HOMEWORK AND THE INTERNET

homework 505 bw

Today was the first day we walked home from school. The clouds were looming up above and I worried it would rain the two blocks it took to get back home. The children were excited to walk home but wanted to stop by the playground which was on our way. I told them there were two people coming to our house in the next hour and we needed to be home.

The cable guy was the first person to show up. When compared to 'disgruntled Santa Claus' who showed up later regarding the dryer, the cable guy was a professional. He knew what he was doing, got the job done in minimal time, and even had the contractor booties to slip onto his heavy work boots for those people, like me, who do not allow shoes in the house.

Having had experience with so-called professionals showing up whilst owning a house, I have come to know the difference merely by their demeanor and sound of voice. I had a bad feeling yesterday when the appliance guy called to let me know I was his last call of the day and he did not feel like waiting the three hours until our scheduled appointment. I told him I was on my way home to pick up the kids from school and could be home two hours earlier.

He told me he would have to call his boss to see if he could accommodate my request. My guess is he simply did not feel like working. His call back to me confirmed my suspicion as he proceeded to tell me his boss denied the request and needed to reschedule for today. Reluctantly, I agreed but should have cancelled and called a real professional.

When the appliance guy showed up today, it took less than two minutes for me to send him away. I asked if he could remove his shoes. No, it was against company policy. 'Do you have contractor booties', I asked him. 'No, do you', he asked me. I ushered him inside through the garage door which is next to the laundry room but cleaned the floor as soon as he left.

He asked what the problem was and I wondered if he even looked at his notes from my call. Apparently not because when I told him the machine was not even a year old, he told me to call Maytag to schedule someone to come out as he would charge me. I promptly sent him away and continued with my evening.

The children busied themselves doing homework downstairs on our dining/coffee table which I was able to set up late last night after they fell asleep. The lack of a functioning clothes dryer did not bother me as most important was the fact I now finally had 'The Internet'. It turned out the cable modem needed to be reset by the company but only after the outside line was activated the day before. All is well in our little world as life starts on a new path to normal.

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FIRST MAY MONDAY

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In life we learn we can only do so much until we are unable to do much more. We make do with the situation give to us and do the best we can though the best is almost always never as good as we think it should be. Such was the case today when faced with a house still in the midst of chaos and going nowhere close to organised any time soon.

Leaving work early to pick up the children from school, I got a phone call on the way from the Maytag repairman letting me know he could not make it today since I was his last appointment and he did not feel like waiting the three hours until the agreed upon time. I told him I was on my way to pick up the children from school but could make it home two hours before my appointment time. The repairman let me know the earlier time was not good enough so he rescheduled for tomorrow after 16,00h. There was nothing I could do about this so I went about my day.

Waiting in line for child pickup, I heard someone call my name. I turned around and noticed my daughters’ kindergarten teacher from the old school they attended. She inquired about my children’s progress and I let her know all was good. I left out the part about the divorce as we were speaking whilst sitting in our cars with another row of cars in between us. I doubt she would be surprised though. I asked for my spice girls and boy when the man with the hand radio came by inquiring about the children I was picking up.

The only reason I went to pick up the children with the minivan instead of having parked it at home and walked to school was due to our having to go buy water at Costco. Tomorrow I will take the time to walk home with the children. The three were happy to see me as I was happy to see them. When we returned home from our quick shopping trip, the children ran upstairs to see their rooms. They were delighted the beds were set up albeit nothing else was ready today. It would have to do.

They changed and I sent them outside whilst I checked on the Internet connection. The cable company had come by earlier today to turn on the connection but my Internet was still not functioning. On the phone once again, I ended up getting an appointment for tomorrow at the same time the Maytag repairman was to arrive. This will be fun, I thought. Meanwhile, I had to look through boxes to find bowls for dinner, get a snack for the children, and make dinner without having a table on which to put the bowls.

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A compromise was in order as I found the picnic blanket and handed it to my oldest child for her to place on the grass. It would be a dinner outside with company. The company of mosquitos hovering mostly around my boy. I noticed one on his forehead and promptly smacked it dead. The children enjoyed parpadelle pasta with feta and parmesan. The boy wanted Urfa chilies as well but noted more spiciness than usual. Despite the extra chilies, he finished his meal.

