A Eulogy for Katherine Patton

These are the words my father wrote when his mother died in 1984. I remember him delivering this eulogy. I have reproduced it here, nearly word for word. I may have added a comma for clarification, corrected a spelling or two, but other than that, it is true to what he wrote, and what he said at her funeral.

I have asked permission to speak to you this morning about my mother, Katherine Patton, to shed a little insight upon the very special person that she was.

I am sure that my brother and sisters could tell little stories about mom, special moments that occurred very briefly, but had that special quality about them that made them very easy to remember, or, more importantly, impossible to forget. It’s as if they occurred only yesterday. In my stories this morning, I’d like to tell you about lessons that she taught me that have helped me cope with this life we live.

But first, a little about my mom. I don’t remember Mother talking a lot about herself. Over the last few years, I would spend time with her in her apartment, and ask her about her past. She would speak briefly about it. The stories were almost always short, as if she didn’t want to draw attention to herself by talking about herself for too long. They always ended with a little laugh or smile, and that statement, “Well, that’s enough about me!”

She told me about growing up on a little farm in Ireland. She remembered walking to school down the road in bare feet, along with the rest of the children. She told me about one of the first jobs she was given on the farm: She had to get up early in the morning and make sure the chicken and geese did not go onto the pond before they laid their eggs. When I asked why that was so important, she looked at me, surprised. “Timmy, if they laid their eggs in the water, that’s one less egg for the family!”

I once asked if she felt poor. She said, “No. You are only poor if you want things that you don’t or can’t have.” Everyone she knew had as little as she did, so she couldn’t remember a feeling of “being poor.”

We talked about school. Here was a woman who encouraged me, pushed me, and prayed me through college. I asked her how long she went to school. She said, with a tone of pride, “As far as I could.” When I replied that I didn’t understand, she told me about her last day. She remembered the teacher calling her up to her desk. Mom figured she was going to get her report card like the other children. The teacher said, “Katherine, we have taught you all we can. You now know all you need to know to go out and get a job, and it’s time for you to get on with your life.” That was Mom’s graduation.

I asked why she came over to this country, and she explained that some of her brothers had come over first. When they sent back letters and pictures, in the pictures they wore shirts with collars. That was a measure of success, so she felt that America offered her an opportunity to work hard and achieve a degree of success. So she decided to give it a try.

I am sure that everyone has a different idea of what a parent should do for his or her children. One of mine is the responsibility of the parent to teach the children as much as he or she can about coping and adjusting to all the things that can happen in life. There are many things I remember about Mom, but I was truly impressed with her wisdom. My mother gave me my faith, taught me about love and about keeping things in perspective, and explained to me how to deal with death. She always lived what she believed.

I once asked Mom how she had the strength and courage to raise seven children in this world. She told me that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. She said, “Every morning, I ask God for his grace and help, and then I would go and do what had to be done. At the end of the day, I would thank Him for His help, ask forgiveness if I failed, and begin all over the next day.” She placed her children in God’s hands, and did what she had to do. She explained it was a partnership: God would do His part, and you had to do yours. She said, “Timmy, God may give you the brains, but you still have to study to pass the test.”

When I was in eighth grade, I fell off the roof [of the house]. [Editor’s note: My dad actually fell out of his bedroom window. He bounced between houses before hitting the ground, and although he didn’t break a bone, he was gravely injured.] I asked her later what she thought about on the way to the hospital. She told me she prayed that I would be normal, free from permanent injury. If I couldn’t live a normal life, it would be best if God would take me [to Him].

I said, “How could you stand to bury another child? Wouldn’t you suffer a lot of pain?” She answered, “Timmy, if I had to suffer pain so that you wouldn’t, that was the way I wanted it.” That’s love, that she prayed for me and not for herself.

I remember one evening on Spahr Street, sitting on the front stoop, feeling sorry for myself over something, and Mom came out and sat beside me. She asked what was wrong, and I told her what was on my mind. She looked at me, and said, “Timmy, if everyone in the world put their problems in a big pile, you would be the first one to take yours back and go home.” With that, she got up and went back into the house. That’s called keeping things in perspective.

When I was very young, my brother Tommy died. What I remember most about that event was my complete, overwhelming feeling of anger! I was angry I had lost my big brother, and angry that people were in my house laughing, eating, and talking as if nothing had happened – one hour after we had buried Tommy. The next morning, I came into the kitchen, and my mother was going about her business.

