The orange colours of the rising sun were a welcome surprise this morning as I glanced through the sliding glass doors. The entire sky was aglow with the warmth of the last sunrise of August. Tomorrow we welcome September.
Overthinking tends to overcomplicate issues which should remain simple.
Today was the first practice of the season. The children were all running about for about 15 minutes. The sky grew dark. And then it rained. It poured. Most of the parents took shelter under the large tree by the field. Then we heard thunder. One parent looked up from his iPhone and announced that lightening was five miles away.
Then the director of the Junior Academy blew the whistle and called practice over. I left in a hurry as the rain poured down and soaked all in its way. I should have trusted my instincts and put on my rain boots. The ones I wear to Ireland every time I go there. Even in the summer.
By the time I got to my minivan, I was soaked. I turned on the heater and the windshield wipers and drove back home. Once home, I texted my son to let him know I was sorry his practice was cancelled. 'It's ok' was his reply.
A quiet Sunday at home. Alone.
Pondering the future. Making plans for the next few months and contemplating the direction to take.
The afternoon rain was a welcome respite from the end of summer heat. August will soon be over. September is nigh. Now is a matter of counting weeks. Soon. Sooner than we think.
Most mornings I awaken to the rising sun shining through the balcony doors. One of two windows in our new place. Other mornings the sun is obscured behind the clouds. This new place is our second move this year. The fourth in the past two years. I wonder when the time will come when I can finally feel settled. When I can unpack the boxes in the garage and know I will not have to pack again for at least five years.
This morning I awoke from a dream of an impending implosion. A dance building somewhere in some town was being demolished and I was there amongst a group of people and my children. At one point we were all outside lying on the ground waiting for the destruction. Then we were all somehow inside the dance studio lying on the ground when I got up and started to run outside. I grabbed my son and looked for my daughters. Then I woke up.
Our dreams are a reflection of what is happening in our lives. After telling my boyfriend my dream, he told me to look up the meaning as I often do when one of us has such a vivid dream. As I read the explanation, it made sense. The happenings of the evening before made their way into my sleep world.
Intense, explosive, disruptive. In waking life and now in my dreams. As much as I try to avoid certain people who drain my soul, there are days when that is simply unavoidable. The days when you try to ignore the negative energy exuding from certain people only to have more negativity poured over you like gasoline on an open fire.
Some mornings I awaken to a house full of life and laughter and excitement. This morning, however, the place was quiet. Devoid of proclamations of love and 'you're cute' and three children fighting to use one bathroom whilst getting ready for school.
But this evening my son called me on Skype and made my day. His sisters were playing in the background but he wanted to simply lie on his bed and talk to me. Those are the moments we at times take for granted. It is those little things which hold the greatest meaning.
The little things like hearing the 'bing' of my phone as I awaken each morning letting me know of my morning greeting from my boyfriend across the world. Then another day begins. Another chance to make a difference in someone's life. Or even your own.
The last time I saw her was close to 14 years ago. At my father's memorial. A friend I grew up with since my teenage years. The middle of three sisters. One with whom I used to create baked goods, to include napoleon puff pastry with custard from scratch. We reminisced on those days and spent the next two hours catching up on life.
My children met her two boys. They played for a while and then went outside to play with the friendly outdoor cat. I admire her calmness and perseverance with all that life has thrown her way. If I was in her place, I doubt I could be able to handle all that she is going through. We then parted ways and I hoped it would not be so long until we met up again.
Afterwards, we had to go home to feed the children. They were hungry but first I made a dash to Whole Foods to get a few items for both lunch and dinner. Thankfully I remembered them all. At home I put together sandwiches of Irish cheddar cheese and avocado along with sliced apples with crunchy peanut butter. I had a quick bite to eat as well before leaving for my hair appointment. The third one since last month.
This time the change in colour was noticeable. I was glad and hope to find someone in Texas who is able to not mess up my hair like the last time. Though the hairdresser suggested I cut off at least three inches due to damage, I compromised and let him cut one and a half. Somehow I cannot yet get myself to chop off my hair more than an inch. Perhaps one day I will return to my pixie cut of long ago.
When the hairdresser was finished, I talked with my boyfriend as I waited outside. We spoke for a few minutes and knew we would talk again soon. My sister then arrived with Saffron and we went to the mall where I spent half an hour shopping with my daughter alone. Sage is next to have his turn before we leave. School is starting and a few new pieces of clothing are needed for each child. A change in my wardrobe can wait a little while longer.
The day wound down gradually with the children all going to the pool with auntie and uncle for a little over half an hour and then to the store before dinner. Dinner was simple. Just as we all like, especially during hot summer days as today. I made rice and heated up black refried beans which I put into a flour tortilla for a soft taco.