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With the boy in one room and the girls in another, the new bedtime routine consisted of reading two stories. I read ‘The Happy Lion’ to Sage, tucked him in bed, and kissed him goodnight. When I walked into the girls’ room, Saffron wanted to read her Anna & Elsa book. She read chapter 5 of the Memory and Magic book I bought her last time she stayed with me. Cinnamon had fallen before her sister reached the end of the chapter. I kissed them both goodnight and ended my evening with a long Skype conversation on my iPhone with my boyfriend. In life, we find nothing is perfect. As such, we do the best we can under the circumstances and believe everything will work out in the end.

TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET

baby wrench green screw

The plan was simple. Get up early, go to city centre to eat a breakfast burrito at Whole Foods, and buy groceries for the following week whilst there. Such was the idea. However, I got sidetracked by the clothes dryer. What was intended as a quick task as I was heading out the door, turned into a three-hour ordeal.

As soon as I was dressed, I walked past the laundry room and wanted to take a minute to see if I could use pliers to remove the hex screw from the back of the dryer in order to avoid having to buy a new tool. It was the green screw holding the grounding wire which I needed to remove. Just as I was about to pull the screw out, I watched in horror as it fell inside of the back of the dryer.

Scanning the back of the dryer, I looked at all of the smaller hex screws without indentations for a Phillips head screwdriver. It turned out I had to go to Home Depot to find a solution for removal of the smaller screws in order to remove the back of the dryer to get to the fallen green screw.

The minute I walked into Home Depot I saw the scene play in my head. The scene where the typical unskilled employee insisted I needed a Phillips head screwdriver in order to remove the screws. The screw I had brought with me was meant to serve as an example as to the size of the other hex screws without ‘x’ markings for the screwdriver. Hesitant to ask for help, I agreed when an older man asked if I needed help. He glanced at the screw in the plastic bag and said I needed a Phillips head screwdriver.

‘No’, I insisted, wondering why I bothered to ask for help in the first place and then once again explained how the other screws did not have the markings. After five or so minutes, he handed me a baby wrench letting me know this was the least expensive option. At less than $3, it would do. Once I got home, I removed most of the screws and was then able to get the green screw which fell to the bottom of the machine.

Painstakingly, I screwed the 15 little hex screws to the back, installed the new 3-prong plug, and turned on the machine in order to test it. At this point, I was hoping all would be good and I could leave to eat my breakfast. No. The universe had other plans for me today. It tested my patience and my resolve and my desire to avoid taking a sledgehammer to everything in my path as the drum of the dryer turned and sent out loud grinding noises. Everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Desperate, I sent a text to my ex asking if he could help. It took a while to get a response, but the answer was that he could not help with the grinding noise as he was at his girlfriend’s house in New Braunfels. I knew he was skilled enough to figure out most anything and knew if it was his dryer he would spend the time troubleshooting it before resorting to a ‘professional’. I let him know I would not be able to wash the children’s sheets, towels, and clothes for next week. He told me to get a repairman.

So be it. I called a repairman after I returned from my grocery shopping, but need to wait until Monday in order to find out the diagnosis. I suspect the movers might have damaged the drum of the machine whilst transporting it. I sent an email to the moving company explaining the situation and wanted to know what they intended to do about it. Not much is my guess.

Though I asked the movers about using the drum stabiliser during transport of the machine, they told me it was unnecessary for a short move. It turns out it was necessary and now I am without a functioning machine. I can only hope for a simple, inexpensive solution to the dilemma of the grinding noise. For now, I wait.

MAKING PLANS

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The month of May appeared today, yet it seems not long ago it was the first of April. A third of the year has now passed us by with another two thirds left to go. In a month, the children will be out of school and ready to enjoy the hot summer months whilst parents wonder how to keep them entertained until August arrives and they return to school.

