An Ordinary January Day

One of the few homeschool blogs I read fairly regularly challenged readers to blog about an ordinary day each month of the year, so we could read about real life homeschooling, unvarnished.

I loved reading about this blogger’s day and I considered writing my own, but being a bit of a scientist at heart I immediately worried about bias. If I’m choosing which day to write about, and living that day knowing I’m going to write about it, won’t that make the day decidedly not ordinary?

However, I also wasn’t sure I could look back after having lived an entire day and blog about it in any amount of detail. For better and for worse, most of the specifics get lost in a happy blur for me by about 9 pm.

Here’s what I did: This afternoon, I spontaneously decided to blog about today. I scribbled down what had happened until that point, and then I tried to be ordinary after that point. Ha! 🙂 It wasn’t a day with any special homeschool plans… or any specific homeschool plans at all, actually. Here’s how it played out:

12:00 am – I finish reading my scriptures (in the Old Testament), hang out a load of laundry, and kiss my husband (who is a doctor and is still dictating notes).

12:21 am – I pray and climb into bed, amidst a lively internal debate about whether I should go right to sleep or use those dangling 9 minutes to read a book I’m thoroughly absorbed in. Battle lost, I read Nicolas Nickleby until 12:30 am and then all my willpower is summoned to turn off the iPad. Whew!

7:45 am – Doh. I have slept through the 7 am alarm and through my husband’s preparations for work. I’m awakened by my daughter kissing me on the cheek and whispering in my ear. (We’ve trained our kids on this point. I highly recommend it.)

It is 53 degrees in our house. The new furnace installed yesterday is already non-functional and now has a red light flashing on it.

Daniel (1) wakes up and I change his diaper and hold him while warming up bowls of oatmeal, closing vents, turning on space heaters, and deciding on an action plan for the furnace with my husband.

8:15 am – Caitlyn (3) needs some Mama time so I stop making oatmeal, put some warmer clothes on her and snuggle. My husband leaves for work.

8:30 am – Breakfast is on the table. Re-heated steel cut oats and some microwaved rolled oats to make up the difference, all with dates, raisins and cinnamon.

We sing two songs and recite ~8 scriptures for our memory work.

9:30 am – Done with breakfast, the kids play dolls while I make calls about the furnace. I take five minutes and build block towers for Daniel to knock down. He claps for me and gazes at me adoringly.

9:45 am – Daniel is ready for an early nap, so I lay him down. I (re)encourage the girls to get dressed for the day. Mackenzie (6) starts on copywork, writing thank you notes from Christmas and her birthday. Caitlyn plays and she and I do a reading lesson, #23 from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We add three stickers to her chart, because I had forgotten that step the past two days.

Notice the fancy chart, including the still-sticky corners from taping it to the wall three years ago when it was her sister’s turn to learn. It still manages to thrill my kids! 🙂

10:30 am – After doing a quick pickup of their room, Mackenzie plays and Caitlyn wanders into the kitchen to help me make homemade whole wheat bread in the bread machine. This usually takes 5 minutes but with “help” it tends to take longer.

Caitlyn runs to the bathroom after we dump in the salt, and I am summoned to wipe. Just as I am going to wash my hands, I hear alarmed cries from Daniel’s room and I dash across the house and over to his crib. He has managed to work his way into a corner, bottom in the air, head pinned and arm down through the slats of his crib. I extricate him and notice he needs a diaper change, badly.

I actually thought to myself as I cleaned him up, “Woot! Glad I didn’t wash my hands just now. I can change this diaper and wash ’em once instead of twice. That’s efficiency.”

I settle him back down, wash my hands and hear an ominous clanking sound from the kitchen. I race back to where Caitlyn has been busy “finishing the bread” on her own.

Fortunately, it’s salvageable.

11 am – I ask Mackenzie to stop making a fort and go back to clean up a GeoPuzzle she had left out.

