Hey ladies (and the odd gentleman)! My Life in a Day has gone international again! Whoop! This is the fifth interview in the series and I have been lucky enough to bag some time with Adrienne Brown-David. You may know Adrienne as the creative, homeschooling mama of 4 girls,through her Instagram handle @adriennemeschelle, or you may know her through her work as an artist (PLEASE check her out here, guys! Her freehand Sharpie pen Tiny Houses are just *gasp*). If you don’t know her, well, please just make yourself comfortable and get to know her, cos there is a helluva lot to know!
I tried to remember back to the first time I came across Adrienne on Instagram, but I couldn’t. She is prolific on there, and freely admits that she uses the platform to document her life with her girls. Her pictures are so candid and honest, that I feel as though I know her and her beautiful family. Plus, Adrienne’s daughter, Zion, reminds me of Kid 1+1…
Well, hello there, mama! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey, I’m Adrienne. I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri ut moved to the Virgin Islands in 2000 and then on to Oxford, Mississippi, in 2008. I currently live with my husband and four daughters in the tiny town (of about 3,500) of Water Valley, Mississippi. I’m a freelance artist, full-time babysitter for a friend and homeschool mama.
Holy Moly! Babysitting AND home schooling AND creating beautiful things for other people? So, that’s 23 of the 24 available hours accounted for, right? Let’s start at the beginning. How does it happen? What time do you get up on a typical weekday morning?
I am NOT an early bird at all. I typically force myself out of bed around 7am during the week (7:30am now that it’s Summer and I don’t have to drop the teenagers at school).
Huh? So, no 5am starts for you? I am even more amazed. And, what’s the first thing you do after you rise?
I usually curse the morning (not a morning person) and then sneak out into the living room in hopes of stealing a few quiet moments before my little girls wake up and the baby that I keep shows up. I check my email and instagram, of course, and fold any laundry that would have been in the dryer.
Ok, so, *high five* to cursing the morning, cos I do alot of that too. You’ve mentioned your beautiful daughters. Do they take up any of your time in the mornings?
Well, I have four daughters ages 16, 14, 10 and 8 and I babysit a friend’s 5 month old son. My two oldest daughters are in public school now, so I have to drop them off at school at 7:30ish (Yay, summer vacation). After the big girls are at school and the little girls wake up, we have breakfast. I keep a pretty strict menu in our house (or they will eat me out of house and home), so everyone always knows what the meal plan is. Over breakfast, the little girls and I discuss what needs to be done that day. We refer to it as “morning gathering”. We discuss what things they’ve learned, what they want to learn, any goals for the day or long term that they have. This is their opportunity to air any grievances or complaints and anything else that they may want to share.
That sounds amazing. I’d love to incorporate a “morning gathering” into our day, but we’re usually rushing to get the kids to school as it is (and as the school bell is ringing… *side eyes and sigh*). So, big girls are at school, little girls have had breakfast and the morning gathering has been conducted. What next?
I usually start my day reading to my littlest kiddo. This is really just an excuse to lay on the couch a little longer. Sometimes I have a cup of tea, but usually I don’t even think about food for myself until about 11.
Erm, excuse me? Ok, we need to address this lack of breakfast situation. What are doing instead of having your own breakfast?
Our school day starts at around 9am each day. After breakfast and morning gathering, we tackle morning chores. Chores are usually just cleaning up from breakfast, putting away any laundry that has been folded and taking care of the dog. Once that’s done, we typically start on math. It is the longest and least creative subject we have, so I like to get it out of the way first. Our traditional school work is only done Monday through Wednesday. We cover math, history, science, and grammar.
Thursdays are our forest school days. We meet our homeschool group at our trail in the woods at 9:30am and the kids head out. We’ve been doing if for close to two years now, so the kids know the woods like the backs of their hands. They typically dart in and are at base camp well before the mamas. We spend the entire morning and part of the afternoon in the woods.
Every other Friday, we have farm school. Farm school is fairly similar to forest school, but the day is longer (sometimes going until 5pm or later). We explore the woods around our friends’ property, do some journaling, picnic, share any good books or projects and try not to get lost (it has happened before). After we’ve explored the woods, the kids help take care of the animals. They feed dogs, cats, chickens, and goats and help wrangle everything in for the night.
On opposite Fridays, we focus on art. They kids usually pick some projects that they want to work on and we have a full fine art lessons, as opposed to crafty projects. They’ve done painting with acrylics (mostly still lifes), self-portraits, copies of other artists work and have been introduced to a variety of mediums.