My three children would have been with me this evening had I been able to set up the house to a usable state. Not wishing to place more of the moving stress on them as last time when we all slept on the floor for a week, I asked their father to keep them over the weekend so I could have time to get things ready for them after school. I am amazed at how adaptable children can be, particularly during such difficult times.

This weekend will be a time for me to catch up on much needed sleep so I can take on the great task of setting up the basics of a new place. There are beds to put together, bathrooms to set up, a pantry to clean and fill, and boxes to move around to locate the bare necessities. But the most important part of the house to set up is the kitchen as it is the heart of a home. Anything else can wait for another time.

Coffee, music, and determination will get me through the weekend’s work. I look forward to my first cooked meal in this house as I have been living on bread, cheese, pistachios, and fruit for most of this past week. When there is chaos in the kitchen, we tend to stay away and look for simple foods to eat. But there comes a time when simple is simply not enough.

My boyfriend has a day off tomorrow and we both look forward to spending some time together albeit not in the sense we would like. Skype is the best we have, even if it means my being able to see him on my small iPhone screen. Since his boss refused his vacation request for July, we have had to come up with Plan B. It will mean waiting a while longer to see each other again but the option seems a better one if all goes as planned.

 

MERE DREAMS

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Dreams of a summer with my boyfriend appear to be merely dreams. At this point, matters are out of my hands as I have done all I could to ensure we see each other sooner than Christmas. The decision is now at the mercy of my boyfriend’s boss which no doubt means holidays will not be granted during the time I am able to go to Ireland. A busy travel season and a co-worker having already requested the same time off works against our long-awaited summer reunion.

Despite our not being able to see each other, we will not let that get in the way of our wanting to continue this long distance relationship. It is a challenge unlike any other but one which strengthens our resolve. Frustrations abound on a daily basis as we fight the daily battles alone though not alone. On more than one occasion we almost gave up. Somehow we found the strength to keep going. Something urged us both to continue on this path.

The times we feel like giving up are a sign to work harder towards our goal. The goal of our being together on one continent sometime in the future. The goal of sharing our lives, of overcoming obstacles which stand in our way. The little things others take for granted are ones to which we look forward. Eating dinner together or getting to say ‘goodnight’ in person. Or simply taking a walk outside as the sun sets on another day. Maintaining a positive attitude is all we can do as we wait to reach the next chapter in our lives. Life moves forward. Our story continues.

NO INSTRUCTIONS

lilac pink
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill…and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill…I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
— Matrix

If only life would come with an instruction book to guide us along the way on this difficult journey. A journey of self-discovery, of navigating through trying times, of getting through the joys and hardships of parenthood with as few bruises as possible. If only we knew how best to handle the many obstacles which come along the way without destroying every relationship in the process. If only hindsight was an option we get to choose in life as one of our special powers. Alas, such desires are not a part of this life we live.

We go through life making mistakes along the way. We think we are doing the right thing when, in fact, we are doing the exact opposite. We base current decisions on a state of mind which is under stress and tired without thought about what our decisions would be in a state opposite from the one we are in. We attempt to make things right but time has passed and the opportunity to do so has passed as well.

Stumbling along the way, we get up and start again only to get knocked down by life’s cruelties. We struggle to be heard in the sea of the world’s cries but such cries fall on deaf ears as we go unheard and oftentimes unseen. Misunderstandings cross our paths on occasion but learning to forgive and move on is a something we develop with time. By the time we learn such skills, the moment has passed. The moment to turn back time and make right that which we made wrong.

Every day is a chance to start anew. A chance to make a choice to be happy with the life we have been given. However, the past is still with us as are our mistakes. Mistakes which can no longer be undone. Mistakes which forever change the path we are on. We wonder what would have been had we chosen the blue pill instead of the red pill. We wonder why cannot go back to a simpler time when our actions had less severe consequences.

If only life came with an instruction book, with a list of the correct decisions to make in certain situations. If only we knew what comes next in life, what waits for us as we turn the corner. We find we need to live with the choices we make. We do the best we can and move forward, learning lessons the hard way and hoping not to make the same mistakes in the future. In the end, life remains a mystery with no instructions.

