TAKING OWNERSHIP

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This morning was the first time I returned to the new house since I showed the place to the children Wednesday afternoon. Up until then, I stayed away since the urgency to move is not a factor and there was plenty to do at the old place. Initially, I went with the intent on photographing the house empty albeit the lack of sunlight throughout the house made the task a challenging one.

Since this house is a rental, I was not too concerned with the amount of sunlight. The backyard sees much of the sun but since the back of the house is covered with a roof over the patio, the living room sees little light as does the kitchen. The two children's rooms upstairs face the backyard. The room with the most light is Sage's due to the fact there is no tree covering the window in his room as there is in his sisters' room. My room faces the street and gets late afternoon sun.

In the early afternoon, I loaded the minivan with book boxes and carried them inside the house instead of leaving them in the garage as I had done at this old place. I decided to take everything which belongs inside the house and leave it there even if it remains inside boxes. Since the new garage has one door, it is now possible to drive the minivan inside the garage and leave it there. On cold winter nights and hot summer days, this will be a blessing.

The dark living room in the back of the house is where I decided to stack all of the boxes I brought in today. I made a total of three trips with book boxes and boxes filled with kitchen items. The last trip ended with my plastic boxes full of yarns and hand knit items from my Etsy shop. Tomorrow I plan on taking more boxes over and perhaps even some furniture which I am able to carry myself. A trip to Home Depot is also planned for some time tomorrow as I need a rake to clean up the leaves which have fallen to the ground since Wednesday.

As I take ownership of the new place, I sense there will be a feeling of both relief and calmness. Relief in leaving this townhouse and settling into a whole house and calmness as I organise and decorate the new house to reflect our own style and make it a place where we look forward to coming to at the end of the day. Even if we stay at the new house for one year, I am willing to unpack most of the boxes if it means our next move will be our own purchased house. Being comfortable in our homes is key to being relaxed.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK

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In the face of uncertainty, we do what we can to move forward. But what do we do when the uncertainty is greater than we think we can handle? What do we do when the odds are against us and everything we encounter seems improbable and impossible? It is at such time we feel like giving up, throwing in the towel, as the options seem to have vanished.

Two more job rejections came in the form of an email today, to add to the one two days ago when an employer balked at my request of a salary which would allow me to buy food instead of simply pay rent and utilities. Every day I sit at my computer and scour the job postings and send out my resume. Then I sit and wonder how it is possible that nobody is willing to give a single mother a chance to better her life.

There are perhaps more things I could do to improve the situation. Returning to school is one option. It would mean figuring out an alternate path, getting into debt, and facing the possibility of employers choosing to hire the younger generation instead of a woman in her mid-40s. Settling for a low-paying office job is another option. The dilemma is not simple to solve. The words 'you will fail' and 'I will be surprised if you succeed' from my ex-husband run through my mind at times like these.

My children depend on me to provide them a stable home and the basic necessities. In the absence of this, it is likely they will be taken from me if I am unable to provide these things for them. I will do all I can until all possibilities are exhausted. For the time being, I will focus on continuing to send out my resume and on making the move to the new place.

The Three have now left until next week. They return on Easter weekend and are looking forward to our Easter egg hunt and picnic. Children, unlike adults, are able to look past imperfections and embrace us for who we are. They do not place such high expectations on certain situations and are more apt to adapt to changing circumstances. They live in the moment as should we.

TO BE HEARD

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The events of the week have taken its toll on both a physical and emotional level, from the string of illnesses to signing a new lease to struggling to provide a nurturing home to three young children as a single parent. When we are outnumbered by our children, there is a growing sense of helplessness and the ability to deal with the stress in an effective manner. Our health suffers and our being able to unwind as the day comes to an end takes more time as the days progress.

When the world seems to be caving in on us, we fight to stay on top until the battle becomes too much for one person to fight alone. We strive to be heard but the voices of those around us drown out our own. We are weakened and left to pick up the pieces without assistance from anyone. At the end of the day, no one is around to offer a hug or warm loving smile. We then retreat to our beds alone and start the day anew the following morning.

Though it might seems like it at times, not every day is wrought with stress. Certainly there are little things we worry about on a daily basis, but the days when everything seems to be coming down on us at once are the days we dread the most. Anything more which comes our way to add to our stress is one too many a thing with which we have to deal. We then shut down and tune out all around us as a method of self-preservation.

In times of high stress, our steadfastness as well as our patience is tested to the extreme. Some of us are able to come out of this trying time unscathed. Others of us feel defeated and wonder when it will be our turn for the universe to show us some kindness. Whatever the case may be, we must continue to move forward one step at a time. Though it may appear the steps taken thus far have made no difference, it is only when we look back at our path that we realise how far we have come.

