A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this today; but writing it made me really happy. I used to do more recording of daily life and I have got away from it and I miss it.

I woke at five to Anthony fussing. I picked up my thermometer to take my temperature and while I was waiting for it to beep he fussed himself back to sleep. I turned over and went back to sleep myself after recording the temperature in my iPhone.

I woke again sometime after 6 with Anthony crying again. I nursed him while dozing a bit more. Then I let him play in the playpen next to the bed while I said Morning Prayer. I got up and slipped into the bathroom, putting Anthony down to play on the floor in the hallway because I heard the other kids stirring in their room and knew they’d be out shortly and would play with him when they did.

Sure enough just as I shut the door out pops Bella and she immediately falls to the floor and starts cooing at him.

As I was cooking the oatmeal I noticed the eggplants that I bought last week were still sitting on the counter where I stuck them last night. They are starting to mold and I had to cut off the tops to save them. I quickly sliced them and salted them and put them in a colander to drain before I sat down to eat my oatmeal with Dom while the big kids ate some pumpkin bread and apple slices.

After I put Anthony down for his morning nap, I began working on a ratatouille. The big kids ran in and out the front door, commenting on the garbage truck, picking up bright maple leaves, saying hi to the neighbors and the guy working on the house across the street. The girls change in and out of several dress-up costumes. I think I heard a passing neighbor comment on Sophie’s queenly appearance. At one point I went outside because Ben had something he was dying to show me. It’s a bright blue day, warm in the sun and chilly in the shade. Not a cloud in the sky. I wish I could linger.

I picked up a bunch of the tiny maple leaves that fall from our trees, none of them more than two inches across and most of them smaller. I put them in my apron pocket and think about what crafts we could do. Probably won’t happen though. Instead I’ll find a bunch of dried leaf crumbs in the pocket next summer and wonder why they’re there.

At some point during the morning I wash out my sinuses with salt water in the Neti pot. Not sure where in the timeline it goes; but probably while the kids were sitting at the table with their books and pens.

While I’m still cooking the ratatouille the big kids get tired of playing outside and come in and sit down at the table. Bella pulls down her dry erase book and practices making her letters for a while. Sophie gets out a book about birds and begins to tell herself a story that has very little to do with the pictures. When she gets tired of that she pulls down a book that plays bird songs and asks me to help her play the songs for the birds she’s looking at.

When Bella gets tired of tracing letters she gets down a guide book and starts flipping through it. She gets very excited and runs out the front door, bringing in a small brown berry from the cedar tree by the door. She thinks it matches the picture in the book. I ask her to bring in some of the leaves too and she sits down on the rug by my feet as I fry the eggplant and zucchini and they do indeed match. We’ve made an identification.

Sophie gets tired of the bird book and she gets out the dry-erase book of letters. She doesn’t so much trace the letters as scribble over them; but she’s having fun. Then Bella remembers the flower press and asks if the flowers are dry yet. I say they are and so while zucchini is frying I help her to pull them out, layer by layer. We ooh and ahh as we pull out each flower and Bella identifies them as I lay them out on the tray. Her favorites are the hosta and the goldenrod and the zinnia.

Bella runs out to collect more flowers to put into the press. There isn’t much left in the yard. A few morning glories, some zinnias, a marigold, a red clover blossom. The flower collecting pulls them all back outside again, this time into the back yard. I hear Bella singing Home on the Range at the top of her voice and Ben and Sophie are out doing their own thing.

While I stir up the onions and peppers Bella runs in to tell me a story about someone she calls the Singer of Popcorn Park. As with all of Bella’s stories there are so many starts and stops as her imagination leap frogs from one idea to another; but here is the jist of it. First Bella asks what day it is and then when I tell her it’s Tuesday she launches into her story.

On Tuesdays she sings Home on the Range. (I think there was supposed to be something about a different song that the singer sings every day but Bella’s lightening imagination forgets to fill in the other songs.) There is also a band at the park that plays so she can sing. A little cottage next to hers in the park where the people who play the music in the band live. Her name is Leen.

Across from where she sings there are some chairs and people sit and listen. There were some kids and she asked if they would like to sing with her. And the kids sang Home on the Range with her. They knew it because it was in the song book. It made the kids have a happy smile.

