazons series.)

11:10 My friend Renee knocks on our door (how grateful I am for her!) and we head to the park around the corner.  We play at the park– initially the kids can’t figure out what to do, but when my other friend Lori appears with her kids, they all figure out how to have some fun.

12:10 Home for lunch.  We have “Wallace and Gromit” (a.k.a. cheese and crackers) and apples.  I read aloud again, this time from Piglet Catches a Heffalump.  SweetP is up and down about 40 times.  I should have buckled her in.  The kids pick up the living room while I read to them.

1:15 Everyone heads upstairs to their rooms for rest time.  The boys’ room is a disaster, and I tell them that they can’t come out until the floor is picked up.    I put SweetP down for a nap.  Right now she reminds me of Frances in the Hobans’ Bedtime for Frances— she can’t go to bed without her two babies, Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbaca, two pairs of fancy plastic shoes, her hothot (rice bag), fresh water, pillow, fuzzy blanket, two books, two songs…

1:25 Phew.  I get my rest time, too, which I use to vacuum and have a cup of tea.  I take a tour of our garden.  The strawberry plants are covered with flowers.

1:45 There’s not enough time left for me to get any writing done– I should have just started the second I came downstairs.  So I write a letter and have a cup of tea.  I read some of your blogs.

2:15 The three big kids sneak downstairs.  Usually they come down like elephants (and wake up SweetP), but since I started calling them that, “Hello, elephants,” they’ve tried to sneak up on me like mice.  They’re getting good at it.  Hello, Mice.

2:20 They each take a 15 minute turn at the computer (all watching each other, so it’s about 45 minutes of screen time– too much, when I add in the Sesame Street from earlier).  Right now they’re doing http://scratch.mit.edu, which is this cool free program to teach the kids codeless computer programming.  Very cool.  I hang laundry outside.  I read a little on a Newbery book. 

3:05  Turn off the computer.  J goes to practice piano.  O & M want to watch Word Girl– no dice, as we had too much screen time already today.  I throw them (figuratively) into the back yard and tell them to stay away from the sandbox.

3:30 SweetP comes downstairs, announcing, “Me come downstairs.”  (She’s starting to nap in the bed, instead of the crib.)  So we all go outside, and I read to them, occasionally having to shout over their loud playing.

4:25 Everyone wants a snack.  I pop some popcorn and pull out the string cheese.  I realize we need to get a move on for swim team.

5:05 We’re out the door to go to swimteam.  Everyone has their backpacks.  I belatedly remember to pick up our neighbor and co-swimmer (we have to double back for her).  Whoops.

5:30-6:45 I try to keep SweetP occupied and out of the pool.  Eek.  I really need to take her swiming more often.  It’s not really fair– everyone else gets to swim twice a week.

6:45  The boys are learning to go in the locker room without me– don’t talk to strangers, change quickly, remember to being home your swimsuit, towel and goggles.  Every. single. time. 

7:15 We get back in the car and are halfway home when we remember that SweetP left her bag of toys.  We take our neighbor home, stop for ice cream and smoothies, and double back to get the toys. 

7:40  We got the toys and head home, listening to Jim Weiss’ Treasure Island on the CD player.  (J’s choice).  It’s so nice that it’s still light out.

8:05 We’re home.  Everyone puts on jammies, and protest that they don’t want me to brush their teeth.  Tough.  This is why I make the big bucks.  =)

8:20 Everyone is in bed reading.  Lots of prayers and songs.  Water.  Potty.  Yoda, Darth Vader, and Chewbaca, the hothot, fresh water, two babies, two pairs of shoes…

8:30 I’m bringing in the tomato plants from the porch where they’re being “hardened off.”  Can I plant them yet?

8:35  I hang the swimsuits and towels… and I’m one swimsuit short.  I guess we’re going back tomorrow to find it…

8:40 Sam is home from the hospital.  Whew.  Conversation.  Clean up the kitchen.  Can I go to bed yet?