The struggle to be heard becomes less of an issue when relaxation has taken over and our bodies and minds are at peace. Those around us who have been in similar situations will understand and will try to alleviate stress any way they can. In the case there is no one around, we must find a way to unwind and return to a place where peace resides. For some it might be listening to music or sitting in a quiet room. To others it might mean turning our negative energies into good use in the form of creating something which brings joy to us and those around us.

THE NEW PLACE

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It was Saffron's turn to stay home from school today due to the same stomach bug which has afflicted each of us this week. Last night she was unable to eat dinner and chose to skip breakfast this morning, returning to bed with her stomach aching. Since I had to meet with the new landlord at 10am, I had hoped she was well enough to go to school. She was not.

After walking the younger two to the bus stop this morning, I returned to find Saffron asleep already. I returned to bed as well thinking my email to the new landlord to reschedule our meeting would be received. It was not.

At an hour before I was scheduled to go to the new place, I decided to get ready since I did not want to be late. Saffron was still asleep but I awoke her after my shower to see how she was doing and if she would be able to go with me. I would have preferred she sleep some more, but since I have no one around to watch my children in case I need help I had to take her with me.

As we drove down the road towards the entrance of our community, Saffron glanced over at the street her father lives on and noticed his car was not in the driveway. She surmised he was at his girlfriend's house in San Antonio, so emailing him for help would have been pointless especially since he never even responded to any of my emails from yesterday.

The entire process of walking through the house and going over the 12 pages of the lease plus two additional pages took two and a half hours. Saffron was quite as she sat outside on the porch swing in the backyard. After I got my keys, we returned home and she went straight back to bed to sleep for another three hours.

When I went to the bus stop to get Cinnamon and Sage this afternoon, they asked if we were still going to the new house. I told them no, at first, but Cinnamon begged me to go stating she was thinking about going the entire day. I told them to wait in the car whilst I went to wake their sister. We all climbed into the van and drove the five minutes to the new place.

Neither of the younger two had yet seen the inside of the house. Saffron was the only one. As soon as we all removed our shoes, the children ran upstairs to see their rooms. They were excited and started to plan where they would place their beds. With three bedrooms for four people, the girls decided to share a room whilst Sage has a room of his own.

My room is large enough to double as an office but the entire house is the same square footage as this townhouse. Saffron insisted the new place is larger. I told her it is the same but there was no use in arguing with her. The two-story ceiling in the entrance lends to the appearance of the house being large, but in reality it is not. The style is simple yet charming and I know I will have fun decorating and setting up the house so it becomes a comfortable place to live.

All three children expressed their thankfulness for the house I chose for them. No, the backyard does not have a hill, as Cinnamon so desired, nor does it have 'climbing trees' as Saffron had wanted but it has grass. Most importantly, it has a porch swing which the children like the best. This new place will be our home for the next year with new memories waiting to be made.

EVE OF CHANGE

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Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.
— Marie Curie

Change is never easy nor is it pleasant. It pushes us out of our comfort zone into the unknown which brings fear to the forefront. For years I had wanted change in my life but did not have the courage to go forward. I worried about the future. I worried how I would make things work. In the end, I knew I had to let go of those fears and trust that things will work out somehow.

On the eve of my move to the new place, I am looking forward to the change. Though I realise the house is not my dream house, I am thankful for having found a better home for my children than the current residence. Better in the sense there is room for them to play outdoors. Better in that we can now walk to school. Their father might think since he has a 'real' house the children are better off at his place, but such thinking is foolish.

Children adapt to situations easier than do adults. As I watch my children play or colour or read, I notice they are not looking for the perfect table on which to draw or the ideal couch on which to read. They adapt to what is before them and they make the best out of the situation. Though we would prefer a dining table with chairs at which to share our meals, we have learned to adapt to our coffee table and cushions knowing that one day we will have our own house with more comfortable seating. Being together is what matter most, no matter the circumstances.

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Earlier in the day, I was informed I would not have the children for five weeks this summer as their father has chosen to exercise his right to take them this year. There was no mention of whether the children would be leaving the country or staying in town despite my inquiry. My oldest daughter started to cry as she realised she would spend another summer without me, seeing how her father had her and her siblings last summer when he took them to Berlin. How the changes of the summer will affect the children are yet to be seen.

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Life is change and change is life. By observing the fearlessness of children, we can learn how to understand our circumstances better and be less fearful when change comes our way. Without change, we are unable to move forward and experience life to the fullest. A chance taken is better than wondering what could have been had we not been afraid to take the chance.

TIME TO HEAL

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Morning arrived far too early after having spent most of the night awake with a violent bout of the stomach flu. It took all of my energy to get the children ready for school but they were fed and dressed in time. Too weak to walk, I drove the children to the bus stop though the bus did not arrive on time. Seeing how it was ten minutes past the time it was to arrive, I simply drove the children to school.