The kids wrote in their journals and readied for bed. Tomorrow I hope to get a chance to make a cake with Sage whilst his sisters play with the new friend they made over the weekend.
Combine high heat with a laidback summer schedule along with a dash of travel and you get over stimulated children and pure exhaustion. And it is not the children who get exhausted. They have endless energy which they somehow seem to syphon all of the remaining energy left in their parents. It is no wonder we parents start staring at the calendar waiting for the first week of school.
We left for the Sacramento Zoo after 9 this morning and arrived at the zoo half an hour later. The heat started to get to us. The children were full of energy. I was still tired from the night before. Getting them to go to bed and stay in bed becomes an all-night ordeal. But I can understand that they are excited to be somewhere other than home and around family they have not seen in years.
After walking around at the various exhibits, we stopped at the carousel before going to the gift shop where the children each bought a stuffed animal with their allowance money. I love the lessons they learn with this money. I smiled and was greatly impressed and touched by Cinnamon who graciously gave a dollar to her brother when he needed to cover the tax portion of his bill. She is so loving and kind without ever asking for anything in return.
Purchases in hand, we walked across the street to Fairytale Town where the children spent another half hour or so in the 42C weather which seemed to have little effect on them but a great effect on me. How I curse older age and lack of sleep.
Once home, the kids watched a movie and ate a snack. A nap was out of the question as was sleep hours later. During this time I talked to my boyfriend as I tried to find a better signal for our Skype session. I went outside but my iPad overheated. I got a 'Temperature' warning message from the device. Something I had never seen before. So we continued our talk on Viber. Indoors.
I had the children write in their journals earlier tonight. The girls were finished in a decent time. Sage, however, took half an hour to write one sentence and another hour to finish writing about his day. But they will one day look back fondly on the journaling I have them do as they reminisce about their summer in California.
The heat made it too hot to cook and I was too exhausted to eat a structured dinner but the children got hungry. After their bedtime. More stalling I guessed but they ate and went to bed. Eventually. Just add summer and new experiences to any child excited not to be in school and you never know what you will get from one day to the next. Though it is difficult on the parents, it is a part of growing up and making memories. Memories which they will carry with them forever.
'I want something different for breakfast' replied my oldest when I asked her what she wanted to eat this morning. She was tired of eating bread or yogurt or cereal. So, something different is what she had when nona appeared at the door with cornbread.
The kids loved the cornbread and ate it with maple syrup. Along with a berry smoothie, which Sage helped me make this morning, this satisfied my daughter's desire for an alternate breakfast.
At the table, my sister made an appointment at a hair salon for the girls. I was surprised how much less it cost than in Austin. Granted they did not get their hair dried or styled but that was not necessary as the continuing 40C weather dried their hair in no time.
After breakfast we headed to the stores. The oldest and youngest joined their auntie at the bookstore whilst I went to the mall across the street with my middle child who requested to have a little time alone with me so she can buy her brother a belated birthday present.
It did not take her long to find something for her brother. I smiled at her consideration and insistence on using her allowance money to buy something not only for Sage but for her older sister as well. Then she proceeded with a plan on how to make something with the gift she bought him. We continued on to Zara where we found a few beautiful and affordable outfits for Cinnamon.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the road, the two other children were using their allowance money to buy something. Saffron bought a bunny puppet for her sister and a hairband craft kit of which she made something for her sister as well as herself. Sage bought a lion stuffed animal and a kitty cat book. He would have bought something for his siblings but did not have all of his money with him.
Afterwards we drove the short distance to the fountains area where there was a farmer's market and additional shops, including Whole Foods. Tuesday is free train ride day so the children got to ride the little train around and then played in the interactive fountain nearby. I walked over to Whole Foods to get a few more ingredients for Sage's cake as well as other items we will eat in the next week we are still here.
Then it was back home to drop off the groceries and to feed the children before heading to the hair salon. Though my middle daughter wished to have a cut which would be noticeably shorter, I convinced her to have a simple trim for now. Next year, if she still wishes, she can cut her hair shorter. I also made an appointment for myself for later in the week. Perhaps the third time is the charm and I can get something noticeable myself.
Today was a day full of activities and plans for the kids which somehow still did not tire them. And tomorrow will be another day where we will do something different yet again.
The last Monday in July. Our sixth day here in California. I decided to take the children on a two-week trip out west to the land where I grew up. A state I much prefer over the state where I currently have to live. They have never been here and are very much enjoying their time with family and friends.