A Day in the Life: May 2010

Several of you have written recently to ask how things are– and have asked specifically about medicine and writing (the two things that don’t usually make this blog).  So I thought I’d give you a peek into the rest of my life.

(A side note: this post is so unusual for me, I’m not even sure where to categorize it.  It’s not Family Life, nor really Self Education– except the Gout part.)

5:25 I wake up.  Sam is already at the pool swimming his morning workout.  I get up and shower, etc.  In the bathroom, I begin reading a continuing medical education article on Gout.

5:40 I’m downstairs putting the kettle on to boil.  I read NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope and my world is rocked again.  What a great book.  (I’m sure I’ll do a completely inadequate review once I finish.  But maybe you should get your own copy before that.)  I pray and think.

7:05 J comes downstairs wrapped in his comforter.  He asks, "Mommy, can we snuggle?"  We snuggle on the couch and I read him poetry from The Barefoot Book of Poems

7:25 Sam is home from swimming.  He’s home today with the kids so I can go to work.  I brush my teeth, kiss them good-bye, and head to Starbucks.

8:00 I’m writing at Starbucks, working on my ten billionth draft of my YA novel.  Maybe it’s closer?  I go back and forth thinking "it’s so much better this time," and "who am I kidding?"  Happily I don’t have wifi on the laptop I use, so I can’t go checking homeschool blogs and writing sites, or I wouldn’t get anything done.

9:15 My neighbor comes to meet me, and we have tea/coffee and a conversation.  What a treat.  Among other things, we talk about the margin for interaction that you lose when you go from a full-time job to a part-time job.  You give up your child care cushion (the half-hour extra you pay for so that if you have to catch up at work, it’s not a crisis) and have no more time for interacting socially with anyone at work.  This was a treat to get to know her better.

10:30 She’s off to work, and I’m writing again.  This was a productive morning, I think, at least in terms of writing– I met my page-goals and didn’t get sucked into the vortex of discouragement.

11:30 I head to work.  I have 29 patients scheduled from 12-8 (with a lunch break).  That works out to 4.14 patients per hour, or 14.5 minutes per patient.  There is a pile of prescription refills, phone calls to answer, and lab results to analyze.

12-9 I see patients– 28 of them, so in theory they could have each had slightly more than 15 minutes.  But really, who– after getting herself to the doctor and waiting in the waiting room– wants to be the one who gives up part of her 15 minutes so that the doctor has time to spend an hour with the person who’s really sick?  Several of them were really sick, and nearly everyone had something else (other than their blood pressure or pregnancy) that they really wanted to talk about.  At nine, when the last person leaves, I still have a pile of charts and follow-ups to work on.  I end up bringing home some notes for phone calls I have to make tomorrow.

10:30 Home.  Sam’s and the kids are asleep.  I put away my things and prep a few things for tomorrow. Brush teeth.  Fall into bed.  Can’t sleep, thinking about the patient I saw at 3.  Did I do the right thing?  What if she really had something really rare are dangerous? 

A Day in my Life, in Photos

Can you hear the popping?

This is the corner of the kitchen that defeats me.  I can spend all afternoon clearing the clutter, and the next day, it is covered again.  I see this, and I want to curl up in my room with a Jane Austen novel.  Forever.

I went outside to hang M’s laundry on the clothesrack, and the aroma of roses assaulted me.  In the best possible way.

This is the new-and-improved sandbox my husband built while I was at my conference in April.  Notice the sand scattered throughout the yard.   Notice how sturdy the sandbox is.  Notice the grass growing in it, because the children thought it would be fun to "cook" with birdseed in the sandbox.  Notice the rabbit (at the farthest end, in front of the soccer ball) snacking on the grass in the sandbox.  I ought to be grateful it’s not a cat, right?