O.M.G. That sounds AMAZING! You are actually making me consider whether I should be homeschooling my girls…but we don’t live anywhere near some woods or have friends with a farm… I’m assuming that you and the kids are famished come lunchtime?
Lunch around here (Monday – Wednesday) happens about noon. On forest school days we eat in the woods whenever they want. We usually have something that is easy to put together. My kids love burritos, so we eat a lot of black bean burritos or an egg dish (usually eggs from farm school Friday) or PB & J*. I’m basically a child when it comes to lunch. If I’m lucky, my husband will have brought food home from work the night before (he’s the GM of a pretty popular restaurant here) and I get to eat grown up food for lunch! Some days we bake bread or make pretzels (my kids’ favorite).
OK, seriously, can my kids come and stay with you during the week? And, while you’re homeschooling them, can I please have some of those leftovers from the pretty popular restaurant? Anyway, I digress. What happens after school?
After school is out and I’ve picked up the big girls, we get started with our after school extracurricular madness! My 16 year old runs track for her high school, is a classical ballerina and also takes a contemporary ballet class. She has ballet for two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with her extra contemporary ballet class for another hour on Thursday. During track season, she has track practice immediately after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you’re doing the math, that means THREE separate classes and practices on Thursday, for just this one kid! My 14 year old also does ballet, but she fences as well. So she has the same Monday and Wednesday ballet class, but on Tuesday and Thursday I have to get her to fencing. (That’s a fourth practice added to the list on Thursday.) My 10 and 8 year old have violin and ballet on Monday afternoons. This can make Mondays tricky. If my husband is off, he
brings the big girls to ballet (it’s a 30 minute commute from our house). But if he has to work, I have to pick the littles up from ballet at 3pm, speed home to pick up the big girls and jet back into town to get the littles back to violin by 4:30pm. I cherish his Mondays off. The littles also have chess club on Tuesdays and book club one Thursday a month (Thursday… ). Somewhere, somehow, during all of that, the baby gets reunited with his parents for the night.
My mind is blown. That is ridiculous! When you have been out during the day, what time do you return home?
Depending on which activities we have to get to, we get back home anywhere from 7:15 to 8:30pm, and sometimes later if there are art openings that I have to go to or evening meetings scheduled (I’m part of a gallery alliance, the PTO at the high school and our homeschool group meets periodically).
I promise to never moan about my kid’s schedule EVER again! Can we please just talke about dinner now?!
Dinner varies depending on what time we get home. If it’s late night and I’ve stuck to the menu, there’s dinner in the crock pot when we get home. Otherwise, I cook as soon as we get home. We eat mostly vegetarian in our house, so I don’t have to worry about thawing or preparing meat. Meals are a lot quicker (and cheaper) that way. My husband works evenings a lot, so I’m in charge of dinner. Fortunately, all of my kids can cook, so we can take turns.
What happens after dinnertime?
After dinner, my teenagers usually retire to their devices (phones and netflix). The little girls get showers/baths and we have some quiet time. I can be pretty burned out by bedtime, so quiet time is absolutely necessary. The littles usually read or draw or play with their dolls. My littlest usually brings me a stack of books to read to her before bed.
If you have children, what time do they go to bed?
My two little girls go to bed anywhere between 9 and 9:30 every day. My big girls don’t have bedtimes anymore,
so they typically wander off to their room whenever they are ready.
As a freelance artist, babysitter and home schooler, I assume you work from home. What time does that start?
I don’t usually work until after my littles go to bed at night.
Do you get a chance to relax in the evening? How?
After the little kids go to bed is my work time. I have a hard time getting any art done during the day (you know,
with kids and schooling and such), so I work at night when the littles are in bed. If I have commissions, I spend a couple of hours each night working on those. If not, I keep a pretty extensive nature journal that I work on at night. Otherwise, I just settle into my couch and watch Netflix/Hulu or scroll through Instagram or the news (ugh).
This is also the time that my husband usually gets home from work, so we hang out together before I pass out for the night. (Well, sometimes we hang out. Sometimes I have already passed out before he gets home.)
What time do you go to bed?
My bedtime varies. A lot. It can be anywhere from 10pm to 2am depending on what I need to get done after the littles are in bed, or how intense the conversation is between the hubs and I, or how good the show is that I’m currently binge watching.
Be honest, how heavily does social media feature in your day?
The only social media I have right now is Instagram and I photograph EVERYTHING! I use it as a visual record for our homeschool and I really love to look back and see how my girls have grown over the years. I guess it plays a pretty big role in my day.
*Peanut butter & jelly