A Day in My Life…Again

Sharon October 2nd, 2009

Someone asked me to do a “Day in the Life” post - I did one back in 2007 (it is reproduced in _Depletion and Abundance_), but figured it had been two years, and so I picked this past Tuesday and kept track of what actually happened.  I’m not sure it was a typical day - it was, among other things, the day after Yom Kippur, Eric was home from work for four days because of the holiday, but nothing was obviously abnormal, so what the heck - we’ll call it as typical as we ever get.   I always think these things are kind of boring, but I guess that’s part of the point - I wouldn’t want you folks to think my life was exciting ;-) .

6:26 am: We’ve been ignoring the kids for half an hour or so, and they’ve been playing fairly quietly in their room as we doze a bit, but now the volume is rising, and the children are coming out more often to peek and see if we’re up, so we figure we might as well get up.  Eric gets up, announcing that it is “time to go to work in the smurf mines” and gets the boys out of bed and downstairs.  I follow a minute or so behind.  We get busy getting breakfast (choice of oatmeal or toast), tea and juice (we have apple cider lying around), and checking the barn in case Maia actually decided to have her babies.  She didn’t. 

In the first DITL, the kids were littler (they are now 9 1/2, almost 8, almost 6 and almost 4), so subtract two years, and it was November.  There was more diaper changing involved and more help dressing.  The kids needed more attention in the mornings, and we had to start the cookstove - it was cool on Tuesday, but not cold enough to need a fire yet, so we didn’t light one. 

7am - Kids are mostly fed.  We make Eli’s lunch - leftover bagels with peanut butter (yom kippur break-fast is the one meal of the year we rely entirely on purchased food - bagels, lox, cream cheese, etc… there’s just no facing cooking a meal at the end of 24 hours with no food or water, so we have leftovers and the kids think they are a huge treat), an apple, carrot sticks and a piece of chocolate cake made by my sister, leftover from our weekend family gathering.  I pack Eli’s bag - he’s toilet training at school and so he needs a couple of spare outfits every day, and we do dishes and sterilize the milking equipment.

7:30 - We say Modeh Ani, the Jewish morning prayer, and the kids go outside with Eric to milk the goats.  That’s a new one - in 2007 there were no goats, and daily chores took 10 minutes, not 40.  But we love milking, and we love the goats, and the kids love to be part of it.  Simon gets hay and fills their water trough, Asher collects goldenrod for the goats, Isaiah feeds the chickens, duck and turkeys.  Everyone pets baby Tekiah (the little goat, now almost two weeks old) and makes much of her.  Then Eric digs around in the garage for the sukkah poles and tarps - why can’t we ever find anything?

Meanwhile, I go up to the computer - I find I write best early in the day.  Besides, we’ve got stuff to do today, since Eric is home and we have a brief pause between the arrival of the next guests (my Mom and Step-Mom, yay!) and the holidays.  On the way up, I change the sheets on the guest bed (time for flannel, it will be cold) and throw on a load of laundry.  Am trying to come up with a funny post - decide I’m not funny today.

8:30 - Eli’s bus comes, and he heads off to school, happily - he loves school, and wasn’t that excited about the many hours of yom kippur services the day before, so he’s glad to get on the bus.  Chores are done and the boys troop in for some math time with Daddy. I’m still working, managing to get a post up and about 1/20th of the email replies I should have done.

9:30 - Tomorrow we’re expecting frost, so we’ve got to bring in a lot of the crops - and I’m also going to pick up some supplemental stuff at a couple of local farms, along with decorations for our sukkah.  So we make the rounds - first to the Carrot Barn, our favorite, where I meet a reader (Hi Bob!) and buy a ridiculous amount of tomatoes and eggplant to make sure that I don’t actually spend any time slacking off ;-) .  Oh, and it happens they have one last box of canning peaches - do I want them?  Uh huh - and sure, I’m sure I’ll find time sometimes in the next packed days to can up a bushel of peaches.    We also get gourds and colored corn for sukkah decorating - sukkot starts Friday and we’ll need to have the sukkah up on Thursday.

Next, we go on to the fruit farm, and pick fall raspberries (I have a bunch, but the children regard them as their private snack garden and don’t like me picking them ;-) ) - I’ve done enough jam making, but I want to make raspberry vodka to be given as gifts at the holidays.  With three enthusiastic berry pickers, it doesn’t take long to pick a couple of quarts for vodka making.  Then we go to another farmstand, and pick up Mums for decorating the sukkah, a couple of pumpkins (for pies, my pumpkin crop wasn’t great this year) and more sweet corn to be cut from the cob and frozen.  And then back we go, crammed in our little clown car, each of us with a mum on our lap.

