HOPE AND PROBABILITY

dining area

The house was devoid of the sounds which make a home. The sounds of children running around, laughing and fighting. The presence of another adult with whom to have conversations after the children have gone to bed. The clanking of forks on the plates around the dinner table with everyone vying for their turn at telling the highlight of their day. Today was a quiet Sunday alone.

I busied myself with pushing furniture around to match the vision I had in my mind. I pored over pages on IKEA's website looking for simple and affordable solutions for both storage and dining. I browsed floor plans on Taylor Morrison's site in the most affordable area in Austin though once you add options the price is anything but affordable.

One day, I thought. One day I will have a house I can call a home. One day my family will be complete with the hope that someday soon my boyfriend will join me in the States. Though he does not need to move here nor has a burning desire to do so, he lets me know that he wants to move for me.

There are days like today where the probability of those hopes and dreams coming true is low. The dependencies are many. A home loan requires a job which depends on someone taking a chance on you. Then when you get that job, the life you once knew ceases to exist and takes on another form instead which one hopes to be better than before.

Though we should live in the moment and not worry too much about the future, at times this is easier said than done. On days like today I wish to fast forward to the future when he can take me in his arms and tell me everything will be ok. One day. For now I continue to wait.

FOCAL POINT

walk home

'Why is there a cross on the side of the road', asked Sage. At first, I thought he was referring to perhaps a sign pointing the way to a church. It turns out it was one of those decorated white crosses marking the place where someone had died.

'Are dead people creepy?' he asked as I drove towards home. I was not sure how to answer that question. The discussion continued amongst the three in the back about 'white eyes' of the dead and such. Sometimes the things that go through a child's mind makes you stop and think and wonder.

'I don't want to die', continued my son. He then told me he wished he could always stay as small as he was and that I could stay the same as well. This is not the first time he has expressed his fear of dying. At six years of age he should be thinking of things other than of death.

As we continued our drive, I was focused on the evening when I could have grown-up time with my boyfriend on Skype to tell him about my day. My phone interview was better than I expected though naturally I was nervous. At the end I was told I would receive a call about an in-person interview at the end of next week.

At some point, we all have choices to make about our future. We must be serious about our intentions and not let unnecessary misunderstandings get in our way. We have to learn to keep our eyes on the focal point, on our goal for the future. We must learn not to get distracted but must keep going regardless of the decisions others make.

I never got to tell him about my day. I never got to learn about his day either. Our Skype session was cut short though I waited for hours for our daily conversation. Not quite sure what exactly had transpired in the span of a handful of minutes, I decided if things are meant to be they will look better in the morning. There is no use worrying about words said in haste.

Love is strange in that decisions we sometimes make are done so out of fear or simply out of misunderstandings. But when a love is real, we know that sometimes when words are spoken it is not because the other person has stopped loving you, rather one's focal point has shifted away from what truly matters. Life is too short to let misunderstandings get in the way of something which is meant to be.

STEPS FORWARD

orange scones

Orange flavoured and scented scones awaited the children after school. They were delighted when they noticed that I moved the coffee table - our dining table - back to where it was by the large window as now we did not have to turn on the overhead light in order to see what we were eating.

As we sat on the floor, the children spoke of their day as they do every day during our snack time. Saffron noticed the sunlight falling on her paper towel in front of her and said 'The sun loves me.' Her brother responded not too kindly with 'No, it doesn't.' And so the chatter continued as they each devoured two scones, saving the other two for tomorrow.

As I glanced around the now empty and still dark room by the kitchen, I wondered how to decorate it or if I should decorate it at all. I spent over an hour on IKEA's site looking for some inspiration as I have yet to go buy my son's dresser and nightstand. I wondered if I should place a kitchen cart in the middle of the room to use as a kitchen island. I also wanted to get a small dresser to use for kitchen linen storage.

Making small steps forward into this new life takes some time. On occasion, we wish we could speed into the future to get to where we think we should be. Sometimes we make mistakes along the way and do things we should not have, such as move from the previous place of residence or buy furniture we should not have bought, but we hope everything will work out in the end.

