In some ways, the holiday cheer and decorations are nice, but it does seem overly commercial sometimes. Stores are now packed, people are in a rush and over-stressed with their mile-long lists of people for whom they feel required to buy gifts. I went into PetSmart last night to get a bag of dog food for Bruno. The line at the check-out was literally down to the back of the store. I did an about-face, and figured we'd scrape the bottom of the container to get another dish of food for Bruno, and I'd go out during non-peak shopping times.
We don't do a lot of holiday buying. I love the idea of doing thoughtful, unique gifts for friends and family, but often times, the season blows buy, and we've mainly focused on trying to buy a few quality items for the kids, and neglect to get too creative with additional gift-giving. I guess that's what happens when you have kids… well, unless you're the Martha Stewart type. I like the New American Dream's info on their website about simplifying the holidays. Also, the Buy Nothing Christmas site has lots of great ideas for a more meaningful holiday season. It was started by some Canadian Mennonites, with whom I don't share a spiritual outlook on life, but certainly can embrace the idea of being less wasteful, and more resourceful with regards to gift-giving and the holiday season in general.
Darren's becoming quite the seasoned interviewee lately. He's already had a few, and keeps plugging away. Breaking into management in the government may take some fortitude, but he feels even just getting interviews is a good thing. It's good practice, and eventually something will come up, or he'll get a clearer picture of what he may need to do in terms of gaining some management experience. I had fun yesterday asking him several of the possible interview questions in a "mock interview." I can imagine, for those giving the interviews, after the tenth applicant, the whole process must just get pretty boring.
The kids are well; continuing to keep my stress-level right up there with the likes of endurance racers and top political officials. My mediation skills are sharply honed, and my ability to divert a crisis is being perfected. I should apply for a government management position. Managing a hundred claims processors would be nothing compared to getting through a day with Flo and Joe! Here's a typical day these days:
Up at 8am… I try to coerce them into letting me sleep another half hour, but it never works. By then, the dog is up prancing around, searching for something to chew up, and Joe is yelling "get-up!"
So, now that I'm thoroughly awake, I usually check my email, and get a grip on what we need to accomplish for the day… which usually involves trying to carve out some time for Flo's reading and math lessons, and then tote the kids to whatever other various activities we have planned.
Today, was a typical day… After doing a few mundane chores and feeding the kids breakfast, Flo and I went into our office and tried to do her reading lesson. Joseph was quietly playing with his trains, but quickly realized it was too quiet and we had secluded ourselves behind a locked door. Thus, he took to flailing himself at the door, along with other heavy objects, until I'm forced to open the door and listen to his pleas to be with us, and promises that he will be good and won't bug his sister while she's trying to concentrate. Of course, his promises, though made with good intentions, are never fulfilled, and he ends up jabbering and pestering Flo or trying to sit right in my lap, so I can't see what Flo's doing. It's all loads of fun, and provides quite a strength-burning work-out.
So, I locked him back out in the hall, where he continues banging for a few minutes, then gives up and lays there muttering to himself. Flo and I finish her lesson with haste, knowing it is only a matter of time before Joe awakes from his meditative state. So, we finish up, and I'm feeling semi-productive for the day, but frustrated by all the chaos and wishing Flo could have a little more tranquil environment in which to learn. However, I'm sure things will improve as Joe gets a little older, and it might not be an entirely bad thing for Flo to realize she has to work around obstacles. I can't believe how different life was as an only child!
Academics out of the way, I head downstairs to assess the disaster that is my kitchen, and ponder where to start. It's now 11am, and we need to leave at 12:30pm for a holiday craft class at the library. Considering I've not yet showered or eaten breakfast myself, I realize I'd better make the shower a priority, and use what remains of time before our departure to tackle the kitchen.
But, of course, by the time I get dressed and take a few minutes to clean up the mess Joe made peeing on the floor while I was in the shower, it's noon, and the kids are still in their pajamas. Getting them dressed, teeth-brushed, and out the door in a timely fashion is an almost impossible feat, so I knew I'd better get started on that, and forego the kitchen mess until I got back.
Another marathon-like event getting out the door… Joe doesn't want to wear what I put on him, but can't find what he wants. Then Flo accidentally knocks over his train track that he'd been working on all morning, and he throws a fit, and doesn't want to leave until he can fix it. Flo can't find her shoes… You get the picture… we got in the car at 12:45pm.
1 to 3pm – art class at the library… went reasonably well… only had to remove Joe once… good deal!
4pm, home again… ate lunch/dinner… green beans, mushrooms & rice, some carrots and hummus, fruit smoothie, oh and some leftover oatmeal from breakfast… totally gourmet.
Around 5pm… I put on Noggin (kids TV channel) for a half hour, so I can get in 30 minutes on the treadmill without the kids killing each other, or endangering my life while I speed along at a whopping 4mph. I actually manage to get in 40 minutes while I watch an Oprah show I have on the DVR. Then I emerge from the basement to unplug my kids from the TV, and attempt to gain their cooperation with cleaning up the mess of toys strewn around the house. That's hopeless. They're fighting… my mom calls… I can't hear over the screams… will talk later… I put a load of dishes in the dishwasher, the try to think how I can occupy the kids for another couple hours until Darren gets home, and they're losing steam. So, rather than be creative and pull out the craft supplies, since we'd already done a craft class today, I put them in the car and went out to get paper and ink for my printer. I figured the change of scenery may improve things… it did in the car. But, shopping with them is another story… what was I thinking? Got the paper and ink, back in the car… Called Darren on the cell to see if he was on-time and would be passing by the grocery store where I was, so I could run in for a few brief moments to check if they had any organic apples, without an entourage. He was. He stopped. I got apples in under 5 minutes! Woo-hoo!
Back home… dog keeps trying to eat the Santa hat… I really need to take him for a walk, but I have a killer shin splint, and only make it out for ten minutes with him. When I get back, I repeatedly request that pajamas be put on and teeth be brushed around 8:30pm… 9pm… nobody's ready for bed, except me. 9:30pm, I start to get irritated, they can tell… pajamas are now on, but they're HUNGRY! Quick snack of popcorn and apples. 10pm… read to Flo… Joe fell asleep on the floor downstairs playing with his trains. Finished reading to Flo… moved Joe to his bed, let the dog in and out, made Darren's lunch for tomorrow, made our lunch for tomorrow (we'll be out all day with activities and visiting a friend). Put a second load of dishes through the dishwasher… 11:49… need to do about ten more things, but have no physical energy left… must surrender… came up to check my email and write this rambling entry… enough already!
I thought I was the only one who had to fight like that to get the kids through the day! Glad to know that the whole morning routine thing is rough for others.