As I’m walking away, I check my email and realize the furnace man scheduled to come at 3:30 pm has called and left a message that he has an earlier slot. We are still cold so I rush to call him but find our internet connection is lost.

(We pay just $10/month to use Google Voice for our home phones and minimal pre-paid smart phones. Mostly it works great but it failed me right then because my cell phone wasn’t available.)

I reset the router, try again a few times and finally get through but, it’s no good! The slot has already been filled. As this is happening, I try repeatedly to shoo Caitlyn away so I can hear the call when it connects. She continues clamoring for my attention until I ultimately stop and look her in the eyes and explain why I’m busy. Then she contentedly goes and plays.

I notice everything is quiet so I steal the next 12 minutes to take care of a little online business (price comparisons for my mom on something she wants to buy the kids, finding a ups drop box for my husband to ship a return, and texting the info to him).

11:30 am – I realize Mackenzie is taking an awfully long time putting away a puzzle, and find that she and Caitlyn have since worked together to put that puzzle together upside down (cool!) but it’s still not in the box.

11:36 am – Daniel is still awake in his crib, so I get him up and start Mackenzie on her math (She’s in Singapore 2B doing money subtraction with borrowing). Then Daniel uncleans while Caitlyn and I match socks and fold laundry.

After doing her 20 minutes, Mackenzie just has a couple of problems to “rethink” but drags them out for an additional 20 minutes. For some reason this is excruciating to me and I’m running low on patience. I never yell, but I do tend to lecture when I’m frustrated. But this time, Caitlyn saves the day by announcing, “I gave them all mustaches!”

See the cuteness?

While I’m exclaiming over those drawer mustaches and we’re all laughing, Mackenzie corrects the problems and does a few extra for fun because she actually adores math. I put her in charge of finishing the laundry put-away job while I assess the state of the house.

12:30 pm – Panic. I’m watching a friend’s children at 1 o’clock and the house is about a 7 on the 1-10 disorder scale. I like to keep it near a 3 for playdates. Also, no one has eaten lunch. I put Daniel, “The Uncleaner”, in the pack and play with toys and the rest of us run around like crazy to pick up.

12:50 pm – Lunch. Warm whole wheat bread with avocado or homemade apple butter, and cut up bell pepper.

1:06 pm – Friends arrive and I’m still feeding the troops. I start the newcomers on some puzzles while dishing out more bread.

1:30 pm – All kids have been wiped and are playing but while I grab a bite myself, I hear the older friend tell Caitlyn (3) that she isn’t allowed to come in the play tent with the big girls. Mackenzie quickly and firmly responds, “I allow her because she’s my sister.” My heart just about bursts with pride.

1:32 pm – I decide to blog about today and scribble some notes.

The kids put on princess and dancing dresses and start setting up a great place to jump. I made huge pillows for just this purpose and they have a ball leaping off of furniture and creating an obstacle course.

Someone gets hurt. The jumping resumes.

I read three picture books. I take a call from the furnace man who can come early. I facilitate resolution of disagreements. I help with the changing of dresses. I let the furnace man in, and after an hour of close examination, he informs me that we are freezing because they forgot to turn the gas valve on after the installation yesterday. I leave my husband a voicemail to that effect.

Meanwhile, I’m cutting out yet another batch of laminated pictures that we use when we sing at the nursing home. I pick up a sheet whenever I get a spare moment and slowly the stack dwindles.

That photo is pretty much the last time I laid eyes on my favorite pair of scissors. I’ve made it a priority to keep careful track of scissors and markers ever since Caitlyn became mobile because she is a magnet for trouble. Here’s hoping the MIA pair surfaces soon.

2:30 pm I put Daniel down for a nap and decide to let Caitlyn stay up for another few minutes until her friends get picked up. (Their mom was at an OB appointment.)

3:20 pm – No pickup yet and I’m starting to wonder what’s going on. Caitlyn melts down, and I have a potty accident to clean up. I put her down for a nap.

