A REASONABLE PACE

tree 12072016

The rain stayed away today but it did not stop the clouds from making their presence known. I stayed indoors today chipping away at the list of tasks needed to be completed before the end of the year. The deadline is self-imposed.

I wish to have the furniture in place before my three children arrive during the second half of their winter break. All of the furniture is virtually set up. I know along which wall each piece of furniture will reside. The reality will occur next week after I have had sufficient rest from this move.

The colder winter days are before us. I can already imagine myself on the daybed couch with pillows to lean against and a warm down comforter with which to wrap myself up as I read one of my many books on a nearby bookshelf. Until then I will continue to make my way through each item on my to-do list at a reasonable pace.

A MAKESHIFT CHRISTMAS

bwtree 12062016

The realisation came to me this morning that Christmas will be here sooner than I had anticipated. For some reason I thought I had one more week with all three children before they go to their father's house for Christmas break.

But there is no extra week which means no baking before the holiday and no other traditions which we had last year at the house with the yard. I do look forward to seeing the children on the 28th when they are scheduled to come spend the rest of their winter break with me.

By then, I hope to have both the apartment and the tree set up in addition to the kitchen so we can bake a few cookies. Christmas will simply have to be late this year as we extend our celebrations into the new year.

The sun made an appearance this morning as I readied myself for my appointment in town centre with our immigration attourney. The process of getting my husband to come to the States will be a long one. My hope is that this time next year we can spend Christmas together instead of our being apart as we are this year.

The coming weeks will be filled with much work and anticipation as I simply wait for all things to fall into place. Somehow it will all work out with a makeshift Christmas and a hopeful beginning in the new year.

GIRL PANTS

sage foggy monday

'[She] said my pants looked like girl pants', my son revealed to me this evening as we came home after his haircut. Why, I wondered. Is it just because the back pockets had flaps. Why would anyone do this. But this wasn't just anyone, though you would think it would be some mean kids at school. No, it was his father's wife.

My address is listed at school as the secondary address. As such, I need to call into school each Monday morning on my week to let them know to put my children on my bus. Otherwise they end up going to their father's house. That is exactly what happened as I waited for Sage at the entrance to the apartment complex.

I called the school but they closed at 15,30h. I drove to his father's house and parked outside as I called the apartment complex to see if my son had taken another bus as sometimes happens. Yes, they saw a boy with a gold jacket, they assured me. So, I drove the ten minutes back to the apartments only to find out it was not my son they saw. It was another boy.

In the meantime, I texted his father who is in Florida with my daughters. He told me to call his wife. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I texted him back asking why his address had to be listed as the permanent address. No response. I am guessing the answer would be the same as before. That he has a 'real' house and I simply live in an apartment which he does not consider a real house.

As I drove back to the ex's house, I saw her car driving in the opposite direction. I turned around but did not see where she went. So, I had to call. She let me know she had to go to a neighbour's house and that she would be back. I wondered why she did not tell me my son was at their house instead of letting me drive around for over half an hour. I was relieved when my son was in my car and we were on our way to his haircut appointment.

'Your pants might be your sister's' I told my son. 'Do you care', I asked him. He did not. Sage simply said he did not respond to his stepmother. He said not one word. But this was not the first time he has been ridiculed and bullied by her. I remember him telling me she called a sweater I bought him 'a grandpa sweater'.

This incident reminded me of the time my son's father told me of a classmate they used to make fun of due to his dirty corduroy pants. The boy ended up committing suicide. Perhaps there were other reasons for his action but some children and adults do not deal well with bullies. Sometimes you simply cannot ignore them and you let them get under your skin.

I wish to teach my children that bullies are to be ignored no matter the age. And to avoid being cruel to other people for the sake of making yourself feel better. So far my son seems to be developing a thick skin. Last December his father told him he looked like 'a cancer patient' after seeing him on Skype after I cut my son's hair.  He no longer cares that his father will not like his haircut. My son likes it and that is all that matters.

Girl pants or not, there is no reason to be cruel to a child. At least my son was warm and we were not spending money on clothes we could reuse. I do my best to provide for my three children. Sometimes I wish I could do more.

