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After reblogging and greatly enjoying othergfence65´s post about teenagers and their crazy late hours here in BA, I got to thinking about my day and how our routine might stack up against a similar family back in the States. I doubt they vary much, though I am pretty sure that, much like the teens, everything happens later here. Call it cultural, institutional or just not enough hours in the day but one thing is for sure; no-one, except a inflexible tourist or two, is sitting down to dinner at 7 pm in this country. No one. Let´s have a look at a day in the life of the Vello family and see why:

5:05 pm – We leave the starting line when Chip exits the school bus into my open arms on the corner of the street by my office. We hustle back to the building, jump in the car and take off to pick up Nicky at daycare.

5:35 – both boys in the car, we make our way through light traffic and arrive at home.

6:00 – Snacktime. (WHAT?? YOU´LL RUIN THEIR DINNER) I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but bear with me here….C last ate at school at 2:30 after nap time and dinner´s not till 8:30 and he´s peckish. So it´s snacktime. A ham and cheese sandwich, an apple and some cookies, or maybe even (gasp) an ice-cream are but some of the possibilities. And for Mom, it means a drink. Yup, no denying it folks, once the kids are snacking and before the evening rush begins I wholeheartedly admit to pouring myself a cold one and sitting down for 5 minutes, usually alone. I´ll read the Style and the Dining Sections of the NYT (since I try not to do that at the office during the day and even a nerd´s got to have a guilty pleasure) have a look at FB for the 20th time or just stare at the wall. 5 minutes is all I need, but they are mine.

6:15 – Playtime. Also known as the backstretch in racing terms… This is when I sit down and truly experience my children´s company. Usually one at a time, while the other follows trails along though it is very possible that Nicky is NAPPING. (WHAT, THE INSANITY; HE´LL NEVER GO TO SLEEP!) Ah, well, I beg to differ. He is 10 months old and spends his day from 10 to 5 in the company of 5 other babies at daycare. While he sleeps two hours every afternoon according to the teachers, he is still a little beat when I pick him up. That and the 20 minute car ride are prone to put him to sleep. IT´S FINE. REALLY. Not a big deal. He´ll wake up when he´s ready and have dinner, get bathed and go back to bed. And if he didn´t fall asleep on the way home, chances are good that I am sitting on the floor building him towers to knock over and fielding questions about knights from Chip and that´s great too.

7:00 – Dad gets home and the attention shifts. Chip might be asking for some TV time by now, which is fine, because the meal crunch is on and plugging him in to some Disney Jr programming in English (SAP/voiceovers off, always!) is not going to kill anyone. Like most people I know here, we purchase food for one to two meals at a time, maybe more if it´s the weekend. Our fridge has a basic roster (milk, butter, yogurt, sandwich bread, ham and cheese and a shitload of condiments) and then the stuff needed to cook for that day or the following day and that´s about it. So this is the crucial moment – can you pull together dinner with what is in the cupboard and fridge or must you head to the store? We do most of our groceries at a medium-sized Chinese owned grocery store about 5 blocks from the house and fruits and vegetables come from the Bolivian greengrocer/verduleria across the street. Perhaps M will go while I continue to play with boys, or vice versa, or if he (my husband) is engrossed in a project, the boys and I head to the store. Which is fine, it just takes about 8 minutes longer.

7:45 – My youngest son has an alarm clock for a belly and it goes off every night at 7:30 without fail. I make all of his food and freeze individual portions (while I would like to give myself credit for being very nutritionally conscious, that´s not the reason. There just isn´t any baby food on the shelves here.) So I have defrosted his dinner and one of us is feeding him while the other begins the process of turning the TV off without Chip stomping his feet or melting into a puddle of whine and the herding towards the bathtub begins…

8:15 – We now enter what is known in racing terms as the far turn. Someone is bathing a food-smeared Nick and a reluctant/exuberant Chip together while someone else is making dinner. At this point we are pretty interchangeable and that is part of why I really love my husband. He´s an ATV when it comes to our sons, even if he might not know which clothes are PJs and which are street clothes. It doesn´t really matter. We both spent 8 hours at the office on any given day and while there is usually not much shouting or arguing, everyone is starting to lag a little.

8:45 – Ojala/Inshallah/God willing, Chip, M and I are sitting down to dinner. This is where the timing becomes key. If we are running late and are not going to be seated and eating in less than 20 minutes, then Chip is eating alone, hopefully some version of what´s cooking or a staple from the fridge. But he´s got to be ingesting his dinner. He simply can´t make it past 9:20. Which sounds crazy, I know, but trust me, many of our friends are still just MAKING DINNER and will not be sitting down till 10 pm or later. Any why not eat earlier? Well, I have tried, really I have. But my husband has no appetite before 9 pm and quite frankly, I´m right there with him. So we hustle and most days we eat together and sometimes we don´t. Where, you might ask, is the baby in all of this? PJ´d, bathed, fed and pulling things off the shelves or sitting next to the table mewing to be picked up so he can join us for a second dinner.

9:30 – The homestretch. M or I are now laying in bed next to Chip reading our two or three nightly stories. Nick either has been sucking on a pacifier and is now on my lap ready to pass out or still going strong pulling things off the shelves in the boys´room as I read to Chip. Stories done, lights out amid request from C to “sleep with him for a minute” (to which I say “yes” if we´ve eated already and “no way” if we haven´t). To put Nicky down, I walk to the bedroom door, push it closed so he sees we are not leaving (at which time a wail of desperation escapes him, but just one) and I walk him over to the crib. “We are going to bed, Nicky, it´s that time” I say, as I reinsert pacifier, kiss him on the head and place him on his side in the crib. One last kiss for Charlie, a “sleep tight” and I am OUT OF THERE.

My light´s out is pretty damn smooth and that is something I pride myself on. Some days someone will protest and cry for a minute, but there is no going back. No, I am not a mean cry-it-out monster. They are not sobbing, there is no “helplessness” in the air, little babies feeling abandoned or any of that jazz. I am just a mom, a mom who works and who loves her boys and believes in some semblance of a routine, even though it might be a hell of a lot later than yours. And I have now crossed the finish line and am officially OUT!