A Day in the Life.

by Alexa on February 26, 2014

I love, love the “Day in the Life” posts that people (most recently Two Adults, Susie, Miriel) do, and so I did one. Ten-ish days ago. Since then we’ve had multiple rounds of illness, some of the LAMBADA variety, and it took me until now to find time to type this up from the notes I kept. People often include pictures, and I meant to, but forgot about this part after about 6:30 a.m., so except for a few dark, blurry shots at the beginning (everything is dark and blurry at 5 a.m.), you will just have to use your imagination.

I should note that I considered not publishing this, as things rather fell apart after work and this account does not paint me in the most flattering light, but what is the Internet for if not humiliating oneself? I do in fact cook sometimes, and bathe my children, and stay up late to accomplish things, though all of this has taken rather a hit since starting my new job. I think I will do a “Day in the Life” post every once in a while (ooh, and a weekend one too, as would be entirely different), and hopefully over time we will see a progression of competence. (Doubtful.)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13TH 2014

4:38 a.m.:

Wake up. Too close to alarm time to go back to sleep. Think whiny morning thoughts.

4:46 a.m.:
Get up. Take Fitbit off bedside table and carry it with me to bathroom so as not to lose those ten precious steps. Perform morning ablutions. Return to dark bedroom to apply moisturizer, squint at clothes. Alarm sounds, as forgot to turn it off. Get dressed using only sense of touch. Favorite work pants seem loose—feel smug. Looseness certainly due to full month of weight training, despite loss of not a single pound. Or, pants have stretched out a bit from frequent wear. Both explanations equally plausible, alas. Have no clean socks. Sigh loudly, feel aggrieved. Begin makeup. Go out to kitchen to retrieve powder from purse. Sight of kitchen only worsens mood. Civilization is collapsing all around us!

5:10 a.m.:
Hear Scott’s alarm go off. Return to bedroom. Scott tells me I can turn on the light. I do, and mention lack of clean socks. Continue getting ready.

5:14 a.m.:
Twyla wakes up. She slithers off the bed and comes over to me with her arms raised, wanting up. As is our custom, she points at various objects on my dresser top and I hand them to her in turn. She examines Petitcollin snow globe with baby doll inside, goat figurine, Matryoshka and contents, other goat figurine, baby snow globe again. I put her down and resume getting ready.

5:20 a.m.:
Scott’s alarm goes off again.
“Shut up,” he tells it.
“DAD! You said not to say shut up!”
Simone is awake.
“You can say it to phones,” Scott explains, “just not to people.”

I leave bedroom to find clothes for girls. Simone has no clean socks, pants. I am the worst. Scott, also, is the worst. Entropy will soon overtake us all. I put outfit for Twyla and only-partially-clean outfit for Simone on couch. Simone used to get her own clothes in the morning, but our schedule is such lately that it’s easier for me to do it. Simone often modifies outfit due to whim, or sudden “itchiness” of previously acceptable pants.

5:30 a.m.:
Everyone is out of the bedroom (Simone slept with us last night, as she still often does, though that will be ending when her new comforter arrives, per a previous agreement). I return to bedroom and make the bed, if by “make the bed” you mean “roughly pull up comforter so that cats will not lay on the sheet”
Good enough.
Try, fail to take picture of work outfit (grey tweed pants, black tank, grey leopard cardigan, black wedge booties) for this “Day in the Life” blog entry. Luckily am not fashion blogger and no one cares.
This is why I do not have one of those "outfit of the day" type blogs.

5:35 a.m.:
I put Twyla’s beloved stuffed kitty in her daycare bag. The children are watching TV. Scott is making them disgusting vegetarian sausage patties. I take lunches from the fridge and add ice packs. I remember that I forgot to write a note for Simone’s lunch the night before and do it now. Simone wanders into the kitchen.
Morning child
She wants to know why I don’t put a note in Twyla’s lunch, and I remind her that Twyla can’t read. She wants French toast sticks. I put some in the toaster and she begins to count to see how long they take (45 seconds). Scott is off getting ready now, children are eating in living room. I wash platter for the brownies I am bringing to work for Treat Day. I take my thyroid medicine. I ask Scott to print off a form we need to sign, and he does, and we sign it. There is a commotion in the other room—Lennie has stolen one of Twyla’s sausages. She is indignant, as well she should be. I pack some pineapple for a snack that I will later forget to eat, put ice in my water bottle, and go to fill it with water. Unfortunately, water pitcher near empty, because SOMEONE did not refill before putting it back. More muttering re: civilization, entropy, etc. Put on coat, gather up box of (bakery) brownies, work bag, etc. Say good bye to Scott. Wave good bye to children, who wave back, more or less.
Twyla waves goodbyeSimone mostly indifferent to my departure

5:55 a.m.:
Note time. Seems impossible that all of the above transpired in 20 minutes, but it did. Leave apartment.