That’s when I let her have it. Now here is a woman who just did the hardest thing a parent could do – bury a child – and I’m yelling at her for acting as if nothing had happened. Mom stopped what she was doing, walked across the room, picked me up, and set me on one of the hard, wooden, straight-backed kitchen chairs. She knelt before me and spoke in a soft controlled voice.

I’m sure if Mother could have gathered all her family into her room before she died, she would have told us what she told me over thirty years ago. She said, “You know, Timmy, I lost a child that I love very much, but I also have six children that I must live for. All you can do for those who have died is remember them, and pray for them, and miss them. But you must live for the living.”

We have all been blessed with people who love us. We have been blessed with friends and with children who need our love. We must always live for them. My brother and sisters, and cousins, will, because that is how she taught us. But I think it is important for our mental well being that as we do what we must do, we admit to ourselves and all of you, that we will miss her, we will pray for her, we will always love her. Our mother is special.

Caption for featured image: My father with his mother, circa 1978.

Remembering My Irish Grandmother

My grandmother Katherine Patton (nee Connolly, or Conneelly, depending which family member of mine you ask) came to America in either the late 1920s or the early 1930s. She married my grandfather Timothy Michael (aka Pap-Pap) in 1933; they had met at the Irish Centre in Swissvale. From 1933 until my father was born in 1945, she had nine pregnancies, and seven live children, of whom my father was the youngest.

image0

Here are a few things I remember about Grandma Patton, in no particular order.

1. Her brogue. Although my grandmother had lived in America for more than 50 years, she never lost the soft, lilting brogue in her speech from Ireland. It’s a sound I always love to hear, a good Irish brogue. It makes me think of her.

2. Her house. Now, my father and his six siblings lived in East Liberty (S’liberty if you’re from here) until that house burned down. Then they moved to Hastings Street in Point Breeze, and when we visited from Erie, that’s where we went. I recall walking into the house, the way the staircase was immediately in front of you, steeply dark, slightly foreboding. Off to the right was the hallway that lead back to the kitchen, and turning to the right, was the wide open front sitting room, where Pap-Pap reigned in silence (and butterscotch candies).

3. Her mashed potatoes. We would arrive on Friday, just in time for dinner. In my childhood memory, the dining room table filled the entire room, and was laden with food. We had the same dinner every time: pork chops, corn, and mashed potatoes. (There may have been a green vegetable; I don’t recall.) I loved my grandmother’s mashed potatoes. They were smooth and buttery, the perfect texture and taste. Whenever my mother was going to make mashed potatoes, I asked her to make them just like grandma’s. Who was her mother-in-law, mind you.

4. Her blueberry muffins. I also loved my grandma’s blueberry muffins. Whenever we visited, she always made sure she had some to hand for us. It was years later that I learned they were Jiffy brand blueberry muffins, and thus came out of a box, but it didn’t diminish my love for them.

5. The pictures over the bed. When we visited, my siblings and I slept on a mattress on the floor at the foot of the grown-up bed, which is where my parents slept. Over this bed hung two paintings that to this day strike fear into me. In one, Jesus regards us mournfully, his eyes on our faces, his head lowered. Thorns from his crown of thorns bite into his flesh. In the accompanying piece, Mary looks at us, also mournful. Her heart floats outside of her chest.

And there are swords piercing it.

Every Catholic child in the world has seen this image. It was terrifying to me then, and I’m not sure that it’s not terrifying to me now. Dan inherited a set just like it when we were married. “We’ll put this above our bed,” he enthused. “Not if your parents want grandchildren,” I replied. They hang in our dining room, instead.

6. Her stature. My grandmother was tall and graceful with piercing blue eyes and black hair. When people meet the rest of my immediate family, they often ask, in so many words, “Why are you so tall?” My Irish grandmother stood five-foot-ten-inches in her heyday. She is why I am so tall.

I often refer to my grandmother Patton as the matriarch, and I don’t think I’m too far off. My grandfather died when I was just 6, but the clan continued to grow and flourish the whole of my life – it continues to this day. My grandmother had six children who survived to adulthood: my father, his brother, and their four sisters, who are known collectively as The Aunts. They each married and had children. I have 17 first cousins, referred to as the second generation, most of whom married and had children, who are the third generation.

Grandma Patton and the beginnings of the clan.
Clockwise from center: Pap-pap, Tommy, Kathleen (Kay), Mary, Noreen, Judy, Grandma Patton, Timmy (my father), and Jimmy. If I have misidentified someone in this caption, rest assured I will catch hell. And I will correct it.

Why am I telling you this? A couple of reasons.

