The kids are back in school as of this past Monday. They were home for two weeks. Here is one reason I was glad to see them go back: Thursday, December 29, 2011. It wasn't a terrible day, but it did crystallize for me one of the reasons I am not homeschooling my daughter L. right now.
The sequence of events: the kids rushed out of bed and attacked the crafts with vim and vigor sometime around 6:30 or 7am. Before I even left my bedroom they had created as many little origami monster things as they could and already moved on to dragon pictures. Then L. re-read one of her favorite novels. Then we ate breakfast.
I remember doing a chore or two while simultaneously trying to convince everyone to get dressed and make their beds and that took about an hour because they never do unless I drop everything and devote my full attention to the tasks, which I eventually gave in and did.
We went to the grocery store, and they were SO happy (and hyper) that they pushed and shoved each other up and down the ailes while I kept telling them to stop pushing and shoving each other. So then they pinched and pulled because I didn't tell them not to do THAT. But they were having so much fun with it all and were really and truly so very happy that I decided to stop being such a witch and Let It Go.
Checkout took 40 minutes. No joke.
We were so very late getting home that our playdate friends were on the doorstep. For the next several hours there were five kids playing fairly nicely but not at all independently so I suggested we all cooperate on a baking project. A carrot cake from scratch with real carrots and real pineapple and real orange juice as sweetener and everyone helped and there were dropped raw eggs on the floor and carrot shavings EVERYWHERE and sticky orange juice puddles by the time we were through.
The guests went home eventually and I finally dropped onto a part of the floor that was not covered in goo and slime.
L. thought for a minute, walked out of the room and came back a few minutes later with a fresh idea. Holding a bag of colorful scraps of material from my supply: "Can you sew me a stuffed parrot now?"
And here is my routine on a school morning (more or less):
6am: wake up.
6:45: wake kids up. Dress, pack lunches, feed breakfast and all that and we walk to school to get there by 7:55. Say goodbye (smile broadly).
8am: Mass (one single block away from the kids' school).
8:40 Go for a jog.
9:30: Eat breakfast/shower.
10ish: go to laundromat or grocery store or do chores...alone. And I don't even push or pinch anyone!
10:45am: pick up my son from preschool.
It's pretty much cake from there, and completely awesome. I love it.
And yet, that two hour and forty five minute slot sans kids that I now have in my days is a bit daunting. How best to use the time?
At the homeless shelter yesterday, I was making beds and thinking of all the linens I still had left to do when I got home. Rather than get all worked up about it, I used the time to think back on tips (verbal or non-verbal) the MC Sisters have given me when it comes to having too much on your to do list. We have that in common, the Sister and I: lots and lots of housework and cooking to do and not enough hands to go around. Here is some of what they do:
Stop and pray: just walk away from what you are doing it and get quiet. The work will still be there once you come back.
Say a "fly" novena: apparently, Mother Teresa used to recommend these for those moments when you are faced with an impossible situation or task. Basically it's a Memorare, 9 times.
Just do what you can, and when time's up, move on with your day. Just walk away and do the next thing on your list. It is amazing and I can't explain it, but the work somehow actually gets done, more or less, at the end of the day or week.
Speaking of the many ways I learn about my own vocation from the Sisters: we were talking about how few volunteers there are in this town who are willing to cross over to the other side of the tracks (yes, literally). They said that they receive many phonecalls from people who promise to come on a certain day and at a certain hour to help out, but few actually ever turn up. Most of the folks I know from church or wherever would rather spend their time at the nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. "That's allright with us," said the MC Superior, cheerful as can be, "we are happy to be as poor as our men."
On a completely unrelated note, we checked out this DVD series for the kids from the library last week and it is fantastic. I think I enjoyed it more than they did, especially the episode on the Ice Age in what is now the US Southwest called "Canyonlands." You can watch it here.
A few friends and I have been reflecting on the significance of place in our short lives. To change it up a little bit, I'm going to write it out in list form, and look at some numbers.
Places I've lived; duration and population (at the time I lived there):
Philadelphia, PA: 5 years, 1.7 million
Casablanca, Morocco: 12 years, somewhere around 2 million (?)--I can't seem to find numbers for this
Chicago, IL: 5 years, 2.8 million
San Diego, CA: 2 years, 1.4 million
Denver, CO: 2 years, 600,000 people
New York City: 5 months, 8.1 million
Kolkata, India: 4 months, somewhere between 4.4 and 13.2 million people.
Where I live now: just about 6 months, population of 20,001 at the last census count.
(*In the above list, I have omitted the college years during which I lived in a city of 55,000. I was on campus for all four years and ate almost all of my meals in the cafeteria and did my laundry in the dorms. It's just a different kind of lifestyle than actually living in the real town, in my opinion.)
Thrift store find of the week: shoes very similar to these for $2.99. Score! May they last through all three kids.
that's my 7. Here are hers.