Upon my return home, I retreated to bed and spoke with my boyfriend a short while before resting. Stomach aches would not let me sleep for over an hour but when I finally did get to rest I was awoken from slumber by the ring on my phone. The school called informing me of my son being at the nurse's office due to the stomach virus. I went to the school and brought him home. After a long hot shower, he went to bed and slept.

Before the girls came home, I was able to get a little more sleep. Once they arrived, I fed them a snack and had them work on their new Lego Friends lighthouse. Homework can wait until tomorrow when I am able to help them. Saffron worked on a list of foods each of the three wants for Easter whilst her sister was busying drawing bunnies on a blanket nearby.

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Meanwhile, Sage felt better and wanted to work on his new Lego Movie kit in the cozy area under the stairs. By the time bedtime had arrived, he was close to finished with his 708-piece kit. The focus he has when working on something he enjoys amazes me. He even surprised me when he told me he wants to go to school tomorrow.

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With the weather warming and our being able to spend more time outdoors, I hope the illnesses subside and we spend less time to heal and more time to enjoy our days. This week holds much excitement as we prepare to move to the new place. An Easter egg hunt is planned in the backyard at the new place for the next time the children stay with me. As every year, they have much fun searching for the chocolates. This year will be different but at least we will be together.

SUNDAY FUN

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Some time spent at the park swinging on swings and sliding down slides, a drive to the Lego store for a new kit for Sage and a large Lego Friends kit for the girls to share plus a smaller one for Saffron, and then home again. A shortened account of today's fun due to a sudden stomach bug which hit me after 21,00h tonight. Whatever Sage had when he arrived Friday, I now have. At this point, I would prefer the all over body flu I had the last time the children were here. I can only wish this goes away by morning so I can get the children ready for school although I am sure they would not mind staying home to work on their new Lego kits.

SPRING BREAK SATURDAY

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'Stop it!' were the words I kept hearing on a continual basis today from all three of the children. Cinnamon complained about her sister teasing her, Sage told his sisters to stop throwing his stuffed animals around, and Saffron lamented about one thing or another although I had already forgotten the details. Followed by one or the other tattling on each other, it made for a trying Saturday.

After a breakfast where Sage refused to eat and Saffron finished half of her cereal, the children went upstairs. Cinnamon busied herself with drawing and colouring whilst Saffron surprised me by reading 'Harold and the Purple Crayon' to her brother on his bed. At almost six years of age my son still insists on sucking his thumb, claiming 'it's comfortable'. I keep waiting for him to grow out of it but will not force him to stop at this point.

The music of Enigma played in the background whilst I washed dishes and made preparations for tonight's dinner of lentil soup. In the meantime, I filled the briki with water, added sugar, and waited for the water to boil for the Croatian coffee. After I chopped the vegetables for lentil soup and the coffee was made, I sat down at the bar and enjoyed my coffee and a slice of banana cake. However, within two minutes all three children came downstairs.

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Somehow the children knew I had decided to take a break. Or so it seemed. Saffron was hungry but had refused to finish her breakfast earlier. I told her lunch would be ready in 20 minutes, but it did not stop her from repeating 'I'm hungry. I want to eat now!' a few times. I focused on the music and remained calm despite her insistence.

The children had been out of school for the entire week and arrived at my place at the tail end of their spring break. After having spent a week of 'fun' with their father, the girlfriend, and the two sons from the girlfriend, they were wound up and looking for more fun. Sage wanted another Lego kit but could not describe the one he had seen at the Lego store earlier in the week. After searching online for ten minutes, we were able to determine the one he wanted.

Cinnamon was content to read the book I brought her from Ireland last time. She is the only one of the three who enjoys reading and asks if she can read before she goes to bed each night. Having lost her second front tooth last night, she was not bothered by the fact she has a huge gap of missing teeth on the upper row. She claims the only downside is her not being able to whistle and eat a few foods easily.

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From Sage and Cinnamon's stomach aches this morning to Sage's fever now as he sleeps, this day has been eventful. It was late when my boyfriend and I were able to see and talk with each other this evening. Computer issues on his end were the reason. Sometimes circumstances are out of our control. Though we wish to have things to go smoothly, there are times they cannot. Life is unpredictable. Therefore, we need to learn to adapt the best way we can.

SEASON OF SPRING

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Rain greeted spring today on its first day of the season. A season of awakening, of new beginnings, of change from the cold grips of winter. It is a time when we plant seedlings in our container gardens in order to reap its fruits during the following summer season. Soon, the sound of lawnmowers will be heard as will the laughter of children playing on the streets in front of their homes. Many of us look forward to this time of year as we emerge from hibernation with a renewed spirit.