There was a stream nearby and it was splashing and so we went into the house. When the song was over we went back to the house.

It’s a very nice park. Before we left she told us there is a playground and sometimes she would go over by the playground and sing the songs for the children.

When she was born in New York and then she moved to Weymouth. That’s where the park is. It’s a very nice park to go to. You can go hear the music

Jane said I want to take Petunia there for her birthday. Jane will take all the little kids there for their birthdays. Today was Kateri’s birthday and she didn’t want to leave so Jane will take her back there. The singer said that she likes singing for the children.

Bella finishes her story, I finish sauteeing the onion, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. Then Anthony wakes up and I go to fetch him. While I’m playing with Anthony Bella asks if she can help herself to some raisins. Ben wants some too and I serve him a bowl. They take their raisins outside and eat them at the little table which Bella has cleaned off and spread a towel over as a table cloth. Bella evidently also helped herself to some pecans which were in the same storage bin as the raisins.

I realize with shock that it is noon already. I serve myself some soup and put it in the microwave to heat up and then wash some grapes and portion them into bowls for Sophie and Ben. I try to interest the children in some soup or sandwiches. There are no takers.

A fight breaks out between Sophie and Ben. Evidently they are both claiming the same bowl of grapes. Grapes are spilled all over the back step. Screaming and hitting on both sides. I step in to intervene and being tired and hungry myself I lapse into screaming too as I attempt to get the two of them to reach some kid of reasonable compromise. Oh it is ugly. Ben gets mad and throws bowls all over the kitchen. I get mad and over-react. At some point Bella swoops in and takes all the grapes outside to eat them herself and fireworks erupt again as Sophie demands her fair portion. I try to split them evenly: one for Bella, one for Sophie, two for Bella, two for Sophie. But this just results in Sophie being mad because she wanted to do it herself.

Eventually, somehow, things calm down. I think I screamed that I was tired of screaming and just wanted to eat lunch and gave up on trying to referee the fights or feed the kids. I ate my soup and a piece of toasted bread. Sophie and Ben decided they wanted toast and soup too. We all ate a bit and then hugged and apologized and apologized and hugged and laughed at how silly and cranky we are when we are hungry.

At some point Anthony gets stuck under the futon and needs to be rescued. Ben thinks it’s funny and pretends to be a baby who is stuck. So does Sophie. We all laugh.

It took Ben forever to eat his toast and I don’t think he touched the soup at all. Eventually he was ready to go read his nap time stories. I read a quick two books, with a tired cranky Anthony on my lap during the second story, trying to grab and eat the book.

I swooped Ben and his blankets into his bed where he put up almost no resistance. Only a token complaint that he didn’t want the light off. I laid down on my bed with Anthony and he tried to nurse but was too congested and kept biting me. I held him down and sucked out a bunch of mucous while he screamed and writhed angrily but it worked and he was able to nurse a bit more easily, though no without a lot of snorting and sniffling and gulping. While he nursed himself to sleep I read a bit of a couple of different books on my iPhone (gotta love the Kindle app.)  Eventually he fell asleep and I snuck out of the room and shut the door. Phew.

When I came out Bella and Sophie were tussling on the living room floor and Sophie was sort of crying and giggling at the same time. I intervened and finally brushed and braided their hair so they didn’t look quite so wild anymore. I make a French braid in Bella’s hair but she decides she doesn’t want a matching braid on the other side. Instead I leave it in a piggytail. Sophie demands the same hairstyle. Bella with the left side of her head braided and Sophie with the right side braided. Both of them look silly and lopsided; but they are happy and at least don’t look so scruffy.

In the middle of braiding Bella’s hair I begin to have an asthma attack and have to send her for my inhaler. Fortunately I knew where it was and she followed directions.

After their hair was braided they ran out to play and I sat down to write. Oh sigh of relief.

Then they come tumbling back in. Bella has an amazing leaf to show me. It’s got red and yellow and orange and green and a deep purple. It is lovely and I ooh and aaah. Sophie demands a story and so I read her one. After that I noticed that she’s got a big red spot on her forehead from when she did a faceplant on the driveway this morning. She wants to see it and I don’t have a mirror so I snap a picture of her with my iPhone. Then they want to look at all the pictures and videos on my phone.

