January 7, 2013
Up bright and early today and I am so excited! It’s back to school for the kids! I really enjoyed our time together but I think they are also looking forward to having a break from Mommy.
After a quick shower, I gently nudge my two sleepy-head girls awake. Over the winter break they firmly decided they wanted to share a room. After many conversations and warnings we would not change it back for at least three years, we re-painted Audrey’s room in Easter Egg purple in preparation of creating “a girl’s suite.” Elizabeth’s room was to become the new play/study area. A full day of painting (which is still not 100% complete and I’ll need to hire someone to come and “finish” it up now that Mr. L is back to work), furniture delivered (Audrey soon to be five years old has been upgraded to a big girl bedroom set.) and all furniture placed to maximize the space, it was ready.
Both girls had been sleeping in during the break so the early wake-up call brought mumbles and grumbles until I gently but firmly reminded them breakfast was going to be served in fifteen minutes. Jacob of course was still sleeping through all of this. Being a parent of three or more you have to learn to adapt to changing routines and personal habits! Just as you get one of your kids settled into a regular routine, another one changes and requires more sleep or less.
After a hurried breakfast my voice starts to thin out as I order them into boots and snowsuits. We make it out barely on time in the frigid winter air to get Audrey on her bus. After nudging her and her huge knapsack up the steps we wave and blow kisses and three of us make our way back to the house until Elizabeth’s bus. Stop and repeat the process above. The neighbours must think it is a gong show at my house seeing all four of us (plus sometimes the dog, Jake) shuffle down the sidewalk, back to the house only to leave again twenty minutes later.
Mr. L and I decided to send our children to French Immersion public school. Mr. L, being fluent in three languages, and my desire for the kids to have as much exposure to languages as possible, did not make this a hard decision for our family. However, we soon found out that French Immersion does not start in our school district until grade one and is generally at a different school than English kindergarten. What does this mean? It means when Audrey started kindergarten this year and Elizabeth moved to Grade One we were a now a family dealing with two different schools thus two different bus routes/times. I took on the challenge with a grin and a shrug and most days we manage fairly well, especially during the good weather. Jacob being the type of toddler who would rather be outside in any kind of weather and whose first two-word combination was “I go!” has drifted into acceptance that our life is just that, “Go!”
However, this morning’s cold January winds have made me question our decision as I pull on three sets of snowsuits, find six pair of mittens and try to keep my kids warm on the short walk to the corner bus stop. One clear sunny day where the wind chill was biting at my cheeks and was cursing myself having forgotten to put on my own gloves, I thought, “Only two more years and then the girls will be on the same bus.”
Then as Jacob went hurtling down the sidewalk chasing the garbage truck yelling, “More! Again!” I came to this realization: he would eventually start school, so it was really four more years of different bus stops. Pushing that thought out of my mind, I can only hope Elizabeth is responsible enough to get her and her sister home from the bus. Four years of this just may break me. One day at a time is all I need to get through.
After dropping Jacob off at a local nursery school where he goes a few times a week to socialize, play and really to be honest, give Mommy a break, I had a couple of rare hours to myself. Chatting with another Mom in the parking lot of the church where the school is located who is also a Mom of three or more we exchange quick pleasantries about the holidays. (Sidenote: As Mom of three or more does anyone notice that parking lots, street corners yelling out car windows and grocery stores have replaced the meet-ups and phone conversations you used to have?) I inch towards my car anxious to get back to the house and start attacking the disaster that awaits. When I mention this she nods in agreement, “I know, it’s going to take me all week. I think I’m going to start with the bedrooms because all the toys are up there. But, not this morning, I’m going to sit and have a coffee and do nothing for myself. I’ll tackle it tomorrow.”
Applauding her I nearly cave in agreement. To sit and listen to the silence of our home for a little bit would be wonderful, but with a determined frame of mind, I march upstairs when I get home and start in the girls new bedroom that is already a mess of toys, papers and leftover hardware that Mr. L has yet to put away. The feeling of accomplishment is worth my hard work as is knowing the girls will have a tidy room to come home too. It will actually look quite cute as a “girls suite” once I get new shutters, pictures on the wall and canopy nets for their beds. But that is another project for another time.
January 8, 2013
Another day and the sun is shining. It is still bitterly cold out there this morning but smartly I remembered my scarf and gloves.