RAINY DECEMBER SUNDAY

rainy sunday 12042016

The rain continued today as promised with a brief respite during the couple hours we were out. Though I had planned on us starting some Christmas baking, I realised I needed more time to prepare for our time in the kitchen. We needed a few more ingredients, most of which we procured this dismal Sunday.

I had awoken early having fallen asleep shortly after dinner. It is during these sleepless nights that I take to the Internet to do some research. This morning's curiosity centered on Christmas cookies in European countries and the Danish practice of hygge.

I found a few recipes for Danish Christmas cookies in addition to the traditional ones found in both Slovakia and Croatia. I made a note of them and decided we needed fresher spices than the ones from last year and the year before. We also needed hazelnut meal and vanilla beans.

'How many eggs do you want' I asked my son as he lay awake in bed.

'Ten', he replied and I thought he was being funny. He was not. I talked him down to four hard-boiled eggs of which he ate three due to the fact that he also ate bread with cheese and a few bites of my kajgana which is a Croatian version of creamy scrambled eggs made with buttermilk and sour cream.

After our hearty breakfast I let my son watch The Lego Movie on the bed as I continued the process of cleaning the kitchen so we can have space to cook and bake together. As soon as his movie finished, we headed out into the cold 9 degree Celsius weather to gather our needed ingredients.

Whole Foods was first on our list of stops. We put the lingonberry and black currant jams into the basket along with frankincense and pine incense. The next stop was the spice shop but Sagey was sidetracked by the temporary toy shop a few doors down.

He wished for some games as we had only but a handful in the garage. How I wished his father was not so selfish to keep all of the games to himself. I still remember the children telling me they were not allowed to take any games or toys to my place since they were all purchased with his money. Petty and selfish indeed. I assured my son that we would buy some toys on Amazon this week as they cost less than at the stores.

The spice shop was abuzz with shoppers making their holiday purchases. I ran around gathering the ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and Madagascar vanilla bean jars and set them on the counter so they could be measured into the smallest amounts available. Though I had those Christmas spices from two years ago, they lacked the potency that the freshly ground spices provided.

Trader Joe's was to be our last stop but I had not realised they did not sell hazelnut meal. We walked out with chocolate shortbread stars and Dijon mustard. Since we needed the hazelnut meal for some of the planned recipes, we drove the distance to Central Market only to find out the bulk bin was empty and no other options were available in the baking aisle. I vowed to return later in the week to see if it had been restocked but we managed to find a few other items to add to the pantry.  

On our way home it started to rain. We hurried inside to our warm home and had a late lunch. Sage retreated to the bedroom and fell asleep shortly thereafter. I joined him for an hour or so until my husband called. We chatted for a short while before Sagey and I sat down for our chocolate shortbread stars and the mini chocolate mint stars. Our first December Sunday was over but our week together had just begun.

ON LATENESS AND DISREGARD

lamp in rain

The calming sound of rain continued throughout the day having carried over from the night before. I would have preferred to stay indoors but an appointment and errands had me out most of the day. But after all was said and done I had seen my children today.

The girls were on their way to Florida for their last cheer competition. It was my week with the children but I let the girls go with their father as a trip to Florida was not in my budget. I also did not approve of this activity from the start as the new wife signed up the girls for cheer behind my back and against my wishes. Gymnastics and dance were my options.

Our arranged meeting time for dropping off my son and my seeing the girls before they left was 13,45h. I hurried from my appointment, stopped by the grocery store, and even had time for a quick shower before the designated time. I was on time. He was not.

I went to the apartment complex clubhouse and waited.

Then I waited some more. I sent a text message to the ex after 22 minutes of his being late, knowing he is always late. Somehow I cannot understand how a German is always late and unorganised. This is my greatest peeve in life. Lateness. 

Five minutes I can understand. But an hour is unacceptable. He went on to tell me they were still packing though they have known about this trip for weeks. Then he kept saying he was on his way though it takes no more than ten minutes from his place to ours. When he arrived he did not bother coming into the clubhouse. He knew what would happen if he did.

