By Kresha, Contributing Writer
Hi, I'm Kresha. I'm the mom of three children - a 7-year-old girl, a 3-year-old boy, and a 20-month-old boy, whom you'll meet through this post.
I wish I could say what is written below is not a typical day, but unfortunately I can't.
On this particular day, there were no raw milk runs, no trips to the thrift store, no projects at the church, or visits with friends, all of which are other "regular" activities in our life, but life tends to be full of big projects and lots of discovery, so life is full whether we're at home or out-and-about.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I hear the coffee pot auto-start. Unfortunately, I haven't been to bed yet due to a deadline later today for my book and my husband will be up for work any minute. This is going to be a long day.
I enjoy my third cup of coffee and kiss my husband good-bye. It's a gorgeous morning and he just yesterday got his Harley-Davidson motorcycle back from the shop, so he's eager to ride to work.
(How many farm workers do you know who show up on the farm on a Harley? I think it's rather cool.)
And despite the expensive maintenance bills, overall, it's been a blessing to have a motorcycle as a commuter vehicle for him. The Harley's been in our family for more than a decade, and we're hoping it will last at least two decades more.
All three kids wake up, which is late for them. They're usually up around 7:00. I'm grateful, as I've almost been able to finish the last edits on my manuscript. I shut the computer to get the youngest ones diapered, pottied, and fed.
I plop the kids in front of cartoons (yes, we've barely finished breakfast and I'm already resorting to somewhat mindless entertainment) and go hop in the shower.
I emerge from the shower just in time to see my 20 month old standing on top of his rocking chair riding it like a surfboard. Surprisingly, the 3 year old has not joined in and is very focused on watching Peep and the Big Wide World.
I get dressed, unload the dishwasher, and decide to do a few dishes, just to be able to see the counter again. Due to the looming deadline, I haven't done much cleaning for a couple of days, which is dangerous in our house, as vast messes pile up quickly. Meanwhile, I can hear my 7-year-old daughter reading story books to her brothers. What a sweet moment to treasure.
I realize my deadline is in less than an hour, so it's time to run through the manuscript one more time. I adjust a few wordings and double check that I answered all my publisher's queries. Meanwhile, my 20 month old runs in claiming the 3 year old took his toy and that he should get a graham cracker as restitution.
I quibble on whether or not this should be allowed and ultimately decide against it. There would be a significant chance that this would establish a precedent that it's okay for food to be demanded anytime a sibling antagonizes him (which is often), and I'd rather not tread that slippery slope.
I send in the final, fully-reviewed manuscript. It's official! The DIY Pantry will be for sale in bookstores everywhere Jan. 18, 2014. Wahoo!
I realize with new acuity that in my effort to make my manuscript deadline, I have neglected several other projects for a number of days, including my blog and its Facebook community. I haven't posted or replied to comments for nearly three days, so I go find a few articles to share. However, while I'm writing, I notice out of the corner of my eye that there's a regular stream of traffic between the kitchen and the living room as all three kids traipse back and forth, but I don't pay much attention.
When I finish writing, I stand up and stretch, then realize the kiddos have emptied the kitchen cupboard of a number of bags of crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, and tortilla chips and have dumped them all in one of my big stockpots in the middle of the living room floor. I march in in a huff and start barking directions for how they are to rectify the situation, but they loudly insist they just wanted to make lunch - "cracker soup" they call it - since I was busy.
I stand there trying to decide whether they should all be in trouble for mindlessly wasting $20 of precious snacks or to thank them for their thoughtful gesture. I decide to go with the latter, but then also hand them three mixing bowls and tell them they're not allowed to leave the living room until they've sorted the chips and crackers out of the trail mix. I figure I can find some use for the only somewhat dirtied food.
I pour another cup of coffee, then return to the dishes.
I hear escalating squabbles coming from the living room. Despite having slept in, the 20 month old is showing every sign of needing a nap. Naptime usually happens around 1:00 p.m., but today I feed him some cheese and crackers early and put him to bed, which he accepts with nary a complaint (thanks be to God!).
After laying him in his crib, I prepare cheese, crackers, and sliced tomatoes for the rest of us and we have a light lunch.
We finish lunch and I declare it naptime for everyone, including Mommy. I lay down on the couch and promptly fall asleep.
I wake up, not knowing the time but feeling somewhat refreshed. I get up to make a cup of tea. As I enter the kitchen, I'm greeted by three children happily having a craft party at the kitchen table. While this seems like a good thing, I have a moment of panic, because I'm wondering how the youngest one got out of his crib and wondering how long the children have been unsupervised. I feel unsettled.
