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.