I hugged the girls and noticed Saffron's wrapped foot. Pink gauze covering three stitches from a broken snowglobe incident at their father's house no less than an hour after I dropped them off last week. She was wearing sandals as were her siblings. Sandals and a winter jacket. But my son was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. 'Oh, but he is just coming here to your place' was the excuse when I demanded to know why the children are wearing summer clothes in 9 degree Celsius weather. And 'Oh but it's warm in Florida' was the excuse for the girls.

As the girls hurried off to the car for their trip to the airport, I asked them to get their father. He came inside and I let him know how this one hour of making me wait was unacceptable. 'But I didn't know you had somewhere to be'. Why was that relevant, I wondered. Why does it matter if I had to be anywhere at all. It is simply a matter of inconsideration of anyone else's time. A disregard to the fact that others have a life and schedules to follow.

My son and I stopped by our new place so he can change into winter clothes. He was cold and did not wish to go anywhere. After he put on his jeans, socks and shoes, and his winter jacket he felt much better and was glad to walk around despite the rain. After dinner he told me he would text me more on the weeks he is not at my place but his stepmother tells him he cannot.

'[She] said I can text you, but not a lot.' I looked at my son and told him to disregard her words and that he can text me anytime he wants to do so. But this is not the first time I have heard of such complaints from my children and I am sure it will not be the last. But that is another issue.

Being punctual and considerate of other people's time is something I wish to instill in my children. I am happy I have a husband who also believes in being on time wherever he goes. Certainly there might be situations out of our control which would cause us to be late. But for the most part, with careful planning most lateness can be avoided.

A GENERAL ORDER

autumn leaves 12022016

There was a knock on my door this morning as I was getting ready to go out for food and other provisions. I needed to leave before the rain started. The rain that is scheduled to last all weekend long. As I had just gotten off the phone with the cable company about the modem shutting off every half hour or so, I was not expecting anyone to show up so soon.

It was a lady this time. She did not know I had called nor of my setting up an appointment. She simply wanted to check up on yesterday's installation. She had a meter on her belt and she had knowledge that the guy from yesterday did not. She informed me that apartments boost their signal really high in order to account for all of the tenants being able to connect. That said, the modem overloaded due to such a high boost and subsequently shut down.

The lady went outside to check the lines and spent an hour and a half indoors troubleshooting connection issues I had. My Apple wireless device was not working so she set me up to connect via their new device instead and explained how I had two connections. One faster than the other and nothing that the guy yesterday explained. All works well now but this time there was no handshake and definitely no hug as she left. Which was fine with me as I found yesterday's exchange a bit odd.

On my way home from Central Market it started to rain. I was stuck in lunch traffic on MoPac but did not mind as my move was complete and now I was free to think about Christmas and setting up our new place. Once home I looked around the apartment and wondered where to start.

The kitchen was the best place to start as it is the room where I spend most of my time. After a simple dinner of refried beans with sour cream, salsa, and avocado with tiny tortillas, I worked on the pantry. Organising in depth would have to wait. I needed to get everything out of the paper grocery bags and into the pantry in a general order.

The baking shelf spilled over to the cabinets in the kitchen and the cooking spices filled an entire drawer. All will require further organisation. At another time. For now, I was happy not to trip over any bags. I could see the floor and had space on the counter for this weekend's baking with my son.

The smell of mulling spices having cooked on the stove still lingered in the air. I smiled as I turned off the lights in the kitchen. Now I can return to my experiments in the kitchen. Cooking and baking. Writing and photographing. With the expected cold and rain of the weekend it is a perfect time to turn on the oven and start the holiday baking.

PISTACHIOS AND THE INTERNET

new trees 12012016

'But they used to cost $8.99 a pound last year' I said to the cashier at Trader Joe's as he rung up the pistachios at $6.99 for the pound. He explained to me how they purchase the nuts before the crop is delivered which assures a lower cost. Then he added the story of how pistachios came to the States with an Iranian guy who filled his suitcase with the nuts and then bred them in the States.

My trip to the shop came after the cable guy left. A friendly Iranian guy. He was supposed to be at my place for only an hour but ran into problems with my modem which he determined to be faulty. He then swapped out my old modem for a new one for free and it seemed to work at the time but now I am not so sure. The connectivity is sporadic with my laptop so I might have to call Spectrum in the coming days.