Reason the first is because I am on vacation this week with my family, on what is basically the annual family reunion. The Patton clan convenes on a little resort in Pennsylvania, where we eat and drink and swim and play, and reminisce.

Grandma Patton with my generation of Pattons. This was one of our first years at Seven Springs. Bonus points if you can identify me (non-relatives only).
Grandma Patton with my generation of Pattons. This was one of our first years at Seven Springs. Bonus points if you can identify me (non-relatives only).
Reason the second is my parents gave Dan and me some furniture, and as I was cleaning it, I found the eulogy my father gave at my grandmother’s funeral. She died when I was 13. She was 84 years old.

That’s my next blog post.

I feel blessed to have known my Grandma Patton. She taught me about quiet dignity and strong faith. She taught me that family is everything, and love is stronger than death.

What lessons did your grandparents teach you?

A Birthday Tribute

Today would have been my father-in-law’s 77th birthday. And I am sad he is not here for us to celebrate.

All Dad ever wanted on his birthday was his family around him, chicken vesuvius, and lemon meringue pie.

Chicken Vesuvius
One bottle Italian dressing
6 chicken breasts, cut into strips
8 potatoes, peeled and cut into long chunks
2 to 6 banana peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

Toss everything together and bake. Probably 400 degrees? Forty minutes to an hour. (I never made it. Bella always did. And my SIL, pictured above, did too.) Serve with bread, a green vegetable, and salad — endive salad, if possible. Lots of vinegar.

I am almost positive that my FIL was the only one who liked lemon meringue pie. My MIL usually made a different dessert for the rest of us, or had store-bought cupcakes and ice cream for the children.

It’s been a hard week for my husband. Please offer him love and light.

We miss you, Tadone.

Kate and Tadone

Tadone: In Memory of the Best Father-in-Law a Girl Could Have

When Dan told his father about me, he said, “This one is special, dad.”

His father said, “If you love her, I will love her like a daughter.”

And he did. He was a fantastic father-in-law. It was easy to call him dad. It was easy to sit down for family dinners with him. We didn’t agree on anything, from politics to parenting, but we never fought about it, either. He watched Fox News, and I often rolled my eyes at him about it. “I’m a registered Democrat!” he would say, on more than one occasion. We sometimes had some heated conversations, but nothing that would divide us permanently. We very much practiced the “agree to disagree” maxim. We had to.

Because family was everything to him. He was thrilled to have his son and three of his grandchildren right next door. If he had a house big enough, he would’ve asked us all to move in with him. (And then complained about the noise.)

++

About two months after I lost Gabriel, my in-laws asked us to travel to California with them. About half of my FIL’s relatives had relocated there, in San Francisco and Sonoma. Plus, my FIL managed a very popular restaurant in the airport corridor in Moon Twp. It was practically a business trip!

My pregnant sister-in-law traveled with us as well. She was about six months along. For every 10 samples of wine we had as we toured wineries, she would have one. At one stop, the man serving us said to my father-in-law, “Is this going to be your first grandchild?”

My FIL hesitated. And then he said, “No. No it’s not. My son and his wife lost a baby a couple of months ago.”

++

Before he even had any grandchildren, he knew what he wanted them to call him: Tadone, dialect from his Italian village in the hills of Abruzzo. TA-down (own as in own, not as in down). Say it with a little bit of Italian flair. Image Marlon Brando saying it as The Godfather.

He went from being called Ta-Ta, to T’down, to Tadone, even for a short time, because of Kate’s inimitable style: Tadonio.

He loved being a grandfather. His grandchildren brought him such joy, and made him laugh. He loved sitting with them, telling them jokes — he had the worse puns — and sharing food. If my children wanted crunchy cheese puff balls or black licorice, they knew the man to ask. He made a mean French toast, and I am pretty sure he is responsible for my children’s love of fried eggs.

++

When I was pregnant with Kate, my FIL sometimes drove me down to and picked me up from the bus stop. At this time, Flora was about 2, Nephew was 3, and Niece was 1. Some days all the children were at my IL’s house, depending on their parents’ work schedules. My ILs sometimes picked Flora up from daycare as well. It was a busy time for a couple of retirees!

One day, Tadone picked me up. I could tell he was in a bad mood. I asked about his day. He groused that all the children were at his house. “I don’t remember asking for this,” he said.

“I know exactly when you asked for it!” I laughed. “Dad, you whispered ‘grandkids’ to your son-in-law on your daughter’s wedding day. You at least gave DR and I a day or so before you asked when we would give you grandchildren!”

