Monday, May 05, 2008

What Do You Do All Day? Year FIVE

It suddenly hit me just now that I am now starting my fifth year as a mother. My fifth year outside full-time employment. May is also a significant month for us because last year, we were about to close on our house at this time, and the year before that, I quit my job, became a stay-at-home mother, and left San Franciso.

So yeah, I'm embarking on my third year as a stay-at-home mom. Crazy.

How better to celebrate all these milestones than to answer that question so many stay-at-home moms get asked: What do you do all day? (I did this last year, during the very first year, and well, it seems like I did it when Nutmeg was 2 but maybe I forgot.

But that's not now, that's then. Here we go:

6:08 Nutmeg, who sleeps in our bed the second half of every night, wakes up all bubbly. Since neither of us can see the clock without our glasses on, Epu asks Nutmeg to read out the numbers. When he finds out it's just after six, tries to convince her to go back to sleep. Then the baby starts crying. I inform him that day has begun and kick all their butts out of the bedroom.

7 Hear Pebbles crying downstairs, and saying, "Ma-mee,Ma-mee." She won't seem to stop. Zombie-walk downstairs, nurse Pebbles, and zombie walk back to bed, ignoring Epu's conversational gambits.

7:30 So much noise. Epu has brought both kids upstairs since he has to shower. Get up.

Drink a little coffee, read a little paper.

8 Epu departs. Help Nutmeg write her name on some thank-you cards for recent birthday gifts.

8:15 Take baby upstairs with me so I can shower. Play peek-a-boo with shower curtain.

8:40 Bolt down some free cereal. Get snack for preschool class together.

8:45 Get photo memory card ready to make prints if am able to stop at CVS on way back from preschool drop-off

8:50 Brush teeth along with Nutmeg. Notice that Pebbles has found herself crayons and paper and is happily scribbling away. Note with satisfaction that she seems to understand that crayons are for paper, not the floor.

8:59 Get all of us out the door and lug baby down to the corner to the school.

9:05 Hang out at the preschool for awhile since Pebbles is having so much fun playing with giant legos. Chat with moms and teachers.

9:15 Warn preschool teachers that I may not make it back to help with snack since Pebbles got up too early and likely won't make it past noon before starting her nap.

9:25 Home. Let Pebbles play in yard while I cut dead balloons from the plastic cottage.

9:30 Inside. Call pediatrician's office to ask for a records request form since we are changing doctors.

9:40 Work for a moment on one of my many blogs.

9:50 Turn on Oprah. Load dishwasher. Chat with Pebbles. Color with Pebbles.

10 Back outside, with an orange for Pebbles and a cup of coffee for myself. Weather gorgeous. Set Pebbles up at little picnic table. Try to get yard raked in preparation for seeding our patchy lawn.

10:15 Pebbles plays in sandbox for a long time while I rake and weed. Awesome.

10:30 Realize that I am raking GRASS, which I am allergic to, and have not taken ANY of my three allergy medications this morning. Sprint into house to administer drugs.

10:45 Attempt to use baby gate purchased at rummage sale to block off concrete outdoor basement stairs. Doesn't work.

10:50 Accept that only about 1/4 of the lawn will get raked today. Think about how I should really set up the sprinkler to water all the seeds we planted. Also think about sweeping and washing deck, then think about repairs or rebuilding needed by deck, and about how outdoor stair railing was never painted, and am overwhelmed by the number of jobs that the entire house needs.

11 Change poopy diaper. Get ready to head out the door.

11:02 Open one of the baby gates, only to have an entire chunk of woodwork where the gate was anchored fall off the wall, along with globs of plaster. Imagine a cloud of lead dust settling around the room. This does nothing for my generalized home-maintenance anxiety.

11:05 Head back over to preschool for snack time.

11:10 Pebbles loves to be at preschool! She gets to sit at the table with the big kids and color with markers, then eat snack. 4-year-old girls argue over who gets to sit next to her.

