| Written by Ronnie |
Every three months or so, I try to record an entire day in as much detail as I can manage. Unfortunately, I didn't get round to doing this last quarter. I bit the bullet this past weekend, and managed to document our family's day off on the Saturday. At the end of the year, my plan is to compile all of this into a small coffee table book.
I am jolted from my sleep by the loud creak of our bedroom door opening. I already know that it is Jamie coming in to use our bathroom. Soon, I can hear Rick murmuring our usual morning mantra: "Good boy, Jamie. Go back to bed, it's not yet time to wake up." I squeeze my eyes tight and try to fall back asleep. I also push my ear plugs further back in. It's no use. The boys have all begun to stir. I can make out Bear's distinctive chuckle and can already picture the cheekiness on his face as he starts to make mischief. There is the sound of foot steps running up and down the corridor, accompanied by whispers, giggles, and laughter. Doors open and close every few minutes. Rick and I take turns issuing futile instructions from our bed. "Go back to bed, boys!" "Stop opening and closing doors!" However, it's pretty clear it's all pointless. We roll over and exchange a quick hug. "It's okay, I'll get up soon and give them breakfast..." Rick murmurs in my ear. "Thanks, darling." We both lie there, listening to the boys continue their escapades and yearning for more sleep...
Rick says something funny, and I crack up laughing. Pete and Jamie both come rushing in. "We heard a chicken in here!" "That was your mother." I crack up again, and the boys have the most incredulous look on their faces. You would think they'd never heard me laugh before. Rick gets up. He closes the bedroom door behind him so that I can get more sleep. (How much do I love this man?.) He gets the boys dressed and makes their beds. I can hear them all going downstairs and for a while, I just lie there, enjoying the peace and quiet. I try to go back to sleep, but to no avail. I lie there and do a few of the corset strengthening exercises my physio has recommended that I do. I swing my legs over the edge of the bed and manage to get up. I make our bed and then I go from bedroom to bedroom, tidying each one as I go until everything feels calm once more. I head downstairs, to see that the boys have switched seats at the meals table: Pete is in my seat and Jamie is in Pete's. They all look up and reward me with a beautiful grin: "Hello mummy!" "Hey boys..." I give each of them a kiss in turn.
The boys finish their breakfast cereals. The big boys bring their bowls and cups over to the kitchen, while I help Bear down from his high chair and wipe his mouth for him. Slightly queasy from hunger, I decide to make my own breakfast: Just Right with So Good. As I sit down to eat, Bear comes running in to get me. I follow him into the playroom, and reach up to get the cooking toys down for him. All four boys converge on the little suitcase of pots, pans, and wooden food. Pete asks for more, but I tell him that's all we have. As I settle back down at the table to my So Good and Just Right, the boys begin to dream up their imaginary play. They scurry back and forth between the play room and the lounge room, passing the meals table each time. Angus and Bear are pretending to be little dogs, Jamie is wielding a sword, and Pete is a fireman. From where I sit, it looks hilarious but they are totally into it. At one point, Bear comes up and tells me, "Gussy Bear house - fire!" I can't help but smile. Meanwhile, Rick puts washing on the line and unpacks the back of the Disco, which is still filled with all the holiday kids club stuff that he brought home last night. I finish with my breakfast and join Rick outside. While he vacuums the back of the Disco, I sweep the patio. The amount of dust and dead insects that have gathered is astounding. Afterwards, I quickly check the class forums to answer any questions that have popped up for my two online classes.
Rick takes the boys off to the mall. At Target, he finds matching rash tops for all of them and boy-leg Speedos for the big boys. He consults with me via SMS. They then head to Coles to buy buns for lunch and apples and grapes for our trip to the beach later. Back at home, the solitude is utterly refreshing. I potter about, tidying rooms and tying up all sorts of loose ends around the house (like putting away the carpet cleaner that's been sitting on the bathroom's windowsill for the past week). It feels good. I then head to the bedroom to freshen up and get ready for the day. I wash my hair, brush my teeth, and clean my face. I don my black swimsuit and throw my linen dress over the top. I even remember to apply sunscreen before powdering my face.
