A few weeks ago I wrote a bit of a tirade over the fact that it is painfully easy to exude an unrealistic image to others, especially over social media. My post was entitled “That Particular Problem of Perceived Perfection” and in it, I was a bit sarcastic about those who promote an image that is, say, more “together” than (cough) mine.
Okay, confession: I’ve felt a bit guilty about that post, ever since. The thing is, I know there are moms like that who hit the floor running and get in their 5 mile run before breakfast, and build life-size dinosaur replicas in the backyard with the kids, and never snap at their husbands and have tidy garages and feed their children fresh local produce and organic lentils. I thought I was a bit harsh on these admirable ladies. Just because I don’t have it all together like that, doesn’t mean that I should throw moldy bread from the bread box at them, eh?
And ever since I wrote that tirade, I’ve wanted to write an honest account of what our day is like here at our place. I’m not sure why, though I have had people ask what a typical day looks like at my house.
A typical day at our house though . . . that’s an intriguing assignment, because our house is a . . . . fluid . . . . flexible and wildly unpredictable place. But anyway, since this was on my mind yesterday, I jotted down a few notes and took a few hasty pictures, and so here we go . . . . this is what a “typical” day last week was like. Honest.
5:35 a.m. It is still dark outside, but I wake up thinking about what I’ve got on my plate for the day. I have some writing that really needs to be done before the kids are up, so I drag my miserable carcass out of bed, pull on my robe and pad quietly to the kitchen to . . . the coffee machine. Sweet thing. It’s waiting for me in the dark. I punch the magic button and it begins to do its work.
Last night before bed I measured rolled oats, ground flaxseeds and cinnamon (it’s good for your heart, people) into a saucepan, and I now add water to it and turn on the burner. I pull out a few things from the ‘fridge. I’m still half asleep and I have just the light over the sink on, because little Mack has taken to sleeping on the couch in the living room. I also took a few minutes last night to chop up a few almonds and pull out brown sugar and dried cranberries, too, so breakfast is all ready in just a few minutes, in the dark and quiet kitchen.
I spend some time praying about the day and my children and loved ones and reading scripture and waking up. I grab a second cup of coffee and then I start to write.
I start working on a blog post, but it’s not going well. I’m sleepy and my neck hurts. Why did I ever think I could write anything remotely interesting?
But I slog away for quite awhile. Then I conclude that what I’ve written is lame and too long at that, and I’ll never post it. Great. What will I do for a tomorrow’s post, I wonder. It’s nearly time to wake the kids up for school. I allow myself the luxury of checking my e-mail and Facebook messages. I gasp when I find an e-mail from my daughter Bethie who is going formal dress shopping in Lincoln (The Big City) later today, and she wants me to go with her! I groan inwardly. I’ve got to somehow write a decent blog post and do a hundred other things before I can go anywhere with anybody, but that sounds like so much fun. I’m going to make it happen, lame and lengthy post or no.
I open another e-mail, from a blogging friend, Chef William, who has sent me a guest post in its entirety! I do a happy dance because now I know that I can go shopping with Bethie, and I don’t have to fix the lame, o’er-long blog post, after all. Not today, anyway. It takes only a few minutes to cut and paste Chef’s excellent recipe (check it out: Two-Mushroom Tart!) into my blog and schedule it for tomorrow. Amalia walks past on her way to the shower and I check the time: 7:30. Yikes! Nearly time for school.
I make a fire in the woodstove in the living room. It’s very cold this morning, and the stove will heat up the house nicely, in time. I wake up little Mack and fix him some breakfast, and move in to the breezeway where we start our schoolwork.
Timothy and Amalia and I study Bible together (we’re reading Hosea today and groaning over all those evil kings–honestly–so much badness there–slicing pregnant women’s bellies open and all . . . !). Timothy draws in his sketchpad while I read, and Amalia sews on an eyeball hat.
Little Mack finally staggers in, still wearing his pajamas. I take a quick picture of him. All those stripes make me laugh. He reads his chore list, which I’ve thoughtfully left right next to his bowl of oatmeal. Such a sweet mama I am. It’s so handy there.