Though the small steps we take in moving forward might appear to us not to make a difference, it is precisely these small steps we should be taking as we wait to see what else life has in store for us. Patience is never easy but always worth it in the end.

IN TIME

sage 826

Three days into the new school year and the children are doing fine thus far. Since I have had them go to bed around 19:30 the past two nights, they are not too tired in the morning but have yet to get fully adjusted to the new schedule. Perhaps I will get them to bed half an hour earlier at some point when the sun starts to set early in the autumn and winter months.

The children made it home safely and on time today. I am hoping that sending them on their way alone to school and back gives them a bit of the feeling of independence. Cooperation and attentiveness are also part of this equation as they must learn to walk together and pay attention as they cross the street and look for our house.

Next week they will be riding the bus and sleeping in their other beds. How the three are dealing with the constant moving from one place to another amazes me as I can only guess how difficult it must be for them. They will certainly have different experiences at the two homes where circumstances are ever-changing for the time being. In time we will see that all things will work out as long as we have patience by our side. 

DOG PAJAMA

saffron 825

This morning I walked with my three to the corner of the block where a crossing guard was waiting to take all of the walkers and bicycle riders across the street as they made their way to school. I then had my three walk the one block to school from there as I watched until I could no longer see them which was almost to the corner of the second block where another crossing guard was waiting.

I told them I would be waiting for them at the same spot after school. In the meantime, I went to the school office and informed the front desk that my children will be walkers for the rest of the week. Since the weather was warm and there was yet no rain, I saw no issues with them walking as I noticed many other children from their elementary school walking as well.

As I waited for the three to arrive at our agreed-upon location, they never showed up. 'Slow walkers' commented the crossing guard as she noticed my nervously watching for them down the street. I then walked to the school and inquired as to their whereabouts.

The administrators informed me that my three had already left but by then school had been out for a while. Someone paged 'Saffron, Cinnamon, and Sage' and a few of the administrators walked around as they searched for them. Apparently, the person in charge of the walkers misrouted the three, not bothering to check on our house address. Instead they relied on the children telling them in which direction they lived.

Since the walkers were taken out in the back of the school, the three were confused as to the direction and ended up heading in the opposite direction. They were asked if they had to go via Aster Pass or Dagama though I am not sure how they would have known that. They walked with a group of children and went the correct number of blocks to where our house should be, looking for the house with blue on it, but they were lost.

Baffled as to how this could have happened, I was then glad when a woman called the school letting them know that my three children were with her and that she was walking them back to school. I hurried my pace to the corner of Aster Pass.

As I approached the corner looking for the woman and my three children, I saw two boys across the street. They asked me if I was looking for three kids and then let me know that it was their mother who was walking them back. Whilst I waited, the boys told me they were twins in third grade and had an older brother in fifth grade and three sisters.

'Six kids?!' I exclaimed. At that point the woman arrived with my three and said 'Yes, six'. She said today was the one day she was working from home and happened to be on a conference call when her oldest son let her know my children were looking for their home. She immediately called the school and the story of the three lost children had a happy ending.

As we walked back in the correct direction of our house I told the children to make sure to say 'Dagama Drive' when asked which side of the school they should line up. Seeing how they had a difficult time remembering the name of the street, I told them to say 'dog pajama' as the image is easier for them to remember. I reasoned if it was silly enough, they would be more apt to remember.

BRIGHT AND EARLY

first day

And so it begins...the start of another school year. All three children were up bright and early this morning. Though they were in bed before 8pm, I am sure they would not have minded staying in bed for a few hours longer.

They ate their Brown Cow yogurt with granola, placed their lunch boxes and water bottles in their backpacks, and dressed before I was ready as I had an interview at 09:00 for which I needed to get ready. We then walked the two blocks to school and I took each of them to their classrooms starting with Sage and ending with Saffron.