11:40 Pebbles joins right in at circle time and shouts out her own answers to the teacher's questions. Nutmeg stands up in front of the class, snackmeister for the very last time since school ends in 3 weeks.

12 Warn Nutmeg that she may NOT run off to the playground upon leaving school today because we have a tight schedule. Receive yet another birthday gift for Nutmeg from a classmate as we walk out.

12:05 Nutmeg and Pebbles pet the neighbor's cat, who has been waiting for them in front of our house.

12:10 Try to feed Nutmeg and Pebbles lunch on the deck, despite the fact that they just had fig newtons and Goldfish at school 1/2 an hour ago. Manage to get a few pieces of cheese into Pebbles. Nutmeg ignores food and opens, plays with new birthday gift.

12:30 Change another poopy diaper. Jeez, what's with these bowels today?

12:35 Nurse Pebbles to sleep while Nutmeg plays in back yard. While nursing, worry about money and plot the many, many things I'd like to get done this afternoon and in the evening after the kids are in bed. Change to sundress, shave legs. Get stressed by messiness upstairs: pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded, the rug that I put in the bedroom that needs to be removed because it stops the bedroom door from opening or closing.

12:45 Get gardening tools from the garage. Notice how messy garage is and how that bag of dirty diapers is still sitting on the hood of the car where I left it that morning. Contemplate how it seems like there is a new mess or task around every corner, about every minute of the day. Wonder how other parents and homeowners manage to get everything done.

Get Nutmeg's bike, and Nutmeg into front yard. Accidentally pinch Nutmeg's chin skin in helmet latch. Allow myself to be guilted into not making her wear helmet. Apply sunblock to both of us.

12:50 Inside to Google advice on moving bushes.

1 pm Begin trying to dig up one of the bushes in front of our house. The plan is to remove the current evergreen shrubs in order to plant two dwarf lilacs we bought yesterday.

1:05 Enjoy using brand new shovel. Give Nutmeg freshly dug-up worms.

1:15 Sweat. Get scratches and itchy redness all over arms and legs from bush's needles.

1:30 Realize that this job is going to be much, much tougher than I had hoped. Also, bush is probably not going to survive this as a number of roots have been severed.

1:45 Remember seeing on Craigslist some people advertising free bushes for anyone who can come dig them up. Wonder if anyone wants these scraggly looking things as much as I want them out.

2 Decide I am definitely going to try to get someone else to remove bush number two. That is, if I survive attempts to remove bush number 1.

2:10 Hope that the classes of junior high kids passing by each hour to use the nearby athletic fields cannot see my underwear when I tug at this stubborn bush.

2:15 Appreciate the fact that at least Nutmeg is entertaining herself nicely with her friends, the worms, and is only sporadically insisting on "helping."

2:25 Hope during one of her helping episodes that she doesn't get hurt when I use this big old shovel, which advertises right on itself that its blade is "sharp."

2:30 Neighbor comes outside and gives Nutmeg a birthday gift. Is also kind enough to help her get it out of the packaging, since I am elbows deep in the dirt in front of our house. Neighbor says my gardening "looks great." I have a pile of dirt spilling out of the flower bed, a shrub that is beginning to loosen up but for one big, woody root, and a few potted shrublings sitting on the lawn. Wonder if neighbor is trying to hide a really bad case of myopia.

2:45 Give up trying to preserve bush and chop at root with shovel. Sharp, my ass.

2:50 Clip ineffectually at root with tiny garden clippers.

2:55 Really want to give up. Wonder what time it is.

3 Baby is crying. Thank you, baby. Put away shovel, herd Nutmeg to back yard.

3:05 Get baby, nurse, change ANOTHER poopy.

3:10 Another quick shower for me to remove dirt from arms, legs.

3:20 Yell out the window to make sure Nutmeg is ok. She has actually come in already, it turns out.

3:30 Throw on clothes, get Nutmeg's swimming suit and a towel.