He is quick and grabs the camera from me, and takes my picture back.
We finish our Bible study, and then Amalia and little Mack and I read a few pages of “Christy” together while Timothy cleans up the breakfast mess. He’s a senior and prefers to read his own stuff, thank you very much. I don’t mind, as long as he cleans up first.
I ask little Mack to help me clean out the chick box. It’s in the basement and it’s starting to smell a little strong down there. We empty out everything–waterer, feeder, and chicks–out of the box, enjoying the feel of the velvety soft little chicks. Then I roll up the newspaper that lines the box, wood chips, manure and all, and stuff it into a trash bag. It’s going into my new compost pile!
Then we line the box with fresh newspaper, wood chips, and put everything back, adding a generous handful of dandelion greens, which the little chicks will adore.
Then we put the chicks back, trying not to upset them too much. Chicks will pile on top of each other when scared, and we lost one the other day, the one at the bottom of the pile in one of their scaredy-pile-ups. Poor thing.
I walk around the house and water all my trays of seedlings. I have gone a bit . . . um . . . overboard this year and there are seedlings at every south window in the house. In little Mack’s room. In my studio. In the basement. Everywhere.
That’s what happens when winter lasts too long around here. Lots and lots of tomatoes and peppers and kale plants and all the rest. Leeks. Zinnias. Lots more.
Amalia and Timothy have done their chores (laundry and dishes, respectively) and little Mack is moaning over his own chore list. I encourage him and bundle up to go outside to do the critter chores. It’s only in the 20s this morning, though it’s late April! While I’m outside, the kids will be doing their math. Timothy is working on Calculus, and Amalia does Saxon math. Little Mack is nearly finished with the red Miquon math book, and when he finishes it he’ll be done with math for the year.
I take care of the chickens and the goose and the guineas and the dogs and the cats and I dump the ashes from the stove into the garden. I check on a few things in my garden. By the time I bring a bucket of eggs into the house with me, I’m ready for another breakfast! But I’m trying to lose a few pounds so I can fit back into my summertime clothes, so I resist, making do with a boiled bantam egg (they’re small) and a strawberry for a light snack. And an enormous cup of tea.
The kids are done with math, so Timothy works on a writing assignment while I give Amalia her spelling test. Little Mack moans over his Language Arts assignment. He’s learning nouns and verbs, but not without a fight. After spelling and writing, I read from a poetry book to the kids. Sometimes time gets away from me when I’m reading poetry.
It’s time for Latin, and everybody grabs a snack. I grab another strawberry, and another cup of tea. Gosh, I’m so hungry. I remember that yesterday the kids were snarky about my intended reward for their doing well on a Latin test. I said that their reward would be to start a brand-new chapter today. They had scoffed and snorted and made me feel like a slave-driver. Can you imagine?
“Mom, that’s no reward,” said Timothy dryly. I sputtered. I coughed. I blanched. “I think starting a new chapter is really fun!” I enthused. We don’t see eye to eye on this, apparently. You understand, don’t you, Gentle Reader? Don’t you?
I capitulated, however. Today their reward is to take a free reading Hour instead of Latin class. We’ll start the new chapter tomorrow. I tell them that they can choose anything they want to read–as long as it is a “real” book, not a graphic novel or a comic-type book. Everybody’s happy, and I’m not such an awful mom, after all.
Timothy curls up on the couch with Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Amalia settles down with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Malachi comes running in with a book about William Tell, with nice illustrations. I fetched the book I’ve been reading from my bedroom, from Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. It’s charming and it’s light and that’s about all I can handle most days. Please don’t judge me.
I make the mistake of lying down under a quilt on the couch next to the woodstove. Little Mack snuggles in at my feet. The stove is really warm now and I fall asleep until the timer wakes me up. Little Mack laughs at me, and I hope that he didn’t take my picture while I was napping.
