a photo an hour
7am Alma is up after waking at 11pm last night and 3am this morning. I bring her to the kitchen so she doesn’t wake Joe up, and make tea, one lump sugar, for myself. It’s already snowing, and looking up from our windows, the flakes look enormous.
7:15 Joan appears, sleepy, cuddly, and anxious for cereal. Once we sit down together, she doesn’t eat and just wants to talk. Joe finishes her bowl after she abandons it twenty minutes later.
8:30 Lux wakes up like a languorous lion in the afternoon sun. For the millionth time I note to myself that this time next year, she’ll already be in school. For better and for worse, I think.
8:45 Joe leaves for work. He’s taking the train instead of biking because of the snow.
9:40 We read several Richard Scarry stories on the couch while I nurse Alma. There is a brief standstill when Joan refuses to trade the middle seat when it is Lux’s turn to hold the book. Pondering her sullen mood I remember neither of them have eaten breakfast yet. We decamp to the kitchen for them to eat together.
I begin making Ina’s Weeknight Bolognese for dinner.
12 I was thinking about offering lunch but the girls are still completely engaged in their game. Beach has turned into doctor. I pick up Alma and wrap her up for her nap.These days I never expect her to sleep more than 30 minutes, but at least she always wakes up refreshed.
12:10 I remember the simmering pasta sauce and check it. Smells so good I want to eat it immediately. Thank you God for sending Ina Garten to this earth.
12:20 They’ve moved the doctor’s office into the art room. So now it is silent in the kitchen, which is a nice treat. Walking past with a pile of clothes to put away, I hear them sing “blah blah black sheep.” Lux leads the song and Joan repeats everything she says, a half note behind her.
I’m all for art projects but as far as today’s room-tidy-tally the living room is super messy, their room looks like a elephant went through and knocked everything to the floor, and the art room will definitely be trashed. But I’ve still got my room and the kitchen!
12:30 I put on water for hard boiled eggs for the girls and find a leftover burrito in the fridge. I sit on one of the girl’s chairs since my chair is still part of the beach scene in the living room and page through a New Yorker. I used to read this magazine cover to cover but now I just pick one or two articles to keep up with each week.
12:40 Call to the girls and ask if they’re ready for lunch. “I’m still finishing my monster.”
If I could take a selfie right now, it would be me leaning against the doorway frame of our room, listening to Alma grunt and settle, trying to decide if she’s going to fall back asleep or is up for good.
1pm Hop online and look at my sister’s beautiful recipe for tabbouleh. I want to make it for my friend this Friday. Frown. Why did she sub in quinoa for bulgur?? I’m definitely not doing that.
But I will take this tip about adding sliced almonds.
Hunt for Lux’s ballet stuff in her room. Find some half eaten jelly beans. Possibly this is why “the kitchen mouse” as we call him has been seen headed to their room lately. I discretely bundled up a bunch of things to throw away as I walk out, hiding them behind my leg as I walk past the art room. I set all her ballet stuff by the door.
1:15 I finally tell the girls they have to stop playing and come eat. The hardboiled eggs are perfectly done, nine minute eggs, but of course neither of the are eating “the yellow parts” these days and miss the beauty of that. Fortunately I am eating them!
I make a cup of tea so I have something to keep me seated with them while they eat. Too often I hop around the kitchen when they’re eating, which doesn’t make for good conversation or time together.
3pm As expected, the trains are delayed. Lots of people are waiting when we arrive, and we have to wait for ten minutes. Even more people are waiting now. When we get on, two people give up their seats for the girls and both girls immediately start to whine about not being able to see out the window from those seats. Given the twenty adults currently standing, I attempted to silence them with my eyes and mentally add train manners to the list of manners we are currently working on.
3:08 We get off the train. As we wait for the line of Able and Capable Adults to climb the stairs first, I briefly lecture them on the etiquette of train thanking and gratefulness. A guy waiting to go up the stairs says “y’all are the cutest thing I’ve seen all day.” “Yeah,” mumbles the grad student behind him. Thanks, man!
3:15 Three grand staircases later, we are on time for class. Confetti should fall from the ceiling to celebrate this accomplishment, but instead Lux gives us hugs and kisses and Joan and I just walk downstairs.
3:30 Downstairs in the dance hall lobby. Joan laments for the 6th time since Christmas that there are no free fortune cookies downstairs anymore. “Why no treats here today?” I remind her this was a Christmas thing.
3:45 Joan and I walk to the library nearby. I talk with my friend Melissa who is also waiting for her daughter’s class. Her sweet daughter Verity attempts to share a book with Joan. I look over to see Joan respond by sprawling on the floor like a dead spider, staring at the ceiling. Melissa and I continue to enjoy our conversation about kindergarten and upcoming 5k races. Fifteen minutes of adult conversation adds a lot to my day.
4:30 Waiting for the crosswalk after the train home, the cars are roaring through the slush. The girls seem to often choose these moments to ask me elaborate questions, all while facing forward. It is impossible for me to hear them. I respond like myself in sixty years, yelling “What? What? You have to look at me for me to hear you!!”
