Today is my first guest post! So fun! I met Tracy when her oldest was in the same preschool class as Wyatt...we hit it off and have been friends ever since. Tracy used to be a teacher before staying at home. She now watches children in her home. She is super creative and fun each day! Take a peek at her daily life with the ones who Call HER Mama...
I’ve been reading Emily’s blog since we became Facebook friends a few years ago when Wyatt and my daughter (Emma) started preschool together. We’ve become friends through a mutual friend since, and just recently four of us families traveled to the Lake of the Ozarks together for a few days. We got to know each other even better that weekend, and realized we have a lot in common. We’ve been talking since about things going on in both of our lives, so when she asked me to write a guest post on her blog last week, I was excited to be a part of something I have been reading all these years… I have never done anything like this before, but anyone that knows me or follows me on Facebook and/or Instagram knows that I like to take pictures, like a whole LOT of pictures, and tell my family’s story through them. So, this way of sharing my life really makes a lot of sense.
Emily suggested I write a bit about motherhood and what a normal day looks like for me… So, here goes! Here is a (not so) quick intro to my crazy family of six, followed by just a typical Tuesday from start to finish.
Emma is 6 1/2 going on 16, wise and mature beyond her years at times. She truly embraces her role as our first child and only daughter, and shares her sparkle with the world. A mother hen and the boss of her three little brothers. A sweet and innocent granddaughter and niece to her grandparents and uncles. A sharing and caring friend to her peers and teammates. A cooperative, honest, smart, easy-going student to her first grade teachers. A loving, sensitive, stubborn, light to her parents. An organized planner and busy body with a sassy attitude, just like Mommy.
Ethan is 5 1/2, and is the second child and oldest brother. He is typically the more serious, deep thinking, literal, inquisitive, temperamental one of the four, although he has a fun-loving, bubbly, funny, strong-willed, and crazy boy side as well with those he is closest with. He is a hoarder by nature, and his room is lined with collections of money, tickets, papers, Star Wars toys, Legos, and his three red pillows that go everywhere in the house with him. He worries about the well-being of his family and friends, and his pre-k teachers agree that he has a huge heart of gold.
Evan is 3 next week and is the third child and middle brother. His smile and laugh are contagious to everyone he meets. He is unpredictable and rambunctious and silly and gross and hilarious and stinky and defiant. He farts and burps and spills milk on purpose and steals his brother’s binkies. But he is so sweet and says things like, “Mommy/Daddy, cuddle me!” at 3am so we do. He will probably always sleep with us and carry around his “binkie/blankie” (as he refers to his two favorite things) and wear diapers but for now we are okay with that. He is a true character and definitely fits the term “threenager” at the moment.
Elliott is 16 months old and is the fourth child and baby brother. All that we were told about how the fourth child is easy peasy and goes with the flow is so not true with this determined kid. He has always wanted to be heard and seen, and his way of doing this as of lately is to climb EVERYTHING in site. He has dangled and fallen and bled more than any of the others combined. His interests lie only in what his older siblings and friends are doing. He is so much work, but… So. Freaking. Adorable. And cuddly. And loving. He completes our family in the best way possible.
Tim is my husband of 7 1/2 years and partner of 13 years. A true partner in every sense of the word. He cooks (more than me), does the nightly dishes, separates and runs the laundry on the weekends, and bathes the kids (a lot). He complains none (or maybe a little or some), but he does these things and much more and understands that I can’t do it all when I am working too. He is an elementary school teacher by day and a caregiver to all of us by night. We could not function without his presence and are so grateful that he is so intentional with his time with us.
I (Tracy) am a work-at-home Mommy (Monday-Thursday) and am just Mommy (Friday-Sunday). I was an elementary school teacher prior to staying home, and now I am fortunate to be able to teach children (not yet school aged) at my kitchen table. As difficult as it is sometimes to work from home, I can’t imagine a life where I had to leave my kids with someone else and am so blessed to have this opportunity when they are young. I don’t want to miss anything.
As a family, we love to travel (especially to Disney) and explore our own city, and much of our time and money is spent this way. We are on the go a lot on the weekends especially, and prefer to be out and about together. We sort of live by the motto, “Spend money on life experiences, not material things.” So, in our pictures, you may see outdated floors and cabinets, but in our faces and in our story, I hope you see happiness.