Morning pried my eyes open far too early, but I could sleep no longer. I made myself breakfast and dressed to make it to my 09,00h appointment at the hair salon. It had been a while since I last had my hair both cut and coloured. Despite the fact my boyfriend is not here with me now, I thought it important to take care of myself and not get into the habit of letting myself go as we sometimes tend to do in relationships.

At one point, whilst the hairdresser was styling my hair, I nodded off to sleep for two or three seconds before jolting myself awake. Tiredness followed me throughout the afternoon but I knew there was not much time to accomplish everything I had set out to do. I did my best. Upon my return from the hair salon three hours later, I wanted to make something special for my children as they would be arriving later in the evening.

After the banana cake was out of the oven, I started putting together my late lunch of Chilean sea bass and mashed potatoes. I then tidied up the kitchen some more before laying down on the daybed for ten minutes as I listened to songs on Depeche Mode's 'Delta Machine' CD. I then switched the music to Enigma and waited for the children to arrive.

The Three were excited as I opened the door. They immediately noticed my 'new' hair and stated how much they liked it. As times before, they all started to talk at once to tell me of the fun they had during their spring break. Sage told me he did not get sick on the Ferris wheel at the rodeo. Both Saffron and Sage were talking at the same time about their going to see the movie 'Cinderella'.

Not even half an hour after the children settled in, Cinnamon came downstairs to hand me her tooth. The second front tooth came out whist she was playing with her sister in the same manner as the last time they stayed with me. It was a wonder the tooth had not fallen out earlier seeing how loose it was when she left here a week ago.

The season of spring is upon us as is the chance for new beginnings. As my move from the old house into this townhouse last April was a new beginning for me, so is next week's move into another house. Every day is a gift we should cherish and not take for granted. Challenges are a part of everyday life but it is how we look at them which make them seem less of a challenge and more of a blessing.

LATER TO NEVER

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Motivation wanes when we feel we have all the time in the world. We put things off until later, only later sometimes becomes too late. We also have a tendency to refrain from doing something because we know the situation will not last too long. In my case, it was never setting up this residence to where it felt like a home because I knew I would not stay here too long.

My boy kept asking me when I would set up the other closet and bathroom in the second bedroom. Months earlier I had said 'later' but now it is simply 'never'. Neither of the two bedrooms was ever set up. Neither were the closets. I stacked my belongings mostly in the garage knowing the boxes would have to wait a year or two to be emptied.

We took what we needed and forgot about the rest. Some things we could do without, other items were left behind, and still others will need to be replaced because of them being left behind at the old house - such as many of the children's toys which have never made it to my place. But those are simply 'things' which matter little when compared with inner peace and the pursuit of true happiness.

Perhaps I would have bothered if the children were with me full time. Perhaps it would have made a difference had I accepted this townhouse as my home from the beginning. The truth is, I never did. I wanted to move out shortly after signing the lease, but knew it was not possible without consequences. So, I stayed. I took my time to move because I could, but circumstances were such where I really did not care too much.

There was the divorce, travel, a new beginning, and attempting to make sense of all which had happened in a short span of time. I cannot begin to imagine what goes through the minds of my children and how this all has affected them. Some people say children are resilient. Others say they should be shielded from the 'bad' of this world.

Children know only what they are exposed to. If they grew up with parents who argued constantly, they will believe it is normal and will go on to establish such relationships in the future. I did not want this for my children. In this case, I wanted to shield them from the 'bad' they grew up with by leaving and starting anew even if it meant being alone. Some relationships are never meant to be. They simply do not work. At such point we need to assess the situation and move on if there is nothing left worth our time and effort.

Albeit there is no need to rush through life, it is also not wise to keep putting off things which can be done now. Many times I wished I had left the marriage earlier but had I done so, I never would have met my boyfriend when I did. There is no such thing as a 'perfect' time. 'Now' is the only time as later might never come.

NEVER ENDING QUEST

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The sounds of water droplets outside my living room window greeted me early this morning. I was awake by 05,00h and could no longer return to a deep slumber. It was shortly after noon in Ireland when I texted my boyfriend with our usual morning greetings. We chatted on Skype for a while before parting ways.

Since it was apparent I was too awake to be going back to bed anytime soon, I walked into the kitchen and decided to make breakfast. For the third morning in a row, I have had spinach sautéed with shallots and butter along with sunny-side up eggs, cheese, and an assortment of vegetables. It was the earliest I had ever eaten such a breakfast. Two hours later, I felt weary and returned to bed.

Another two hours of sleep and I awoke minutes before my boyfriend texted me. We talked on Skype some more until he had to take care of a few things on his day off. Once again he was waiting on the cable guy as he had another soccer game to watch later in the afternoon. The service man was still recovering from the effects of partying on Saint Patrick's Day but the cable issue had been resolved.