It has snowed, but only a little, and feels very warm. Car informs me it is 20 degrees, which at this point qualifies as Heat Wave. Drive to work listening to NPR. It is Minnesota Public Radio pledge drive. Have not yet figured out how to make phone talk via Bluetooth to my car, so cannot listen to music. Remind self for 100th time (conservative estimate) to look at manual/Internet soon and figure this out (reminder instantly forgotten until next time I drive somewhere). Think uncharitable thoughts at radio announcers. I hold a bit of a grudge against Minnesota Public Radio, you see. Both of the times I was on an NPR program—1st when I read an essay on Morning Edition, and then when I was interviewed about my book on All Things Considered—Minnesota Public Radio did not carry my segment. I was very excited to be on public radio, and told everyone to listen, and then I was preempted, first for local story (I AM LOCAL STORY!) then for pledge drive. Both pieces were actually taped long distance with me in Minnesota Public Radio studio, and yet I could only listen to myself online, via a different affiliate, and I am not yet over this very grave and serious injustice.

6:20 a.m.:
Arrive at work. Try to take picture of work while walking towards it. In dark. Shockingly, it comes out poorly.
Work

6:25 a.m.:
Arrive at desk.
My desk

While computer turns self on, arrange brownies on plate atop central low bookshelf containing various annotated codes. Log on to sundry systems, check email. Session laws have come in, but are only appropriations. Do some work things with them.

6:45 a.m.:
Head to far cafeteria (farness means more steps for perpetually disappointed Fitbit) to get usual breakfast of delicious egg sandwich and cup of black coffee, which I consume back at my desk.

7:00 a.m.:
Text with Scott about children. Simone had a meltdown at daycare drop off, had to be more or less pried off of Scott, sobbed that she “doesn’t like her schedule.” I feel just wonderful about this, as you can imagine. Scott says Twyla fared better at her own daycare drop off, where she did not cry and was last seen playing with a toy lamp.

7:10 a.m.:
Work. Check email and become incensed all over again by very low scare tactics of school district, who have sent out email about possible teacher’s strike enumerating for parents all the ways in which a strike will inconvenience them, including “possibly impacting your summer plans.” Decide will definitely attend school board meeting/rally next week to support teachers. Possibly will speak eloquently but firmly as to importance of small class sizes. Try to remember words to “Union Maid.” Am, as Scott said last night when first mentioned attending the rally, basically Norma Rae. Am also all too aware that on actual night of rally will probably come home too exhausted to possibly attend. More work.

7:50 a.m.:
Scott texts that we need one more quarter in order to do laundry. Challenge accepted!

8:00 a.m.:
Say good morning to friend Becky over work IM. Sometimes we meet up to refill coffee/waters at this time but she’s already done so. I walk to far cafeteria to fill water bottle and get second cup of coffee of the day (coffee is free—there is also a Caribou on the 4th floor, but I am not made of money). I get back and talk about work issues with my boss. Worky talk, worky talk.

8:33 a.m.:
Untouched coffee now lukewarm. Drink it anyway. Check state bill tracking websites. Scan subject matter listings for something amusing to read, settle on “An act relating to Bees.” Move on to Equine Education bill that mentions Horse Council, devote a few minutes to imagining proceedings of said council, which is obviously made up entirely of horses.

{Ed. Note: this image so enchants me that am still thinking about it nearly two weeks later, and when drawing with Simone yesterday, spent time sketching Council.}
Horse Council!
Am delighted to notice bill has emergency and immediate effectiveness language. It’s an Equine Emergency! Tear self away to work on other jurisdiction, in less amusing arena of Schedule Fretting.

9:20 a.m.:
Trek to far cafeteria for third and final cup of coffee. When I return, everyone is gathered around treats, which have multiplied. Cut an apple fritter into fourths and eat one of said fourths with coffee.

10:00 a.m.:
Am shocked to find it is not yet lunch time.

10:30 a.m.:
Email from one of the teachers at Simone’s morning daycare program. She feels badly about how difficult drop off has been for Simone—apparently not just today, but several days this week. Teacher assures me Simone recovers quickly with some one-on-one time and then goes on to play with other kids, but says staff was talking and is wondering if we have suggestions for helping Simone with the drop off transition. They’d also like to help her initiate play and make friends in daycare program.