I head downstairs and start to pack for the beach. I stuff our seven beach towels into the basket bag, and there is just enough room left for the boys' hats and goggles. I also pack my wallet, sunglasses, phone, camera, and Moleskine notebook into my canvas messenger bag. Around half past, Rick returns home and unloads the boys. He tells me that Bear is really tired. We chat briefly and decide to alter our plans: we'll have quiet time first and then head out to the beach in the afternoon. While the boys eat their cheese and bacon buns at the meals table, I sit on the couch in the play room with a bowl of seedless grapes. I can see Bear from where I am. I wave at him. In response, he pulls his usual funny faces and then gives me the sweetest smile he can muster. I can't help but chuckle and he mimics me. Which makes me chuckle even more. Rick briefs the boys on our change of plans. They are all disappointed that they have to wait for the beach but reluctantly agree to go along with it. One by one, they finish their buns. Angus and Pete come into the family room to give me hugs. Angus gets Pete's blanket for him, and Pete gets Angus' water bottle for him. It's quite sweet. Pete heads to Rick's study and Angus heads to the lounge room. Jamie wants to sleep downstairs as well, but Rick and I both insist that he rests in his room as usual. He agrees to listen and heads upstairs. I follow him and ask him for a hug on the stairs. He happily obliges: "If I give you a hug, I can stay downstairs longer." Funny little kid. Bear takes the longest to finish his bun, but eventually Rick takes him upstairs as well and puts him down for a nap in his cot.
One by one, as if on cue, the boys get up to use the bathroom. Bear, in sync with everyone else, does his business and Rick goes up to change his nappy. I clean up the kitchen and sweep the floor under the meals table. Rick and I reconvene in the family room and both of us attempt to have a lie down. Our plans are thwarted by Bear, who keeps getting out of bed.
After several failed attempts at encouraging Bear to stay in bed, I put him in the naughty garage for five minutes. At the end of it, we have a bit of a stand-off, with him refusing to come back inside and me refusing to let him back inside until he apologises and verbally agrees to stay in bed. Eventually he does, and I carry him back upstairs. He puts his head on my shoulder and I give him a tight, squeezy hug. Once he's back in bed, he asks me to read Uno's Garden to him, which I do. And then, finally, he rolls over and closes his eyes to sleep. I sigh with relief and exhaustion. I head back downstairs. Rick has his eyes closed in the family room. I sit down in my mini under-the-stairs office and proceed to choose photos for Weeks 27-29 of our 2014 family life album (a catch-up project that's been on my list for some time now). Angus comes out to ask if it's time to get up yet. I tell him, no. Shortly afterwards, I hear Pete let out a couple of loud groans. I go in to him and tell him I'll get them up soon. I return to the computer and re-jig my schedule a little to give myself more time and space to work on my projects.
After about forty minutes of napping, Bear begins to cry for daddy. Rick wakes up (with much difficulty) and goes upstairs to him. I tell Angus and Pete that they can get up. They can hardly contain their excitement. Without me having to ask them, they tidy up their resting areas and then come rushing out to the play room. I help them cut off the tags from their brand new swimmers. They get changed together in the play room, and I fold up their day clothes to take with us to the beach. I can still hear Bear screaming upstairs. Poor Rick, I think to myself. Soon, Jamie comes rushing downstairs, already changed and wearing the same top and bottom as Angus and Pete. The three of them look very cute, all matching in their blue outfits. I grab my camera and ask for a photo. First, cool faces. Then, funny faces. Bear continues to scream upstairs. I pack our supplies into another canvas bag: apples, grapes, sultanas, Vita Weats, and water bottles. Rick brings Bear downstairs. The little guy does not look happy, and as soon as his feet touch the ground, he starts to climb back up the stairs. While Rick gets the other boys into the car, I attempt to encourage/bribe Bear with a Ferrero Rocher. Fail. In the end, he just wants "Dadda!!!" Rick comes to get him and and then puts him in the car as well. I follow suit, grabbing a few bananas from the fruit bowl along the way. Sure enough, as soon as Bear and Jamie spot the bananas, they each want one. I pull on my thongs, hand out bananas to those who want them, and then we're off. As we head up Wakehurst Parkway, Angus asks Rick, "Are you going the right way?" Within ten minutes or less, I'm asleep...
We arrive at the beach around 3.10pm. I wake up from my slumber just as Rick is pulling out of the parking lot where we usually park. It is full. Thankfully, we find a spot along the main road, which is only about five minutes walk away from the beach. Between the two of us, Rick and I manage to carry our four bags of stuff. Together, Angus and Pete have the big plastic bucket covered. The boys follow our instructions to a tee and we reach the beach without any fuss. With the afternoon sun beating down on us, we find a spot on the grass area and put down our things. Many other families are still about. I lay out one of our beach towels and sit down. The big boys are bursting with excitement. They each find their goggles and I help them each to adjust the straps while Rick changes Bear into his swimmers. Bear expresses some hesitation about going down to the water. I tell him that he can always stay with mummy if he wants. He goes with Rick and the other boys. I watch them from afar and can see Pete making a mad dash into the water. I re-arrange some of our things onto the beach towel and then follow the others down to the water. The boys are absolutely ecstatic to be splashing around in the water. Even Bear has forgotten all his inhibitions and is happily running back and forth from the sand, throwing tiny mud pies into the water. I am in utter awe of how much he's grown and changed since the last time we were here. At one point, his rash top rides up his back a bit, and Jamie goes over to help him pull it back down. Very sweet. Rick stands knee-deep in water while I watch on from the sand. We grin at each other. Despite how much effort it took to get here, it's pretty clear to both of us that it was totally worth it. I start to look forward to summer and all the beach fun that we'll have together. In between splashing each other and Rick, the boys run in and out of the water and also manage to make a number of big mud pies. I recall a distinct memory I have as a little girl playing on the beach, and I can't help but marvel at the cycle of life. Another family nearby gets into their little motor boat and disappears into the distant horizon. I make a comment to Rick that I'd love to get a fold-up beach chair. After fifteen minutes or so, I head back up to our spot on the grass and sit down on the towel. I continue to watch the boys from afar. I can see them chasing a seagull around. Just as Bear appears to wander off a little bit too far from the others, Pete runs up to him and says, "Stop Bear!" He then drapes his arm protectively around Bear's shoulders. I smile, sit back, and give thanks for the boys and the way they look out for each other.