Today was a day at home. We ate a simple breakfast of bread with Irish cheese and avocado along with peanut butter with honey. I also made them a berry banana smoothie in the super Ninja blender at my sister's house where we are staying. Sage was upset that I did not let him help me make the smoothie so I had to pinky promise him to let him help tomorrow.
The kids played in the living room whilst I made my list of needed ingredients for cakes we will bake later in the week. My mom went to the store and I stayed home and waited to talk with my boyfriend. He had but one day off this week and had plenty to do before returning to work tomorrow.
We talked for a while today as we had little time the past few days to do so. Now we have to calculate an eight hour difference when we want to talk. The two extra hours from Austin to California might not seem a lot but somehow it makes a great difference.
We have many plans on the horizon. Change is exciting but can also cause much fear of the unknown. But as difficult as it may be, change is essential in life if we are to move forward.
I gave in to the fatigue I was feeling and took advantage of the kids going to nona's pool with aunt and uncle by taking a nap. Though I kept fighting it, I realised I needed it. I awoke about ten minutes before they arrived.
The kids love to spend time with their uncle who is somewhat of a kid himself. They call him the Cookie Monster. A name that stuck with him that one time he came to visit us in Texas when they were much younger. I joined them on their walk to the treehouse on the property where we sat in the 39C weather and enjoyed the end of day six in California.
‘What is Mario’s favourite animal’ Sage asked as the three were getting ready for bed.
‘I don’t know’ I told him. Sage's eyes looked hopeful as he waited for me to say 'elephants' as he wanted to buy him a stuffed elephant when they finally got to meet him later this year.
‘He’s going to be your husband’ Saffron looked at me with a tilt of her head at my not knowing something I clearly should have known. ‘He will’ she reiterated. She was right. There are still some things I do not know about him. Perhaps I should. Then again, a little mystery can be good for the soul. And a relationship.
The birds were still in their nest by the time I left this morning. When I returned, the nest was empty. The four little birds were out testing their wings in order to take flight.
It amazes me how quickly the birds went from hatching to flying away. Last week when the children were here, they commented on how they saw four birds in the nest. I wonder whether the birds will be there when the children return tomorrow.
But the birds are not the only ones ready to take flight. Last night provided little sleep for us both. He on one side of the world ready to take the long bus drive to Dublin in order to take possession of his long-awaited passport. And me on the other side of the world waiting until 21:00 my time in order to call him to wake up for his bus ride.
At one point I fell asleep. When I awoke around 6:00, I saw a text from him. 'Problem' he wrote. And nothing more. 'Now what' I thought and then asked him whether or not he had his passport. I was already pondering cancelling my trip if he did not have it this time. He was messing with me at that point as he sent me a photo of his brand new passport with the word 'Maybe'.
The thought crossed my mind now that no longer will we say 'if' when it came to our future plans, but 'when'. The possibilities were there for us to take. At last we are able to plan. But the path to our destination is still a long one. 'One thing at a time' I thought. Just as with the birds whose tiny heads peered over their nest this past week wondering when they will be able to take flight, so we continue to wait for our time.
At times there will be those days which provide an interlude from the commotion and disquiet of days prior and those yet to come. Such was today. A midweek respite as I continue to wait on several happenings which will determine my next steps. As such, I savoured the quiet moments and rested for I know that tomorrow will be quite unlike today and I will have to take action and make decisions.
With my hands to the window, I could feel the vibration of thunder. As I stood in what would have been my son's room, I was in awe of the show nature put on before me. Lightning and sunsets. Such beauty. Such splendor.
'Stay away from the window' I remember those words even now, decades later. Words spoken by my mom as I peeked through curtained windows in our family room downstairs. As I peered over the orange flowery couch. Even then I was enthralled with storms. As powerful and perilous as storms can be, there is something alluring and unexpected about them.
Life has storms as well. We expect everything to work as planned, not taking into consideration that the future is unpredictable. But without the bad, how can we appreciate the good without taking it for granted. How can we appreciate the sunsets and sunrises unless storms come our way to disrupt our lives.
I returned to my room and looked outside my window to the east. More storms rolled in along with rainfall. And more lightning ripping through the sky. I vowed to enjoy these views as long as I was able. One good thing about moving so many times is that you learn what you would like one day when you buy your forever home. Windows facing both east and west.
Compromises. Disruptions. Sacrifices. Patience. Life might seem disrupted at the moment, but things happen when they are meant to happen. We simply have to learn to find something to appreciate when we think there is nothing.
All of the ingredients were measured out into various bowls. The shredded carrots. The light muscavado sugar. Plain flour sat in another bowl with the baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. All awaiting the arrival of the orange zest.