Feel sad, befuddled. Daycare drop off had been fine, previously. Simone’s been going for a bit over a month and loving it. Is she just tired? Heaven knows I feel like sobbing “I DON’T LIKE MY SCHEDULE” some mornings. Begin what is now a familiar rumination on Simone’s anxiety. Is this developmental, temperamental, or sign of something more serious? Make mental note to bring this up with kindly child psychologist at next visit. Google “difficulty with transitions” on phone. Feel scandalized by own lack of qualifications for motherhood in general, motherhood of Simone in particular. Shouldn’t I have had to take a test, pass training course of some kind? Send work email. IM with Becky about Simone, lunch. Coworker comes by to brief me on project I will be helping with in afternoon.

11:00 a.m.:
Meet Becky to pick up lunch at near cafeteria (but take the stairs). I get soup to eat at my desk almost every day, and have often wondered whether people secretly refer to me as “Soup Lady” or “Soupy Sales” (latter would be more amusing if I worked in Sales department), but I love soup too much to change my habits. Today, though, I am still shaken up about Simone email and instead get a salmon burger with half a bun and a side of grilled zucchini. I take it back to my desk and eat while reading a few pages of my book (the new Flavia de Luce, it is just okay so far) on my phone. I am, as ever, shocked at the speed with which my lunch disappears. I use the last bit of my half hour to type up some of the post you are reading now.

11:30 a.m.:
Start checking data compare corrections for another jurisdiction. Sign out 150 pg section of large Title, pull up one document on each monitor, and begin slow, squinty process. Occasionally check my progress, the time, feel horrified by both.

2:20 p.m.:
Finished. Exhausted. Hand off corrections. Go to bathroom and see that my eyes are pink and shiny as a bunny’s.

2:40 p.m.:
Remember I need a quarter. IM Becky to see if she has one. She does; wants to know if there are still brownies. She is too busy and important to leave desk so I ferry brownie up to her on the fifth floor. She gives me two quarters in exchange. I return to desk, chat with boss, coworkers, wrap up business of day.

3:00 p.m.:
Turn off computer, put on coat, leave work. Temperature allegedly moderate, but wind is fierce, icy. Try not to slip on ice in heels on way to car.

3:25 p.m.:
Park across street from Simone’s school. Sometimes I run an errand on the way (tailoring, grocery, wine shop), but today I was too tired to consider such a thing and instead sit limply in car, wandering Internet and looking things up on phone.

3:59 p.m.:
Leave car and cross street to wait for Simone to come out. Am freezing. Each day, I try to time it so that I will not have to stand and shiver, and each day I fail. Stand and shiver. Make empty weather-related threats with other shivering parents.

4:06 p.m.:
Simone arrives, we wait for crossing guards and walk back across street to car. She tells me about Valentine she is making for Scott, tells me too that it was her turn to put Valentines in the Valentine bags of her classmates but she was one short. I promise we will make an extra as soon as we get home. Snow banks have made streets narrow, nearly impassable. Drive bumpily, carefully home on frozen clumps of ice and packed snow.

4:25 p.m.:
Home. Trudge up many flights of stairs, shed backpacks and bags and coats onto their  various hooks and carts. Scott and Twyla are already home. Twyla is eating Cheerios and watching Doc McStuffins, Scott is on laptop on couch. Simone joins them. Find extra Valentine Simone has already written her name upon, attach sticky frog Valentine favor with festive tape, put in pocket of Simone’s backpack and tell her it is there. Have forgotten to think of dinner. Lately have been eating carefully pre-portioned leftovers from freezer, making separate dinner for children, but am out of these and too tired to cope with challenge of coming up with something else. Order takeout. Not healthy takeout. Cheeseburger. Chat with Scott about day’s events.

4:45 p.m.:
Get out weight book, weights, do routine for Thursday.

5:05 p.m.:
Gather and empty lunch boxes, make lunches for next day for both girls. Scott comes into kitchen and we chat. We are out of peanut butter, he will pick some up. I tell him I got quarter so he can do laundry. It is all very romantic. Put lunches in fridge.

5:20 p.m.:
Food arrives. Change into jammies and eat in front of television. Wish I could say this was rare occurrence, but in fact dinner with Daily Show is fairly standard, though am perpetually assuring myself that this will change. In my defense, girls are eating at play table, not on couch with us. (Couch is new, you see.)