As the cable guy was finishing up, we talked about his special visa process and how I am trying to get my husband into the States. I told him I got married three weeks ago. He said something about my husband leaving my blue eyes so soon, then as he left he shook my hand and gave me a hug. I found that a bit odd but perhaps Iranian people are friendlier than Americans.

The cleanup of the kitchen at the old apartment took longer than expected this morning so I considered delaying the internet connection appointment yet again but the next availability was not until next Tuesday. I handed in my keys at 12,30h and rushed to Home Depot for another vinyl floor cover before the cable guy arrived. I made it back in time and had hoped the work would not be so long.

As I waited for him to finish, I was glad not to have to move another plastic bag full of stuff. At the end, the cleanup became desperate as I threw things into bags and ran them to the new place where I simply piled bags wherever there was space.

I managed to carve out a path in between the boxes, furniture, and bags but the place looks like a disaster zone. The cable guy had no space to sit and work so he took it upon himself to move a mattress and two bunkie boards out of the way. There was nothing I could do as I was beyond tired.

With the move behind me I am glad to be able to slow down a bit for a few days before I start up again with our new place. Though it looks like a tornado passed through our apartment, things will look much better by the end of the year.

MOMENTUM

sunset 11302016

I lost track of the number of times I went back and forth to the new place. I stopped counting after the movers arrived. They were scheduled to start moving at 8,30h. However, I was not yet ready so I called for more time. The bed still needed to be taken apart. The mattresses needed to be wrapped in plastic. And then there were the little things.

The little things seemed to keep multiplying with each drawer and cupboard I opened. They were never ending and exhausting. The movers spent three hours wrapping and loading the furniture onto the truck before they drove around the building to the new place. Had they taken the items down the 19 stairs, across the parking lot, and up another set of 19 stairs it would have taken them more time.

After the movers left, I still had more to do. A lot more including the daybed I told them to leave for me to take apart and to move by myself. I had gained a momentum after a while and kept doing a little more than I had planned.

Going from room to room, I emptied all cupboards and drawers and filled one plastic bag after another in order to take over to the new place. The trips across the parking lot were endless. I just wanted to be done so I could finally rest.

Then there was the cleaning. I managed to clean everything but the kitchen. But that will have to wait until tomorrow morning. I am guessing I will sleep well tonight after my moving workout.

The next few weeks will be exciting as I set up our new place. The kitchen is the highlight of this apartment with the wide granite counter top island with plenty of space for all of us to be in the kitchen. But before I start digging through the boxes in the garage for all of my baking and cooking supplies, I will have to set up our bedrooms first.

A new chapter begins with endless possibilities.

THE ECHO SHIFT

sunset 112916

When I was moving the last of my belongings from my study in the house where my children used to live, the children called the room 'the echo room'.  When I first started moving into our new apartment, an echo resonated throughout as none of our belongings had yet been moved. However, that echo is now gone. It has shifted to the old apartment as I remove one item after another.

I have come to the realisation that I will most likely not be finished with the move by end of day tomorrow. All of the little things are what cause the most trouble as they are never ending. Just when I think I am close to being done, I open another cabinet and see more things I have not yet moved. Thankfully I do not have to empty the garage as I will keep the one I now have.

Throughout the day I continued to move, going back and forth from one place to the other a total of 28 times. Yesterday was a mere 7 times but today I moved most of the contents of the refrigerator and freezer. Organisation is on the horizon this next month.

Whilst moving, I kept checking my phone for the call about the job I was so hopeful about yesterday. But no call came even after my lengthy email plea about how I really needed the job for both my children and to bring my husband to the States. I reasoned I did everything I could in order to get the job but to no avail.

So I will continue to finish my move and focus on our new place. On setting it up and no longer hearing the echo of emptiness but filling our home with life and love as we set out to build our future together.

A HOPEFUL MONDAY

sunset 112816

I went about my day knowing that in three days I will no longer be living at this place. Knowing the hours pass at a rapid pace and that I need to get every little thing out of drawers and off the shelves. Knowing that I am exhausted from having to move for the third time this year and that I simply wish for a place to unpack and live for a longer while.

Another wish I have is to find an employer willing to give me a chance at employment. It is more important now than ever before as this would allow me to sponsor my husband to move to the States so we can start living together.

