Thursday, May 26, 2011

Snapshot

I had a moment yesterday evening when I realized the scene in our kitchen right then perfectly captured an average weekday evening in our house. When I was in law school I wondered, what would it be like to have two working parents come home at the end of the day with two young kids to take care of? So below is snapshot of exactly that. JP was coaching from 3-5:45 pm, so I picked up the kids at 5:50. We both pulled in the driveway at 6. Usually dinner is ready right when I get home and we all sit down to eat it together. Last night, with everyone getting home at the same time, things were a little more piecemeal...

[6:00 pm]

We meet in the driveway and all walk in together. A big pot of water immediately goes on the stove with the gas on high. JP and Landon go on a walk around the house to get the mail. Claire and I go back to my closet to change me out of my light grey pants and silk top. I come back out in sweat pants and a tank top and microwave some frozen peas and carrots for Landon and Claire's appetizers. The radio is turned on. Claire goes in her highchair and begins happily shoveling peas in to her mouth while carefully avoiding the tiny cubes of carrot. JP and Landon return. Most of the mail goes in the recycle. Landon washes his hands and sits at the table to eat a banana and his bowl of vegetables. JP cleans Claire's bottles and Landon's lunch box containers. I feed the dogs and water my new hanging flowers on the back porch (they are beautiful!). Landon is jabbering about the "archyteture" he's learning about in school ("some buildings are super tall mommy. SUPER TALL."). Claire is head banging to the classic rock station JP switched the radio to while I was outside watering the flowers (I prefer pop, JP hates it; we do a lot of switching and occasionally compromise on country).

The water boils. I dump in a pound of rigatoni noodles. JP puts the bread in the oven and then adds some of his favorite spicy sausage ravioli to the boiling water (it floats on the top while the noodles cook near the bottom). We sit at the table while the kids finish their vegetables. Claire gets a few cubes of cheese. Landon gets his milk. I get the strainer, JP scoops out his raviolis with a slotted spoon and then dumps the big pot of boiling water in the sink. Claire's noodles go straight to her tray. Landon's noodles go in a bowl and are topped with jarred sauce. JP's noodles go in a bowl to be mixed with the already present spicy ravioli which is also topped with the jarred sauce. My noodles go back in the pot on low heat with olive oil, chopped garlic, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, and kosher salt. After about 60 seconds, that gets dumped in a bowl with balsamic vinegar and gorgonzola cheese. We all sit, say grace, eat our pasta, and continue talking about our days. Our single dirty pot sits in the sink.

[6:30 pm, end scene.]

The rest of the evening: JP washes dishes while I draw the bath for the kids. He meets me in the bathroom after the kitchen is clean and we divvy up the kiddos for pj's, teeth brushing (Landon), medicine (Claire), and meet back on Landon's bed for a bedtime story. We read and snuggle and sing a song (lately JP and I must both perform "I'm a little teapot" while Landon laughs hysterically and Claire laughs at Landon's laughing) before exiting the room with Clairebear and closing the door. Claire gets a fierce squeeze and then goes in her crib with a little pat. JP and I close her door, adjust the upstairs thermostat, and walk downstairs together. It's now 7:15 pm. I turn on my laptop, pour a glass of red wine, and am logged back in to the work system by 7:20.

At 9:30 my laptop is closed and we're on the couch watching the Glee finale (which I hated). We read, straighten up the downstairs, and cuddle, with lights out a little after 11, nearly 4 hours after our kids went to sleep (which is why we really don't need many date nights- every night is a date night!).

[end scene, again]

I never know if reading these things makes someone think our life seems too hectic or too easy, but it's good. There's lots of little things going on at once, but when your husband is your best friend and equal partner, and your kids are still young (no homework or other evening duties) and awesomely trained little sleepers, it makes the would-be hectic time after work and before bed my favorite part of our day.

18 comments:

  1. Adorable! I'm newly married (one month on the 30th!), no children yet, but am so looking forward to a similar hectic, beautiful life.

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  2. It's nights like that that make it all so worth it! I'm impressed that you can get the kids fed, bathed, and in bed in an hour and a half. I feel like most of the time that's how long it takes me to get from the car to the front door :)

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  3. would love to have this kind of routine one day

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  4. Similar scene in our house, though my daughter gets picked up earlier, and goes to bed later, and I'm in bed by 9:30 myself (due to a 5:00 wake-up; I live in DC Metro area so flex my day to start early and leave early and try to avoid traffic).

    BUT, the real reason I commented - I also HATED the Glee finale. Really, I have not enjoyed this whole season. I'm bitter about it all. Season 1 was absolutely awesome, and then it's like the writers got lazy, or rushed to get stuff out or something... Season 2 has paled in comparison. They really better step it up for Season 3 and get back to the writing that made me love them in Season 1...