3:36 Tell Nutmeg, let's go to swimming. Nutmeg replies, correctly: "But I haven't had lunch yet!"

3:38 Grab a bag of Quakes (flavored rice cake), a can of coke, sippy of milk, and 3 cheese sticks. Tell Nutmeg how sweet she is when she takes one cheese stick and gives the others to Pebbles and me.

3:40 Drive to the gym. Resist temptation to use driving time to return a phone call I got this morning. Nutmeg reads the snack bag in the car: "Quacky's." Remind Nutmeg about the magical powers of silent E.

4:10 Get Nutmeg into swimsuit and into the pool area five minutes early. Teacher comments on how we are early! As in, not late for once!

4:20 Drop off Pebbles in babysitting room. Joke with the babysitting ladies.

4:25 Come to computer room and type this.

5 p.m. Audibly gasp in realization that swimming class is ending NOW a floor down.

5:05 p.m. Dash into pool area, where Nutmeg is the only kid left, shivering in a borrowed towel. Apologize to teacher.

5:07 p.m. Nutmeg takes a shower, I help her get dressed. Remember that we left the toy the neighbor just gave Nutmeg sitting in the front lawn near partially-exhumed bush. Worry that she'll think we're ungrateful.

5:15 p.m. Bring Nutmeg to babysitting room. Comfort Pebbles, who is upset, and give her some rice cakes, which make her happy.

5:20 Back to the computer lab for more writing and a couple of business emails. Set a new volunteer schedule for myself for May with the volunteer director. Explain to him, on request, what blogging is.

5:45 Pick up kids and wonder what we are going to have for dinner since I used my dinner-making time to partially dig up a bush.

As we sit outside our garage, with me pressing and pressing the garage door controller before it works, Nutmeg informs me that 2 and 3 make 5. She does a lot of these little math problems in the car, I've noticed.

6 Kids play in the yard while I look up a couple of potato recipes in Jane Brody. Wanted to make potato souffle but with 45 minutes till dinner it's not gonna happen. End up repurposing leftover homemade coleslaw, which Epu hates, into colcannon. Put Cub game on radio.

6:10 Out to the deck to check kids. Pebbles peacefully digging in sandbox. Nutmeg playing in plastic cottage. Weather still beautiful. Take 1/100th of a second to enjoy the moment. Then grab a handful of the wrapping paper littering the deck and run inside to work on dinner while stealing checks on the kids through the window.

6:12 Open a beer.

6:18 Nutmeg comes inside, so I go to fetch Pebbles. Who has begun eating sand. Mmm mmm.

6:20 Shake Pebbles outside, then proceed to sink for hand and face wash. Strap Pebbles into high chair against great protest. Put container of flavored yogurt in front of her and she does her new trick: self feeding.

6:30 While cooking dinner, marvel that this is usually the hardest time of the day, but Nutmeg is playing quietly with one of her new presents, and Pebbles is eating steadily.

6:31 Pebbles screams to get out of high chair, then proceeds to mix it up with sister. Sister puts a bunch of barettes in baby's hair, then for some reason sits on baby, producing loud wails.

6:32 Continue making dinner while threatening time outs.

6:38 Hallelujah, Epu walks in the door 7 minutes early due to having ridden his bike. Nutmeg drags stepstool over to the refrigerator to help herself to yogurt.

6:40 Epu gets Nutmeg outside and helps get picnic table cleared and tablecloth on for dinner. Wade through river of papers and crayons on kitchen floor to ferry plates and dinner from kitchen to deck.

6:45 Dinner on table. It's good but kids are not, being tired and not hungry. Still, we're outside on a beautiful evening. We watch the squirrels and Epu notices that birds are nesting in our eaves again.

7:05 Dinner ends when Nutmeg, playing around at the table, spills (fortunately, cooled) soup all over herself. Actually says she wants to go to bed. Complies with my order to strip down right there on the deck.