Amalia and Timothy trudge off to work on their history and science, while I settle down to give little Mack his piano lesson. We play a couple of duets together and that’s fun. He struggles through a piece that he hasn’t practiced and that’s not so fun. I give him a new piece to practice for next week.
It’s nearly one o’clock and everybody’s hungry. We take turns making lunch–honestly, Amalia usually makes lunch because she’s nearly always in the mood for something hot and hearty. She knows that I go for quick and easy–peanut butter and honey sandwiches and fruit, anybody?–and Timothy goes for random and effortless–leftovers, everybody–dig in, the ‘fridge door is open!
But today I have some excellent leftovers (that delicious fish that I made, a bit of rice and some veggies) that I’m going to turn into a quick stir-fry. I chop up an onion and saute it in some olive oil, and then add veggies, then the rice and fish. It’s ready in about 15 minutes. I really do love to cook, especially when I can make something so tasty in just a few minutes.
After lunch, Timothy and Amalia return to finish what they were working on and little Mack and I go outside. There’s only so much indoors he can take, especially on a nice day. Coincidentally . . . there’s only so much indoors his mama can take, especially on a nice day. I suggest that we do some sketching outside, for science class. We’ll find what’s popping up out of the ground today.
We find grape hyacinths. We each draw a picture in our sketch pads. Little Mack says he needs to sharpen his pencil.
It’s cool and breezy outside, but the sun is out and I enjoy the feel of it. We’ve had an unusually cool spring, and we’re all anxious for sunny warm days. Even more than usual. If that’s possible.
Little Mack comes back with his sharpened pencil, and he and I argue about the parts of the grape hyacinth. He doesn’t really believe that the little “balls” are blossoms. When we go inside, we’ll pull up a Wikipedia article and we’ll label stalks, leaves, racene, and tepals.
But for now, he goes to climb a tree. Science is over for now.
I glance at my watch. Yikes, only an hour until Bethie will be here. I release little Mack from school and he lets his Ollie out of his yard and he runs around with the dogs like a convict who’s staged a successful jailbreak. I walk out to my garden and check to see if anything needs attention before I take off for the afternoon.
I do a few housewifely chores–throw a load of laundry in, check on the chicks, and wrangle Amalia to help me do a quick kitchen clean-up.
Bethie’s here and she visits with her sibs for a few minutes while I grab my things. I’m enjoying the prospect of a lark with my oldest daughter, and the three younger kids are enjoying the prospect of a lark at home sans mom. I am so blessed to have responsible older kids at home. Timothy and Amalia will keep things under control for a few hours for me.
Bethie is determined to buy The Most Beautiful Dress ever for a banquet at school next week, and we go to the mall with that plan. We have to stop and laugh at everything. She’s giddy from having an afternoon away from schoolwork, and I’m giddy at having an afternoon off with her.
So many dresses, so little time!!
Bethie tries on lots of dresses. There are lots of pretty ones, and even more that ought to go back to the factory for more fabric to be added to key areas. Brother. If girls would stop buying unsuitable dresses, maybe designers would stop sending them to the stores, eh?
Finally Bethie chooses a dress, and then we drive to a large church in town where her boyfriend, Saia, is rehearsing with the college choir in a large production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. There are three choirs singing together with a orchestra, and the sound is impressive.
We listen in raptures for some time. I muse that maybe this is what heaven will sound like.
At about 8:30, my phone buzzes and my good hubby leaves a message that he is in the parking lot, waiting for me. He is on his way home from work, so he has agreed to pick me up. The rehearsal is supposed to run until 10:00, but I have some things I need to do at home. Primarily, go to bed!
At home, the kids have cleaned up any messes they made, and are setting up an episode of Doc Martin on Netflix, our current favorite show to watch. Amalia has made brownies, and Timothy grabs ice cream from the freezer. Utterly perfect.
I tuck little Mack into bed, and do a little reading before falling asleep, but it’s been a busy day and I don’t make it through more than a few pages before I’m dozing off. That’s okay. Tomorrow is another day.
- “More fish please,” says nobody at our house, EVER–until now
- Harbingers of Spring at our house