Ah... so now that we've been home a little while and have "settled in," what DOES that 'new normal' look like? Let me assure you... it is BUSY. Busier than we were expecting? If I'm really honest with myself-- YES. We really didn't know what life would look like, and we didn't really have a set of expectations of what things would be like. But we *did* know that things would be different and we *did* know they would be busier! We just had no way of gauging how busy they would be, or what "type" of busy it would be.
First off, the month of January was exceedingly difficult with the overwhelming number of appointments that we had. That in and of itself in any one month was just crazy! Add on two brand new kids meaning that three children (Lynae included) had to go to every appointment even though they only needed to attend about half made it even busier. Add on to that the medical 'scare' with Lynae and Brianna meaning extra bloodwork, extra doctor's visits... extra stress... and it was just crazy.
February has been MUCH better! It's only day 11, but it has gone exceedingly better in terms of busyness! Admittedly, since Michael and I were both so wrung out from January (and December and November...) February was the time when we both were able to let down a little and other things-- like the lack of time together-- then hit the fan. Thankfully we had a wonderful retreat this week and right now, I can really truly say that life is GRAND!
That's not saying it's easy...
Our daily routine has definitely increased, and some of the 'gains' the other kids have made has certainly added on to the workload for us, but it is all worth it at the end of each day! (when we fall into bed exhausted!! :) ).
We get up around 4:30 each morning... not out of a need to be up at that hour but because that's the hour that Brianna has been waking at. If she doesn't, Lynae will! I typically go lay on the floor in Brianna's room or in the guest bed in Lynae's room depending on who's crying... (or talking!). Sometimes Mike will get up and get Lynae a cup of milk or start a movie for Brianna if it's later in the morning too. Either way, our morning usually starts well before the 6am alarm!
At 6 we get up and Mike gets in the shower. I start getting the kids up and onto their little potties in the bathroom. As they come off their potties I get them dressed and shoes, glasses, and hair brushed. By the time I've managed that x7 (Kristopher is pretty independent in it and showers with Mike often times) Michael's back out and gets some cereal out and drinks for all the kids. They move on in to the kitchen and start eating and we get morning medications together for James, Micah, and Lynae (Wesley's is in his drink and the other 4 don't have morning meds-- YAY! ;) ). If I'm so blessed as to get a shower that morning, I'll escape during breakfast.
Once breakfast is winding down we start in with brushing teeth and checking to see if the weather means coats, jackets, or just their clothes and whether a jacket needs to go into the backpack. We get ice packs into James and Micah's lunch boxes and make sure Kristopher's and Emma's folders were signed and everyone's papers from the previous night were taken care of. We gather any supplies needed for school like more diapers or changes of clothes. Then everyone comes to the foyer and gets jackets/backpacks on and goes out to load up in the car!
After school once we've managed to get everyone and everything into the house then whoever wants an afternoon snack goes to the table for some crackers or fruit or something along those lines. After snacks the kids go play for a little while and I unpack backpacks. All of the kids have a folder or note home daily and there's often a set of clothes that someone dirtied as well as lunch boxes for James and Micah. Once the backpacks are emptied it's time to refill them! :)
We get home about 2:30 so by 3 the kids are in and the backpacks emptied. The kids all take a trip through the toilet before going off to play. While the kids are occupied... if that's really possible since by that time Wesley usually realizes that he's not being held and Lynae wants to be connected to my hip! If I haven't made dinner 'in advance' then I try to start looking at dinner around 3:30. Of course there's plenty of laundry changing and dishes to do in the mean time as well!
By 4:30 dinner's close to being done and I start putting the kids back through the potty routine before dinner. Michael usually comes in at about 5:30 and sometimes we're at the table just waiting to put the plates on the table... sometimes we're not quite to the table... and sometimes the kids are just about done eating. Since James and Micah are both on cups now, there's a little more involved in getting those two to drink and James is sometimes needing it held for him to finish a drink. He's not exactly motivated about eating...
Around 6 everyone's generally finished eating and on bath nights we get the tub ready and tag-team to get all the kids bathed and into pajamas. By 6:45 we start on night time meds and brush everyone's teeth again. Brianna gets a breathing treatment at night so we get her started and usually turn on a 20 minute tv show (on Netflix, we don't have cable).
By 7:00 seven of the kids are on their way to bed and Kristopher is allowed to stay up until about 7:30 most nights. Part of his discipline involves losing or gaining time at bedtime though :).
Once the kids are in bed there's still some more to do. We look up the next day's weather and get everyone's clothes out and ready for the next morning. Then we get Micah and James' lunches ready for school and put them in the fridge. Last isn't completely necessary but definitely helpful, and that's getting breakfast stuff out such as 8 cups and bowls so that breakfast will go that much smoother the next morning.
And then comes laundry and dishes and picking up toys and the house... and somewhere in there is "put your feet up, relax, and blog" :). We generally try to start the end of the routine by 9:30 so we're in bed by 10:30 at the latest. We're usually in bed by 11 ;).
So... yes, life is busy! But it's wonderful, and the amount of hugs and kisses and cuddles and smiles we receive in a day generally makes it all worthwhile. And on the tough days without all the good stuff we still make it through simply because our God is bigger than today's troubles and we know that the new day will bring new light.
We are grateful that we also serve a God who forgives us when we ask for it and who we know has hand-picked these children for us and us for them. Since God is SO BIG, we don't have to worry that we've walked into something we can't handle. Since He's SO BIG, we can know that despite our downfalls, we were meant to parent each and every one of our kids. Since He's SO BIG, we can go to sleep knowing that today was worth every snot smeared shirt, every tear filled meal, every misplaced anger, every goof up toward our spouse, every boo boo, every split-up fight, and every timeout that was doled out the entire day long.
Isn't it great serving a God we know has seen what our day looks like even before the sun rises and who prepares us for each and every task that He has for us?
Now, if only he'd zap down that housekeeper we would not only be GRAND, but maybe you could see my floors too :).