3:11am- Evan sneaks his way into our bed, stealing the covers as usual, and falls back asleep.
5:24am- Elliott wakes up crying, comes and cuddles with Mommy, and falls back asleep.
6:38am- After a couple snoozes (it’s been a looong four-day weekend), Tim takes Elliott off of me and puts him in his bed, and I get in the shower. Tim gets in the shower after me. Evan wakes up and joins the bathroom party and uses Tim’s toothbrush to brush his teeth and scrub the sink. Gross.
7:00am- Like clockwork, as soon as I open the gate to go downstairs, Emma pops up and wants to get ready for the day. This morning, she wants to watch a new movie she got yesterday before school. I put the movie in for Emma, and Evan is already in the refrigerator with scissors, trying to open a cheese stick. I change his diaper and clothes and Emma gets dressed before the movie begins.
7:08am- I begin preparing breakfast: muffins, blueberries, and yogurt. Tim comes down for the day, lets Tessy (the dog) out, and is already playing damage control over the tantrum Evan is having about how he wants Daddy to help him open the cheese (that is already eaten) and get him dressed (even though his clothes are already on).
7:10am- Our friends, Easton and Henry, arrive for the day.
7:14am- The kids that are awake or have arrived begin eating breakfast. I finish packing Emma’s lunch and snack (always packing what I can the night before to save time). I feed Tessy and Vader (the fish), empty the dishwasher, and talk with the kids as Tim makes our coffees, packs his lunch, and gets pork chops out of the freezer for dinner.
7:28am- Tim goes upstairs to wake up Ethan and Elliott as I clean up the breakfast mess that has already been made. Evan is (purposely) spilling milk again so I have to be proactive instead of reactive. Tim changes Elliott’s diaper and Ethan gets dressed reluctantly (because he doesn't want to take off his “checkmark” i.e. Nike shirt and shorts, his current favorite jammies), and they both begin eating their breakfast. The boys play with toy cars and tracks after they finish their breakfast.
7:30am- Tim leaves for work. (Please send help! Ha!)
7:36am- Emma brushes her teeth, gets socks and shoes on, and I do her hair.
7:40am- Another friend, Oliver, arrives for the day. He joins the others who are still eating breakfast.
7:50am- Emma gets her coat and book bag on (20 minutes early, always) and is ready to go to school. The boys all play with this new caterpillar toy that they are following around the house lately, and Emma walks around and supervises (with the coat and book bag on). I clean up the rest of the breakfast mess.
8:09am- I realize my coffee is still sitting there untouched, and start chugging.
8:10am- We all leave for the bus stop, which is luckily really close to our house. It’s still so difficult to say goodbye to Emma each day because I prefer my kids close, but I know she is in good hands and feels at home at school too.
8:24am- We arrive back at the house from the bus stop. Evan has yet another tantrum that he wants to stay in the car all day and watch movies. I am just the meanest mom for not allowing it. All of my boys brush their teeth when they get inside and play with an assortment of puzzles until around 9:00am when start our learning time.
8:42am- As I help Oliver in the bathroom, Evan and Elliott pour half of the dishwasher soap on the counter, floor, and in the sink.
8:46am- I quickly realize a broader description of our day will be necessary to complete this post.
9:00am (ish)- 10:00am (ish)- Today, we began our Valentine’s Day unit. I am a sucker for all things holiday and get really excited to open old holiday boxes to assess what I need and head to the Dollar Tree to buy more. (Don’t tell my husband, but I spent $72 there last week! How does that even happen there?!?) I try to do a sensory bin and some kind of fine motor letter, number, color, and shape related activity daily (Monday-Thursday) during this hour. They also eat a snack during this time.
Pictures of the very simple activities we completed are as follows:
-flower pedals/heart shaped containers/salad tongs/spoons/spatulas as a sensory bin, with focus on sorting colors
-wrote their names on hearts with glitter glue, with focus on identifying letters (for the younger few boys) and letter sounds (for the older couple boys)
-homemade heart shaped puzzles with two sides: one-to-one correspondence on one and numbers on the other (for the younger few boys) and heart links with numbers written on them for ordering numbers (for the older couple boys), with focus on numbers
-hearts drawn on paint samples in Valentine’s Day colors that they cut, with focus on identifying and discussing shapes
9:30am- Elliott goes down for morning nap.