12:00 - On the ride back the kids had “Modeh Ani” competitions - coming up with the most creative tunes to a traditional Jewish prayer.  Asher does it to the Munchkin song from “The Wizard of Oz,” Simon has a Beatles medly, and Isaiah discovers that it can be sung to ”Great Balls of Fire.” We’re back, and it is time for lunch - grilled eggplant and pepper sandwiches with goat cheese, sliced peaches, broccoli. 

1pm: Eric starts at the corn - I do the vast majority of the food preservation, but this job he’s taken over from me, because it isn’t one I enjoy, and he doesn’t mind.  The corn husks go to the goats, the chickens love the earworms, and he husks, cooks and cuts.  The kids alternate between helping and playing with the animals.  Meanwhile, I pick all the basil and make two kinds of pesto - the traditional kind with the regular basil, and a “thai style” one with coconut oil, ginger and lemongrass along with our copious quantities of Thai and Holy Basil.  I’m not really clear on how well this will freeze, but I’m trying it, since I want to preserve that summery flavor.  I also mix up the raspberry vodka.

2pm: The kids have been good sports with helping with the corn and nabbing berries, but are getting bored, so we have a little school time. I haven’t really prepped anything, so we read a holiday story _When Zayde Danced on Eldridge Street_ and then continue our study of ancient societies, talking about how hunter-gatherer societies were different than ours and how agriculture began.  Then the kids do a little writing practice - Asher copies letters, Isaiah copies words (he’s learning to read and write) and Simon practices cursive.  The boys have been extremely accomodating - Yom Kippur isn’t a great kid holiday, since the parents are grumpy and distracted and it involves spending a lot of time sitting quietly.  After school, I let them watch part of the movie _Matilda_ and eat their share of the remaining chocolate cake.

3:15 pm: I’m doing dishes (this is an ongoing project in our house - it is a rule, the dishes are never done, the sink is never empty and the laundry is never finished) and watching for Eli’s bus - there it is.  I go out and chat with the drivers while Eli revels in being free and able to run around a bit more.   I locate Eli’s shoes, which he has abandoned, and narrowly avert an abandonment of his pants.  The kids have a snack - it is getting chilly and rainy so we make popcorn and cocoa.  Eli goes out to swing in the rain, Simon and Isaiah go to the hay barn to read together, and Asher sort of follows us around being silly, throwing toys in the air and singing things to them.  I ignore the peaches.

4:30 pm: No particular plan for dinner, other than giving the children some corn ;-) .  How is it that we manage to forget that meals are going to be needed, even though they come every single day, three times a day? Ah, I have plenty of milk, so corn chowder.  And time to make a quick pan of cornbread - we’ll have a corny meal.  And broccoli, and slice tomatoes with basil, as long as we’ve got them.

5:45: Dinner, yum.  We’re all hungry and tired, but happy - it has been a busy, but mellow and productive day, although the house is still messy, we’re not ready for guests, I have no plan for the peaches, we didn’t get enough school done and I’m still behind on my email - but hey, this is good for us.  The food is delicious, and we all eat a lot, except Eli, who doesn’t like milky soups, but who devours his tomatoes and all the rest of them, along with the bread.  We’ve been eating a *lot* of broccoli because we have a lot of broccoli, and you know you are overdoing it when your son asks you, “But Mommy, aren’t there any mustard greens or anything?”  When the kids are desperate enough to beg for mustard greens, you’ve pushed them too far ;-) .

6:30: Out to milk - it is raining, but the kids don’t care.  I gather some comfrey and burdock leaves for a last treat, and raspberry leaves for expectant Maia - Eric milks again and I herd the chickens back into their pen and haul water.  We feed dog, bunny, cats.  All creatures must be fed and attended to.  It all goes a lot faster these days, and the rhythym of chores, morning and evening, seems to bracket the day. 