7:15 Epu and I get the girls redy for bed together. I take Pebbles, he takes Nutmeg.

7:20 Epu reads both girls a story on the bed while I grab the opportunity to pick up some of the clothes and bath toys (?!) all over the girls' bedroom floor.

7:30 I try nursing Pebbles but she's too keyed up. She wants to get into bed with Nutmeg. We say sure just to see what will happen.

7:35 Pebbles is being rowdy. Nutmeg is trying to get her to lie down.

7:37 At Nutmeg's request, remove Pebbles from her bed. Try nursing again, but she shakes her head no. Put Pebbles in the crib and leave.

7:40 Pebbles cries and cries. Help Epu finish cleaning up from dinner.

7:45 Pebbles still crying. Cubs losing.

7:50 Attack the mess of papers and art supplies on kitchen floor. Decide there is way too much stuff crammed into Nutmeg's art bins, which Pebbles is always getting out and spreading all over. Sit down and organize one bin, throwing away a ton of stuff and sending some to the basement for future use. At some point Pebbles stops crying.

8 Epu goes out to try to finish digging up that shrub. I organize bin. Cubs nearly stage a 9th-inning comeback.

8:30 Epu reports that he got everything but one root. Apparently there were more roots I hadn't even seen. Still, we're back at the same place: partially exhumed shrub.

8:35 Epu gets to work removing baby gate from doorway and reattaching woodwork. He even vacuums up the dust.

9 Cubs lose. Bin organized. I go out to put bike and tricycle away, then go to CVS. Return phone call from that morning on the way there.

Pull off a perfect CVS transaction: Spend 2 ECBs and 69 cents off a gift card, receive 11 ECBs. The junk I buy mostly goes into the donation bag for the homeless shelter, except for the 35-cent filler I bought to make the transaction high enough to ues my coupon. The filler is an oatmeal cream pie. :-)

9:30 Home. File away my CVS money. Epu is struggling to try to export my Shoplifting With Permission blog from Typepad to Blogger for me.

9:35 Go upstairs to slip into something more comfortable.

9:40 Once again confronted with pile of clean laundry on our bed, not to mention the fact that somehow we got the wrong size sheets on our bed this week and they keep slipping off. The whole thing does not look appetizing to sleep on.

Attack the laundry pile. Put new sheets on the bed.

10:10 Back downstairs. Epu still struggling with the blog issue. Wipe down outside tablecloth and bring it in so the squirrels don't poop on it.

10:15 Sign a bunch of little checks for Epu to deposit tomorrow.

10:20 Finish reading the Tribune and the local weekly. Notice that eyes are only slightly burny after spending so much time outside. Yay allergy medicine!

10:30 Pebbles crying. Epu dutifully brings her downstairs so I can nurse her while reading paper. Put her back in bed.

11 Get out coupons to clip for tomorrow's shopping trip. Fire up laptop.

11:15 Type this up.

11:50 Should really be getting to bed. Will probably just finish typing coupons. Must stop staying up so late.

So there you have it. After four years, taking care of the kids more than ever feels just like a job. I don't have as many days as I used to where we just go to the park, stare at the clouds, or spend three hours exploring Target.

Today was definitely on the busy side for us. Fortunately the kids were so good nearly all day. That really made it a good one, despite how extremely tired I am and how sore I am going to be tomorrow due to my struggle with the shrub.


Kori said...

I love these posts. They make me chuckle (because you are witty) and sigh (because I recognize your day, in some form, in my own experience). Most of all, though, I love them because they verify all the "turn this way, now that way!" action that it takes to be a SAHP. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, when the house is still a mess and the laundry is still piling up, I think, "This doesn't represent the 8 million things I cleaned, straightened, organized, or cajoled today...this is so frustrating!" Reading this happily reminds me that my experience is not an anomaly.

Sara said...

Whew!! Sounds like a weekend day in my house. Sunday nights I am (some times) ready to go back to work to take a break!!

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