Tuesday, September 25, 2012

While Rachel's at school

Rachel's been in school for about a month now and for some reason I have a hard time leaving the house without her. It's like I feel the need to sit around and wait for her to come home, which is ridiculous since she's gone for eight hours. That's plenty of time for Miriam and Benjamin and I to get out of the house and go on some adventures so today we did just that.

One, two! Wake up the crew!

First we had to get everybody up and ready for the day. Daddy got up first and he woke up Rachel and got her moving. He only woke me up before he left so that I could take Rachel to the bus stop (it was a long night and our longstanding agreement is that since I get up with the kids at night he can get up with them in the morning).

Three, four! Get 'em out the door!

It's kind of cold now that it's fall, but only cold enough for dew—not frost—and it warms up in the afternoon. Still, it's cold while we're waiting for the bus so we all put on sweaters, except for Benjamin. I just slapped a cap on his head and picked him up from bed, blanket and all.

Five, six! Pick up sticks!

Seven, eight! Lay them straight!

Miriam's game of choice today was Pick Up Sticks—technically, Pick Up Snakes. We played by her rules, which are nothing like the rules I played by when I was growing up. Also, they are nothing like the actual rules. But it was still fun and it only took a few minutes of playing with her to make her content for quite a while. And then I was free to pick up my own sticks, so to speak.

Note that basket of folded laundry in the background. We did that. And much more: naps, showers, lunch, unpacking, bedmaking, etc.

Nine, ten! To the park and back again!

We walked the long way to the park because sidewalks are an endangered species in these parts and I didn't want to push the stroller through the grass. We took the stroller because I didn't want to carry both Miriam and Benjamin. I knew Miriam would want to be carried because she insisted on wearing her winter boots that are still too big for her (technically they're not hers yet; they are merely Rachel's old ones so she thinks they should be hers now even though she could safely wait another year before wearing them). She thinks it's important to be perpetually prepared for an arctic apocalypse. 

It took me about as long to walk to the park the long way, pushing the stroller, as it does to walk the short way through the grass, needling my children to keep walking. Roads, though, aren't level. My arms were reminded of that today as I battled to keep the stroller on track. Apparently newer developments are required to put sidewalks in, but only to the border of their property so the sidewalks here are rather sketchy. They all come to abrupt stops at bushes or ditches or fences that mark the property line and then there is no sidewalk after that. 

Somehow walking on a two-lane street with a 45 MPH speed limit and no shoulder doesn't seem like a safe thing to do, so we have to walk in what is essentially a drainage ditch. 

I have friends who have suggested that sidewalks be pay-per-use, private enterprise. I say no. I think that if vehicular traffic gets their roadways funded by tax money then pedestrian traffic should, too. Of course, my friends who want toll sidewalks also think we should privatize roads. But think about it—how much safer would our families be with sidewalks to run around on? And...and Rachel could potentially ride her bike to school (it's not so's just on an incredibly busy road without a sidewalk). In theory, more people would walk/bike places if there were good sidewalks in place and that would help the environment and limit the number of pedestrians killed by cars annually. So, there you have it: I'm in favour of sidewalks.

Still, it was a nice walk. Our neighbourhood has a lot of speed bumps and very little traffic so I felt safe enough—it was just a major workout trying to keep that stroller from running into the curb.

We enjoyed our time at the park. Miriam got into the swing and spent about 95% of her time just swinging. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

It's been awhile since we'd last been to the park to swing our guts out. Miriam was giggling and squealing with delight. 

Benjamin took his first swing at the park today, with a little bit of help from his big sister. Don't be fooled—he's not sleeping; he just doesn't like the sun so his eyes are clamped shut in protest.

Neither of them hated it, but neither of them loved it either.

Miriam enjoyed holding Benjamin but she didn't like that I wouldn't push them high enough to satisfy her desire to sprout wings and fly.

Benjamin was pretty calm about the whole situation but looked like he was probably chanting internally, "Find a happy place! Find a happy place!" the whole time.

So I took him out, plopped him in the sling, and pushed Miriam as high as the swing would go.

She loved it, of course.

When it was just about time to go she asked to get out so that she could slide a couple of times—getting to certain slides meant crossing horrible, wobbly bridges (a hand-over-hand affair).

I will never understand how she can be comfortable enough to fly through the air at who knows how many miles per hour without holding onto anything...but is absolutely terrified of crossing relatively motionless bridges and inches her way across, clinging to the side at all times.

Benjamin fell asleep while Miriam was playing—he likes to fall asleep stroking his own cheek (a habit he's had since birth). 

When my alarm went off I told Miriam that it was time to go—I was going to pack Benjamin up in the stroller and she should slide down one last slide and come join us. She had herself buckled up in her seat by the time I had Benjamin secured. I love it when my children obey.

We walked back home with enough time for Miriam to run in and use the potty before it was time to meet Rachel's school bus. Miriam twirled on the grass, enjoying the sparkling of her sequined skirt in the sunshine, while wearing her warm and cozy winter boots. I stood by Benjamin in the stroller. We all listened for the sound of the school bus, though Miriam was the only one who shouted for joy and jumped up and down when she heard it.