3:35 pm – 3:47 pm – My friend picks up and apologizes for delay. Her children scream so loudly at having to leave, they wake up Daniel.

3:48 pm – 3:51 pm – I check and change Daniel’s diaper and I know by looking at him he needs more sleep. He wails when I put him down and I am walking out the door when I decide to stop, sing a silly song, snuggle him and hum. He rewards me with belly laughs and a sleepy smile as I leave the room.

3:51 pm – What’s for dinner? Oops. Why don’t I plan these things out better? I make a quick decision: Indian baked brown rice and massaged kale salad, and I’ll thrown in some sweet potatoes to bake as well. I start rinsing and chopping while Mackenzie comes over to chat about the playdate. She has some questions about how to handle tricky social situations and I help her think things through.

4:00 pm – I sit down with Mackenzie and review Logic of English lesson 7. We got up to 17 and then lost steam, so we’re reviewing and then picking up where we left off. She nails all the words on the first try so it’s painless today.

4:13 pm – Mackenzie sits down to color more handouts we use when we sing at the nursing home, while I move dinner along. We chat. She draws smiley faces on the umbrellas and starts humming the song from the Pixar short we watched as a family about umbrellas a few days ago. My heart melts and I hum along.

4:35 pm – I look at the clock and realize we’re way overdue for her Quiet Time (AKA Book Time). I send Mackenzie off with my phone to read A Little Princess. She’s thrilled that it is a short time today because we usually end at 5 o’clock and she’s getting a late start. I make a point of reading during Book Time each day as well, so I pull up Nicolas Nickleby on the iPad while I cook.

4:47 pm – Daniel is awake and wants to be with me but dinner is at a critical point. I buckle him in his high chair, scoot him right over by the sink and hand him a wooden spoon to whack on the counter.

5:00 pm – I should wake Caitlyn up but the sink is full of dishes, there’s an overdue load of laundry in the washing machine, and I’m still wearing a hat since I have yet to shower all day. Hmm.

I tackle the dishes in the sink and they are loaded in the dishwasher in 3 minutes! Woah. I clean up all the kitchen prep mess in 5 minutes, scoop Daniel and the wet laundry up on the way to wake up Caitlyn and we hang it up together. I am super mom!

As I unload the laundry basket, Daniel loads it up again with blocks. I also see him wandering around putting blocks in any other places that catch his eye. Mackenzie is engrossed in her book and waves me away when I tell her she can be done with Quiet Time. So much for a short one. 😉

I stop hanging up laundry and snuggle Caitlyn for a good 5 minutes. She wakes up pretty emotional from her nap and just likes to sit quietly in my lap before resuming normal life.

5:40 pm – Caitlyn, Daniel and I are cooking in the kitchen. This means Caitlyn is grating stuff in the food processor (she can read “on” and “off” on the buttons, which is very exciting for her). Daniel is busy unloading the tupperware drawer and helpfully redistributing its contents all over the house.

5:45 pm – I call Scott and tell his voicemail that dinner will be ready in 15 minutes.

5:50 pm – I pull the rice out of the oven, taste it, and realize I was supposed to seed the gigantic jalapeno pepper I used. The dish is much too spicy for anyone but Scott to eat. 😦

6:00 pm – I’m mixing the salad when Scott calls to tell me that he has not received any calls or texts today because the WiFi was down in his office, that he will not be home for dinner, and that he loves me.

6:15 pm – I pull Mackenzie away from her reading only to discover she has made herself kind of sick reading on a screen in a dark room for too long (ever done that?). We start dinner together but she just picks at a sweet potato and then goes to lie down. Daniel did too much munching on avocado while I was making dinner so he eats part of a sweet potato and asks to get down. Before I know it, it’s just Caitlyn and I at the table eating our kale salad!

6:54 pm – Caitlyn is done. I wipe her up and check on Mackenzie, who’s already feeling better. We clean up the family room together using a timer. Daniel takes that opportunity to pull every garbage bag out of the big box under the kitchen sink.

