We're Settled Enough that I Can Tell You About Regular Life!

It still feels good just to say that.

Warning: another long post

H going out with the girls while I took G to a play date

Well, after two years of not really knowing what we were doing or what our plans for the next month were, it is really, really nice to have settled down in a place and in a routine that works for us. Don't get me wrong, it's an exhausting routine. But it's a routine that works at any rate, and although of course we still have bad days, overall the kids seem really happy with it.

So on school mornings, we all get up around 6 and get ready for the day and have breakfast. Then, H takes the girls to the subway station while I stay home and finish feeding G and K. H actually only takes the girls to the station, and then from there, they take the subway (only a few stops) by themselves and then from that station they get on a school bus that takes them directly to school. It's really, really safe here, and we bought them an Apple watch so they could contact us, and we taught them who they should ask for help if they need it and all that. Plus, they're always together. So we felt like it was okay! But sometimes it still freaks me out a little. Anyway, those girls are pros at the subway. In fact, they can tell how close they're cutting it with the bus based on who is coming up the escalator when they walk into the station! It's been kind of an anxious journey for me letting them do that, but it's built so much confidence in them. In fact, M told me the other day, that as long as she could find a subway station, she could find her way home from anywhere in this whole city (of about 3 million people...). Well, I'm not letting her try that anytime soon, but needless to say, I was impressed.

The kids really enjoy the magazines that my mom mails to us!

Anyway, then H comes back and gets working on his software job, and I bring K with me to go drop off G. If it's pouring rain or if I'm headed straight to Costco afterwards, then I'll drive, but otherwise we usually take the bus. As long as we can time it right, the trip is only about 20 minutes, but the key is timing it, of course, because there's only one bus that goes directly from right near our house to right across from his kindergarten, and that bus only comes every 45 minutes. So I think you can imagine how I feel when we get to the bus stop and realized we've just missed it. But anyway, we still manage to get there on those days, it just takes longer. After dropping off G, I usually run errands, whether it's Costco or a fresh produce market (my favorite!) or going to some government office to do some random urgent paperwork. Then I head back home and spend most of the morning 1) doing chores, 2) cooking or 3) writing emails and updates like this one.

Nothing like a baby on a playground.

One big change for us is that lunch time is only H and me with K! In the States, of course, everyone was home all the time, but even before that, the schools where we used to live let the kids out to go home for lunch, so it's been a long time since we've had quiet lunches where I can just eat salad and nobody complains! We also go out for a lunch date once a week, and that has been a real treat. We have to take K along, but even so, it's the most dates we've had in... probably since we had kids! Then after lunch and after K has had a nap, I head out to start the afternoon pickups. I usually leave around 2:30 so that I can first get G. The girls don't take the subway home by themselves in the afternoon because I'm not ready for them to walk on the street to our house by themselves and since I'm often late, I'd rather them wait at the station where the bus drops them off instead of at our station. At the bus station, there's a huge area with benches and all their friends (and friends' parents) are there.

It is pretty unfortunate that I pick up G so early (his school actually goes until 6!) but I just couldn't figure out any other way to do it that gave me time to cook dinner and the girls to do their homework and practice violin. Anyway, once I have G I head straight to the girls' subway station and once I've let them run around like maniacs playing tag in the covered bus waiting area, we all head home. By then it's the beginning of rush hour, and although there are many school kids on the subways, there are very few (no?) families of our size on the subway. I suspect it's because even if there were four kids in one family, the kindergarten aged ones would be picked up by a grandparent or by the dad at the correct time. But anyway, this is how we do it. A lot of people stare at us! Especially the high school girls, they are crazy over K. Nonstop giggling. I like to think we brighten their day. We probably do. Unless the kids are bickering.

My army of children taking the subway back home.

Now, believe it or not, once we've arrived home after all of that, THAT'S when the crazy part of my day starts. Seriously, I could have had the best day ever and then we walk in that door and something between that moment and bed time makes me a screaming lunatic. I have to cook dinner, G is full of pent-up energy and bouncing off the walls, K is hungry, one girl is practicing violin and the other one needs help with their homework. And then there's like 20 golden minutes of peace at dinner. And then K is throwing his food and dinner has to be cleaned up and I need to practice violin with G and then M is having a meltdown about she forgot her workbook at school and now can't finish her homework and E can't even read her homework and the other girl needs to practice violin and then oh my goodness it's already 8:00 and how is nobody ready for bed yet? That's when I usually start screaming. I mean, I really try not to, don't get me wrong. But that's the moment when things start to go south. Then I yell like a drill sergeant for about the next hour until finally around 9:30 the last kid goes down and I eat a bar of chocolate while hand washing the dishes and maybe listening to an audio book if I'm not too braindead.

G's school. Which actually is a great school. But it's hard to compare to the "best on the planet."

Now that whole blog post was very reasonable until that last bit, wasn't it? Of course, some days are better than others, I just described a pretty bad day. But seriously I love it all. It's insane. I'll never keep all their homework straight. But really it's a great life. In fact, I can't really imagine my life being that much better. I mean, okay, I'd like to live in another place, like back where we used to live. But that's pretty minor, the details of my life would be very similar, just with a different background. I don't know what it is about it, it's crazy, it's exhausting, it's more than I can handle. And I just love it. And that's really what it all comes down to.