This is SweetP, almost 8 months old, with a tiny nubbin of a tooth (invisible here).  She’s ecstatic that she can now pull up on things… and crawl… and chase the cat… and destroy Lego creations… and chew on the side of the laundry basket…

A Day in the Life

 I love reading others’ day-in-the-life entries.  I’ve never done one, but maybe this will give you a taste of the chaos (and order)…

 5:31     I wake up before my alarm… apparently, I’m trainable.  It took a month in January of setting the alarm at 5:32, but now I wake up spontaneously and don’t even set it.  I spend an hour reading and praying.  The day’s readings from the Book of Common Prayer year 1 lectionary are from Deuteronomy 8, Psalm 41, John and Hebrews.

 6:30     Everyone else stumbles down bit by bit… first my husband, then M with her stuffed dog.  We eat oatmeal and yogurt, then the boys come down and want bagels and toast.  My husband kisses everyone good-bye and heads off to the lab.  M says, “Daddy work with bat poop today?”  “Not today.”  But often.  During breakfast, we review the day’s Bible verses: Hebrews 11:1, Romans 15:13, and 1 Peter 1:3.  O says the verse correctly, then cites, “Deuteronomy 6:4.”  This was the first verse we learned, and it’s his running gag.  Every verse to him comes from Deut 6:4.

 7:30     J practices a song for his upcoming piano recital.  He’s been doing piano for a month… I’m not sure how he’s going to do Saturday.  He almost fell off the bench when his teacher told him he should memorize his piece.  (It’s two lines long, twenty notes in all.)  I bring a basket of laundry downstairs and start it.  M and O dump fight over who gets to start which load of wash.

 8:00     J asks if we can do history first.  The kids dump their dishes in the sink and we head to the “schoolroom.”  The boys are still in pajamas, though M and I are dressed.  I decide that they’ve got momentum today, so I won’t break the mood by sending them upstairs to change.  I start M and O on coloring “animal hats,” and then I read a chapter from the Story of the World 2, on the development of the English language.  J pulls out his notebook to do his math and copywork.  He flies through the math, and chuckles at the copywork.  (Usually, he does Bible verses, but today I wrote out the words to Hot Crossed Buns for him, since this is his piano recital piece.)  I read to them from an Usborne book Castles.  The boys ask me to read the pages on weapons and war.  Sigh.  Will my children love peace someday?  After I read the weapons page, O wants me to draw him a mace, spear, pike, and crossbow to color in.  Not to be outdone, M has to have the same.

 9:15     After our reading and table work, we migrate to the living room.  The kids take a break and play with legos while I do the dishes.  O brings me a bandana napkin and asks me to make him a pirate hat.  M says, “Me too.”  They pack junior suitcases and run off to pillage and sing Viking songs.  (Our last history unit was on Vikings.) 

 9:40     I change the laundry, and we sit down to read on the couch.  We’re reading Rosemary Sutcliffe’s The Sword and the Circle.  We’re on chapter two.  J and I both have an “aha!” moment when we realize that Utha Pendragon was trying to rid England of the Vikings and Saxons, about whom we’ve just read.

 10:30   We need a break and a snack.  The kids eat, and I read them some Frances (Russell Hoban) stories.  Man, Frances’s parents are smart. We change the laundry.

 11:00   The kids want to play on the computer.  I give them the opportunity to earn time on the computer—and gain valuable life skills, too!—by sweeping and mopping all our hardwood floors.  J is “in charge” of making sure everyone gets a turn.  I sweep all the debris into piles, which J sweeps up.  They take turns spraying the mopping the floor.  There is a lot of screaming—“No, spray the FLOOR!” and “I didn’t have a turn yet!”—and much walking-over-wet-floor.  Mostly, they’re doing a good job.  They do better when I leave them alone.

 12:00   We have noodles with parmesan, apples, and humus.  “These are the right noodles, Mommy,” J tells me.  The noodles are penne.  Apparently, I was in the noodle dog-house for making rotini and egg noodles too often.