However, it turns out they've only been awake for about 10 minutes and the 7-year-old figured out how to lower the crib rail so she could get her brother out so that Mommy could sleep. Bless you, child. And I realize that I'm relieved to know that she could grab her brother in an emergency.
I make a quick snack for all of us since lunch was light. The kids ask for dried figs and almonds. I also put a few of the tortilla chips from earlier in the day on the plate.
My daughter brings in the mail, which includes a card from my mother, always a welcome piece of mail. Inside are a few newspaper clippings, some stickers for the kids (they always love mail from Nana!), and the program from my uncle's memorial service.
My uncle passed away a few weeks ago, and despite numerous attempts to figure out how to get there, I was unable to attend his memorial service, which breaks my heart. My aunt prepared a lovely service to celebrate his life and I'm grateful for this beautiful little memento in the mail to share a bit of the service with me.
I start the dishwasher, which I forgot to do before I lay down, get my cup of tea, and stand there trying to decide which project I want to tackle:
- We'll be moving within the next few months and I seriously need to make progress on decluttering and deep cleaning;
- Our house has become a disaster while I've worked on the book and it needs some serious tidying and vacuuming;
- I have two projects I want to make available to Nourishing Joy readers within the next three weeks that will take significant time to research and write;
- Laundry has been piling up for nearly a week;
- I promised my husband I would look into finding an accountant for a number of tax years we would like to refile...
...but then I remember school starts in a week and my daughter and I haven't sat down yet to plan out our year, so I decide to focus on homeschool planning (which is more fun than looking for an accountant anyway). We homeschooled for the first time last year - our maiden voyage - and while we had a great year, there are some organizational aspects that I'd like to tighten up this year.
While I pull out paper, my homeschool planner, and the resources I've bookmarked for expected learning outcomes for Grade 2, I realize my 20 month old is pretending to be Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon and is walking around the house holding a piece of chalk against the wall, and thus has marked various pieces of furniture and doorways with chalk.
I hand him a dusting cloth and make him retrace his steps to wipe everything clean. He does a decent job (for a 20 month old) and I ask his 3-year-old brother to finish the job. He agrees only because I'll let him use a spray bottle with dusting spray to spray the walls. Wise? Only time will tell.
I realize the table where my daughter and I are going to work is still covered in clay and paint from the craft party earlier, so I call the kids in to help me clean it up. They are mostly reluctant, but they slowly put the supplies away and scrub off the dried paint.
This works for awhile, but then the 20 month old, who has just learned how to say, "Mine!", declares all the supplies "his" and won't let anyone else take anything off of the table. He starts unpacking all the supplies and putting them back on the table, so I sweep everything into the basket and put it up on a high shelf, accompanied by howls of protest. I decide it's Outside Time - thankfully the boys are okay with that idea and run out the door.
The boys are happily digging in the pots of dirt on the patio and my daughter and I settle in to do some brainstorming for the school year. We decide to have several monthly themes, including:
- Artist of the Month,
- Poet/Author of the Month,
- Composer/Musician of the Month,
- Scientist/Mathematician of the Month,
- Rabble-Rouser of the Month (someone who has spoken the truth despite adversity),
- "Fruit" of the Month (focusing on the Fruits of the Spirit)
...and a number of weekly themes:
- Scripture of the Week
- Prayer Person of the Week
- Catechism Question of the Week (we started memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism last year, as I strongly believe that catechizing our children is a joyful and privileged task).
We also talk through our priorities, and I'm thrilled to hear what SHE wants to do this year. I'm LOVING having a child who's finally old enough to discuss desires, as well as WHY making time to practice piano is important or WHY it's important to do math homework even if you don't want to.
These are Big Life Lessons and I've been waiting for these kinds of opportunities to discuss them since the day she was born. This mama's heart ends the brainstorming session full and happy.
The boys are still digging in the dirt, which has now become mud as they have found pots filled with rainwater to pour in. I'm feeling exhausted and decide to surf Facebook groups just for an excuse to sit down and be mindless for a few minutes.
By sitting at the computer, I realize I haven't checked e-mail all day, which is highly unusual for me, so I open Gmail and realize I have about 30 messages needing a response. I respond to the most urgent ones and mark the others to respond to later in the evening. I also send off a few messages to a couple of friends to see if we can schedule get-togethers before school starts.
My husband arrives home from work and the kids rush to greet him. Each night he brings culls from the day's harvest - the vegetables that are too big or too small to take to market, the ones that got nicked during harvest, or the ones that are "on the edge" of freshness and aren't sellable - and they love to help him unpack his bag. Tonight it's an especially bounteous collection, including zucchini, eggplant, patty pans, potatoes, red and golden beets, Dragon's Tongue beans, lettuce and melons.