My job search continued today with my responding to three more job posts. An email arrived later in the day updating me of another position to which I applied last week. The position was no longer available but at least I received a reply. I have to believe one day soon the call will come through with someone letting me know they are willing to take a chance on me. Until then, I keep searching.

Whilst my boyfriend watched his game, I made potato leek soup and watched the German television krimi SOKO Wismar on my iPad. I later filled one more moving box with books from my bookshelf and wondered what else I could get ready for the move. Since I have a month overlap in residences, I can take my time taking over boxes before I schedule a mover to move the larger items. I look forward to the day I am living at the new place especially now as the weather warms up.

This time next week I will be getting the keys to my new place. This evening I went over to the house to meet briefly with my new landlord as he was kind enough to print out the necessary paperwork for transferring water service in my name. I filled out the forms and handed them back to him as he needed to scan the papers and send them to the utility company. A multifunction printer is on my list of items to purchase in the near future as I am seeing the inconvenience of not owning one.

Two more days until the Vernal Equinox and spring will officially be here, as will my children. I wonder if they are having a good time during their spring break but I am guessing they are happy not to have to go to school. More daylight hours, the children being out of school for the summer, and the never ending quest for a better future are all on the horizon. For now, though, I focus on the moment. There is no sense worrying about tomorrow as it will arrive soon enough. 

BLUNDER OF HASTE

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All things will be clear and distinct to the man who does not hurry; haste is blind and improvident.
— Livy

Every sunset is different. Some days the light behind the 'WF' tree is orange whilst other times it is pink ('WF' because the branches of the main trunk near the top are in the shape of a 'W' and the lower branch to the side a backwards 'F'). Sometimes the light is simply a pale grey as it was the night before last and earlier this evening - until I waited.

Had I resolved myself to use the photograph I had taken earlier instead of waiting an hour, I never would have had the chance to make the later photograph. I kept looking outside and would say to myself 'Hmmm...nothing special', then I continued doing what I was doing. Finally, around 19,30h, I looked outside and noticed the sky was a pale orange. I was glad to have looked outside when I did and happy to see such a beautiful sky.

Waiting for something is never easy. We tend to get impatient and frustrated when things do not go exactly as we planned. We want to hurry to get to the next stop in life but life is not a race. Eventually we will all come to the end of life - some sooner than others due to the stresses we place upon ourselves.

Speeding through life will get us nowhere fast. The stress caused by the urgency of a situation takes away from the pleasure we get otherwise. If we know our goal and make plans toward it, there is no need to hasten its arrival. When we rush towards something there is a tendency for mistakes to be made along the way or for something to be left out.

This evening my boyfriend and I spoke much later than usual due to his having to be at work late for Saint Patrick's Day. He apologised for making me wait, but there was no reason for apologies. I understood he was busy and I knew he was exhausted from spending many hours on his feet. There was no reason to hurry as I knew we would eventually see each other on Skype.

We spoke of our plans for the future and how we already decided to spend it together. Whereas before we felt the need to rush towards our future together, we realised there is no need to do so. Certainly, being together sooner rather than later is more desirable but circumstances beyond our control are at play.

Instead of making the blunder of haste, we resolved to use the time not to worry so much but to enjoy the rare opportunity we have been given of meeting in the first place so many months ago. At times our patience is tested more than we would like it to be but we know one day soon we will see each other again.

UNYIELDING

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The day wore on as I busied myself with grocery shopping and thoughts of moving. Preoccupying my mind with ideas of how to set up the new place keeps me from wondering when my boyfriend and I will see each other again. We 'see' each other on a daily basis, but Skype is no substitute for being together in person. Still, it is better than communicating simply via email.

He had a day off from work today and spent it waiting on the cable guy. He even awoke extra early but the cable guy never came, having called in sick in the morning. Perhaps too much partying the night before. There was a soccer game my boyfriend planned on watching, but was able to see it online instead. We spoke before and after the game but words were few.

The circumstances are different this time. Unlike before, there is no future trip planned where we can count the days until we meet again. So, we wait but patience does not come easy for either of us. Despite the difficulties, we vow to wait for each other no matter how long the time - both unyielding in our decision.

Early spring potted herbs were displayed outside both Central Market and Whole Foods today. I contemplated getting both an oregano plant and a thyme plant before deciding to wait until late next week when I get the keys to my new place. A cherry tomato plant is also on my list of plants to have in my yard, as is rosemary and basil.

The peach tree I purchased last year for $5, in the sale section of the gardening department at Lowe's, has started to sprout new leaves despite my not having watered any of the plants on the patio for months. The self-watering system failed last July when the battery compartment of the timer got wet and corroded. I had left for Ireland and never replaced the timer upon my return. I wonder if any of the other now dead plants will be revived when I move.

Warmer weather means spending more time outdoors. I look forward to sitting out in the yard and tending to my small container garden. Watching plants grow brings me great pleasure as does getting to use the herbs and tomatoes in my kitchen.

