A “Stay-At-Home” Mom Doesn’t

6:00am:  Alarm rings.  I hit the snooze button.

6:05am:  Alarm rings.  I get up and dress in my sweats and my daughter’s running shoes.  My neighbor will be by in ten minutes so we can go, *ahem* “jogging.”

6:20am:  Dang.  I was hoping she slept in and wasn’t coming–she’s just late.  And she’s got her 11-year-old son with her.  They grin at me in the darkness.  We get out to the road and start “jogging.”  With a bum knee and recovering from a respiratory infection, I’m even slower than usual.  Her son, wearing hiking boots, beats us handily as we take 15 minutes to “jog” 1.4 miles to the neighbor’s house and back. 

6:35am:  Back home.  I might as well sit at the computer while I stop sweating.  Check email, check blogs.

7:00am:  Whisper goodbyes to Kiwi as she goes out the door to the bus stop, heading for math and band at the Jr. High.  Decide to put off shower and waking other kids to surf web for another 10 minutes.

7:10am:  Wake elementary school kids.  Spend 50 minutes getting them ready for school, wondering for the 384,295,582,856th time if I shouldn’t have stopped homeschooling them this year.  Somewhere in there J heads off to work.

8:00am:  LouLou head to bus stop, and I let G stay home because he’s still coughing and says he has a headache. I start preparing cake for my friend’s birthday lunch.  She said to surprise her–she’s never had apple cake, so I make that.

8:30am: Abandon messy kitchen to read half of “A Fish Out of Water” to Madame Chaos and Dee, then decide we better leave early to relieve the overflowing recycle bins and return RedBox movies.  Dang.  I didn’t shower.  Well, yesterday’s clothes will be fine then, right?

9:00am:  Missy, Madame Chaos, Dee, G and I get in the van.  Missy drives us around to the errands, then to the high school where she takes five classes.  She’s still technically homeschooled, but takes band, choir, math, speech, and seminary at the high school.

9:30am: We pick up Kiwi from the Jr High, then I drop all of them off at home while I head to the elementary school where I volunteer Monday mornings.  I spend 45 minutes in LouLou’s class, and the rest of the time in G’s class (even though he’s home sick). 

12:00pm:  Run to one of our town’s two gift shops, looking for a birthday gift for Maria.  Decide to get the yellow pepper-shaped dip bowl and see if I can find a red bowl somewhere else to go with it.  Drive to the other gift store (it’s closed Mondays) then Kings then in desperation to the dollar store, and finally go back to the first store and exchange the pepper bowl for a cute but not-quite-what-I wanted chip-and-dip set. 

12:50pm:  Back home to pick up Dee and Madame Chaos and the birthday cake; try again to make my unshowered hair appear nice; the kitchen is still a huge mess but I feel guilty leaving Kiwi to her homeschool (and sorta-sick G) alone, so I don’t ask her to clean it up for me.

1:00pm: Head to Maria’s birthday lunch at Kim’s house; Kim’s behind on today’s orders for her surgical hat making business, so I pitch in for half an hour on the sewing machine before we eat.  Madame Chaos jockeys for the scissors, holding up an almost-finished hat:  “But I want to cut this, Mom!”

2:30pm: Leave Dee to play with Kim’s son while M.C. and I drive home so I can get ready for LouLou’s 4-H club meeting.  Spend 45 minutes frantically sewing some sample string-pieced quilt blocks for demonstration; leave the house late (the kitchen still a huge mess) while spritzing on some perfume and trying again to make my hair not look stringy.

3:35pm:  Pick up LouLou and her friend at school then out to the country school to pick up Kim’s daughter and drive them all to 4-H.  In the car I have a coughing fit that leaves my lungs burning and all my mascara running down my face, adding to my aforementioned beauty.  We finally get to 4-H, where I teach the quilting mini-classes to the teens while the younger kids do their cooking and sewing rotations. 

 5:30pm:  Try to stay under the speed limit as I transport a carload of kids to their homes, and get home just in time to pick up G for his wrestling practice (he’s feeling better).  The kitchen is even worse now, with the after-school snack mess added to my cooking mess from this morning.  On the way out the door I holler to the big girls that I didn’t get anything made for dinner so just heat up some soup when the kids get hungry.

