This week, I tried to revamp my to-do list method. In the midst of major life changes, I get antsy. Those with sage advice (or just plain common sense) would tell me to simply get a hold of myself, to self-swaddle and reign in my flailing arms that can't keep up with demand - to wait for the pace to settle down around me rather than try to lasso the moving parts into submission. But I can't help myself. When my world kicks up the momentum, my instinct is to grab a rope and pretend I can tie a good knot. Or, at the very list, make a to-do list.
So, I've been making to-do lists: lists void of those refreshing dark black slash marks that acknowledge accomplishment. When life kicks things up a notch, nothing is more depressing than a list void of those black slash marks. After reading this post, I decided some to-do list editing was in order. I added my own twist. I started by making a list of my important life categories: faith, family, health, creativity, and educational activities for the kids (yes, friends also made this list, but time constraints being as they are right now, I decided my friends were realistic and would realize that they aren't going to be seeing me or getting phone calls/emails for a couple weeks). Then, I came up with small (in some cases, minuscule) tasks for each category. My first new to-do list day looked something like this:
Print off chronological Bible reading list.
Make pizza dough with Audrey for family pizza night.
Take a walk.
Blog for 15 minutes.
Make list of daily, weekly, monthly, annual cleaning tasks for 2 rooms (yes, I realize this seems as if it has nothing to do with kids' educational activities, but I've decided that we need to get organized so I can locate the necessary materials to do the educational activities first).
I felt instantly rejuvenated. I had a plan, one that looked simple. I could do this. The day ended. Three of my five simple tasks were crossed off. I laughed at myself.
Last night, my mother-in-law kindly volunteered to come over and make us dinner. Dinner and dishes off of my plate, I had the kids bathed early. All three were in bed by 8:30. Jason had plans, so I had a couple hours to myself. This is typically the time I would blog, or knit, or do something really crazy like wipe the hand prints off the refrigerator door. But my eyelids, of which I'm not typically aware, had a definite weight to them. As I sat on the couch, finishing a row of knitting and trying to will myself to turn on the computer to write, I heard Nate crying. He has four teeth coming in this week (I believe "teething machine" is the term you're searching for) and has had a bit of trouble settling himself into naps and sleep. I left my knitting and pulled him from his crib. We nestled into my bed, and at nine o' clock (a time that my head hasn't seen my pillow since I was a preteen or harboring a fever) we both found sleep - it only took Nathan draping himself across my head, which one would imagine would make it impossible for me to fall asleep, but sadly, it didn't. Waking for a two a.m. feeding session more awake than I've felt in days, I decided that to-do lists were overrated - not that I won't be making one later this afternoon.
To-do list or not, there are a few items I can't help but feel called to do, like write down a few moments from our weeks past, the ones I would hate to forget. So, without further adieu, here is a rather belated, rather simplified, Week in Review for that past few weeks - a highlight reel, if you will.
From the week leading up to Jack's birth:
Monday night, Jason's arm was draped across my belly. Jack kicked a roundhouse that shifted my entire abdomen. "Holy! Did you feel -," Jason broke off laughing, "of course you felt that." Jason rested, his arm up against me for a few minutes before turning to face the other direction. "I don't think I can fall asleep if I keep my arm there feeling that all night." Welcome to pregnancy, honey.
Tuesday night at dinner, Audrey wanted to tell us the creation story. After she finished, Jason asked her what happened to Adam and Eve. "They had to leave the beautiful garden," she said.
Jason explained consequences and that they were asked to leave the garden as a consequence of disobeying. "How would you like that?" he asked. "How would you like if Mommy and Daddy threw you out of the house every time you disobeyed?"
"You couldn't do that," she said, "the porch is hard."
Wednesday, while Grammy was visiting, Nathan began throwing his food from the table to the floor. Grammy told him he was being bad. Audrey, ever the diplomat, said, "He's not a bad boy. He's just making a bad choice."
Thursday, I asked her what she had done at school. "I thought about what I could do for my tea party while I worked on other things," she said.
"What did you think of?"
"Running through sprinklers. Making mud puddles. Going on a flower hunt. Taking leaves off trees." This isn't going to be your run-0f-the-mill tea party.
We had Jack the next morning. Below, a few of my favorite moments and one-liners from our hospital stay:
Friday evening, a lactation consultant made a visit. Before leaving she informed us that the nurse assigned to our room that evening was one of the best. "So you're good until 7," she said.
"What happens at seven?" Jason asked. "Do they bring on the B team?"
Saturday morning I managed to catch the hospital table on wheels (holding a pitcher of water, a folder full of papers, and a slew of medical supplies) on the rail of the bed as I was attempting to reposition the bed. The table flipped over, creating a shower of water and medical supplies. Jason refused to let me help clean it up. I apologized for creating the mess. "It was a freak accident," he said, mopping up the floor with a towel. "You're the freak."
Sunday, our nurse came in for a quick check. "What is your pain level?" she asked me.
"I'm at about a five," said Jason.
The first week of May Jason stayed home from work to assist with the day-to-day household functions and help us make a smoother transition into family-of-five status. He took on the role of chauffeuring Audrey to and from preschool. En route on Tuesday, she asked if they were going to be late. He informed her that they should be on time (they were, in fact, several minutes early). She told him that she liked him taking her to school. "Mommy bees (is) late all the time."
The following week, I took advantage of the warm weather and sent Audrey on backyard expeditions while I was busy with her brothers inside. Monday, she asked if she could take a beach towel and a snack outside to have a picnic. I agreed. I noticed she pitched her beach towel right next to the fence where our neighbor was tilling his garden. When she ran back to the door to ask for seconds, I told her to let our neighbor finish his work. "I am," she said, "I'm just talking to him so he doesn't get lonely or bored."
Last week, Nathan attempted to mimic his sister and hop through the kitchen. He would have pulled it off, if he could have gotten his legs underneath himself rather than stumbling back onto his thickly diapered bum. He also decided that silverware (which he had been trying use consistently) was overrated, adopting a vacuum technique of putting his open mouth to plate and "hoovering" his food inside.
That Friday, as we did dishes, Jason and I were remembering how rough our first five months of parenting were and contemplating how different they might have been had we realized that Audrey wasn't getting enough breast milk sooner (something we discovered when she nose-dived off the growth charts at six months old). "But, we're stronger for it," I concluded.
"You're stronger. I'm still weak," Jason said.
"You're not weak," said Audrey, who had wandered into the kitchen.
"You just look weak," she said.
Now, Jack is one month old. He's contemplating longer stretches of sleep, but still weighing his options. Nathan has begun saying "hello," always accompanied by a hand (or stolen cell phone) raised to his ear. Yesterday, after inviting Nathan into the cave she'd just constructed from the kitchen bill-payers' desk and draped receiving blankets, Audrey finished schooling her brother on some topic by stating, "Just check on Facebook and you'll learn all about it." Suffice it to say, time marches quickly and no to-do list (no matter how well constructed) can contain it.
But that doesn't mean we quit trying. Until next time...