It is hard to believe we are halfway through March already. Soon it will be Easter, then Mother's Day, followed by Sage's 6th birthday, and finally the end of another school year. This summer will be an interesting one indeed but no plans have yet been made. Still, we will wait. With each passing day, our unyielding love for each other grows stronger. What we started must be completed. Giving up is not an option.

MOTHERING SUNDAY

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Some days are more eventful than others. Certainly with children, every day is eventful. However, today I was alone. Nothing particularly interesting happened. The house was quiet and no children could be heard outside, as a townhouse community is not usually populated with families. It was a nothing sort of Sunday.

Today was Mothering Sunday in the UK. It is celebrated just as Mother's Day here in the States and elsewhere in Europe. This morning on our Skype session, my boyfriend wished me happy Mother's Day. It was a busy day for him at work, but tomorrow he has a day away from work.

This Sunday consisted mostly of ironing in silence. Music would have made the task more interesting. However, today there was no music. There was also no venturing into the kitchen to make a meal for myself tonight. Somehow when you live alone, the incentive to cook for yourself is not as high as when you have someone with whom to share the meal.

At times we wonder when the changes we make will start to take effect. We wonder when the time will come when things will look more promising. Sometimes the end is nowhere in sight as we are in the midst of change. It is only when we look how far we have already come that we see the changes taking place.

Giving up is easier than making an effort to reach a goal we have set for ourselves. When we feel the urge to give up, it is precisely the time to work harder towards our goal and make things happen. Moving forward in the face of uncertainty and challenges is what makes us stronger in the end.

TWO AND FORTY DAYS

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My time at this residence is now numbered. Exactly six weeks from now, or forty-two days, my lease will expire. Eleven days from today, the new lease on the house begins. When I think about it, I have not spent much time at this place as I was taking my time moving in and also traveling to Europe for close to three months since last summer.

For the first two months of my lease, I was still living at the old house waiting for school to finish for the three children. At the time, I was separated for six months but the official divorce date did not come until mid-July. I left for Ireland and Berlin shortly thereafter for three weeks. October and the first part of November found me back in Berlin and Ireland once again for close to three weeks. Another one and a half weeks in Ireland in December, then again for two and a half weeks in February.

Traveling is akin to moving often from one residence to another as one is never quite settled in a new place. Though I will be signing a one-year lease on the house, I will still leave most of my unpacked boxes in the garage. The number of addresses I have had since my birth is close to fifty so I am all too aware of the feeling of unrest. My desire is to one day soon be able to unpack and settle into a new home with my children and boyfriend and to finally find 'the peace I've been searching for'.

The deposit on the house was paid today. The house which is quite popular due to the proximity to school. I imagine our morning schedule will change since the children will no longer be riding the bus whilst staying at my place. I walked through the house once more and paused to reflect on what it will be like living someplace else. What I like most is having a yard, not only for my children but for me as well.

What I will miss most are the beautiful sunsets behind my two favourite trees which I have been photographing whilst living here. Two more townhouse units are being built near the trees, so the view will eventually be obstructed by the two-story units. I will have to find a new tree to photograph. Other than the trees, there is not much else I will miss. The moving will keep me busy for a while. It will keep me from thinking how much I wish I could be back in Ireland with him. For now, I will get the new place ready for his visit this summer.

ON BROKEN SHELLS

the three 313

The sun was shining today. At 22 degrees Celsius, it was finally warm enough to sit outdoors and enjoy the spring family picnic at school despite the ground having been damp from the rains earlier this week. Some of the trees were covered with beautiful white and pink flowers, a sure sign of spring arriving. The air was heavy with the scent of the blossoms and the effects of the pollen can now be felt albeit it is not as bad as the cedar tree pollen of winter.

Each of my three children came outside to spend time with me and their father and the girlfriend. Saffron informed me this morning of his coming to the picnic with his girlfriend. The scene was awkward, to say the least, but I was there for my children. My son, unlike his sisters, was visibly uncomfortable with the situation as he turned towards me and away from them, refusing to answer her questions. I encouraged my son to talk to her even though I knew he would rather have not.

Today of all days I wished my boyfriend would have been here with me and the children as we enjoyed the family picnic. Smiles and laughter would have replaced the awkwardness. There was no laughter today and smiles were forced for the sake of politeness. The entire scene was as if everyone was merely walking on eggshells, until the end when the 'niceness' was no more and the shells were broken. It was then that the true natures emerged.

The fight between the old and the new. An attempt of one to exert power over the other. The struggle to keep together what is left of a family, all whilst wishing simply to move forward with as little tension as possible. When a mother is threatened with the possibility of her children being taken away from her, she will fight with all she has. I wished things could have been more pleasant, but the looming threat of having the children whisked off to South Austin this summer weighs heavily on me. Why make it difficult for a mother to see her children. Why cause her a loss of both time and money when it is rather unnecessary to do so.