He paused, and then burst into his signature Coraopolis cackle. “You’re right,” he said.

“And you wouldn’t trade it for the world,” I pointed out.

I was right again.

++

He had special bonds with each of the children. He and Michael were buddies; Kate loved to snuggle with him; he tried to make Flora laugh with his jokes. He was there for us when one of the children couldn’t go to school. I know he adored Nephew and Niece, too.

It was hard for them to see him so sick and suffering. He was not his cheerful self. They each got to say goodbye at the hospice. Tadone died surrounded by love.

We, none of us, can ask for more.

I know my husband lost his best friend, and he is struggling. Please lift him up in love; lift all of us. We’ve lost a good man.

He will be missed.

Here are the details of arrangements for my father-in-law. The outpouring of love and support we have gotten has been overwhelming. If we haven’t said it yet, thank you.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Dear Niece,

To announce your arrival, your pap-pap texted me “6# 15 oz”. I cried for joy and relief.

We’ve been waiting for you for a long time. I admit that I had an inappropriate level of anxiety regarding your mom’s pregnancy and labor. I hope that I didn’t let it show. Because I was also overjoyed and excited. I have been on tenterhooks since your mom called to tell me she was pregnant with you.

Your mom had a long, tough week getting you here. I am so proud of her for doing what she needed to do. Getting news and photos of you has been the highlight of the week. My thoughts will be with your mom as she recovers and bonds with you.

When your nonna texted your name, I cried again. You are named after one of the strongest women that I ever had in my life. I’m sad you didn’t get to meet her in person, but I sure am looking forward to sharing stories with you.

I started a journal entry yesterday as part of this project in which I am participating. The prompt for the day was “I can’t imagine my life without…” and without even hesitating I finished the sentence with “my family.”

And I don’t just mean my immediate family of husband and children (although, of course, them too); I mean my extended, wonderful, large Irish-on-one-side and Italian-on-the-other family, all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and more cousins that I regularly get to interact with. My whole life has been shaped by these clans. I can’t imagine it any other way.

You’ll see what I mean. No doubt your mother and father will have a few stories to tell.

I keep looking at pictures of you. I’m quite smitten. It’s a little ridiculous.

We are all looking forward to meeting you. Your cousins are very excited. I also want to check in with your mom and your dad. It’s been a long time since your father had a newborn! I am also excited for your finally big sister; she will teach you about dance and fashion, and help get your dad wrapped around your little finger, I’m sure.

Happy birthday, Niece. I am so happy you are here.

Love,
Your Aunt Dawn

Calendula flowers on a wooden table.
The October flower calendula on a wooden table. No doubt you will be as bright and lovely. Image credit: igorr.

No Plan

I had everything planned through Sunday evening. The travel plans had to be rearranged because of the weather, but Thanksgiving in North Carolina was successful, as was Michael’s third birthday party. Which is impressive considering we were coming back from a 4-day trip.

I didn’t plan on getting a wicked cold. When I get a cold, it starts in my throat. It is so painful. It started Sunday, and has continued. I’m drinking honeyed tea and downing Tylenol and ibuprofen like my life depends on it. And trying not to talk.

And now, I have no plan. Which is only problematic because Christmas is 22 days away, and I still have the bulk of my shopping, baking, and decorating to do.

It’s going to be tricky. I feel like I only have Saturdays to work with (and Sundays, I guess, depending). I’ll do most of my shopping online, so that’s okay. But I do want to do some homemade gifts and baking with the girls, and that will take a good solid afternoon. Or two.

I’m decorating in dribs and drabs. I don’t even know what all I have to decorate with because of last year’s basement backup. Fortunately most of the ceramic decorations were at Dan’s office and did not get ruined. I’m dreading going into what remains of the basement (Dan has managed to strip most of the basement down to concrete.)

And is it terrible to admit that I don’t want to do anything social this month? I will, of course (she said as several people cross her off their to-invite list). I just want to hunker down, do holiday stuff with my family, and not hire my babysitters very often.

My children are at interesting ages. Flora is becoming more worldly and sophisticated while also being firmly a child who wants to play. She likes to be alone; she is excited that she can start reading the Harry Potter series. (She asked to read the Hunger Games books, and I said no.) She doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, but she is totally willing to encourage her siblings to believe. When it comes to helping me during the holidays, she may or may not be willing.

On the other hand, Kate will delight in helping me. If she can have 100 percent of my attention while making salted caramel to give away to family members, she’ll be in. She’ll help me bake without complaining. I think she is on the fence about Santa, but she has not expressed her doubt out loud.