7pm: The boys are back in and getting into fuzzy pajamas.  They are exhausted - Asher is whining, Eli has taken a blanket from the guest bed and has wrapped himself in it and found a corner to snuggle in, and Simon and Isaiah are acting up the way they do when they are overtired.  We brush teeth and head to bed.  Both of us go up to read stories - Eric is reading _A Wrinkle in Time_ to Simon and Isaiah, Asher wants his 97th repetition of _Owl Babies_ this week, plus a read-through of _The Camel’s Lament_, I’m nearly finished with _My Side of the Mountain_ with Isaiah and Simon, and we decide we’ll move on to the sequel (which isn’t nearly as good).  Eli opts for _Two Cool Cows_ and some of _A Child’s Garden of Verses_. 

The kids are excited about a spate of upcoming birthdays.  Isaiah wants his own birdwatching binoculars, some legos and “one of those barns with a big hayloft that’s attached to the house.”  I showed him a picture of a New Englander house with attached barn, and he’s wanted a hayloft for years (our barn is a single story with an attached haybarn next to it) to play in.  I want one too.

8pm: Kids are in bed - Simon is still reading, Isaiah and Asher are asleep, Eli is playing and Eric and I are pooped.  He’s got a class tomorrow in environmental physics, so he and I talk about I=PAT equations and possible math problems for his students, bouncing ideas back and forth.  We eat chocolate cake too ;-) .  I read a few pages of a Georgette Heyer novel, Eric reads a little of Richard Heinberg’s new book on coal, in preparation for his coming class on that subject.  The official rule is that it is embarassing to go to bed before 9pm, but let’s just say that by 9:08, we’re down and out. 

27 Responses to “A Day in My Life…Again”

  1. Mark says:


    When I read this and have my eyes fill with tears. . . .

  2. MEA says:

    Is it the same GH you were reading last time? I know you a pressed for time, but that would be pathetic.

    Otherwise, sounds like a great day.


  3. Sharon says:

    Was I reading a Heyer novel last time? Good lord, I’d forgotten - no, it was a new one, I hadn’t read _The Unknown Ajax_ - they’ve just re-released them all, and I am reading a few I haven’t. Very funny.


  4. sgl says:

    no wonder the world is falling apart — your typical day didn’t include a single case of “bunt to the wee!” :-) obviously you don’t take changing the world seriously if there’s no daily battle cry.

    [for new people that don't get the joke, see the beginning of: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/03/26/bunt-to-the-whee-the-battle-cry-of-food-storers/ ]


  5. Deb says:

    I remember those days when the kids were small and reading before bed was the best time of the day.

    When you are done with GH, try Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—it’s a stitch, especially if you are well acquainted with the original.

    Deb in Wis

  6. Shamba says:

    thanks for this, Sharon. :)

    Peace to All,

  7. Carolyn says:

    This was a joy to read! Thanks so much for sharing your life. Peace and blessings to you…

  8. Bess says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I can’t wait to get out there and spend a couple of days with you…

    I’m currently reading My Side of the Mountain with Ira as well. :-)

  9. Paula Hewitt says:

    ok I’ll bite. I’m assuming you didnt come home with an Aussie mother (mum) on everyones laps - that would be pushing the clown car analogy too far. what the hell is a mum?

  10. Deb says:

    a mum is a chrysanthemum-fall flowers here in the northern part of the US, typically in the rusts, golds and purples.

    Mothers are usually Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma or, as my son calls me, Goddess who gives food and does the laundry.

    Deb in Wisconsin-who is so relieved the Olympics are NOT going to be in Chicago since my little town would have been hosting 2 bike events and the thought of all those tourists makes me shudder……

  11. Lorna says:

    Thanks for sharing your day with us. I’m always amazed at your energy. The Unknown Ajax was the first GH I ever read.
    Deb, we must be neighbors!
    Lorna from near Blanchardville

  12. MEA says:

    I’m reading Simon the Cold Hearted for the first time, and trying to track down the 4 serious novels she wrote — Helen(a), Something with Thorns — if I can’t remember the titles, how will I ever find them

    MEA who is so relieved that you were able to finish at least one book, and recomends Pride, Predujice and Zombies as well. Queen Victoria and the Sea Creatures (something like that) is coming too, and Philip Reeve’s Larkliight (or Larklamp) children’s series, and seems to have her memory herniate down her spine today.

  13. Pine Ridge says:

    I also recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was the only way I could get through what is supposed to be a classic. Sorry to all ya’ll stuffy types who liked the original :)

    Sharon, you are so lucky to have a husband who helps you, I hope you remember to tell him that often. I know you do .

  14. Claire says:

    My Side of the Mountain was one of my very favorite books when I was in late childhood. So glad to know it’s still around and being read!