Rachel disembarked looking far older than I expect her to (she does that every time; who is she and what did she do with my baby?!).

And then began the crazy part of the day.

One, two! Quit playing with your food!

Rachel brings home a lot of energy. She wants a snack. Animal crackers are crushed all over the table and floor in a matter of minutes. Miriam chastises her for playing with her food. Rachel says, "What? They're animal crackers! Besides, you're not the boss!" I chastise her for playing with her food (crumbs are, seriously, everywhere). She says, "What? They're animal crackers!"

Three, floor! Quit messing up my floor!

She wants to tell us about her day. She wants to paint the little alligator/lizard thing she bought at the school store (with points she earned by being a good student over the past few weeks). She doesn't want Miriam to touch any of her paints. This does not go over well. Rachel gets paint in her hair. Miriam cries a lot.

She wants to sweep the floor. But stops mid-sweep to knock over Miriam's block tower because "it was in the way." She never resumes sweeping. A pile of crud is on the floor now instead of being spread all over (which is somehow worse). A puddle of what was once Miriam is also on the floor because her block tower was knocked to pieces and she's been emotionally traumatized. I make Rachel apologize.

Five, six! Tag has just been nixed!

Rachel apologizes and initiates a game of tag. Inside the house. Using Benjamin's head as time out.  "Last one to touch Benjamin's head is the rotten egg!" she yodels, dashing down the hall, tripping over the broom she left leaning against the couch and crashing into the shoe rack. Benjamin is screaming glory hallelujah about all the ruckus. Indoor tag is officially outlawed—"IT'S AN OUTSIDE GAME! AND THE NEXT PERSON TO TOUCH BENJAMIN'S HEAD IS TOAST!" And we wonder why Benjamin acts colicky in the afternoons.

Rachel wants to make dinner—it's her day to help, after all. But she doesn't want Miriam to bring a stool into the kitchen, too, because it's not Miriam's day to help. More fighting ensues.

Eating dinner takes so long that I finally set the timer and announce that if she's not finished by the time the timer goes off she is FIN.ISHED. She eats everything on her plate in approximately 30 seconds and even clears her dishes. Four and a half minutes remain on the timer.

Seven, eight! Bedtime; it's getting late!

We won't even discuss how long it took or how painful it was to get ready for bed. It was not the paragon of my parenting, that's for sure.

I will say that both girls ended up having pre-story "rest time" in their beds, with the door closed (but the light on), so that Benjamin and I could calm down and nurse. I explained, as I closed their door, that they were to stay in their beds and just sit quietly, that it was Mommy who needed a time out, not them, but as I could not (could not, could not) have them running around the house like rabid monkeys while I sat down to nurse they were going to have to be...locked up, in a sense.

It isn't always a punishment to have to sit on your bed for ten minutes, right?

I'm not sure my kids necessarily agree with that but it isn't like they weren't having a good time in there. I know they were tossing stuffed animals at their fan (to watch them be batted around the room; which is technically a no-no activity) because there was a whole lot of stifled laughter drifting under their door and because we had to clean up a lot of stuffed animals before going to bed. Still, it won me ten minutes of relative silence (and at the very least 10 minutes of no one tugging on my or Benjamin's appendages). So it was basically blissful.

I only read half a chapter of By the Shores of Silver Lake tonight. My voice is hoarse from sickness and trying to talk/yell over the girls' talking/screaming and Benjamin's fussing (and screaming, screaming, screaming). We barely made it through scriptures and prayer alive. Songtime was minimal.

Nine, ten! Gear up to start again!

It was a day, let me tell you. Mondays are especially trying since Andrew's gone from sun-up til sun-down (actually, longer than that). I wish that the few hours we have to spend with Rachel could be 100% happy...she just brings her energy (and a little bit of chaos and a whole lot of spunk) home with her and we're still not sure how to deal with that. But we love her just the way she is. And we'll get through this boundary-testing stage soon, right?

You can love someone just the way they are and still want them to be a better person/grow out of annoying stages, right? Pretty sure you can.

Tomorrow's another day—a day when Daddy comes home just in time for bedtime. It should be good.


  1. If you're going to be pushing a stroller on grass and the like, you should look into getting a BOB. They're expensive, but as Geneen will attest they are worth every penny.

  2. Almost like being in Cairo, sidewalk-wise...

  3. O seriously think Emmy uses up all her ability to listen and obey at school and has NONE left when she gets home. And she's only there for 3 hours. They'll figure it out eventually right? Like by junior high?
    Hang in there! I have yet to do 3 kids by myself so I'm super impressed with you!

  4. Joshua brings home a lot of energy also. I find it decreases the fighting if he takes a toy into his room alone and winds down. Maybe it is all the stimulation from school. Afterwards he and Abby seem to play a lot better. It is crazy though! Good job getting through the day.