And Michael. Michael will be tough. He will *want* to help, so I’ll have to find something for him to do. Or he’ll want to play directly under my feet, of course. He’s totally on board with Santa, although he’s a little hazy on the details. Decorating with M around will be interesting as well. To M, all the world is a toy.

Anyhoo, I guess I better kick this cold and get to list making. Happy Holidays!

Do you have a plan for December, or are you just winging it?

PS: I forgot to remind people to comment as November wound down. However, I did get 40 comments (not counting my own replies) and so the Greater Community Food Bank will get $200 from us as a donation this year.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Halloween

While there are plenty of things to love about Halloween (costumes, candy, parties, oh my!), there are some things that just bug me about Halloween. I wrote about it for my friend Kim. I want to thank Kim for asking me to participate in her Halloween series, Listing Toward Halloween. It’s been fun reading everyone’s take on this holiday.

I also want to thank my mom for that fabulous costume pictured with the post. I tried to get one of the girls to wear it, but their PC-meter must be way more sensitive than mine ever was.

A few ironies to note for Halloween 2013:
1. Trick-or-treat is actually on Halloween this year — tonight, for those keeping track!

2. We did NOT carve pumpkins.

We had every intention of carving pumpkins; as a matter of fact, we were going to do it this past Sunday.

My children have had their pumpkins since October 19. Kate even had a green one because she was going to carve an Angry Birds pig. I kid you not.

The pumpkins were victimized this week by the local critters that live around our house. From the size and positioning of the holes, I’m guessing chipmunk.

3. I did do some heavy construction on the girls’ costumes this year. Come back to see pictures tomorrow.

Here are my favorites from the Listing Toward Halloween series (aside from my own, of course):

Halloween apologies (I could’ve written the costumes one).

Trick-or-treat defeat: The life and times of a Halloween failure.

Halloween costumes for men with glasses.

Halloween Dance: A Poem.

Read through them all. Someone probably feels the same way you do about Halloween!

And have a happy and safe evening of trick-or-treating.

What do you like the most about Halloween?

Thankful

I am thankful for the little physical beings of my children in the world. Their clear brows and bright eyes and shiny hair. I am thankful for good health. (Knock on wood.)

++

I am thankful for the man I share all these riches with.

++

I am thankful for sane families. We’re not perfect, but we are all perfectly fine. I don’t have to dread anything except bad traveling weather at the holidays.

++

I would like to be thankful for my new bathroom, but in the meantime, I will be thankful that I have to cross a few feet of grass in the mornings to get a shower.

++

I am thankful for in-laws who clean my kitchen floor, and parents who come down to help me get ready for parties.

++

I am thankful for blog readers and commenters and Twitter friends. I am thankful for all my friends IRL, too. I hope we all get to raise a glass together over the holiday season, even if it’s just at the same time and not necessarily the same place.

++

And I am thankful for conversations like this:

Kate: That’s Liam. He was Batman. We didn’t actually kiss, no, no.
Me: You know you’re not allowed to kiss anyone not in your family, right?
Kate: Right. For now. I can when I’m older. When people have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Me: Sure. When you’re older.
Kate: Like 10.
Me: Like 16.

++

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Stay safe, stay sane, and give thanks for the little things.

Back-to-School: The Schedule, Mine Edition

First, I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post. You all gave me encouragement, and some good ideas. I really appreciate it.

Second, in addition to my attempts to create a routine and good habits for my children, I decided that I needed to do the same for me. Having a nanny taught me the value of a neat house and organization, and I don’t want that to slip away.

My biggest challenge is to STICK WITH THIS. I want to get lazy, but getting lazy will lead bad places. Bad, disorganized, highly stressed out places.

Here are the general goals each day:

Empty the dishwasher in the morning, and put the breakfast dishes in. This means I come home to a clean kitchen.

Help the children get through the evening without losing my shit. Mileage varies on this one. Pickup and drive time seem to be particularly fraught.

Have a weekly meal schedule (I’m still tweaking this) so I’m not leaving work panicking about what I’m going to feed my children for dinner.

Clean kitchen, go through evening routine with kids, M in bed by 7:30, girls in bed by 8-8:30.

Finish cleaning kitchen, and PACK LUNCHES FOR THE NEXT DAY. This one is big, and it’s the one thing in the evening that I most want to not do sometimes. I just have to keep in mind that i really does not take that long, and it makes mornings so much better.