Alma is over being in the carrier but it’s still going to take us 30 minutes to walk. Oh well.
6:30 The girls eat almost nothing but talk animatedly to Joe about their day. It’s clear the after-dance snack of Milano cookies on the train has filled them up. Or maybe I just over filled their bowls? They both opt to eat a few carrots, Joe and I excuse them and enjoy our dinner. Alma sits in her little blue bouncy chair on the floor, smiling whenever someone looks at her. Or maybe she’s often smiling, but we just aren’t looking. The only time she cries is when she’s tired, hungry, or in a quiet room by herself.
7pm Joe motivates teeth brushing and pajamas to be followed by reading in their room. They are deep into the Chronicles of Narnia’s The Silver Chair, which is one of the ones I didn’t read as a kid. I disappear into our room with Alma to nurse her, swaddle her, and then I fall onto our bed listening to her fall asleep.
Note: I always enjoyed reading these types of posts back when I had just one baby and wondered what the future looked like. It feels strange now, almost misleading, to pick a day and write it up, because every day really feels so different. This was a day when I woke up feeling rested because I went to bed early, and the girls got along wonderfully, but the next day–Tuesday–they wanted to be in the same room with me the whole day, and I barely had a moment to myself!
This was wonderful! Thanks for sharing it. I managed to find some time to read it while my little one naps. I only have one child and (like you used to) I can’t imagine what it’s like to have more than one to care for.
I miss my naptime reading! That’s really one of the main differences between one and more–you don’t get those breaks. But you find other ones!
Rachael, I love this post. (Really I love all your posts. Your writing absolutely sends me and I want to be your friend.) Joan’s couch acrobatics are impressive, as is your ability to navigate three small people, plus yourself, through snow, onto and off trains, and up and down stairs, for ballet. What a wonderful peek into one day in the life of the Ringenberg girls. More please!
I could not agree more … I smiled the whole while I read it. You do write beautifully, your ability to step back in the moment and objectively assess a situation is marvelous — in other words: love that you respond to your girls and don’t react to them. You are a wonderful mama!
Thank you Emilie!
Thank you Helen! Haha, I so agree–Joan just proves that kids can barely handle screen time–why sit still ever?? I think I will do more in the future.
I love these posts! As a fellow mom of three very little kiddos, I enjoy seeing how other people’s days compare to mine. Keep these coming, please! 😉
Will do! Maybe a spring one in May. Thanks!
Loved this so much! When do you do chores and such? Also, you decided on Kindergarten for Lux? Can I ask what helped you make that decision? I’m still on the fence..
Chores like my chores or like their chores? They don’t have any regular jobs, just helping with things when I ask. And I don’t either. Some days I’ll clean three things in a row, but it’s usually not the days that I’m also cooking or have a class. I think?
I will write about kindergarten–we’re still deciding in the sense that I don’t know what she’ll think of it and we’ll be watching. But she got into a public option that we loved, the only one we loved really, so we’re going to try it!
Loved this post also, as a mum of a 3 year old and one month old I agree with the other comments, it’s so nice to see how others get on during the day!life seems like a mission just to venture outdoors at the moment and it’s lovely to relate to someone else!
Getting out is for sure the most work and usually the worst moment of my day–right before we burst outside.
Re: the almonds in the tabbouleh – those are a touch that I enjoy, but when I really want to splurge, pine nuts go really well also.
Oh yes and aren’t they quite the splurge. Sometimes I look at their price per pound, goodness!
I really enjoyed this! You have such a lovely voice – equal parts love and wit – and it makes for such an enjoyable read. And as someone with no children (but a thriving houseplant!), I commend you – both for so eloquently describing motherhood and surviving!
Thank you Una! I tell you those houseplants take their own level of devotion. And I whisper kind thoughts to mind as well.
Would you mind sharing what kind of doctor kit your girls are playing with here? Also, I too have enjoyed these posts throughout all my stages of motherhood. Thank you for letting us peek into your day!
Hi Kimberly! It’s this Doctor’s Kit: http://amzn.to/1NotSN6
This was fun to read – it seems like a synthesis of other aspects of your writing: contemplative, food, travel, motherhood. Bravo!
Probably an embarrassing disclosure, but here goes. I’ve been reading through all your posts from the very beginning! Life lately has been stonewalled by studying for my first board exam, which is not rolling around until May 2nd. (A time span that is at once too short for studying, and too long to wait for). Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I read one of your posts. Your writing is just so full of joy, insight, wisdom, and humor. It’s interesting to me that I can draw so many parallels and take so many lessons from your writing and your life, when I am not even a mother of one! Anyhow, this post made me giggle the whole way through, and gave me the urge to tell you how grateful I am for your writing. I can’t wait for the book of essays to come out!
well that is a wonderful disclosure! Such interesting circumstances you find yourself in, and thank you for returning! Sometime I go through the old posts too, and the writer seems so different. I worry the archives read like from another land. I’m so happy you enjoy it despite not being a mom, thank you for sharing!
It is very interesting to see what the girls were like when they were younger!
I know it must have been hard to move but I am still so glad you did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aw Norah, I’m so glad we did too!!