 12:30   Everyone heads upstairs for rest time.  In theory, this is an hour of blessed silence.  I’m trying not to spend it “getting things done” around the house or on the phone.  Instead, I want to spend it resting and reading.  I read a chapter of The Source of Life by Jurgan Moltmann.  What an amazing book.  In between pop-ins by the children, “Mommy, is it over yet?”  “Mommy, will you read me this book?”  “Mommy, M is climbing on my bed!” we do pretty well. I think I fell asleep, but no fear—plenty of little people came in to wake me up.

 2:00     M has her computer time first: Jay-Jay the Jet Plane.  She hasn’t got the whole mouse thing down, but she does recognize all the letters on the keyboard.   O “supervises” her while J and I do his grammar lesson.  When O starts his computer time (they each get 20-30 minutes) she comes over to the table with us.  J is learning about the food pyramid.  M makes a collage with us.  J wants to know if he’s getting enough of each group.  I ask what he thinks.  He says he doesn’t drink enough milk and eats too much bread.  I agree.

 2:40     J starts his computer time, with O watching.  They want to watch Transformers videos.  I hate these videos, but the kids love them.  Yuck.  M helps me move the laundry, and we read some books.  We sing ABCs.  She “reads” to her dog and sings him the ABC song.  She corrects him, “No, Clifford, it’s L-M-N-O-P.”  Apparently, he was singing it wrong.

 3:30     Computer time has gone on too long.  I bust it up, and J tells me he didn’t get to do what he wanted to do.  “Did you not just get to play Transformers and watch videos?” I ask.  Almost in tears, he nods.  We have a little chat about making smart choices with our time.  I distract the children with snacks… left over cupcakes I made for church on the weekend.  They all eat the sprinkles off the top and want something else.

 4:00     The kids go upstairs to watch Cyberchase, a PBS math show we all like.  I use the 30 minutes to vacuum the carpets and clean the bathroom.  M helps.

 4:30     The boys come downstairs laughing about the show.  J tells me it was about logic, how we can use facts to deduce other facts.  The kids wrestle and tell bad jokes while I try to think what to make for dinner.  M helps me make whole wheat biscuits, the dough of which she insists is “yummy” as she licks it off the counter.

 5:10     J reads me Andrew Lang’s adaptation of “The Fairy Queen’s Daughter”.  M keeps interrupting him to ask me to read her a story.  I am trying to knit a scarf for my goddaughter.  The needles are too sticky (probably from M’s jammy fingers).  O asks me to knit him a snake.  No one likes the answer that the needles are too sticky to knit.  O reminds me I could have used his crochet hook, if he hadn’t bit it in half.

 5:30     J builds a tinker toy cross bow that turns into a demonstration of flip symmetry (another lesson from Cyberchase.)  O wants one, too.  I try to help him copy J’s but there aren’t enough of the red rods.  O melts down.  I adapt it and build a slightly larger one with blue rods instead, but it’s heavier and falls apart when he picks it up.  O falls apart, too.  I can’t take it, so I unload the dishwasher and M helps me set the table.  J undoes his crossbow and builds instead four identical small crossbows (one for each of them and one for me.)

 6:00     My husband comes home, and we all sit down for dinner.   We eat white chicken chili, biscuits, steamed broccoli and fresh carrots with Ranch (amazing! two of the kids actually like the broccoli!)   We recite verses again (including Deut. 6:4 from O) and talk about the food pyramid.  J asks for two glasses of milk.

 6:30     My husband brought movies home from the library, so the kids get ready for bed and we watch Mulan together, while we fold laundry.  The DVD has a scratch right at the best part of my favorite song.  Oh well. 

 8:00     After the movie, we brush the kids teeth.  They’re singing, “I’ll make a man out of you,” the whole time.  Everyone crawls in bed with a book, but they’re all asleep in fifteen minutes, even M.  I’m asleep by eight-thirty.