My goal is to be able to watch a little TV or read each night, and go to bed by 10 p.m.

Now, each evening of the week, the kids and I will have a chore: Monday, put away clean laundry; Tuesday, clean upstairs bathroom; Wednesday, vacuum; Thursday, clean downstairs bathroom; Friday, get all dirty laundry to Bella’s. Weekends are for cleaning rooms and vacuuming upstairs, plus paperwork, especially organizing and paying bills. I have to get better at this too (the organizing part, not the paying part).

So far, Thursdays are the worst days because they are the longest. After I pick up the children, I have to also get my CSA veggies. This puts us home after 6 p.m. Not coincidentally, this is also leftovers night.

Does it seem like I’m missing anything? Before you ask, Dan has weekly chores, too, and he also needs to stick with them. We, as a family, are refocusing on team work right now.

Back To School: The Schedule, Kids' Edition

Last week was our first full week with the fall schedule (that means girls at school and Michael at daycare). It felt like a full-out sprint.

I am working hard to help myself and help my children with the transition back to fall. It’s been rocky so far. Lots of deep breaths on my part. My goal is to have a routine that the children can stick to. It needs to be simple and flexible.

One of my worries in general is that due to work and school and homework and activities and so on, that our kids are turning into little worker bees instead of little kids.

Flora has a test or quiz nearly every day of the week — math, English, spelling (a pretest and a test), science (every other week), and so on. It worries me, and I don’t want to pass my anxiety onto Flora. Not that she can’t do the work, she can — she’s very smart. But that The Work will just be the goal, instead of actual learning, and taking joy in learning.

Kate I am less worried about. She’s in full-day kindergarten, but she only has a page of homework once or twice a week. She usually comes home singing the songs they learn in her classroom. She is having a blast.

And Michael! Well, here’s a good thing: he transitioned very well back into his daycare. To date, he has not cried when I’ve dropped him off in the morning. He seems to be excited to see the toys and the care givers and other kids.

Here’s the crappy thing: He’s not getting enough rest. He’s sleeping between 10 and 11 hours at night (I try to get him in bed at 7:30 every night); during the day, he’s gone from 2 to 3 hour naps to 1 1/2 hour naps (if we’re lucky, 2). Evenings with him are very difficult — tantrums, meltdowns, clinginess. And he’s TIRED. He’s rubbing his eyes by 6 p.m. some nights.

Evenings in general are very difficult right now. I am the sole Parent On Duty, Monday through Thursday. What I need, especially from Flora and to a lesser extent from Kate, is some self-sufficiency and self-motivation. To help, I have a schedule to help them develop new habits.

We’re still learning it. I have told the girls that until they develop these good habits, there is no night time television. I have tried to be firm and consistent. I try not to yell.

I have held firm on television. I sometimes yell in frustration. But I’m trying.

Here’s the general outline:

When we get home, they have to get their stuff out of the car.
Once in the house, Flora should go to the dining room to start her homework. Kate needs to go to another room to play, or do her homework quietly with Flora. I give everyone a snack if they want.
While I make dinner, Kate has to occupy herself, Michael has to play or eat his snack, Flora should do her homework. Mileage varies so far.
Then we have dinner, clear the table. Sometimes the girls have a quick chore (putting their clean clothes away, running the vacuum). Then bath, books, bed. The end.

Here are the problems so far: Flora has a very difficult time focusing on her homework at home. She does fine in school because everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. But at home, her brother and sister are playing (or having a meltdown — I’m looking at you, Michael), and she is constantly distracted from her work. I am trying to make dinner. Kate has a very hard time leaving Flora alone.

What should be 15-20 minutes of homework a night gets stretched to an hour, sometimes more. Flora is constantly interrupting herself to get a drink, get a snack, complain about something, whinge about Kate. I am constantly chasing Kate away from the dining room or kitchen. Michael, feeling neglected (and probably hungry and tired) throws a fit.

I’m an awesome mom, by the way.

To date, since full-time school has started, the children have not had a night time show (not counting Fridays. They can do whatever the hell they want on Fridays, I honestly don’t care as long as no blood is shed). We do not get outside time at all. We really don’t get much downtime in the evenings in general, actually. I feel like it’s a full-out sprint (again) from picking up the children to bedtime.

And, frankly, I don’t know if there’s a damn thing I can do about it.

Are my expectations too high? Should I just give into the sprint until the weekends? Any ideas? Or should I just suck this up for the next nine months? (*sob*)

More later this week on MY schedule, and what I’m trying to do to help myself.