9:57am- I remember that I haven’t eaten breakfast so heat up some oatmeal.
10:00am (ish)- The boys pick up the main level playroom as I clean up the kitchen. We take potty and diaper breaks before heading to the basement playroom.
10:10am (ish)- 11:00am (ish)- We can’t go outside today because the yard is a mushy messy from the ice/rain storms this weekend, so the basement playroom is a good substitute for days like this because it is a more open space where they can run and play with toys that get them moving. I play a Valentine’s Day playlist on YouTube in the background. Some dance and sing along.
*I have spared you of the many redirects I have given these energetic boys in the last couple hours, but overall there have only been a couple minor time-outs and everyone is playing well together and following directions.
11:00am (ish)- We pick up the basement, then head upstairs.
11:10am (ish)- I wake Elliott up from nap. (If I don’t, he won't nap in the afternoon and will want to go to bed for the evening at 5:00pm. So we are at that weird stage right now of needing to transition to one afternoon nap only, but he's just not ready. And neither am I! Ha!) The boys have some down time, with Valentine’s Day themed books and Paw Patrol on the TV as I prepare lunch.
11:27am- Lunch (ravioli, cheese, broccoli, and apples) is served. I load back up the dishwasher as they eat and clean up the lunch mess after they eat their cookie for dessert.
12:00pm-12:30pm- The boys play with Superheroes and different kinds of building toys.
12:30pm- 12:45pm- Story time: Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool
12:45pm-1:00pm- We take potty and diaper breaks and head upstairs for nap. (Hallelujah!!! Even Ethan, who only naps once or twice a week at most, is taking one today because it’s been a looong weekend for him without one. He has always been very dependent on sleep.)
1:02pm- Ethan has to poop and yells downstairs for me to wipe him.
1:04pm- I pick up the rest of the main floor, register Emma for tee ball, make some phone calls, send some emails and texts, update my calendar with some new dates, scroll through Facebook and Instagram briefly, make myself lunch (bunless burger, green beans, some sesame garlic herb chips and avocado dip), start folding the 8 loads of laundry I have sitting in my family room staring at me, and update this post. I also check on ALL the kids sleeping a couple times. Woo hoo!
3:00pm (ish)- As per usual, the same kids start waking on their own, and I have to wake the deeper sleepers to start preparing to get Emma from the bus stop. The kids take potty and diaper breaks, get shoes and socks on, and eat snack.
3:35pm- We head to the bus stop to get our favorite girl that we miss all day!
3:47pm- We arrive home from the bus stop. Emma had a great day… Her highlights were telling her teacher that she cried at the end of Free Willy this weekend and getting an emoji eraser from a school fundraiser. (Don’t you wish as an adult that things like these excited us so?) She has gymnastics at 5:00, so she eats snack and quickly runs upstairs to take a shower and dress herself. The boys all choose some kind of bin of building toys to play with in the main floor playroom. They love this kind of play and learn so much, as we have many options for them here.
4:10pm- Tim gets home from work. Typically I do a crockpot meal or make dinner at nap time on days like these when we have an activity so early, but the long weekend has got me kind of off so Tim quickly prepares pork chops, rice, green beans, and strawberries for dinner so that Emma can eat before she leaves. In the meantime, I study with Emma for her math test tomorrow while all the boys play around us.
4:20pm- Easton and Henry leave for the day.
4:40pm- Oliver leaves for the day.
4:45pm- Tim takes Emma to gymnastics. Typically I do because I love to watch her and it’s not ideal to take our entire family there. Plus I love the “break” and chatting with my Mommy friends. Emma wants Tim to come tonight though, so they head off. The boys and I finish an early dinner. I clean up the kitchen mess… And the family room mess… And the downstairs playroom mess. I sweep, mop, and vacuum as quickly as possible with three boys “helping” me. I feed Vader. (Tessy doesn’t need to be fed at night as her bowl is still half full because she eats table scraps all day.) I then put up Evan’s soccer birthday banner because his birthday is next week and these days are a big deal around here. He “loves” soccer and wanted this as his party theme, even though he runs to the candy machines and games or wants me to hold him each Friday when we go play with his buddies.. I guess we’re going with the belief that true athletes are born on the sidelines, right?
5:15pm- I give the boys a bath. Do your kids flood your bathroom every time they bathe? Mine do. No matter how calm the bath starts, it always ends in everything, including me, getting soaked.