When I returned home, I had a few minutes before leaving for my interview. I wanted to be early rather than late and so I sat in the lobby waiting for the two people with whom I had the interview. Half an hour passed and they still had not arrived. At that point I ended up talking with two other gentlemen who explained the extensive travel required of the position.

Whereas the agency which sent me specified travel 'up to 30 days', the two gentlemen informed me it would be 'up to 18 months' with the possibility of my being able to return home once a month for two days. At that point I was not pleased as I felt I had wasted my birthday morning on something I never would have considered in addition to having waited well past the scheduled time of the interview.

Eighteen months living away from home whilst having to pay for a house in Texas which I did not need in addition to not being with my children was not an option for me. Upon my return home I sent an email to the agency but they insisted they informed me from the start that the position was a traveling one. I responded by letting them know that 18 months was quite different than the 30 days they told me via email.

Had I not spent the morning at the interview, I would have had time to make a small birthday cake to share with my children after school. I chose instead to make lentil soup for dinner and would perhaps make the cake tomorrow even though the moment will have passed.

Though the day started with some disappointment, it ended with both phone calls and Skype sessions with my boyfriend. He wished me a happy birthday and I let him know that this time next year I believed we would be spending the day together sitting outside in the heat of the Texas summer.

EASY PEASY

sage reads sam i am

'Are you proud of me', asked Sage as he finished Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham this morning at record speed.

'I am very proud of you', I answered. He had been reading that particular book throughout the summer break whilst at his father's place and wanted to prove to me that he could indeed read the 'easy peasy lemon squeezy baby book' as he called it. Somewhere along the way he learned the strange phrases as well.

My son's greatest fear thus far is being put back in kindergarten for his not being able to read though he fully proved the opposite today and times before. Somehow he believes he is not good enough but I know differently. I have seen him assemble Lego sets intended for 16-year olds in no time at all as well as put together a 500-piece puzzle in a matter of a few days.

With the new school year about to commence in the morning, there will be many challenges both Sage and his siblings will have to face both academically and personally. Going between two homes every other week cannot be easy for them to deal with yet somehow they do though it takes at least one full day of adjustment at both places.

A new schedule with rituals to follow will take a while to get used to. There will be no more sleeping in or going to bed past 8pm. Challenges will continue and we all must simply learn to adapt the best we can until at one point things come close to being easy peasy.

EXASPERATION

seena and elsa

Three seems to be the magic number when it comes to stress levels induced by children. Today was nothing short of a most exasperating day with my three which already started last night when they first arrived at my place after a week away.

This state of exasperation continued today when they caused a scene at the grocery store as they became unruly. I warned them they would lose their movie night privilege and even gave them another chance later when they returned home, but they persisted. As such, they did not get to watch any movie tonight though they tried bargaining and pleading to no end.

The afternoon was no better and my stress levels kept going up especially after the flooded toilet incident. I almost dropped them off at their father's place but decided to call instead and have him speak to the oldest. Somehow when I threatened to film their behaviour and send the video to their father, they retreated to their rooms and became quiet for a while.

Bedtime was no better as all three kept knocking on my door for one reason or another from Sage's recurring bad dream of a ghost and chicken eating me and him to Cinnamon's aching loose tooth which neither she nor I could remove.

In time I hope things will improve with the return to a regular school schedule. The evening would have been better had I been able to speak with my boyfriend on Skype but unfortunately he was unable to call tonight as he most likely fell asleep after a long day at work. Once we are all living under the same roof, the balance of family will be restored and the exasperating episodes will likely diminish. Until then, the challenges continue.

WHEN IT RAINS

dragonfly

Rain is a welcome occurrence here in Austin as it was today. Though it did not last long, it did cast a glimpse into my favourite season of the year. The autumn season will soon be upon us along with the warm colours of red, burnt orange, golden yellow, brown, and plum seen throughout catalogues and stores denoting the cozy feeling after the excitement of summer.

The autumn season is also a good time for finding employment as college students leave their summer jobs to return to school making way for others to fill their vacated positions. In the span of a three days, I was contacted by three different companies with the possibility of employment. As the saying goes, 'when it rains, it pours'. This time in a good sense.