5:50 p.m.:
Simone and I curl up to read next chapters of Ivy and Bean while Scott changes Twyla and puts her in pajamas.

6:10 p.m.:
I sort out load of most urgently needed clothes for Scott to wash later, making sure to include requested “Valentine colors” for Simone and Twyla.

6:25 p.m.:
Scott and a very excited Simone (this is special treat for her, going out alone with father on a school night) leave for errands disguised as outing (used bookstore for old magazines to be used in project at Scott’s work, store for milk and peanut butter, gas station for self-evident reason). I make a gin and ginger, gather Twyla and her Kitty, and repair to bedroom, where I watch part of an episode of “Parenthood” on my laptop, cuddle with Twyla, and sing to her as requested (“Me” she says, signing “more”). She is alternately fractious and loving. I urge her to sleep, which suggestion she rejects. She climbs off the bed and cries, then back on to snuggle. I let her work it out with herself. She acts bereaved and calls for Scott, but I know from experience that if he were the one putting her to sleep she would be calling for me (her name for me is a kissing sound), so am unmoved. She crawls back up next to me eventually and settles down.

7:00 p.m.:
Show ends, I read my book on my phone.

7:15 p.m.:
Twyla is asleep.

7:36 p.m.:
I hear door open. Simone and Scott are home.

7:45 p.m.:
Simone slips into bed next to me in her pajamas, teeth brushed. I get up to pee and remember I forgot to wash my face. Wash face. Simone comes out of bedroom to talk to me, runs to get newly acquired yoyo to show off. She is extremely enthusiastic but terrible yoyoist. Back in bed I snuggle Simone and try to read again. Notice I only drank half of my gin and ginger, feel remorse. Simone asleep almost immediately.

8:00ish p.m.:
Set alarm. Begin nightly routine of lulling self to sleep by playing SpellTower until am too tired to continue. Reprimand self for terrible sleep hygiene.

8:32 p.m.:
Go to sleep.

Leave a Comment

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

electriclady February 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I am super impressed by the EARLYNESS of your day. 4:30 wakeup! At work by 6:20! Leaving work at 3! Bed at 8:30! Like, these numbers do not even compute for me. (I get up at 6:30 and go to bed far too late. Pre-kids I woke up at 8:30 .)

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:25 am

Well, my brain really stops working well by about 4pm, so I have never been able to accomplish anything work-related late in the day, and am impressed by people who are still at work at 7:00 in the evening. (Though when Pocket Part season starts I will be working early AND late, so…that will be fun.)

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HFF February 26, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Oooo, I LOVE these type of posts! (In the cause of Sharing Detail I will add that I read this hunched up at the office desk with my supper balanced precariously half-on-desk-half-over-thin-air – and I don’t think I glanced down at my fork much, as it sporadically arrived empty.)
I was theoretically aware of the US habit for early starts at work, but… wow. If there is more than one 4.45 in my day, I am very unfitted for company.
Harry’s transitions are what we struggle with most, still. Transitional objects help quite a bit – he frequently is allowed to bring something (inconveniently sized, generally) away or along, in an attempt to neutralise All The Mighty Complaints And Non-Co-Operation.
Harry used to sign ‘more’ ludicrously incorrectly – he used Friends’ Ross & Monica’s ‘Fuck You’ fist-smack…

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Kathleen February 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Brilliant. I have often wondered how you manage to find time to produce witty, erudite and well, just clever writing on your blog. (Terrible writing on part, I know: “clever” probably subsumes the other 2, but hey, I didn’t say I had any of the above qualities.)

Now I’m amazed that you are even lucid.

I’m very impressed you make this schedule work. I am an early person, but I resent having to pack it in early, especially when my husband follows into bed very late. Good for you to manage to avoid the trap of staying up till all hours just to fit in with the world’s stupid expectations of grown-ups.

I’ve got to ask, though, was it the kids’ early rising that led to this schedule, or are you bowing to the demands of your or your husband’s work schedule?
Either way, good on you.

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:26 am

Simone has been taking a picture of me and Scott to daycare in the morning, in the manner of an orphan who has only a photograph to remember her parents by. It has maybe helped a little, but not much, alas.

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S February 26, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I liked this post! Even if it made me feel like I can no longer complain about getting up at 5:30 every morning. :-)

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:27 am

You can too complain! 5:30 is still too early. Anything before 6:00 is night.

