And I guess it’s showing. I’ve had several people go out of their way today to ask how I’m really doing with Bret being gone. Well, I’m doing okay…but I’m tired. The schedule that we’re keeping the past couple of weeks – on top of the loneliness and stress and probably some mild depression – is wearing me out. But I can do it! Just one day of swim lessons left – we’ve almost made it through these two weeks. Let me tell you, it’s been great. The boys have really learned a lot and I’m so glad that we were able to do this with them…but it’s been pretty hard, too. We’ve developed quite the little schedule/routine in order to make this work.
I knew it was going to be a bit of an ordeal. Anytime you fill up every morning for a couple of weeks with something like that it seems to rule your life during that time, everything else must work around it. Conner and Micah’s lessons are from 9-9:30 and Joey’s Mommy and Me lessons are from 10:10 to 10:40. So the original plan was to put Joey in the BRiCk’s (Burleson Recreation Center – Burleson’s new workout facility/public swimming pool) childcare during the big boys’ lessons, get them into dry clothes, and then pick up Joey for his lessons and leave Conner and Micah. (How awesome is that?! Built-in childcare!) I even left them all in the KidZone while I worked out a few times during the two weeks preceding our swim lessons so that everyone would get used to it and know what was going on.
But, in my world anyway, even the most carefully laid out plans almost never work out the way I envision. Joey immediately figured out that if he cried hard enough for long enough (like to the point of puking) they would call me and I’d have to come get him. That’s what happened the first day. I was shocked because he had never cried in there before – but I had never left him in there without one of his brothers either…I guess that’s where I went wrong.
The next day he started crying the moment he figured out that we were on our way to the BRiCk. I decided I would try letting him stay with me during the big brothers’ lessons – and if he ran off like I expected him to I’d insist that he’d stay in the childcare. But surprise, surprise, he did great! So we took the Joey-goes-to-the-KidZone part out of the routine right off. (And since then I’ve tried leaving him at the KidZone a couple of times so that I could workout, and I’ve ended up hearing my name over the loud speaker, “Rachel Wells, please come to the KidZone. Rachel Wells, to the KidZone,” because he won’t stop crying. I’m determined to make this working out thing work though, but I guess that’s another story…)
So this is what a day at swim lessons has ended up looking like for us. (Yes, it’s long…but so are my mornings!) :
It starts the night before. I make sure that everyone’s swimsuit, swim shirt, swim shoes, and Joey’s lifejacket have either been washed or laid out to dry. I make sure that all of the towels have been washed, dried, folded, and returned to the laundry basket that I carry around with me. (Yes, I’ve been washing them everyday instead of just hanging them out to dry – the next day I don’t want to be the one to end up with the towel that’s been used as a jump rope in the parking lot, dry the puddles of water up off the floor in the bathroom, or had someone’s sandwich smeared all over it.)
I also pack lunches, drinks, and snacks for everyone, a couple of things to keep Joey busy during the big brothers’ lessons, WalMart bags to hold the wet clothes, and dry clothes for everyone to put on. (And I’ve got to admit – nearly every night I gather up the day’s laundry and wash it…and then grab those clothes out of the dryer and stick them right back into the bags. We haven’t even been living out of the laundry basket, we’re pretty literally living straight out of the dryer – the same couple of sets of clothes for all of us for two weeks now. :) Realistically, all of this doesn’t happen the night before, but at least some of it has to.
I try to make sure everyone is up and eating breakfast by at least 8. Then we get dressed in swim suits, brush teeth, apply sunscreen, grab the lunches out of the fridge, and leave the house around 8:30 – 8:45. When we get to the BRiCk, Conner and Micah each grab a towel out of the basket, I grab my bag, and we walk to the pool. And splashing in the puddles (that I guess were left by the sprinklers overnight) on the way has become a very necessary part of our morning.
Conner and Micah do their lessons, and Joey eats a snack and plays with whatever little thing I’ve brought for him to do. (Except for Tuesday when he suddenly just took off and literally ran into the pool. There were four lifeguards right there – I should have let them do their jobs. But no, I had to put on a show for everyone and took off screaming, running and jumped in after him. I was just glad that I at least already had my suit on! (I have to get in with Joey for his lessons.) My cover-up was wet, but my phone and keys weren’t in my pockets, so it certainly could have been worse! I seriously considered sending him to the KidZone again after that, but he seems to have gotten the message that we don’t do that!)
When the big brothers are done we walk back to the van. This time we skip the puddles and walk on the curbs/red fire lane stripe. (I don’t know why we have to do all of these little things every time, but they’ve all become very important!) At the van, Micah grabs Softie, I grab the bag with the dry clothes and we walk into the BRiCk. On the way in, Joey points out the blackberry bushes and pretends to eat some, slurping and everything. And then there was that one day that there was dog poop by the trashcan. He made a very big deal about the poop and how yucky it was every time we went by it.
