I returned to my folks' backyard just in time to stop Ian from Fred Flintstoning a little red car down the hill of the driveway with my four year old niece hanging onto the roof in a Dukes Hazzard move. They were prepared to sail down the driveway into the pile of junk in the garage. Both had huge grins on their faces.
When Ian decides to go outside, either Steve or I have to tail him. Other six year olds can have a longer leash, but Ian is quite ready for that yet. We've got to make sure that Ian doesn't get in the way of the bigger kids, that they don't tease him, or that he doesn't decide to toss all the furniture out of the neighbor's tree house, so that he'll have more room for an excellent dance. He has to be reminded to not pick his nose or pull his pants down en route to the bathroom. He may not hear a car.
Jonah can go off on his own, but I still need to check on him every twenty minutes or so. There are shifting alliances among the neighborhood urchins, and he needs to be guided to towards neutrality. Our porch has been designated Switzerland. But without strong whispers in his ear, Jonah could join the savages in a game to get Piggy.
Both kids need to be cut off from TV and video games after a suitable time.
Although Ian's speech and language took off this summer, he has gotten way more sensitive to smells, tastes, and texture. Mealtime is much more of a chore. Eggs have been taken off the list of acceptable foods. Jonah, always a disgusting eater, grosses out Ian so much that we have put a cereal box in between them to shield Ian from the horror that is Jonah. Otherwise, Ian will puke.
Ian has suddenly rejected all pants, except two pairs of shorts and a pair sweatpants. I'm not exactly sure if he'll wear sneakers for school on Wednesday. Today, he wore a lemon yellow t-shirt, maroon sweats, and red Crocs.
I finally found the town track this weekend. It was hiding behind the high school down a driveway with all sorts of "Don't Go This Way" signs. I did a few laps and remembered how much better is it to run outside, rather than on a tread mill. I thought about getting my knees fixed and trying a race. It would be nice to have hobbies again and not just careen between work and the kids. Maybe next year.
In the past couple of months, I've made a conscious effort to change the way I use my time. I'm trying to pack more in there, because life is good, and there are many things I need to do. I need to be a good parent. I need to write a book. I need to fix up this old house before it falls down on top of us. I need to eat better. I need to get exercise. I suppose I'm lucky that I enjoy doing all these things. Nothing feels like work. But I have a lot I want to accomplish and one does need to sleep occasionally.
The kids are in school for about seven hours a day. That time can be filled up with home organization plans, exercise, food shopping, and volunteer time. Instead, I'm using that time to write. I'm cutting out all that housewife stuff during the time that they're in school, so I can put in a full workday.
I'm still playing around with the best way to squeeze out the most amount of writing out of myself. I think I can go for four hours and then I need a break. Premium writing time can't be squandered with other stuff, i.e. blogging, searching for footnotes, stressing out that I'm stupid. I don't answer the phone in the morning or do laundry or anything else than sit at the computer.
At around 1:00, I have to get out of the house and see human beings. So, I do the food shopping or go to the gym. Then the school bus shows up at 3:00.
Multitasking is essential when parenting, but I'm no longer trying to work when the kids are home. I get snappish when I get interrupted when I'm writing something, so I just have to do it when the little savages aren't home. It is entirely possible to multitask house cleaning, cooking, and parenting. So, when the kids are building Lego masterpieces in the basement, I'm doing the laundry and prepping the walls for paint. When the kids are in the kitchen doing projects or homework, I'm putting the dishes away and cooking. When they're having downtime, I'm upstairs stripping the woodwork.
All this means that I never just sit and do nothing, but I figure I can do a lot of sitting when I'm in the old age home.
I have to schedule the day really carefully. I program the day on iCal every morning. I have two separate notebooks for my life. One for work and one for home stuff. I fill up the work notebook with to-do lists and ideas for future project and those small brainstorms that come at odd moments of the day. The home notebook is for chores and long term house projects.
I''m not sure that this means that I have a good work-life balance. It's more about balancing work-work and life-work. The good thing that both types of work are really the gray area of work. Is an activity considered work if you really love doing it? I really love writing and I really love playing Lego on the basement floor. Is it work or is it play?
There are a couple of excellent posts out there about writing and blogging as a vocation, but that's a separate post.
This week is going to be tough for blogging, because I have to pick up Jonah from soccer camp at 3:00 everyday, I'm trying to finish off a paper, and we're getting ready for a vacation. I want to do another post on autism, a post on social activism websites, and maybe one on the Obama and the politics of health care. And I've lined up a crew of smart women to guest blog on 11d next week. More on that later.