I lie down onto the towel and scribble notes into my Moleskine. Mostly, however, I sit back and observe the scene around me. There is a young couple nearby, both of them fit and tanned. There is a large family with older kids sitting on the edge of the sand. They have umbrellas and beach chairs and an esky filled with cold drinks. Further along the beach, there is a wedding party and, as it draws to a close, wedding guests come walking past as they head back to the carpark. They are all beautifully dressed up, and in particular, I admire an elegant-looking girl in a long black and white dress. I can hardly remember the last time I got dressed up. Around half past, Rick and the boys join me on the towel. The boys' have wrinkly skin, runny noses, and the biggest smiles on their faces. "Did you boys have fun?" "YES!!!!" I open up the box of grapes and the boys devour them at great speed. I have to remind them to chew carefully and also manage to save some for Rick. After the grapes, they have Vita Weats and Angus and Bear also say yes to an apple each. The big boys begin to shiver, so we wrap each of them up in a beach towel. At about quarter to five, we pick up our things and head over to the BBQ and showering area. The boys put their thongs back on, and we each take turns washing the sand off their feet. Rick goes to get the car with Bear, while the big boys and I wait behind. We watch other families pack their stuff into their cars. "That man has a lot of surfboards!" Jamie points to a car with about four surfboards on top. "Yes he does... he must really like surfing," I reply. I spot the Land Rover and tell the boys to wait where they are. I walk over and chat with Bear while Rick retrieves our bags and the other boys. There is another Land Rover nearby - an camouflage-coloured military Defender to be exact - and Rick has a quick chat with the owner. As we pull out of the carpark, Ricks tells all about the army Defender - namely, that it has ten seats and that the seats face each other in the back. "When are we going to buy one of those cars?" asks Jamie. Neither Rick nor I answer.
Once again, I fall asleep in the car. When I wake, the time on the car clock reads 5.40pm, and the car is quiet, empty, and parked in our garage. I get out, take off my thongs, and go inside. The boys are all in the family room. They are changed, showered, and watching ABC2. I am thoroughly impressed (though not surprised) by Rick's efficiency. In the kitchen, I can see that he already has dinner cooking on the stovetop. "Love you, darling," I mumble, as I stumble past. I am absolutely shattered; I head straight into the lounge room and lie down for yet another nap...
Rick wakes me and tells me it's time for dinner. Somehow, I manage to get up and make it to the kitchen. He has make chicken with pasta spirals. The chicken smells appetising. We sit down with the boys. We are both exhausted but try to stay upbeat to urge the boys along with their dinner. We chat about the day, and reflect on how wonderful it's been. With the exception of Angus, all the boys are tired and slow to eat.
We wrap up dinner, and usher everybody upstairs to bed. Rick tells a quick bedtime story and a bible story in Pete and Jamie's room, and then it's time for goodnight hugs and kisses. I tell each of the boys that I love them, and then I tell each of them to go to sleep. I give Bear an extra stern warning to not get out of bed, and he says, "Yes, mama!" Gorgeous little man. By half past, the boys are in bed and Rick and I are back downstairs. I put the kettle on and Rick goes to his office to tidy his desk. I sit down in my mini office as well, and finish choosing photos for Weeks 27 to 29.
I spend an hour processing reimbursements for our holiday kids' club earlier in the week. My high school friends and I also exchange Whatsapp messages. Rick prepares to work on his sermon for tomorrow.
Rick and I shower, then head back downstairs to work in the dining room together. He does sermon prep while I edit the holiday kids club video to show at church tomorrow.
I finally finish editing at quarter to eleven. We move our computers back to our respective offices and then head upstairs.
Shattered. Bed. Sleep...
You can read the other posts in this series here.