    Claire in St. Louis, who should be shelling beans and/or writing newsletter articles, preferably both

  15. knutty knitter says:

    The GH books I really like are the detective ones - really good and funny too. I’m afraid its mummy round here :) Its school holidays here and the kids have gone skiing with grandma - its a bit quiet!

    Have you tried ‘Swallows and Amazons’ - my boys loved that series and so did we.

    viv in nz

  16. Karen Schwalbe says:

    Dumbfounded and thrilled to find fellow fans. GH novels are my illicit please. Nothing beats “The Grand Sophy” in my book. Ducklings in the kitchen, anyone?

  17. Karen Schwalbe says:

    And I second the Swallows and Amazon series. Great stories and fun to read for adults.

  18. heatherB says:

    Wow, whodathought there were so many GH fans lurking around. I reread mine every so often, but always consider them (one of) my daggy secrets, but maybe I’m in good company. Love both Ajax and Sophie, but if I had to pick a favourite would be stuck between Toll Gate, and Venetia. I recall fondly My side of the mountain and recently handed on my ratty copy to my daughter, same with Wrinkle in time, and its sequels.
    On the topic of books and goats, Sharon, if you dont have Pat Coleby’s Goat book, email me a postal and I will send you a copy in appreciation of the vast enjoyment (and education) I get from this blog

  19. Deb says:

    The new Jane Austen spoof is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Creatures! It’s on my Christmas list.

    Lorna, I’m just south of the highway between B’veld and Blue Mounds. Did you know there is a new yarn shop in Mt Horeb that is selling local and fair trade wools? The Cat and The Crow-the owner used to be part owner of the Sow’s Ear in Verona.

    My favorite read aloud for kids is Rascal by Sterling North. We reread that one over and over when my kids were small. It’s a good read for adults also.

    Deb in Wisconsin

  20. cornish_k8 says:

    My GH vote is for Sylvester and These Old Shades.

  21. Lorna says:

    I had no idea that anyone else ready GH, always felt like she was a guilty pleasure. My favorites are Toll Gate and False Colours.

  22. Lorna says:

    I was at work when I posted above, and got interrupted. I meant to add my favorite read-aloud books to kids, which would be hard to pick out, and don’t get me started or I could go on forever, but our children absolutely loved having us read The Wheel On the School, and books by Rosemary Sutcliffe, especially Warrior Scarlet, Eagle of the Ninth and Knight’s Fee. Our favorite listen-to books were Trumpet of the Swan and the Fairy Rebel, read by their respective authors.

    Deb, alas, I’m not a knitter although I’ve been to the Sow’s Ear with my young adult daughters who do knit a little. I do like to go to The Grumpy Troll, does that count?!

  23. mea says:

    Oh, re: E. potty training at school, by younger daughter was trained at school, by an OT whom she called Patty the Potty Teacher (yep, the poor woman was called Patty, and I bless her name all the time).


  24. jerah says:

    The Camel’s Lament! I love that book. It is high on my list of best younger-kid books. Amazing illustrations.

    Similar age group, different style: have you gotten into the Skippyjon Jones books? Nothing’s better than a siamese cat pretending to be a tough-talking chihuahua. My son goes around saying “Holy guacamole!” all the time.

    Now I have to go try Georgette Heyer… :)

  25. Deb says:

    Bunnicula!!! We loved Bunnicula-made eating vegetables much more sinister!

    Personally, I think Sharon should write a post on reading Georgette Heyer and the social implications she has for global warming and peak oil….


    Oh, the Grumpy Troll does count, Lorna. Just not as a yarn store since it’s a brew pub. ;o)

  26. homebrewlibrarian says:

    Deb and Lorna,

    The Grumpy Troll is excellent! I know the brewer (MarK Duchow) and he makes some fabulous stuff. I was lucky enough to bring back a couple of bottles of Maggie (an Imperial IPA) from my visit to the area in August.

    I can’t speak to the yarn shops in the area having just barely gotten back into knitting but check out the activity schedule at River Valley Trading Company in Blanchardville.


    They’ve had felting, spinning and knitting in the past. Looks like they’ve got a regular quilting group going these days. Also, RVTC has a small organic and local products grocery. It’s not vast but it beats driving all the way to Madison to get basic stuff.

    Kerri in AK who spent five years getting familiar with south central and south western Wisconsin

  27. Wilber Longstreth says:

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