As I wait for the upcoming interviews next week, I hold hope that one of them will give me a much needed opportunity to move forward in my search for long-term employment and a brighter future for me, my boyfriend, and my three young children as we embark on a life together. 

SERENITY

branches

There comes a point in our lives when we realise that all the worry in the world will do us no good as things will happen in their own time. The calmness we experience when we let go and ride the waves of life instead of fighting against them will bring more benefit to us and those around us in the end. This serenity keeps us going.

As my boyfriend and I wait to start our lives together in one part of the world instead of on two different continents which is our current situation, we often get frustrated. We wonder when we will see each other again in person. We look forward to the time when we will get to live the everyday life we experienced this summer.

For the moment, we are doing all we can to move things along. Now we simply must wait and enjoy this unique time in our lives, seeing it as an adventure, a challenge, and a true test of our patience and devotion to each other. It would be easy for us to give up, citing distance as the issue as do most people in long-distance relationships. But we keep going and know we will be together soon enough.

SIX HOURS

window shadow

Even with the six hours which separate us, we somehow make time to get together every day. It starts with the 'Good morning' text on Viber and perhaps a phone call and continues throughout the day with more texts until the evening when we see each other on Skype.

A six-hour time difference is quite the challenge yet we have managed to make this work though we both would prefer to start and end the day in person. At times this is possible and we both greatly look forward to those weeks but this is the life we have now.

Tonight was memorable as we ended our Skype session only to get back on Skype a few minutes later. After the second time, I went upstairs to lie down for a few minutes when he called on Viber not being able to sleep. It was 3am in Ennis but he did not care and I was happy to have a few more moments of not being alone.

FOREVER LOVE

ring

Relationships we value above anything else are the ones in which we invest our time. We make promises, we utter vows, we commit our lives and our hearts to someone we believe suits us better than anyone else. When problems arise, we do not simply give up but do whatever we must in order to keep that precious bond from breaking.

A loving relationship without arguments simply does not exist. To walk away is easy but is not an option unless the bond is not a strong one to begin with. At one point or another, we have to choose whether to keep going and keep fighting or to give up and move on with our lives.

In good times and bad, we commit ourselves to one another for the rest of our lives. A piece of paper makes our commitments official but it is possible for two individuals to promise each other a love which lasts a lifetime without the need of such paper. A forever love is a rare find but one must truly want it if such a love is to withstand the trials of life.

A SILENT HEART

lonely sunset

Fear of the future, of taking the next step, of making the biggest change in your life can at times be too much for us to bear. Instead of moving forward, we run away. We push the people we love most as far away as possible and plead with them to simply leave us alone.

Alone is a scary and sad place to be but we cannot make people love us or want to be with us. It is a choice we make and must live with the consequences of that choice.  

Fear of moving forward leaves us with only memories of a time we once shared and a time we once dreamed of spending together. It leaves us with a silent heart filled with sadness, but a true love is never ending and will somehow find a way back to a place where there is hope and happiness. A true love never gives up.

ANOTHER OF THOSE DAYS

dead tree

Another one of those days where you question everything and nothing and wait for tomorrow to start again.

To write or not to write was one question which came to mind. Abandon the blog. Stop writing. Cease to photograph. Abstain from sharing.

Waiting for life to be somewhat normal. Seeing everything in black and white but long for the colour of excitement. Alone but not alone as distance separates us.

To restart a career or continue on the path of mere survival. Questions to no end with answers nowhere to be found.

Tomorrow is another day. Today was simply another of those days.

NOT WORTH THE FIGHT

backyard leaves

I spent a good part of the early afternoon at a coffeehouse not too far from my current residence. Close to three hours to be exact. I was discussing various parenting issues, to include future housing moves for us both, with my children's father.

Some issues we agreed upon. Others we agreed to disagree for the time being. We started with table manners and the children having to help around the house and ended up talking about his moving to a larger house to accommodate the new and larger family. He did keep in mind my desire not to move to New Braunfels and therefore concentrated his search within a 6-mile radius of both of our residences.

