February 10, 2015

A month later

As some of you know, Justin was gone for a little over a month. He left January 2 and got home February 5. He spent two and a half weeks with his family in Colorado, helping to do a little remodeling and squeezed in a few days of mountain lion hunts with his brother who has a hunting guide company. Then two and a half weeks with his family in Las Vegas, building a shed for his grandparents and got a few days of a building show with my brother and brother-in-law. It was awesome for him to get out there and spend some time with family, but that left me with five weeks of single parenthood. I was viewing it as a challenge, and had great plans for while he was gone. I was going to keep my house neat, lose 3,000 pounds (or thereabouts), not spend any money, blog every week day, and be a shining example of American motherhood.

(In my defense, I tend to get a little OCD when Justin is gone. Lack of sleep does that to me. Instead of postpartum depression, I got postpartum OCD after every baby. Not sure why I sleep less when Justin isn't here, but I just do.The drawbacks of less sleep induced OCD are a marked lack of patience and general crankiness. Otherwise I would just sleep less all the time and my house would remain neat.)

This whirl of productivity never really materialized however. Apparently, I play a lot of  computer games and listen to Bruce Springsteen's greatest hits on repeat when Justin is gone for a month. And occasionally shed sentimental tears over Lobo's "You are all I'll ever need." Or at least that is what preliminary studies have shown.

 By the fourth week, I was mostly just plain old tired. I couldn't work up any helpful twinge of OCD and I was bored with bejewled blitz and spider solitaire. Springsteen lost his appeal. There may have been a slight touch of depression involved. But by the end of the fifth week, when Justin came home, everyone was alive, healthy, and mostly sane, the house was clean, I had not blown the budget, and I had even lost 5 pounds. I may have not spent my month as profitably as I could have, but all in all, it wasn't bad. I don't have a huge desire to give a repeat performance, but it is something I can check off my bucket list. If I had one. Because being a single parent to four kids for a month is a bullet point on everyone's bucket list isn't it?

The kids (except Elsie) spent a Friday night at Grandma and Grandpa's, so we spent Saturday morning there. Tori is on a cross stitch kick, and quite competent at it. So she cross stitched while reading Elsie a book. 

This is me forcing Orianna and Lily to play Chinese checkers. Yes, I seriously made them play and told them how much they would love it after they got the hang of it. After a game or two, I think they finally agreed it might possibly, in some grown up and incomprehensible way be fun. But they are still waiting to see the fun in their mother forcing them to play games. Ha! 

Orianna, who is suddenly all leggy looking.

Owen and Ashley brought over pizza one night for supper. Hoyt got a ride on the kids bikes, which thrilled him. 

Owen teaching Hoyt how to ride

Lily giving Gilbert a ride

Elsie playing with the dollhouse we stole from Grandma and Grandpa. One of our friends gave this to Mom and Dad for Tori and Livie years ago, so I decided to steal it for my kids. 

Elsie is now officially potty trained. We worked on it in December, but finally in January it all clicked and we are now officially done with diapers. 

Elsie was a sick baby for a few days. She had pharyngitis here. It is the viral version of strep throat. 

I was inspired to declutter my kitchen after reading a friend's decluttering chatter on her blog. I put my kitchen aid, my food processor, my hot pads, unused utensils all away in cabinets and drawers and gathered up several bags for donation and a bag of trash. This is the end result. I just wanted to know what it would be like to have fairly empty counters. 

This is Elsie with conjunctivitis. Horribly goopy eyes and runny nose. 

One Saturday morning, I rashly told the girls they would paint the dollhouse from Grandma and Grandpa. Actually, I told them earlier in the week they could, which is such a bad idea. Because on Saturday, I really didn't feel like dragging out paint and supervising this sort of thing. But I had promised, so I let them go at it. 

Which led to me painting the brick in the kitchen. Since the paint was out... 

I am not sure about it. I am not sure if I should do another layer, so you can't really see the variation in the brick color as much. Or if I would have been better off leaving it alone. Or painting it with undiluted paint, rather than with watered down paint. Or what color to paint the top of the room, since the red seems to not match the lighter brick now. Oh well. At the moment, it stays as is. 

We got a big box from our Amazon subscribe and save thing (we do toilet paper, wipes, kleenex, sometimes lysol wipes, and sometimes the 90% dark chocolate I like) and the kids turned it into a car. It has now changed into a house. 

The girls, delighted at trying out Uncle Owen and Aunt Ashley's new Jeep. Owen took them out to do a few donuts. 

Snowy fields. We really didn't have a ton of snow in January. It would snow an inch or two here and there, but nothing major. Which was nice, with my resident snow shoveler a long way from home. 

We also started taking Gilbert to school every other day for speech and physical therapy sessions. Elsie and I found a nice little corner, with a table and chairs to wait while Gilbert is busy. This hallway connects the junior high to the high school wing and is fairly empty, so I let Elsie run up and down it. 

One evening, the girls decided to give each rock in Lily's rock collection a name and make a chart of them. 

This is our corner at school. The greenhouse at school is full of the Ecology (or is it FFA) club's petunia and vegetable seedlings, which they sell later for a fundraiser, so these plants got evicted to an upper hallway that is full of light. It is rather nice. Elsie loves to wander amongst the plants and count them. 

This was my kitchen an hour after the kids getting up one Saturday. And it had been clean when they got up. I forget what they were playing. Maybe it was "Make Mummy's kitchen as messy as possible as quick as we can." They are good kids though and pick up without too much prodding. 

A few days before Justin got home, we got our snow. 

And that was how we spent a month without Daddy. 


Jolene Crites said...

Wow! You did a lot! At least from my point of view... Your clean kitchen looks amazing. There's where your spurt of OCD came out! It is absolutely hilarious that you painted your brick because the paint was out for the girls! Although I agree that you might need to lighten up the top area (paint the upper cabinets?)
I can't really imagine being without my husband for a month when my kids were your kids' ages. Kudos for just getting through it!
I love how you forced your girls to play Chinese Checkers because it's fun. I love that game too. But just a warning that it only gets worse as far as kids not thinking what you think is fun, is. Oof, what a sentence! I can't think of how else to put it! lol! Enjoyed this post and am very glad that your hubby is back!

Jeannie said...

I do not sleep well either when Ryan is gone and I am SO impressed you went 5 weeks without your hubby. I'm not sure I could have done it!

Virginia said...

I regularly hate being alone and I don't even have 4 kids to make it seem daunting! Kudos, Mama Cotten! I think you should paint another coat on the bricks and paint the cabinets white and paint the red walls a light beige. B/c I'm not doing the work and I like to suggest huge projects where I don't suffer the consequences. But seriously, I'm coming up a couple days in March so I'll come do a paint party!! Also, you have any leftover kitchen donations?? B/c I use the stuff you donated to me all the time! Anyways, YAY for Justin being back!