So when the call came this early afternoon, I became hopeful. A potential job opportunity with the promise of a call at the end of the day. I went about my day waiting for the call. It never came. A hopeful Monday turned out to be not so promising. But there is always tomorrow.

A WORKING SUNDAY

november sunrise 112716

Despite the mess of moving, I was determined to continue our tradition of a special Sunday breakfast. Today was the first Advent of Christmas and I would have liked to celebrate with the baking of cookies but making at least breakfast special was the closest I could get this year.

It had been a while since we had crepes so I set out to make them with lemon ricotta filling. After putting the crepe batter in the refrigerator, I grated lemon zest over a bowl of ricotta to which I added some raw sugar. Then I mixed all three ingredients together and placed the cheese mixture into the refrigerator.

The crepes took a while to make but the effort was worth the smile on the children's faces. They were full after almost three crepes though Sagey was able to finish just one but returned to the table later in the day to eat them.

After breakfast I decided to start gathering a few more items to take over to the new apartment. This time I enlisted the help of the children. They were quite helpful as they cleaned everything from under their beds and then sorted and organised their items into boxes. Afterwards, I made nine trips to the apartment. I made another eight later in the evening after their father picked them up.

As much as I would have liked this not to have been a working Sunday, I know that in the end it was a good lesson to have the children take responsibility for their own belongings. I want them to get used to cleaning up after themselves because at our home there are no maids running around cleaning up after us. We all have to do our part during the week so we can enjoy our Sundays.

UNTIL SUCH TIME

black white tree 112616

No trips to the new apartment. Not even one today. Sometimes we need to take a day off in order to recover both physically and mentally. Other times the idle time is dictated by outside forces and we simply have to take things in stride and adjust accordingly. But things would be more bearable if my husband was here as we could deal with these difficulties better together.

It is not right that we have to be apart like this. So soon after our marriage. That we have to wait for a government of a country to tell us when we can be together. That we have to continue to live apart though we are together. Somewhere there is a silver lining to all of this. At the moment I cannot see one.

So we continue to wait. And then wait some more. Until the day when we can live together under one roof. When we can awaken by each other's side instead of next to the phone awaiting the ding of the Viber message. Until we no longer have to calculate six hours' time difference. Until such time we have no choice but to wait and to continue to love each other through these trying times.

CHALLENGING BOREDOM

cinnamon gymnast

The day was long and a little less productive than yesterday but after breakfast I enlisted the help of my children. I remembered how the move from the house with the backyard took me hours as I emptied their drawers and packed up their rooms with most of those items still sitting in the garage. It is always those little things that get you in the end.

I was not going to have a repeat of that move so I had all three children help to empty and organise the contents of several drawers in their dresser and nightstand. They then placed the items in quart and gallon plastic Ziploc bags, placed those plastic bags in shopping bags, and I carried them over to the new apartment.

Ten trips to the new apartment today. In addition to the children's items I packed up most of the pantry, baking pans, and most of the dishes that we will not be using in the next week. The last trip, my tenth one, was the girls' nightstand. It was heavy. I was tired.

The children are doing their best challenging boredom as they keep themselves busy during this week off from school. I am doing my best to make it through the rest of the week and into the weekend as I attempt to finish my move whilst they are here. It is far from easy but necessary.

'Mama, take a picture!' I heard Cinnamon say as I stood on the balcony and turned to go back into the house. It was the end of the day and I was making my daily photograph of the tree but there were no beautiful colours tonight as the sun set.

Though I did photograph the tree, I also photographed my son in the parking lot as he pulled a branch from a tree. Then I saw my daughter stretching her leg over her head like the flexible gymnast she has become.

In addition to playing with the soccer ball with the neighbour children outdoors, my three children played together with each other indoors. They played out a scene with the girls dressed as cats with socks on their hands and feet whilst my son dressed as a robber all in black with a black MAC bag over his head with holes cut out for the eyes. They had me record it. All in the name of them overcoming their boredom.

KINDNESS OF NEIGHBOURS

thanksgiving sunset

Today was the day where we as a nation sit down with family and friends to share a table full of food and to express our gratefulness. Though I had planned a simple meal with my children, I was grateful for the kindness of neighbours who invited my children to a hearty Thanksgiving meal and provided them an entire afternoon of entertainment.