I noticed him quickly swipe the screen to the previous photo on his iPhone after having mistakenly gone one too far. He was showing me videos he had made of the girls at cheer camp when the next photo appeared. It was a screen shot of my Facebook status from earlier in the week where I stated:

People who post comments on my blog and pass judgment on me without knowing who I am, what I have endured, and what I am going through now need not read my blog posts. I am not looking for approval or anyone to like me but am simply expressing my own views on my life as it is happening as part of my creative outlet. This is life. This is my life. If you do not like what I write, feel free to go elsewhere but do not think you have the right to make me conform to a certain way of thinking or feeling or the right to tell me how to live my life and raise my family.

As I called him on having taken the photo of my status on Facebook, he quickly brushed it off as an 'accident'. I knew it was no accident but then also knew he was reading my posts for one reason or another. Whatever the case, I now knew he and his fiancée were aware of and perhaps reading my posts.

Perhaps the one great thing I got from all of this time sitting in the back of the coffeehouse on the old leather sofa was that some things are best worth not fighting over. Those seemingly insignificant things in the grand scheme of life. My focus is and should be on my children and my future with my boyfriend and how we can all move forward whilst minimizing arguments to the best of our abilities.

In the meantime, I had to deal with lengthy emails from my landlord regarding his insistence on entering the house in order to install the A/C filter and to check on the watering timer outside. I informed him of my inability to meet since I had this meeting at the coffeehouse but he kept sending me several emails quoting the lease agreement and my having violated it by not allowing him entrance into the house as I had locked both the front and back doors with the indoor deadbolt, as I always do. I told him I have never used the front door since I have a garage and use the door inside the garage instead.

Furthermore, he continued in his aggravating emails by telling me that the yellow lawn is somehow my fault. A lawn in direct sun will be yellow if it is not watered. True. City ordinance states we are not to water more than once a week. In addition, the timer the landlord set was not functioning properly but also nothing of which I was aware due to my having been out of the country most of the summer.

If it's not one thing, it's another. I look forward to the day when I can own my own home and not have to deal with landlords insisting on enforcing item number 19 or 20 or whatever else violation he seems to wish to declare at the moment. I will also count the days until I no longer have to see those emails with the subject '24-Hour Notice of Intent to Enter Premises'. After the last lengthy email I decided against sending a response. Some things are not worth the fight.

FAREWELL TO SUMMER

the three 814

We said our goodbyes until the following Friday when we see each other again. My son insisted on staying, arguing how he had stayed at his father's place for too many weeks but I told him it was not possible this time. When they return, school will start the following Monday.

Though the intense heat of summer will no doubt continue for some time, the carefree feeling which children experience during those long summer months will soon be replaced with those dreaded early mornings along with those afternoons filled with homework. I am certain they will be wishing for those long days where they lamented how bored they were.

For the grown-ups it means getting out of bed before the children, preparing their lunches, and making sure a healthy breakfast is on the table. It also means coordinating and managing time so that everyone is out the door and on the way to school before the first bell rings. As sad as it is to say farewell to summer, we have the autumn season ahead of us.

GIFT OF LIFE

outside play

'The baby died', Cinnamon informed me as we were leaving the children's gym area. She held up her hands, mimicking the baby holding up its hands in the air as it lay on its back unable to breathe. I was working out upstairs and was unaware of what had happened until I descended the stairs and saw an ambulance and a fire truck by the back door next to the children's gym entrance.

My first thought was that I hoped nothing was wrong with my children. The administrators of the gym were walking about in the hallways and in the play area as I hurried inside to find my children. The entire front section of the children's gym was evacuated, with the children being sent to the back in the basketball court, as the ambulance drove away. Several adults walked about in the toddler section looking for something on the floor.

As we left, I asked the person at the front who took my gym card what had transpired. He said that a child had a seizure and stopped breathing for a while but that all was fine in the end. I assured my children that the baby did not die as they had believed but I had thought the real reason for the unfortunate and most frightening incident was due to choking on a small part of a toy.