6:00pm:  Feel oddly grateful that we’re in the stinky wrestling room so my own gross unshowered carcass is less noticeably rank, while I watch stinky little boys learn the half-nelson.

7:30pm:  Get home to pandemonium; where’s my husband?  Hiding out at the computer, as unwilling as I am to face the mess and homework and parental judiciary duties.  We watch a battle scene of Serenity before we finally get up to herd the kids into chores, homework, and bedtime routine. 

8:45pm:  Get the younger set into bed; we’re still waiting for Missy to get home from working on a school project at a friend’s.  I’ve reached overload with kids and messes and so dh takes over and I head to bed.  I need to decompress; I read Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography for book club before escaping into sleep at 10pm.

I never did get that shower.


“The Moon Is Turned Off!”

That’s what a lunar eclipse looks like to a 3-year-old.

Shuffle, Shuffle . . .

I’ve been a pretty regular exerciser for the last ten years, even keeping up at spinning class until my 8th month of pregnancy.  Over that time I’ve taken step aerobics classes, lifted weights, sweated to The Firm in my neighbor’s basement, gone for walks, or attended 5:30am spin (stationary bike) at least three times a week.

Until last fall.

One morning I woke up at 5:00, and decided I wasn’t going to spin class, and I just never went back.  No gumption, no energy, and very little guilt.  I cancelled my gym membership, and wondered what was wrong with me.  One option I never, ever considered was jogging–ever since I about hyperventilated in junior high track, I’ve had no desire to run.  But two weeks ago, my neighbor invited me to start running down the road and back (a total of about 1.25 miles), it just hit me, Sure, why not?

The first day I stopped to walk about 6 times.  This morning was our 8th run, and I only walked twice.  I know that is sooooo pitiful, but at the Cool Running site, which has a program called “Couch to 5K,” I’m learning that I’m not the only beginner who is so out of shape! 

I decided to put this on my blog to give me more incentive to keep going.  My goal is to be able to jog the whole 5K in 7 more weeks, which puts me at about April Fool’s Day.  Maybe, just maybe, I will enter our town’s sprint-length triathlon this August.

I can’t believe I just said that.

Scratch February

I have dubbed February The Longest Shortest Month of the Year.  In 2004, I wrote a poem that encapsulates the feelings I have about what is nearly always my most difficult month:

Scratch February

Like a twitching itch on an unreachable patch

Of flesh, I jerk and spurt through

Twenty-eight days.  The sour

Stubborn silence of the soil

Mocks my languish, longing

For the euphoria of Spring still

Far off.   By turns soggy

And solid, bewildered by snow,

Then rain, then impossibly amiable

Temperance, the earth bows to the numbing

Power of interminable gray essence.

March on, February.  I am already

Out of step.  

                         –February 2004   

At the time, I was teaching poetry to three teenaged homeschoolers in a twice-weekly class in which we explored language, verse, rhythm, and practiced reading and writing poetry.  I wrote the above poem in response to
an exercise we did where we each brought five beautiful sounding words, and five ugly-sounding words.  We were to write a poem or two using the lists either separately or together.

The lists we had to work with were as follows: 

 Beautiful words:  essence, luminescence, cerebral palsy, piano, soil, croissant, tintinnabulations, silence, mystic, acquiesce, sorrow, languish, euphoria, fantasia, sashay, license, luscious. 

 Ugly words:  squelch, intoxicated, confabulation, gulch, kitchen, hack, gawk, puke, sour, ugly, gross, power, gut, rut, turd, scratch, jug.

We talked about auditory combinations that seem to be common in “ugly” words, like the hard “tch” sound, and about how words beginning with “sn” had a sort of slimy, nasal-y sound, as in “snot,” “snitch,” “snooze,” and “snore.”  Words thought of as “beautiful” often had the  “sh” sound, as well as other continuants, instead of the heavy stops of the “ugly” words.

 What are your favorite words to love or hate?  Why?


On Saturday, dh took all six kids to Cabela’s with him.  While he shopped for boots and salivated over the rest of the store, the kids took in the large collections and displays of stuffed-and-mounted animals, fish, and birds.  When they reached the aquarium, our five-year-old daughter Dee pointed and said,

 “Look!  It’s the animals they haven’t killed yet!”