Today the focus should have been more on the children and how not to disrupt their lives any more than already has been disrupted. In this case, there should be no reason to fight. In the end, it comes down to what is in the best interest of the children. If compromises cannot be made, then one needs to rethink if the situation is worth pursuing.

RECKLESS ABANDON

cinnamon front tooth

For the most part, children are oblivious to how they look. They can be wearing two different shoes or mismatched socks and, unlike adults, they will not stress over such minor details. When they dress themselves, they are not concerned so much about coordinating colours - almost any combination of colour and pattern will do. When they have lost their front teeth, children will continue to smile and will even go around showing everyone how they have lost a tooth.

Today was such the case when Cinnamon wanted me to photograph her newly lost front tooth and the one next to it which is now loose. She smiled a big smile as I made the photograph of her sitting on her bed as she held onto her Elsa doll and the stuffed white bunny. I wonder if she will lose the tooth before I see her again next Friday.

With reckless abandon, children explore the world around them. One minute they are drawing a colourful picture in a corner of the room whilst the next minute they can be seen running around in an attempt to find another toy with which to play. We observe how happy they are to be without a care in the world. No responsibilities other than to learn how to cope with the influx of information being thrown at them - particularly at school.

We might wonder how we would fare in life if we went around experiencing it as children do. The episode of 'Friends' where Phoebe runs in the park with Rachel comes to mind. Rachel comes up with an excuse as to why she cannot run with Phoebe when she sees Phoebe running as a child with arms flailing about. After Phoebe explains to her how fun it is to run like that, Rachel decides to try it and exclaims 'You're right, this feels great!'...until she runs into a policeman's horse, that is.

Perhaps if we worry less and smile more when something unpleasant came along, we would be able to deal with the situation better. Stress less, worry less, laugh more, and take each minute of every day as it comes. We cannot control every situation, but we can control our reaction to it. Sometimes we need to step back and observe our children as we can learn a valuable lesson from them instead of always insisting they follow our every lead.

AT WIT'S END

sage homework march 2015

When all three children start talking at you all at once with each one getting louder than the other. When you know you must figure out who of the three gets your attention at a particular moment such as homework time. When you tell the children repeatedly to behave but they continue to defy you and act indignant with a sense of entitlement.

When you're on Skype with your boyfriend who is preoccupied with company and you're attempting a conversation with him whilst at the same time the three children are screaming in the background. When at the same time there is a loud knock on the door from the children's father coming to pick up the oldest child and you need to end your conversation with your boyfriend to deal with the unexpected visit. When on top of all that dinner is waiting to be put in the oven.

When there is another argument pertaining to the children's schedules and rules. When those schedules are dismissed and rules are not followed. When your children continue to scream at you as all three are vying for your attention. Those are the moments which cause us to reach our wit's end.

cinnamon and owl

Nothing seems good enough. 'That's what we're having for dinner?' and 'Do I have to eat this?' and 'Why do I have to eat this?'. 'I only get three cookies?!', followed by 'I want more!'.

Someone always wants more than we can give. More time, more money, more everything until our souls becomes weary. There is never enough time to please everyone in our lives. We start to feel as if nothing will ever be right. The light at the end of the tunnel is nowhere in sight as we continue to walk in darkness.

The employment opportunities are non-existent as are the courtesy calls to inform us whether or not our resume has been received. We wonder what else we could do to improve our situation as nothing appears to have worked thus far.

saffron homework 0311

When questions come our way for which we have no answers. When dinner is on the table but only one of the three children will eat it. When bedtime arrives and there is a fight over which book to read for story time.

When our children's behaviour makes us question our parenting abilities and has a tendency to jeopardize our future relationships. When you know you cannot simply quit but do not know the next step to take. When our weary minds take over and cause us to second guess everything.

When your children continue to disobey you and tell you they cannot possibly keep the promise of behaving as it is not possible to keep such a promise as a child. Those are the moments where we retreat and go to bed as we have reached our wit's end.

SURPRISE FOR ALL

girls busy

Afternoon came early today as I had slept an extra three and a half hours after having dropped the children off at the bus stop this morning. The sleep was much needed as I am at the tail end of this flu. Due to the illness, I had not ventured out for a few necessary household provisions since close to a week. Water and milk were at the top of my list.

Costco was my first stop. My list of necessities was rather short so I was in and out of the store in less than 20 minutes. As I walked around, I noticed the seasonal items one usually sees at Costco this time of year. Namely, gardening supplies and outdoor furniture. On my way to the bottled water aisle, I noticed a large pile of bird seed sacks to my left. Feeding the birds and squirrels was something the children enjoyed at the old house, so I vowed to set up a bird house at our next rental house.