I listened to Cinnamon describe the father screaming as he arrived. She also let me know that 'a big kid', a boy, was crying. Certainly things like this can happen anywhere and at any time but becomes more real when you witness an incident such as this yourself. I was glad nothing had happened to my children but somehow wished they did not have to see any of what had happened.  

An incident such as this one is certainly frightening for the parent affected and all parents in general as we fear the worse. It also brings into perspective how precious life is, how quickly it can be taken from us, and how we should value every minute of the gift of life we have been given.

AROUND THE CORNER

august haircut

With a high of 39 degrees Celsius today, the sun was bright and hot as we set out for the back-to-school haircuts. It had been a while since the children saw Lauren. She has known all three since Sage was young enough for me to wheel him into her salon in the baby stroller. At one point, she commented on how much Sage has grown but that she wanted the sweet boy to return instead of the grumpy one which sat before her.

Cinnamon was first in line for a haircut, followed by her sister and then her brother. The girls wished to keep growing their hair so they did not have much cut off. By contrast, Sage requested his hair to be super short, almost bald, in the back with only slightly longer on top. Once again, he said he wanted to look like my boyfriend for reasons unbeknownst to me.

Afterwards, we drove to the nearby Whole Foods for milk, eggs, bread, salmon (for tomorrow's dinner), and roast beef brisket before we stopped by Trader Joes for more pistachios which we had for dessert after tonight's dinner. The children ate the roast beef brisket strips which they asked me to buy for them at Whole Foods. Other than fish, which I do consider to be meat, this was the first time since over a year that I had bought that kind of meat for them.

With school around the corner, healthy lunches will need to be planned. I am glad that I am able to cook nourishing food for my children though they do not always like everything I prepare. Having grown up eating foods prepared at home, as opposed to having their prepared meals come from a box in the pantry or freezer, the three have developed certain tastes. In large part, as was the case in my upbringing, this has to do with their European background and being exposed to a different way of eating.

Seeing how my children are with me only every other week, I cannot guide their food choices at their other home. I can only hope that what they learn at my place stays with them as they make their own choices wherever they go. This school year will be a challenging one in many ways but my desire is for minimal stress and confrontation as we all adjust to a new way of life to the best of our abilities.

UPLIFTED

brushing teeth saffi

My mind was elsewhere as I cut the dough into six rough pieces. As I was placing the pieces on the parchment paper covered baking sheet, I glanced over at the red container. The main ingredient. I had somehow forgotten to add the baking soda.

Wondering whether to toss the dough and start over or simply move forward, I decided to continue with this already half-hearted baking project. I scooped a tablespoon of the baking powder onto the dough and worked it into the ball I had kneaded back together. Once more, I flattened the dough, cut it into six pieces, placed them on the baking sheet, and placed them into the oven whilst hoping for the best.

The scones were a surprise for the children for our afternoon snack. As they baked, I set about making the Croatian coffee which was ready before I took the scones out of the oven. I placed one hot scone on each of the children's plates and we sat down at the table to enjoy our meal. Much to my surprise, the scones rose high and were tasty. We split the other two scones but the children would have preferred another whole one to themselves. Next time I vowed to write the recipe in my recipe journal instead of making it up on the spot.

The day was filled with frustration and defeat as I browsed jobs on Indeed and applied to as many as I felt I was qualified. At the end of the day I received my first rejection. The one which starts 'Thank you for considering...' and ends with '...we wish you success in your job search'. I have seen many of these types of emails in the past year and have no doubt I will see more. Still, I could not help wonder when my time will come.

Though throughout the day my spirits were down, they were uplifted at the end as I chatted with my boyfriend on Skype after dinner. His day was not any better but somehow our simply seeing each other made everything a little better. We talked for a while and wished, as we do every day, that we could be together in one home. Our day will come but for now it is comforting to know we are there to uplift each other's spirits at the end of each day.