Not too long ago, I was engaged in this chat with a dear friend who told me about a very special tradition that she had with her children on a weekly basis. They had a Tuesday Tea where each week they all gathered for tea at a certain time of day and shared in poetry and tea. She described how nice it was that they always counted on this tradition and how it later expanded because the kids started to write their own poetry to share as well. She missed that tradition, and I sat listening…. relating. Our current ritual is our Saturday family movie nights. They have been in existence since the new year, and only a very very few have ever been missed, and I tell ya, when they are missed…. they are really missed! (So we just try to never miss them! ; )
But something else about this tradition struck me. I could relate to the niceness of having something to count on and rely on with the chaotic schedules we all have in the mix. I could imagine that probably none of my kids (not even D) would really care for a “Tuesday Tea,” but they certainly would probably welcome the idea of sitting together on a weekly basis and doing projects together. Just a day that we always said “no” to anything else happening outside of the house and focused on us and projects we all wanted to work on, either together, or solo, but collaboratively. I told the kids about this conversation and how I’d love to see a day designated to this concept. They were quite eager to this idea and quickly asked how soon we could start?! Mondays was the most logical day for this, so we came up with the Monday Morning Madness (M.M.M.) concept. We agreed that every Monday would be designated to just being together, doing our things…. There would be no other plans that day unless (and only if) there is a chunk of time in that day to designated to Triple-M. And I tell ya… it’s not even been a full month that we’ve been doing it, but we have just LOVED it so far.
So each Monday has been been different from one to the next. One constant is that we are designating time to learning Mandinka, which is really quite fun. I remember quite a bit of it from my service in The Gambia, and can hear a conversation pretty well (eaves-dropping on my hubby’s phone conversations keeps me up on that skill). But I can’t get it from my brain to mouth very well, and so this practice with the kids has been really fun. The kids are slowly picking things up, and they are loving being able to try and practice as well. Other than Mandinka, the week changes each time and we always seem to find tons to do.
Today was somewhat of an epitome of a day. I just had such an awesome day. Kicked it off with my first-ever successful registration for a Chicago Park District class. D wants to do gymnastics and I thought it might be nice to try something outside of Evanston for a change. But truly every person I ever speak to about CPD classes… ugh… they can scare the pants off ya (regarding the registration process)! But, I do think it helped that it was only 1 child for 1 class and that made it pretty simple. But from there, I spent about 20-30 minutes on the computer to get out all class reminders for AJCW and HYSL, answer emails, check FB and then log off. We headed to the kitchen and did some breakfast, and then started the true manic Monday marathon (Ha… another Triple-M ; )
So, here’s all we did:
– We “successfully” turned the guinea pig penthouse into a 2 BR apt so that the boys and the girls could separate. The quotes around the successfully lies with the fact that the boys are clearly not so happy with this concept. In fact, one of the boys, Okosi, voices his very strong opinions about it quite regularly. We do hope that he becomes OK with the concept because he is truly non-stop-loud ; ) It tugs at all of our heart strings…. we even let him have “visitation” with his mama so he would quiet for a bit.
– I cooked some “Dirty Quinoa” as I like to call it. (Stir-fry veggies mixed into the Quinoa. Not all that complicated, but very yummy.) D baked her very (very) first all-on-her-own recipe along side me. She worked on very yummy lemon bars! (She was quite proud of her accomplishment!) The lil’s ‘helped’ each of us along the way…. before we both wanted to throw them outta the kitchen : )
– K worked on his RPG (Role Playing Game). He’s been quite into the indepth development of this game he has started from scratch! He’s been working on it for quite some time, and has so many details evolving each time he sits down to it. It’s really quite impressive to see how intensely he is taking to this because he usually has TONS of fabulous ideas, but does not really follow through on many. This one has been a true-love and he has been quite dedicated for a few months now. I just love seeing that of him.
– D has been itching to learn a new piece on the piano, so we dug around looking for some sheet music to print out and get her started on that. I nudged her in the direction of Fur Elise because as a child, it was one of my very favorite pieces to play. One of the very few I even remember being able to play! ; ) But she heard a clip on the internet and was excited to learn something that I had loved dearly. She has already accomplished the first few frames and what I find most fascinating… she won’t really attempt to play via the sheet music. She may look at it, but it just makes tons more sense to her to hear it and play it and practice it. She gets middle-C and octaves and scales… sharps and flats even… she will practice a few things I suggest, but she really truly just loves to play by ear. Truly fascinating to me.
– I got S interested in Starfall today! He needed a project and one thing I know he’s dying to know better is letters. He asks me all of the time to spell things for him, and he loves telling me what things say. So I figured if he had something on the computer that was “his” game to play, that would really set his ego wild. He had a BLAST! He was so proud. Telling me what each thing was saying and sounding like. He did it for nearly a full half hour. That’s pretty great for him because he’s always on the run for something new to explore. So that was a pretty cool experience for him, and so fun to see how proud he grew.
– M and S both got baths today! That was a huge accomplishment as there was lots going on in between everything else. But they got some serious water-play in and that was so awesome for them both, and helped M in her little itchiness of a body. She soaked in some coconut oil and played games with S and that was awesome.
– We packed lunches for the homeless today as well! Lincoln Park Community Shelter had been reaching out to people looking for more volunteers and I signed us up for an extra day to pack lunches. EHS already does the 3rd Sunday of the month where we bring 30 lunches down to the center, but then a few families signed up for extra days as well. We signed up for today and this was our second time to do this as a family (and not with the group). My kids just LOVE doing this. They decorate the lunch bags, make the sandwiches, and pack up the lunches, making sure that each one has one of every item. They are quite eager to drive down there to deliver them as well. It’s a great thing to see you kids feel that committed to community service/helping others.
– And… of course we went down to deliver the lunches. Stopped in at the shelter and finally got to meet the woman who I am always corresponding with via emails. It feels great when you bring them down and they are eager to take them off to the kitchen for the residents. Everyone was on a really nice high so we….
– Decided to head to the zoo. Unfortunately… it was closed. But since parking was a snap to find, and the pond has that super nice new path around it, we decided to park and take a really beautiful twilight walk around that path. Quite nice. I even received this super-nice greeting from a stranger who noticed my shirt (The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago).
I really have come to love Triple-M. It seems to be something we’ve needed, or at the very least could have used. With the chaos of our daily schedules, it’s nice to connect with projects we can do jointly, and those that we can do independently yet together, and even more, what I can help the kids with to get them going for the week ahead (like D and her new piano piece). Great way to touch base, check-out from the world, and truly focus on each other.