At my next stop at Whole Foods, a smile crossed my face as I noticed little pots of growing herbs outside the store. Rosemary, various versions of thyme and oregano, and strange flavours of mint such as grapefruit mint were amongst the herbs being sold today. An herb garden was something I enjoyed at the old house and something we will have at the new place for certain. I walked inside and bought my handful of items, fish being one of them for tonight's dinner.

The final stop was HEB for arugula, which I forgot to get at Whole Foods, baby tomatoes, and sandwich ice cream - the one usually found at Whole Foods but one I did not find today. I arrived home less than half an hour before the children walked off the bus. I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich, realising I had not eaten but two spoons of yogurt for breakfast, and waited for the children.

The three walked into the door and were excited when I told them of a surprise snack I had for them. 'Did we have it before?' Sage asked. I told him we have but long ago. After the ritual of hand washing and changing into home clothes, I had them sit down at the table and close their eyes. I then placed one packaged ice cream sandwich in front of them and told them to open their eyes. They thought it might be a granola bar.

sandwich ice cream

The reaction from the children was a surprise to me. Sage got up from his seat and ran over to hug and kiss me. 'Thank you so much, mama!' he exclaimed. The girls were thankful as well. Cinnamon even made me a card tonight thanking me for the ice cream treat. It is not that the children never get ice cream at my place. I prefer to wait until spring and summer to indulge in the cold treat, so today I thought was a good day to start our season of ice cream seeing that spring is around the corner.

Homework followed snack time. Saffron worked on her reading and spelling homework whilst I read with Sage. Cinnamon did not have her homework paper printed out, so she read instead. Both Cinnamon and Sage got one book each at the Book Fair today. Saffron will get her two books tomorrow whilst her siblings buy their second books tomorrow as well.

Playtime followed homework during which time I prepared dinner. The children enjoyed salmon whilst I had Chilean sea bass. There was a little time to play after dinner which gave me a chance to talk with my boyfriend. Before our call, I had a nice surprise of my own - a phone call from the owner of the house I applied for last week. I am approved and can have the house if I so desire.

sage reads

Although it pains me to have to pay someone else's mortgage, I realise I have no choice in the matter at the moment due to my lack of employment. The decision to rent that particular house is solely for the sake of the children. The proximity to school is unbeatable as is a large yard. My desire is to own a home by next year with my boyfriend. All in due time.

CHOICE OF BATTLES

three march 9 2015

'I will be there at 1030 and will let myself in'. The words stared back at me as I read the response from my landlord. After my exhaustive reply to his previous email about his needing to enter the townhouse, I had to resolve myself to the fact that he was coming Saturday morning no matter what I said. The lease does specify he can enter whenever he pleases but I figured the walkthrough could wait until I vacated the place next month. This battle I lost as more energy towards fighting it would have been ill spent.

This week I await the reply from my rental application on the house near the school. If approved, I should be moving the week after Spring Break. There would be a month overlap in rent but it is irrelevant at this point. I long for a yard where I can grow thyme, oregano, and basil. My pitiful patio garden has long since been neglected and my desire is to revive it in the next few months.

The children and I look forward to the time we can once again sit outside in the warm Texas evenings and eat dinner together. The three are also anxious to have a yard in which they can run around and play. The sun will be appearing in the yard in the mornings. I can imagine us eating breakfast under the covered patio. Starting from scratch, I will have to buy outdoor furniture and a charcoal grill. My dream house would have an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor fireplace. One day, perhaps.

Indoor dining furniture is also something we are lacking. Sitting on the floor on cushions at a coffee table is getting to be quite uncomfortable for the children as they must kneel on the cushions in order to reach the table. I was able to find one stool at World Market last year which Sage is now using since he is the smallest. The stool has one leg which is half broken which is why I was able to get it for free. In reality it was discounted to $20 but since I had a rewards coupon for $20, the stool ended up being free.

We all have battles throughout the week which we choose to fight or simply ignore. Sometimes the fight is worth the effort. Other times the energy expended is too much and we then choose another battle more worthy of our time. Battles with the children are oft times difficult to decide which one is worth the fight. Deciding whether to keep telling my children to stop jumping off their beds is one of those battles.

In tonight's case it ended with Cinnamon's mattress falling through the bottom of her bed. As is the issue with my bed (which is why I still do not have it put together), the frame is two inches too wide for regular wooden slats. My solution was to put the shortened slats on top of two boards set alongside the inner edge of the frame. With the girls jumping on the bed, the slats shifted and fell through, along with the mattress.  It took 20 minutes to get the slats back in place.

Parents must learn to strike a balance between protecting their children and hovering over their every move. The job of a parent is the most difficult one in existence, but also the most rewarding when we figure out how to strike that balance.