The girls played with the girls downstairs, one of which is a classmate of Cinnamon's. They have a bunny called Fluffy in a cage on the patio and a large black dog indoors that I saw in a cage when I went to get my children later in the evening. The girls told me they made brownies from scratch. I was happy they found something to do as there is nothing to do in our small apartment other than for them to sit and play with their iDevices.

Meanwhile, Sage was outside the entire afternoon. At one point his soccer ball was taken away so he simply sat on the grass. Every time I would pass him on my way to and from the new apartment he would wave and say 'Hi kitty!' to which I would reply 'Hi baby!'. Then I would see him tossing a bottle of water in the air and up the grassy hill.

After 15 trips back and forth carrying whatever my two arms could carry, I felt I accomplished more than I have this entire past week. Though still getting over this flu, I managed to carry over my computer and monitor, the shredder, the second glass door to the tall red cabinet, a box of children's books, a box of my books that I purchased during my travels to Ireland and Scotland this past year or so, two baskets of laundry, and whatever else I found along the way and on my way out the door.

Even though my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of water crackers with cheese and avocado, along with one lebkuchen and ginger cookies with coffee, I was happy that my children were able to eat a great meal with friends. I am sure they were happy to eat turkey instead of the salmon we had planned to eat. Hopefully the salmon will keep until tomorrow and we can sit down together for one of our last dinners at this old place before we make the move to a place which will be better suited for our family of five.

AMIDST CHAOS

beautiful sunset

I was able to spend half an hour moving boxes and whatever else I could grab from the old apartment to take to the new apartment. Half an hour was all I had before the children arrived around noon. I knew I would not be able to do much moving whilst they are here but was not able to do much in the past week due to my getting sick. But time passes at a rapid pace.

One week from today I hand in my keys and can focus on our new place. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the States and I promised the children they would be at my place instead of with their father. Though I do not celebrate as the rest of the country, I did manage to plan for us to eat salmon with rice and haricot verts.

I thought we would be able to have a nice meal at the new apartment. I did not factor in the lost week of being confined to bed feeling under the weather. Now we will make do with dinner amidst chaos. A chaos I will be glad to see disappear when I spend the next several weeks setting up and organising and ridding our lives of all things not needed. A calmness to replace the stress of mess. 

OUR JOURNEY ONWARDS

IMG_3558-1.jpg

Moving forwards as opposed to going backwards and wondering. Thinking about how we could have done things differently. But regrets of the past have no purpose other than to stop us in our tracks and distract us from our future.

Our focus is not the past. Whatever was then is not now. The only way to move on is to keep going and to believe all things happen for a reason though they may not seem to be any good reason at the moment.

We find a way to move on. Somehow the details will follow. For now we have to be patient and trust that everything will work out for the best on our journey onwards.

LEAP OF FAITH

todays view

Sometimes we need to take a chance. A leap of faith. Even if we do not know all the steps along the way.

Sometimes the best things in life are not planned. They just happen.

Sometimes not taking that leap of faith will forever cause us to wonder 'what if'. And then we need to ask ourselves what is most important? Getting the answer to every question we have about the process or getting a chance at happiness we never thought would happen.

A NECESSARY PAIN

morning111916

With the children away for the weekend, I thought I would take that time to move over some of our belongings to the new place. My body, however, had something else in mind.

It never fails that when you need to get something done and are rushing to do so that you somehow end up doing more damage than good. I awoke this morning tired and achy. My throat sore. My muscles lacking the workout they so desperately need.

My massage therapist told me today that she could feel the stress throughout my body. The session was painful at times but a necessary pain. The pain signifying a need to slow down. As was with the last move in May when I got pneumonia less than two weeks before my move. Ten more days, I tell myself. Then I can start to slow down and return to somewhat of a normal routine. Whatever normal is.

SOON BUT NOT

sunrise111816

With each passing day the realisation hits us. We are married. But we are still apart.

He tells me 'soon'. I have come to dislike this word which signifies a vague time frame. Soon we will see each other again. But soon is not soon enough. 

Even an hour is too long but there are many months, weeks, days, and hours ahead of us until we are together again.