I get annoyed at the pushing and shoving and chattering and confiscate my phone and send them outside. I tell them I need some quiet time. But Bella comes back in saying she’s too cold so I have to direct her to go put on pants and shoes and a jacket. Then Ben wakes up and wants to cuddle. We snuggle for a bit and then he runs off to play outside with his sisters.

Bella comes back in and wants to know if I’ve had enough quiet time. Not hardly. I keep getting interrupted.

But eventually I give up on trying to find quiet time. Anthony wakes up and needs a cuddle and then it’s time to start dinner prep. Bella and Ben and Sophie each take a turn helping me to wash the potatoes for dinner. I slice them and toss them in oil and herbs and then lay them out on a baking sheet and cover them with grated Parmesan.

Since it took all morning to make the ratatouille, I decide for an easy dinner: Parmesan encrusted tilapia. I defrost the tilapia and prepare three pie plates: one with flour, salt and pepper; one with a beaten egg; one with panko bread crumbs, some herbs de Provence and some grated Parmesan. While I do that Dom texts me and says he’ll be working late. He needs to finish his presentation. I peek into the living room and the three big kids are all sitting together on the couch reading books. They are pretending to fly to Australia. Bella has organized a trip.

I dip the fish into the flour and then into the egg and then into the bread crumbs and then I fry them in olive oil. Anthony crawls around on the kitchen floor at my feet, banging a couple more metal pie plates together, playing with a ball, pulling himself to a stand on anything that will hold him. Every so often he slips and bumps his head and I pick him up and kiss him and snuggle him. I chat with him and he laughs at me.

I put on some music, plugging my phone into the kitchen speakers. Mumford and Sons. Ben wanders into the kitchen to observe that Sophie’s favorite song is playing. So cute that he remembers.

Eventually the food is done. Dom still isn’t home. I plop Anthony in his high chair and gather the kids around the table. The girls like fish and may try the other things. Who knows about Ben. We say grace and Ben decides to dump his plate over. I confiscate it and he begins to cry. Sophie starts to cry because her piece of fish is too big. Bella tries to cut it for her and mangles the piece. I get mad at Sophie for using her shirt as a napkin and she enters into full meltdown. I banish her to her room until she can calm down. I should be banished to my room too but I’m trying to coax Ben to eat and to keep Anthony from fussing and to get Bella to not put too much ketchup on her plate.

Finally Dom comes home and helps calm Sophie and holds Anthony as he eats dinner. Even though Ben had told me several times that he loved ratatouille as I was cooking it, I didn’t expect that he’d really try it. He did nibble a bite of the fish, though. A victory. Of late the only meat he’s been eating is frozen fish sticks. He liked the first bite of the fish and said it was good. At the second bite he declared, “I don’t like it.” Oh well. He nibbled a bit at a bread crust and I called that dinner. It’s par for the course.

We finish dinner and I dose everyone with ibuprofen because they are all sick. I clean Anthony up and change him into his pajamas and nurse him to sleep while Dom gets the others into their pajamas and guides them in cleaning up the toys in the living room and begins the dishes.

Then we gather in the living room for prayers and bedtime stories. Each kid gets one book. As it’s very late I only read one page of the long book that Bella chooses. Then off to bed. I tuck them in and then sit in the dark and sing them some songs. The butterfly song that Dom made up for Bella when she was two, Immaculate Mary, Holy God We Praise Thy Name. I say a silent prayer and then whisper a final goodnight and God bless to each child, putting my hand on their heads. Sophie is asleep already but Bella and Ben each reach up to grab my hand.

Now a little bit of silence while Dom goes to fetch my sister from the airport. She’s been visiting friends in Texas all week. When they get home we’ll watch Castle and then I’ll take my shower and go to bed. I’m sure Anthony will wake several times in the night to nurse. Sophie will wake at least once wanting me to tuck her back in and refusing to let Dom do it. And then tomorrow it all begins again. A new adventure.

Oh I see that my verb tenses are all jumbled up, jumping from past to present and back to past tense. I can’t be bothered to clean it up, though. Frankly, tense changes are one of those things I tend to overlook in novels. I finished an entire book once that had this device where the tense changed depending on the narrator and I only picked up on it from a discussion with other readers. I guess I’m a lazy reader as well as a lazy writer. Funny for an English major.

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