Tuesday mornings are standing playdates with neighbours whose toddlers are the same age as Jacob. We started getting together just this past December rotating houses for coffee, juice and snacks. The kids play well together and it was nice to sit and chat for a couple of hours. I used to do that with Elizabeth but it became much harder to organize as mine and my friend’s families grew, some of us went back to work and we all just dealt with busier lives. I haven’t had the chance to really find those same connections with Audrey or Jacob. Today it was my turn to host. Looking at the Christmas and birthday presents still piled high in one room and the tiny Barbie shoes scattered in the playroom, I text them and suggest a change of location being honest and state, “my house is disaster!”
These last few years, I have really let go of any preconceived notion of privacy and am very open to all who enter my sphere. Perhaps it’s my brain being too tired to worry about it or maturity that people should just like who I am. Sometimes I’m blunt but my friends will know, I’m always honest. If my house is a mess, I’ll say it. Generally, I find admitting to not being the Martha Stewart for all ages and not worrying (most of the time) about having my home look as if I live in a magazine has taken a lot of pressure off me. Like me and my home for what it is, a place where a family of five lives! Other Mom’s tend to agree with me. Or they are being polite. After all I’ve been to their houses and I always feel as if mine is much more cluttered than anyone else’s.
So, all agree and after getting the girls out the door for school and chasing Jacob through the house to put on boots only to realize a diaper change is in order, we arrive only ten minutes late to the indoor playground a short ten-minute drive away.
Jacob runs off playing with the toys and trying the little slides. He is going through a “mine!” phase right now, egged on by older sister who thinks it’s funny, so I keep one eye on him to ensure he’s playing nicely. JE and I catch-up on holiday events and laugh as we realize both our husbands fell asleep around ten o’clock on new year’s eve leaving us to drink wine alone while watching a bad movie.
“Next year, just text me and come over,” suggests JE to which I agree.
Our other neighbor, N texts us to say her little guy has come down with a fever so she’s going to pass on this morning. We will miss her but such is life with toddlers. All plans depend on a fever or runny nose.
Tonight the girls having swimming lessons. Usually I have a babysitter come and stay with Jacob. Chasing him through the halls as he tries to jump into the pool and stay out of the shower as I get the girls rinsed and dressed is something I try to avoid. Our usual sitter is still away on vacation, so I’ve begged Mr. L to be home a bit early to which he agreed. Thank goodness! But it also means that the brief nap Jacob has finds me running to finish laundry, ensure we have a quick and healthy dinner ready and maybe get some bills paid. Yes, I am the accountant of the family on top of everything else. However, today a package arrives via my father-in-law from overseas. A box for Mr. L’s upcoming birthday which will definitely include clothes that do not fit him, underwear and socks with a pair of shoes thrown in. Why a seventy-six year old man thinks he has to buy his son’s underwear is a mystery to me. Of course, the postal carrier rings the doorbell and Jacob is awake yelling, so the bills will have to wait until tonight.
I dread paying the bills. Not for any fear of not paying them, we are fortunate not to have that worry although it does seem I continuously juggle paying one credit card after another on top of a credit line that keeps growing. My job of paying the bills comes with the added pleasure of keeping track of our budget which I have been trying to do for the last few months very diligently and putting everything into a neat and tidy excel spreadsheet. I have undertaken this year to better manage and control our money and save, save, save!! As a starting point I adopted the “envelope system” until I could further research where to put the money I was carefully placing in “Emergency Fund Savings” and “Vacation Savings” along with the spending envelopes of allowance for each person for the month to purchase lattes, lunches out, book orders or take-out on a Friday night. December was a bit of a lazy month, especially near the end in the tracking department but once I’m caught up, we will be back on track. Hopefully.
With bills paid, one credit card paid off (huge sense of relief) and all of our envelopes filled for the month, I can focus on sleep. Jacob is having a bit of restless night which could mean another tooth or an impending illness. We were lucky this winter break and none of us caught the various flus going around but now that school has started up again, anything can happen. It is nearly time for my shift and I need to let Mr. L get some rest. I’m very much looking forward to sitting in the big comfy glider with a sweaty two-year old trying to get comfortable until he is so asleep I can release him into his crib. Let’s hope the other two are so tired from swimming they do not move until morning.