Life here has taken on a fairly consistent rhythm that it seems we can all dance to. Granted, the steps are nowhere near as smooth as they were prior to adding Oliver to the mix, but the overall effect is definitely more fun when you're trying not to step on a 15 month-old's chubby baby fingers.
Mornings--never my strongest suit when it comes to staying on task--revolve around trying to get everyone up and running. Dh is out the door before we're all awake most days. Oliver wants breakfast about two seconds after he rolls out of his crib, so that pretty much puts the squash on any kind of full-court breakfast press. The days of omelets and from-scratch pancakes are hereby suspended on weekdays until further notice. I've gotten a bit more on the ball since I began to feel more like myself physically and am now remembering to double and triple batches of baked goods and such to stick in the freezer for easy morning meals. This is a very good thing, Jo tells me, because if she has to eat anymore organic instant oatmeal
she will turn into a rolled oat. And probably not an organic one, much to my dismay.
After breakfast, we switch gears and turn our attention to getting the house running. Jo and Atticus work together to empty the dishwasher while Logan clears the table and then feeds the massive wondermutt that is our dog. Oliver clings to my hip like a monkey while I start the morning's laundry and sweep the downstairs to make it fit for his little pink hands and knees. That's where my handy-dandy ergo baby carrier comes in, uh ... handy.
Oliver is a happy hip rider during this time, which is a very good thing, since I'm pretty certain that with all the commotion that ensues at this hour, he'd be stepped on by a well-meaning but clueless dog or brother or two.
During those pesky hygiene chores (wash up, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, make beds, etc.), Oliver entertains himself quite nicely either in his crib or in the playpen that he uses to nap in. This is an entirely new sensation for me--a baby that is content with me out of sight for a full ten minutes? Whoa! None of my bio kids could stand to take their eyes or their hands off of me until they were roughly two years old, and even then, it was hit or miss. By contrast, Oliver seems relieved by the down-time he gets when he plays alone. When I go in to pick him up after I'm fully dressed and sweet-smelling, he greets me with a big, mostly toothless grin and usually offers up whatever toy he has in his hands as a hello. Of course, I usually have to wait in line to get near him, because the bigger kids are faster than I am at throwing on clothes and grooming, and they use their free time to cluster around the baby and giggle and goo at him.
Then it's time for school. This has been a bit of a challenge to coordinate, but I think we're getting the hang of it. Oliver is sometimes thrilled to be given free reign of the downstairs toys while we work at the kitchen table. Other times, he wants a playmate, and we alternate the older children with him while I work with the other two kids. And occasionally, he wants to sit in his booster chair and feel like part of the action by eating crayons and slamming them on paper from time to time.
Our school schedule has been dramatically reduced these past few weeks. I am admittedly bare bones-ing it while we acclimate to having a baby around. So far, I think I'm still covering all the bases. I do feel a bit like I'm selling the older kids short, but they are not complaining. I've fallen down on the job of gathering additional resources, and I know that I am going to have to carve time out of my day for that. I just don't know when yet.
Lunch is next on the agenda. Jo helps out with that a lot, if she's done with her work. Logan usually plays with Oliver while we're preparing food, and Atticus sets the table. I'm eyeing a Costco-sized batch of paper plates to cut down on this job and the clean-up duties, though. I know it's terrible for the environment. I know it. But ... how many times a day can I run my dishwasher??? And: is that any better for the planet, I ask you?
Oliver gets a bottle just after lunch. I rock him and read a Sonlight read-aloud to the older kids while they color. This is a really nice, quiet time. I find myself looking forward to it each day. A baby in my arms, a book in hand, and children splayed on the rug around me ... it's almost painfully perfect. I feel so full and happy in that hour or so of time that I find myself reading just one more chapter, then another. It's an absolute blessing balm to my day.
Nap/rest time is still immediately following lunch and reading. Oliver naps until about 2:30 p.m. The big kids read until about that same time, and I sneak in some writing time. Again, a blessing in my day that I am so grateful to have.
After nap, Oliver needs a snack, and the older kids need some wide-open play time. They have been retreating to their rooms, or to the game room where they have set up a massive Lego structure based on The Great Wheel. They don't have enough curved pieces to build a full wheel, though, so I have a feeling that the Empire State Building might be on its way soon.
We come back together around four or so. On sunny days, we've taken walks. Atticus' baseball practice is two nights a week, and AWANA is one other evening, so occasionally we need an early dinner. The kids--all four of them--play and listen to a book on CD while I cook. Sometimes Jo joins me in the kitchen, but often she's enjoying the role of Little Mommy so much that she can't be pulled away.
After dinner, it's bath and stories and bed and ...
Life is so good.