I am up at 6:20 a.m. It's dark out. The time change has just happened, but it's still dark so early. Sammy wanders in with his wi-wi (pacifier), blankie and very-wet Pull Up, and he climbs into bed asking for a show. I put on Wild Kratts after taking off his Pull Up and cleaning him up a bit, and then I jump into the shower. Ten minutes later I'm out and dressed. I get my hair and make-up done in the next 10 minutes, too, and that's all it takes to get this glamor girl set.
I flip the TV off, head down the hall and wake up the girls. Last night I set out their clothes (basic organization is required), so I ask them to dress and start brushing their teeth; I'll take my turn helping them brush in a minute. I corral Sammy into his room and get him dressed with the usual amount of difficulty ("Come here, Sammy! Stop spinning and step into your underwear. Come back! OK, now your pants. Step in. No, not jump. Step in. Good!" And so on and so forth.) Back in the bathroom, I comb and style the girls' hair, spraying on Fairy Tales like crazy because I am terrified of lice coming into our home. I feel unable to keep the clutter (toys and school papers!) and dirt to a minimum as it is in this house; I simply cannot handle an infestation of blood sucking hair-icites. I finish up with the girls' teeth and do Sammy's hair and teeth, too.
We all head downstairs for breakfast: blueberry waffles this morning, a treat from the freezer courtesy of Trader Joe's. And orange juice, some to be drunk and some to be spilled. I grab myself a cup of coffee, feed the cat, and then start in on the lunch and snack bags to be packed and water bottles to be filled. All three need different things: different types of sandwiches, different crackers and different fruit. They all have their food likes and dislikes, and I keep them cataloged in my mind, along with all the other likes and dislikes, as well as shoe sizes, clothing sizes, library days, homework due days, and so on and so forth. So many things to remember with all three. There was only a little fighting at breakfast. Something of the "he's copying me" sort. No big deal. In other words, nothing that came to blows.
After breakfast, it's books, homework, take-home folders and random projects to be collected, and shoes, jackets and backpacks to be put on. But for me, also my phone, keys and iPod for the walk home. Paul takes Sammy to preschool some days when he's not working early or traveling for work. This day Paul took him, so we girls said goodbye and were out the door at 8:15. School drop off is quick, but on Tuesdays I volunteer in both girls' classrooms for two-plus hours, so I'm right back at school after walking home, getting the minivan and gassing up at the Quikstop, and, ah, yes! It's voting day, too! So after voting at my polling place, I head back to school for copying, cutting, tracing, more cutting, sorting, collating and stuffing take-home envelopes. Best part of volunteering at school is the hugs I get from my girls. They love seeing me there, and I love having an eye into their school time world.
After volunteering, at 11:10 I head back across town to pick up Sammy at preschool. He came out of his class smiling with his fantastic preschool pictures! Hooray! And no accidents -- what a good day. We head home for lunch and talk about what he did at school over plates of grapes, turkey and Pirate's Booty. He's funny and cute and a such great kid when we are hanging out, just us. After lunch I unload the dishwasher and reload it with breakfast and lunch dishes. Sammy and I get a few minutes of playtime before we have to leave again.
At 1:10 I set Sammy up in his stroller for the walk back to school to pick up Annabel, and on this day Lucy too, as it is conference week so Lucy has early dismissal at 1:30 as well. He usually falls asleep on the way to school and he did once again. Annabel had a good school day, as did Lucy. Monday was our conference day with good news from both girls' teachers. Always great to hear positive reports about their time at school. We all walk home along the path near Altamont Creek and the girls spend extra time playing by the creek after also playing at the playground near home. Sammy is sound asleep so we take our time on the walk home.
Once home, I whisk Sammy up to his bed for a little more sleep, and then I give the girls an after-school snack. After eating and clearing the table, Lucy and Annabel start in on homework. In between reading homework directions for Annabel and guiding her through each page, I run upstairs to transfer laundry and throw in a new load. Annabel loves doing homework and is happy to sit and concentrate. Lucy is completely autonomous with homework but after a long day in school she is less than enthused about having more work to do. She continues to excel in all things academic though, so for all the reluctance, it is good work. After homework come a few chores, and then it's all play for the rest of the day now that the soccer season has ended and we don't have practices three times a week and games every Saturday. When Sammy wakes up we all go outside to enjoy the gorgeous, sunny fall afternoon. Not warm but not freezing, so just fine for getting some fresh air. After a couple weeks of non-stop illnesses, I cannot tell you how nice it is for everyone to be well and mostly happy (there's always some fighting, especially with Dangerboy Sammy around. He is naturally destructive and tends toward violence. It's a constant battle.) Anyway, the outside time was mostly great and much needed.
After a while we go back inside and I start dinner. Something easy: spaghetti and turkey meatballs with red sauce. Broccoli and French bread on the side. Halloween candy from their pumpkin buckets for dessert. I'm about ready to dump the sugar, but I'll wait until just after Thanksgiving before giving it the heave ho into the garbage can. While I'm making dinner I only put Sammy in two time outs for hitting/kicking/general mayhem toward the girls. Let me tell you this: 3 is far, far worse than 2. There, I said it. Don't say you weren't warned. Dinner prep is probably the worst time of the day. Once dinner is on the table things calm down. The kids tell me about their school days, and I listen and ask questions. Very specific questions or I get nothing. I do feel like I'm giving them the third degree at times, but you really have to be pointed when you want to get the goods about school.
After dinner I let the kids watch a show while I clean up the kitchen, and then direct them to pick up some toys so they can get their chore stick for that. The constant clutter is annoying for me but it's just how we live. Toys, backpacks, shoes, crayons, pencils, paper, jackets, soccer stuff and even more toys are everywhere. It's life with three active, artistic kids, who also are in preschool, kindergarten and second grade and are bringing home stacks of stuff that has been done or needs to be done. My three kids alone must account for an entire felled forest of school papers that come home. Let's hope it comes from a sustainable forest.
We all go up for bath time, which basically is one person (me) directing the three kids to do -- or actually doing it myself -- a series of things repetitively. Three baths, three hair washings, three conditionings, three soapings with washcloths, three dripping kids, three wet towels, three dressings in PJs, three brushings of teeth, three flossings, three flouride tablets, three combings of hair, three stories for three kids in three separate beds, three kisses, three hugs, three tuckings in, three "Sweet dreams" and three "Goodnights."
Annabel is out like a light. Lucy reads a couple chapters in her latest favorite books, the Animal Ark series, and then usually visits us downstairs for a final goodnight. Sammy is out of his bed playing in his room and then wandering around outside his room at least three times a night. Not one to give up. Not one to go down easily. It's a problem. It will pass.
Paul is usually gone for all of this bedtime routine, but this night I have the good fortune of going on a long-scheduled night out with my friends, so I bow out somewhere in between the baths and the beds.
I have a few minutes to dress up before leaving. I put on make-up and put my hair up. I find some boots with heels and a pretty scarf. A fistful of cash for a night out that so rarely happens but is an absolute delight. A night out with my friends. A night of good food and funny stories. Getting to know each other even a bit more. A smattering of talk about our kids, but mostly we just talk about us. The grown ups at the table. A cocktail, some bread, a salad and a delicious entree. Uninterrupted, bliss. I savor it.
After dinner I head home and finish puttering around the kitchen, preparing lunch bag containers for the morning, recounting the fun night out to Paul. Pretty tired now. I have a Closer saved on TIVO upstairs, my favorite show. I fold some laundry in bed and watch my show. Then I go to sleep. Happily, this night.