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Kristina February 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

EARLY! You have the schedule my husband would like us to have but which I refuse because 4:30 is a no. We have been having enormous drop off problems with my son lately, I am ashamed to say that bribery seems to have won the day for us. I created a “chore chart” for him and one of his chores is “No Crying.” I am a terrible parent. Everyday he does his chores (eat breakfast, NO CRYING, put toys away) he gets a sticker, 10 stickers and …. Legos! This morning when I dropped him off he seemed to be getting ready to cry so I whispered in his ear “remember the chart!” He pulled himself together and off he went. You should obviously try something a little more high-minded and generally beneficial for your child’s wellbeing, but yeah … bribery.

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:30 am

Whatever works, at this point. I sent her to her room last night until she could stop crying, not for any real reason except that I needed a break from it (which sounds terrible! but is true).

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HereWeGoAJen February 26, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I have been writing my post today! The only problem is that I have been writing it as I am doing it and I am pretty sure it is novel length now.

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:31 am

Yes, I suspect this is how mine got away from me as well…

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Katie February 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Things I love about this post slash thoughts in general:
1) All union thoughts by you. I am happy about the contract and need more people with which to discuss. Did you go to the meeting? I did not as B was doing actual SPPS work thing and no way was I taking Kiernan even though I KNOW the rally was for children etc etc.
2) I think that kindergartners are uniformly terrible at transitions. Mine is, at least. I just think it’s a lot to handle and now is the part of kindergarten that seems to be getting harder (at least for Kiernan) and she is often having a rough go of it. Which is not to downplay Simone’s issues, but you are doing a great job and also I understand the fretting.
3) Takeout cheeseburgers. Where do you get yours? We usually do the Blue Door and if there is another source of excellent locally-sourced cheeseburgers I would like to know of them.
4) I am super impressed you actually go to bed at 830.

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Alexa February 28, 2014 at 7:34 am

I think we need a happy hour soon to discuss all these points further…

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Kyla February 26, 2014 at 5:42 pm

This – is – amazing. And inspiring. And funny. You are a super-hero!

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Jen February 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I am also extremely impressed at the sheer EARLINESS of your schedule/day. I don’t think I knew that people actually arrived to offices that early. (I work in Madison, WI, in HR nonetheless). Bravo to you. I also love reading these posts!

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Heather February 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Man – your schedule would kill me. I’m married to someone who likes to get up and 5 and be at the office by 6 to get a jump on his day. Me? I’m lucky to be up and showered by 7:30. My last job didn’t start until 10am, so I guess in a way I had the opposite schedule — working late is hard too.

I hope Simone has been having an easier time lately. My oldest kiddo is definitely less flexible as to schedules and struggled a LOT with transitions. Still does sometimes (he’s 9 now), but the daily grind stuff is much better. Once the routine is set and he knows what to expect, he settles down. It’s so very hard, though, when a kiddo is unhappy. :(

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Janelle February 27, 2014 at 3:42 am

Ooh! This is a nice way to write your thoughts. It feels a lot like Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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ldoo February 27, 2014 at 11:19 am

Wow. WOW. Such an early day! Sorry drop off is so hard. It’ll get better. My 5-year-old struggles with every new schedule change, and then she stops.

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Andrea February 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I find the minutiae of someone else’s life endlessly fascinating. Thank you for sharing! I hope Simone gets adjusted soon. If I had realized that feeling like a bad mother/terrible person would be the norm in motherhood…well I don’t know. I’m sure I wouldn’t have listened or believed if anyone had told me anyway!

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Lynda O February 28, 2014 at 3:46 am

Your photos are so charming! Also, 4:30 wake up time? Wow. I wake up at 6 and it takes me a good 10 minutes before I actually get up from the bed.

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Life of a Doctor's Wife March 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

I love this. So very much.

The part that most spoke to me was the bit about feeling unqualified to parent your particular kid. I feel that lack of qualification far too often. It is so disconcerting. But in the worst definition of the term. Like, I feel tipped on my side, like a turtle on his back, legs churning fruitlessly. Yuck.

Ahem. Let’s move onto something differnet: You look ADORABLE in the leopard sweater. Love.

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sheilah March 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Alexis is slaying me. So funny. I can’t make up my mind over what I liked the best: is it the whiny morning thoughts or could it be the lunch time shock. Other contenders include the empty weather related threats (a definite darkhorse) and it is all very romantic.

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Amy Lee March 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I am jealous that your place of work has two cafeterias. I scavenge for left over retirement cake in the break room.

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Lisa March 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

This was the first post I have ever read on your blog and I love your writing style. I frequently find myself saying “I am the worst.” “Chris (my husband) is the worst.” Your blog feels like home. Only wittier and better at spelling. Thanks!

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