7:20 pm – We go play in Daniel’s room with him. Hide and seek with his blanket is his current favorite game. Giggles, running, and “crashing” (his version of full body hugs) make for a fun pre-bedtime routine. I lay him down and the girls and I sing to him.

7:40 pm – Mackenzie is now hungry and eats while I read our current read-aloud, Winnie-the-Pooh. (We’re repeating some great ones now that Caitlyn is tuned into them more.)

8:01 pm – Scott comes home just as missionaries from our church arrive (as scheduled) to share a message with us. They show us this excellent video about seeking truth in a noisy world. We love having them come, but the visit takes longer than I had anticipated.

8:55 pm – Family prayer, family cheer, and family hugs. Scott drives the missionaries home. I deposit the girls in their beds expeditiously and linger in the hallway for 15 minutes to regulate on any illicit door opening.

9:20 pm – Finally, I chat with Scott and make plans for the following day. I pull up the laptop and blog about the day.

Still on the agenda: Scriptures, working out, showering, going to bed earlier than the night before.

Written on January 24th and I finally got around to pictures and links and publishing on February 7th


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Homeschooling, Life as we know it. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to An Ordinary January Day

  1. Tristan says:

    I had so much fun reading about your day! I love that you decided mid-day to record and I struggled with the idea of knowing ahead of time that I would be recording a day too. I’ve heard of Logic of English but don’t know anything about it, is it for reading or something else?


    • beanland says:

      We use it for spelling. It focuses on teaching the phonograms and spelling rules that explain the spelling for a vast majority of English words. I am learning so much as an adult, actually, and I’ve always been a naturally good speller. It does also strengthen reading skills because it gives you all the tools for decoding words, including many phonograms that are skipped over in the book I use to teach my kids to read. If you’re interested in the method, you might check your library for “uncovering the logic of English”.

      Thanks again for the fun challenge!



  2. great post! i want to pick your brain! 🙂 so, miles is in pre-k and enjoying it, but julian didn’t qualify on an iep (both good/bad), which means no formal preschool for him until the fall. he’s literally begging for homework every day though, so i told him i would try to formalize the education we do at home. how much do you use workbooks/curriculum books? i want to find something to start julian on. do you have any to recommend? we do have the reading book you guys use, but i don’t think julian is ready for it yet…maybe by summer. any advice would be much appreciated! 🙂


    • beanland says:

      How fun! I tend to shy away from “busy-work” type workbooks myself but some kids really seem to enjoy them during the preschool years. We really only use one workbook, for Singapore math, and love it but didn’t start until the 1st grade level.

      For preschool, you can find lots of free curricula online. Google free preschool curriculum or printables and I bet you’ll see far more than you’d ever use. 🙂

      My personal thought is that if he’s wanting structure, you could come up with your own (short) daily routine. It might include some of the following: – singing one or more songs – repeating a scripture (or something else worth repeating) – reading a story – writing a note (to dad, a friend, or whoever!) – doing “Cheerio math”, which could be counting, simple addition, grouping into piles, number recognition 0-9, etc. – learning about a certain topic. (One animal each week, he picks and you get a couple books from the library to read a few minutes each day) – exercise (my kids love doing a little circuit of three random active things I choose… Throwing a beanbag in a bowl three times, 3 big jumps, tippy toe down the hall and back, repeat. ) – 1 printed worksheet from online, tracing practice , cutting practice, color shapes, etc.

      Doing the same routine every day is great for that age, and there will be enough variety just by reading different books, singing different songs, etc. to keep it interesting. It’s simple too because it requires close to zero prep work, which means it’s more likely to happen every day (at least at my house!).

      I hope that helps a little. 🙂




  3. Tiffany says:

    Hey, I have a question I wanted to ask you regarding your blog. If you could send me an email when you get this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!


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