Once inside, I have to scan everyone’s ID card. Actually, I have to dig the ID cards out and distribute them because everyone wants to scan their own. I’m sure the receptionist groans every time she sees us coming but she’s usually very nice about it! We walk to the dressing rooms, making sure to bounce on the foam pads surrounding the climbing rock tower on the way by.
I never know who gets the first turn, and I’m not real sure how they decide it either – but we end up in the dressing rooms three times, so everyone gets a turn to pick which room to go into. There we (very loudly, because it really echoes and they love that) get everyone pottied, into dry clothes, and a little bit of a drink and a snack.
Then as soon as the KidZone comes into view Joey starts crying. We drop Conner and Micah off and Joey stops crying when he realizes that he gets to come with me to swim lessons. We go back to the van, where we leave the snack and activity bag, the big brothers’ wet suits and towels, get dry towels for us, and head back out to the pool, splashing in the puddles again.
Joey and I have a great time doing his lessons. He’s really learned a lot, and I think we’ve both enjoyed the structured one-on-one time together. When we get out, his little lips are usually blue because he’s so cold. So I wrap him up in a towel and cuddle him for a minute, dry myself off, and carry him all the way back to the van. The sprinklers have turned on by now, and are spraying us with a cool mist, so we talk about how cold they are and count them as we go by. (“One, two, thwee, five, six, sebin, eight, nine, ten, ee-wa-bin!”)
At the van we grab Coach and the laundry basket with all of our other stuff. We talk about the blackberries (and the poop) again as we go back into the BRiCk and pick Conner and Micah up from the KidZone. As they come out, Micah talks nonstop about what he did outside and the show he watched on TV, and Conner excitedly jumps and waves his hands around showing me all of the cool things that he did on the Wii.
Then the next person picks a dressing room and we (again, loudly) get everyone pottied and Conner and Micah back into their swim gear. Thankfully, as the week comes to a close they’ve finally stopped whining about how cold their clothes are now. And then we’re off to the natatorium (indoor swimming pool).
We walk past the cool water playground and out onto the sundeck, where we eat lunch. I’m carrying all the bags and the laundry basket now and holding tightly on to Joey, so Conner opens all the doors for me. Once on the sundeck Joey usually runs around more than he eats, and I usually spend more time asking them not to climb on the rock walls than I do eating, but we somehow manage to get some kind of sustenance into everyone’s tummy
And finally, the highlight of the morning – we’re off to play on the water playground. I know, right? It’s awesome! No wonder they get so excited. And no re-application of sunscreen needed! They play great for 30-45 minutes (except for that one time that Joey jumped right into the big pool and I had to get in and get him – on the same day that he jumped in during lessons), and then amazingly enough, when I tell them it’s time to go, they all get right out! (Except for that one day last week when they realized that they were all leaving trails of blood on the floor. The bottoms of all their little toes were so raw that they were bleeding (a lot, actually) and it really kind of freaked them out. Too much swimming, I guess. Thus the swim shoes!)
Nearly every day, at least one person has asked me about Joey’s little puddlejumpers life jacket. (I highly recommend them!!) And a couple of my friends have bought them for their kids, too. I’m kind of thinking that I need to contact puddlejumpers and ask for a commission!
I have to rinse all the chlorine off of Joey because of his eczema, so when we’re done we head to the dressing rooms one last time, and the last brother finally gets his turn to choose which room. The echoing-whining-because-we’re-freezing-now finally comes to a sudden and beautiful halt when they’re all undressed and I turn on the warm shower. I let them warm up while I get the wet clothes and shoes into a WalMart bag and lay out their dry ones.
Then I go ahead and dig out the soap and shampoo and get their bath for the day out of the way while they fight about who gets to stand directly under the showerhead. Then I get myself into dry clothes, turn the shower off, listen to more whining because they’re cold again, get everyone pottied and into dry clothes, finish packing up our stuff, and we head back out to the van. (Except for that one day that I looked over and found Joey painting on the wall with blood. Now his fingers were raw too. I don’t think they make swimming gloves like they do swimming shoes! But luckily, after the bleeding feet episode I now had a package of waterproof band-aids in my bag. My current plan is to use the money I make on commission from Puddlejumpers to hire a personal lifeguard to follow Joey around, and buy the what-feels-like-nearly-an-entire-box of band-aids I use everyday on raw little fingers and toes.)
This time as we head out, we have to stop and inspect the floodlights below the flags to see if there are any new dead bugs since the day before. And when we get home, we all usually sleep for 2-3 hours.
Then we eat dinner (and this week we’ve gone to VBS from 6:45-9:30, not getting kids in bed until 11 or so!) and begin to get geared up to do it all again the next day…
That's why I'm tired. :)