Monday was our first day back at academics. I'd originally planned to wait a full six weeks before we got back to work, but life without our routine seemed to leave many of us feeling like balloons floating free. (If, perhaps, you have an image of Curious George soaring over Manhattan... you may not be far wrong.) So -- after two weeks of being sick with a really rotten respiratory virus, everyone was feeling well enough (finally) to add a little more work to their days.
The day went something like this.
6 AM: I'm up. Chipmunk has been nursing every two hours all night, but this time when he wakes up, the twins aren't far behind. On the upside, I get to take a shower because Andy is able to watch the twins, Chipmunk, and Farmerboy before he goes to work.
8 AM: Quick breakfast in front of the computer while Farmerboy finishes watching a John Deere video, then a marathon diaper changing, clothes changing, and teeth brushing session.
8:45 AM: Gareth and Katydid still aren't awake, so I wake them up, then out to the family room to nurse Chipmunk and read to Farmerboy. I'm expecting to read Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, but he wants to read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi instead. I'm not so sure the kid can actually count to ten, but we read Sir Cumference anyway. When Gareth and Katydid stagger into the room, I think aha! I can write this down as math for them! We do spend a while talking about concepts like diameter, radius, and circumference, and Gareth likes all the jokes, so it's good.
9:30 AM: I forgot to have everyone say the Morning Offering, so we say it before chores. Then I think everyone forgets they're supposed to be offering their day to God, because a series of battles break out. Chores are supposed to be done by 10 so we can ease into our "choice time" by doing only one hour today, but it's 10:15 and Gareth and Katydid are still arguing. Farmerboy is typing on the computer. The twins want yogurt, which makes a big mess.
10:30 AM: While the kids were doing chores, I was changing more diapers, nursing again, and writing down choices on the whiteboard. Now Gareth and Katydid choose from the whiteboard. Gareth has gotten busy drawing an alien created by Katydid for one of the stories that they've been inventing together. They chat back and forth about how it's supposed to look. This particular picture is going into his "Imaginary Field Guide", so he writes a paragraph about the alien, too. Katydid wanted to go on a leaf hunt -- one of the choices I wrote down -- but then I realize that letting her go outside will be completely distracting, so I ask her to choose something else for now and do the leaf hunt later. She decides to use our leaf rubbing plates to make a booklet.
While the big kids are occupied, I try to present "rolling out a mat" to the little ones, but this is a disaster! Farmerboy opens the closet where I store all my stuff, the twins run in, and instead of demonstrating mat unrolling and rolling, I end up dragging two screaming two year olds into the entryway while wearing a baby in a pouch. After that, the little ones build with blocks instead.
11 AM: Katydid is done with her booklet and runs into the family room to roll around with the twins. I redirect her back to the whiteboard. She chooses to do a few pages of her Handwriting Without Tears cursive book. Gareth is still working on his paragraph. Farmerboy is at loose ends now, so I ask him if he would like to do some pouring. I get him set up at the kitchen island, where he happily pours water from a pitcher to a cup and wipes up his spills, giving me a running commentary of the process. Pip wants to pour, too, so I get him a small creamer and a cup, and he pours water all over the floor. Pop hangs onto my leg, screaming and trying to bite me because I don't have any more pitchers. Chipmunk is starting to get restless in the pouch because it's time to eat again, and I am beginning to get really hungry myself. In spite of all this, Farmerboy moves on to pouring juice.
11:30 AM: I release the hounds. We all go outside. I nurse Chipmunk while the twins play with their trucks in the dirt. Katydid goes on a leaf hunt. Gareth goes off into the woods to chop underbrush. Farmerboy tags after all of them at various times, then goes back inside to do his hammering shapes activity. After Katydid finishes collecting leaves, she sits down next to me with her new book about hand-feeding wild birds. I have to interrupt her to ask her to wash Pip's hands; he's gotten into the bottom of the grill and his hands are covered in black grease.
12:15 PM: We head in to make lunch (cheese sandwiches for the boys, leftover lasagna for Katydid and me). Farmerboy proudly ours his own drink. I am starving. I consider trying to read to the kids while we eat, but I have to eat, too. The kids eat in five minutes and head back outside. Chipmunk is a little fussy, so I leave the dishes till later and go outside, too.
1:20 PM: The twins are starting to look tired, so I tell Gareth and Katydid to be quiet when they come in and to choose two activities from the board that they can do in their rooms.
1:30 PM: Why do I have to sit on Pip to get him to go to sleep??? Gareth and Katydid are fighting again.
2:00 PM: Punishments have been dealt, and the big kids are all having quiet time. I put the lunch dishes in the dishwasher, turn it on, then head for the recliner to nurse Chipmunk and take a short nap.
2:45 PM: Short nap it is -- Pip is up. I sit with him for a few minutes and he goes back to sleep.
3:30 PM: Quiet time is over. Gareth did his math and cursive; Katydid did Flasmaster addition and practiced writing her numbers (she still makes reversals.) Those who are allowed computer time play Toon Town. Pip and Pop wake up, watch a Baby Einstein video ("fishies"), and have a snack.
4:00 PM: The twins are destroying the house. Outside again, where I nurse Chipmunk.
4:30 PM: The big kids are outside. Katydid and Farmerboy plant bulbs.
5:00 PM: I should be working on dinner, but I have no idea what we're going to eat. I'm able to put Chipmunk down for the very first time all day, so I sit him in his carrier, start laundry, note that there is frozen pizza available, and try to tidy up the dining room/learning room a little. In the process, I make up a tree basket -- books, rubbing plates, field guide. I'm planning to put out the botany cabinet and 3-part leaf cards as soon as I can.
5:45 PM: Andy's home and not feeling well, but he immediately collects Gareth and the little boys and heads out to spread our huge mulch pile. I start the pizza and sit down to write this entry. Gareth comes in shortly to collect the Animorph books Andy bought for him at lunchtime and disappears to read.
6:15 PM: Dinner and chores.
7:15: Andy is outside splitting wood to a cheering section of little boys inside the fence. After Gareth finishes his inside chores, he asks Andy to show him how to split wood, then they work until it's too dark to see.
8:15 PM: Everyone is getting ready for bed. Andy starts reading from The Lewis and Clark Expedition, which Katydid has requested as a follow-up to Naya Nuki, the story of the Shoshoni girl captured with Sacajawea who made a 1200 mile journey back home. But nobody is really paying attention. Andy puts the book down and we talk about the geography instead. Since we used to live in the Missouri town where Lewis and Clark began their journey and have seen the actual spot they began from, they were pretty interested in the geography. This leads to a dicussion of the Northwest Passage (traversable for the very first time this summer due to melting sea ice) and the Panama Canal.
8:45 PM: It's quiet -- too quiet. Andy is putting the little boys to bed, Gareth and Katydid have retreated to their rooms to read, and it's just me and Chipmunk now. Like many of our days, today had its ups and downs, but overall I am pleased... It's nice to be up and around again, taking the first steps toward our new normal.