After having visited Sage at school for lunch, I returned home to measure out the ingredients for his birthday cake. Today he turned seven. During his lunch he asked me if I was making the same carrot cake I made for him last year. 'Yes', I told him. 'The baby one' he asked as he wanted to know if it was the 5-inch cake. He also specified two layers. I told him 'yes' to all of his requests.
I had discovered one ingredient I did not have. The orange for the orange zest. Though I could have left it out, I decided to go to the store to get the missing ingredient. But not before a detour to the apartment community near my children's new school. I had to find out my options and availability before I contacted the landlord and before my summer plans began.
The decision to move closer to the children's new school was not one I made in haste. I ruminated and pondered and wondered for weeks whether this is the decision I should make. Perhaps that is why I never bothered to set up our beds or the kitchen or move any of the furniture out of the way. For the sake of the children and our future I realised sacrifices were needed.
Upon my return home and after acquiring the oranges, I turned on the oven to warm up only to discover it having turned off by itself five minutes later. The power was gone. I waited for ten minutes before sending a text to inform Sage's father of my dilemma as he was planning on dropping off Sage at my place for the night for our celebration with cake and presents.
I waited another 10 or 15 minutes before deciding our celebration was to be delayed until the weekend. Though it saddened me greatly to have to miss out on celebrating with Sage, I hoped he would at least enjoy the time with his other family and not worry about separating his time between two households this time.
Happy 7th birthday, my son.
When you have something to which you look forward, your soul becomes alive as you realise the possibilities. Now you are able to plan and consider options. The object of your affection soon to be within reach.
The sun made a brief appearance at the end of the day, having been hidden behind storm clouds for most of this rainy Saturday.
I finally got around to washing the front porch this morning when I heard thunder and felt rain drops as I finished up the stairs. Four baby birds sitting in the nest by the front door, along with the two parents, made quite the mess. But soon the baby birds will fly away as they outgrow their little nest.
With the two large rattan patio chairs moved to the front of the porch, I was able to enjoy my bowl of carrot coriander soup for dinner as I watched the rain this evening. It is moments like these where I stop to appreciate and cherish the quiet after a rather tumultuous past week.
'I have some bad news' he called to tell me. The little smile in his voice said otherwise. Many times before he would call and let me know he had to return to Dublin for yet one more missing document which needed to be submitted. This time, though, he needed to travel to Dublin to get his key to the world and to our future together one day.
Though we have both been waiting impatiently for this day, we realise there are many more obstacles to encounter on the way to our ultimate goal. But having the ability to finally travel off of the Emerald Isle presents us with more opportunities than ever before.
My mind started running in random directions, trying to make plans for a few days away. This time we had options we did not have the past two summers. This time we had the whole world at our door. And he finally has the key with which to open that door.
The sky. The clouds. The beauty of the sun saying goodbye to another day.
You never know what the day will bring upon awakening but sometimes it takes a jolt from the soundness of sleep and the happenings within to guide your way. A dream brimming with activity in the short span of having fallen asleep for the third time since midnight.
A dream so bizarre to make you ponder and change the direction you were about to take. A detour to put back on the path from which you strayed. One which adjusts your view of your goal as you realise that patience and understanding is the answer. Giving up is not an option. No matter how difficult.
We might not know the next step to take but somehow we keep moving forward.
The sun was nowhere to be seen tonight. Only dark ominous clouds. Fitting, I thought, as it was reflective of my day today.
The children were not feeling much better this morning but since the doctor let us know their coughing might continue for the next two weeks, I drove them to school. I let them sleep in as long as possible, already deciding they would not be riding the bus. On the way to school, however, there seemed to be a major accident which caused policemen to direct traffic. The one mile to school took longer than normal but the children arrived just as the last bell rang.
I returned home to catch up on sleep. Broken was my sleep. Interspersed with dreams. Then the call from the school nurse. When I answered, she asked if I was sick as well. Then let me know that my oldest had a fever and needed to be picked up. She was also not allowed to return to school tomorrow. 'District policy' she said as I left the office with Saffron, '...it's in the handbook.'
My plan was to take a nap and go food shopping before the children arrived home. We had to compromise and go to the store nearby to get more English muffins and avocado and asparagus. The rest of the items I would have to buy over the weekend.
When the younger two arrived home on the bus, they did not feel any better. Cinnamon's teacher asked her if she would like to go to the nurse's office. Cinnamon decided against it but went to bed shortly after coming home. All three retreated to bed, with little to no dinner.
Sometimes life does not go as planned. Though we are given choices as to actions we can take, only we can make the final decision. But those choices affect other people as well. People who relied on us to decide otherwise. In that case, we find we need to make adjustments.
We know things will not be as planned so we have to find a way to live with the consequences. With the choices we made. We find a way to change the direction of our day and our future once again.