I'm grateful because we can make a quick, simple supper. I'm all for coming up with creative recipes - I must, since I've now written three cookbooks - but on a night like tonight when I have no creative energy left, I'm all for simple, simple, simple food.
The kids head down to the garden with Daddy, their daily ritual when he comes home. He built a little raised garden just for them, and so at the end of each day they head down to get their hands in the dirt and to see what the whole garden has produced that day.
I get started on supper: sauteed squashes with garlic, boiled potatoes, roasted beets, and steamed beans. I put extra butter and sour cream on the table to provide the fats and proteins that my husband's body requires after a long day of hard physical work and that I tend to crave when I'm low on energy.
I realize I forgot to take pictures of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sourdough Pancakes I wrote up for GNOWFGLINS that's due tonight and that natural light is waning fast. I turn off everything on the stove and set up a quick photo shoot on my kitchen table.
There's too much shadow, but light is disappearing and meanwhile the 20 month old returns from the garden proudly carrying a bowlful of golden raspberries and cherry tomatoes, sees there are pancakes on the table, and climbs up to "help" with the photo shoot (and hopefully eat pancakes).
I haven't gotten what I wanted, but I put the camera away, clear away the photo shoot props and hand a pancake to the eagerly-waiting little boy to eat while I set the table. I call everyone in for supper and try to make sure all the grubby hands and faces are washed before sitting down.
There's a brief kerfuffle about who sits where, but without too much hullabaloo, we pray and eat. I love this part of the day - especially if everyone is happy, which is largely the case tonight. Our daughter really revels in joining in on dinner time conversation and tonight the two boys are laughing - score.
However, as usual if we start dinnertime anytime after 6:30, someone melts down just before the end of the meal. This time it's both of the boys, so we decide to skip our nightly Bible reading and hymn singing and take them directly to the bath.
The bath does not go well, but they're clean enough, so we get pajamas on and brush teeth as quickly as we can. My husband and I "divide and conquer" - he takes the youngest to put to bed and I wrestle the 3 year old into his night clothes. I realize there's a castle made of blocks on my son's bed, so we launch into a Ten Minute Tidy to remake the beds and put away toys. It ends up taking more than ten minutes, but surprisingly, the kids aren't fussy, so we work as long as we can. Meanwhile, my husband clears the table so the cat can't make a buffet of the leftover food.
I snuggle into the couch with the 7 year old and the 3 year old for story time. Each gets to choose two books. Even though it's late and the kids really do need to be in bed, I love this part of the day, snuggled in reading good literature and enjoying a quiet, focused activity together. As I get to the end of the fourth book, I notice both of them are sleeping.
I try to decide whether I should just close my eyes to join them in dreamland or to be responsible and get up and do the tasks that remain in the day. I know that if I close my eyes even once I'll be a goner, so I decide to be responsible.
I tuck the kids in their beds, turn on some quiet classical string adagios, and return to the kitchen. My husband has unloaded the dishwasher, swept the floor, started tomorrow's bread, and made coffee. I cry - both out of appreciation and exhaustion.
I decide to leave the dishes for tomorrow and sit down to do blog work. I type up the PB&J pancake recipe post and make the photo Pinterest-friendly, I answer all the e-mails that came through the contact form that day, I schedule an announcement to all of Nourishing Joy's subscribers about our current giveaway, I touch base with a couple of other bloggers who are online about an upcoming event, I pay the end-of-the-month blog bills, I start the research for the post I want to write the next day, and review the fall calendar, which is very quickly filling up.
I make a note to spend a good chunk of tomorrow reviewing the fall goals to make sure I'm on track with the business plan I wrote at the beginning of the summer, and to make notes of how well that business plan is fitting in with our family's other priorities of hospitality, education and service.
I can't stay awake any longer, so I shut down the computer and get ready for bed. My husband is also getting ready for bed and we swap stories about the day and realize it's the only 15 minutes we've had alone together all day. We also realize there are a few important topics we should have pow-wowed about earlier in the evening, so we make a tea and sit at the table holding hands while we talk.
Bedtime. I fall into bed with my usual sigh of relief and my husband chuckles, as he does every night. Even though my husband needs to be up less than three hours, I'm hoping that the kiddos will sleep at least until 8:00 to give me an extra hour or so. As I fall asleep, my thoughts flicker into a prayer, thanking God for good work and good play. Our lives are overwhelmingly full, but our lives are rich and we are blessed indeed.
This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat. Plan To Eat was born from our desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.