5:45pm- Everyone is in fresh jammies. Evan chose Ethan’s old ones that are three sizes too big. So, he’s running around, so proud of himself with this huge sleeper on, entertaining everyone. I sneak away to use the bathroom and quickly clean it up when I'm in there from the hurricane we just had, and I hear Ethan scream, “Evan is painting the carpet!” I run out, and sure enough, teal nail polish. On the carpet. And on the stairwell. And on Elliott’s forehead and hair. NEVER, in my 7 years of raising kids has this happened, but of course it happens on the one day EVER that I write about our typical day, and if I’m being honest about our day, I have to include this! So then I have yet another, very impossible, mess to clean up. And I can’t even be mad at him, because it was Emma who left the secret cabinet of her nail polish and make up open as a tempting invitation for Evan. And it was Tim who didn't think it necessary to childproof every singe cabinet even though I asked 19 times. And it was me who thought that I had the right to use the bathroom for the first time since this morning. Go figure!
6:15pm- Tim and Emma get home from gymnastics and I am still trying to clean up the nail polish that will never come out of the carpet. Tim just laughs. Everyone settles in and Emma shows us some balance beam moves, reads the boys a few Valentine’s Day books, and studies more for her math test. They all sing and dance to Taylor Swift songs Emma, and thus all of them, are loving at the moment.
7:00pm- Time for Elliott to go to bed! He just can’t hang any longer than that… None of our other babies were early to go to bed but he wants it. The routine is read book(s), brush teeth, talk about the day, and pray with all the kids. He puts himself down really quickly by humming, which is a fair trade for him not sleeping through the night until a couple short months ago. Tim works on the carpet cleaning more afterward.
7:15pm- I pack Emma’s snack and the majority of Ethan’s lunch for tomorrow. Ethan goes to pre-k three days per week and likes to stay one day for lunch. Emma is buying lunch tomorrow, which is something that excites me each time because it is far less work for me! Emma and I then escape to my bedroom to fold more of those eight loads of laundry that I started with earlier and to prepare to watch the season finale of Outdaughtered, which we love watching together. The boys wrestle around and watch the Blues game in the family room.
8:00pm- Time for Evan to go to bed! Typically Emma and Ethan would go down now as well, but Emma is really excited about the season finale of Outdaughtered so I told her she could stay up until 9:00 and watch half of it tonight (not over until 10:00pm) and the other half on Thursday night, as she has soccer practice later tomorrow night. When Ethan naps, he goes to bed late around 9:30, but I have to weigh the pros and cons and today the nap won! Emma and I snuggle up and watch our favorite quintuplets! I think we love it so much because it is like five girl Elliott’s running around on TV! They are the same age on the show as he is, so it’s so fun to relate (in a small way) to their everyday life. We hear lots of random cheers (or maybe constructive criticism?) from the boys downstairs as we are watching… Hmmmmm?
9:00pm- Time for Emma to go to bed!
9:30pm- Time for Ethan to go to bed!
9:32pm- Ethan needs water. He always needs water two minutes after going to bed no matter how much we prepare him. It has to be fresh water from the faucet too, as we’ve tried the cup next to his bed thing.
9:34pm- I finish up writing this, and Tim runs the dishwasher, lets Tessy out, locks up the house, and turns on the alarm… It’s been really fun doing this today, but really time consuming. I guess because I don’t talk to many adults during the day I just don’t shut up in the writing department either! Ha! And I know there are so many little things that I left out that are just so routine to me that I don’t even think to share them with you.
10:00pm (ish)- We will start a new episode of Homeland, and then start another and both fall asleep during sometime in the 11:00 hour. (So predictable, we are! Ha!) We just started this series a few nights ago and I can’t decide if I like it. It probably doesn’t help that I like to browse Facebook and Instagram, check emails, and update my always ongoing to-do list on my phone while watching.
11:00pm (ish)- At some point during this hour we will fall asleep. And then start over again bright and early tomorrow morning… This life of ours is so crazy, but so beautiful. I really wouldn’t trade it for anything, even though I feel as though I’m losing my mind on a daily basis!
Good bye for now! Maybe, just maybe, I will come across some of you in my dream life as a stay at home mom/professional organizer/Disney travel agent! Thanks for inviting me to do this, Emily! :)