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  5. Please post about how your children became such great sleepers! I know it can be a controversial subject, but you had the courage to talk about breastfeeding so I know you can handle it :) My baby is about a week and a half older than Claire and she is waking up too early in the morning. Hilary

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  6. You are so efficient! I'm impressed. I have dinner on the table at 6 now that I'm on maternity leave, but K isn't asleep until 8:30. And he's used to me being the one to do his entire bedtime routine and puts up a big fuss if JW does any part of it, so I'm running back and forth trying to feed the baby and get him into his pajamas at the same time. I wish we had changed that a long time before X was born. Also, K actively resists doing any part of the routine except for the final books/singing in bed part (so: eating dinner, taking clothes off, getting in the tub, doing anything other than playing). And he eats really slowly. I can't imagine going from dinner to bedtime in 75 minutes.

    I love the one pot, four dinners idea. I'll have to see what we can do with that.

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  7. I am also impressed with how efficient you are. I don't even have kids but I struggle to get to sleep by midnight after working all day in a BigLaw job. But then again I have a one-hour commute door-to-door each way, so it's different.

    Just curious, when do you usually wake up each day? Are you one of those people who manages to get 8 hours/night bc you're so efficient the rest of the day, or do you only need a few hours to get by? I'm always fascinated by how much sleep people need, haha.

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  8. One more thing - I, too, loathed the Glee finale. Horrible.

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  9. I'm with everyone who has no idea how you cook AND eat in 30 minutes. That is straight crazy.

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  10. That is so funny! I was just going to email you to ask you for this kind of snapshot since we're expecting our first this Fall, and I have no idea how we're going to manage... But we're not this efficient with just ourselves! We cannot cook a dinner for 2 in under 30 minutes. We should probably get to work on that... ;)

    More of these please! They're super helpful!

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  11. Wow! That sounds like a really tight routine! If I thought I could get evenings to run that smoothly, I would consider having two. :)

    I'm curious about how you got your sleepers to be so awesomely trained. I'm a 4th year vet student, and I'll be working insane hours this year. I know we'll all be SO MUCH happier if the baby is a good sleeper. Any suggestions?

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  12. Two words: Slow cooker. :)

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  13. I've been a litigator and had kids. You need a disclaimer on your blog that your experience is not the norm. Most of us are dog-tired and overworked. We never got enough time with our families and the money wasn't worth giving up the precious years with children. Its all new for you, but year after year it begins to wear you down. Once you pay off your student loans, try to live on one income so that when you reach that point, you will truly have a choice to stay home. Believe me, it does get much tougher when they get in school. There will be plenty of years to practice law after your children are grown.

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  14. To the last poster, why the kill joy?

    LL has a great thing going, and we should all be happy for her. it's her blog and she doesn't have to represent the majority. She only has to represent herself. Lay off the "just you wait..." routine. It's not nice.

    Thanks, LL. Your snapshot (and your post on working mother life) were two posts that I have permanently bookmarked.

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  15. We have a very similar routine. Agree it works best when you make pasta. Or trader joes frozen stuff.

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  16. Yeah, who's the Debbie Downer? I'm sure LL's experience is probably the "good" end of the Big Law spectrum. She doesn't have asshole partners expecting her to still be at the office at 9pm every night just to warm a chair. But that doesn't mean that it's one or the other. There is balance to be had in the legal profession, and many of us litigate and still have the flexibility to do so while still spending time with our families and not being frazzled nutbags (most of the time).

    Although, I definitely can't get my shit together enough to actually cook food. We live off of take-out. So lazy!

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  17. LonghornBlonde5/29/11, 11:18 PM

    I just wanted to share one of my favorite tips for getting dinner together quickly after work, especially if pasta is a favorite. Our oven has a delay start on it so I put a large oven-safe pot in, filled with water and covered, and set the timer so that it goes off about 30 min. before I expect to be home for 200 degrees. When I do get home, I have a pot of water that's about 3-4 minutes from coming to a boil. I put it on the stove/cooktop on high and it seems like it's boiling instantly (regardless of whether I watch that pot or not ;-). Of course, after reading your routine it sounds like you are making use of that time while you wait for the pot to come to a boil, but I thought I'd pass this on in case it as helpful to you or another reader...

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  18. LonghornBlonde that is maybe the most brilliant thing I've ever read! Waiting for the water to boil is the longest step of our evening routine, on pasta night anyway. Thanks for sharing!

    (And on timing - we probably didn't finish eating until closer to 6:45, everything was just ready at 6:30. Didn't want anyone to think we were fitting more in our 30 minutes than we really were!)

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