DEAR SON

swing chain bw

My dear son. Your birthday is coming up next month. The special day falls on a Saturday when you and your sisters are staying with me. We will celebrate together, the four of us. Not five as before. This year is different. This year is the first year after the divorce. At five years of age, you are too young to understand what that means now but one day I hope you will understand.

One day I hope you will see why I could not come to the other birthday party. The one your father’s girlfriend will be arranging for you. The one they wish to host at what was previously our home. Your father asked me today to come celebrate your birthday, saying you would like the entire family to attend. In an ideal world, this would be possible. However, the world is sometimes not fair and choices are made which forever change the way things will be in the future.

My wish is for you to have a happy time celebrating at your other home, without the stresses and strains of this new way of life. You will have your school friends to play with as well as your sisters and soon-to-be step brothers. I know it is your desire we all celebrate together. Your innocence is endearing. Your smiles and laughter are infectious. Though I will not be there, you will and are always in my thoughts.

After your party, you and your sisters will come back to your other home as it is also the weekend when you three stay with me. The weekend two weeks after your actual birthday. We four will have a nice time together. You will tell me about your party and I will listen, but please understand why I could not step back into that house. The house that was once mine, ours. The place you learned to crawl, and then walk. The house where you scribbled all over the walls with whatever crayons you held in your little hands. That house is no longer mine, but it is still yours.

Your birthday will be here soon. You asked me to make a carrot cake for you. I am delighted to bake a cake for you with a recipe of my own. We will enjoy the cake and put six candles on top for you to blow out as you make your wish. I know how you love cakes. I know how you love building, both Lego sets and puzzles. And I know you know how much I love you.

DREAMING OF SUMMER

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The porch swing was the first thing I went to at the end of a long day at work. With a glass of red wine in one hand and my iPhone in the other, I chatted with my boyfriend on Skype. Since I have yet not configured Internet access, I am unable to use the iPad. Moving the piles of boxes in the family room will take a while in order to locate the cable outlet to plug in the modem. Until now, the iPhone will do as will my having to park on the parking lot of Starbucks a few minutes before midnight to use their Wi-Fi in order to post my words and photo to my blog.

We talked for quite a while tonight though he had to get back to work after his one day off from work. The day was cold in Ireland. I check the weather there on occasion to see how it compares to here. It was 6 degrees Celsius and raining for most of the day. Here in Austin we had a high of 28 degrees Celsius. The sun was out throughout the day but I spent the majority of it indoors. It was quite the contrast from the weather in Ennis, but I would have preferred the rainy day indoors if it meant we could spend it together.

The lady at work sitting across from me mentioned Google Flights today. The other lady across from her was thinking of visiting a cousin in England this summer with her children and so the conversation began about finding flights. I was curious, so I looked up flights from Austin to Shannon, Ireland. Flights were expensive during the summer months, which is to be expected. What was not expected is that flying during the weekend was less expensive than during the week. For the most part, this is not the case. I happened to find the flight leaving July 4th to be reasonably priced and my mind started thinking.

What if we could meet this summer, I wondered. Christmastime is too long a time to wait to be together again. Then I remembered reading an article about how spending money on experiences rather than on ‘things’ was something we should be doing more. My children will be leaving on July 3rd to stay with their father for five weeks. What they will be doing during this time, I do not know. My turn with them will come next summer.

This summer I do not wish to be alone. I dream of returning to Inistioge with my boyfriend. The village is small and quaint with its beautiful 10-span bridge on the river Nore. The Woodstock Arms B&B was a charming place to stay. Last summer there was but one restaurant open besides the pub in the B&B. I remember the pizza at Circle of Friends as being exceptional. The long walk up to the Woodstock Gardens was well worth the view as was the drive to Kilkenny to see the castle. For now, I will enjoy the porch swing in the back yard and dream of summer.

A WILL + A WAY

In times of stress or hardship, we discover our relentless nature. We find out we are far more capable of accomplishing things than previously thought. The saying holds true: ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’. If this move has taught me anything, besides the importance of being organised, it is strength beyond our imagination.

This move has been the most difficult of all of the many moves I have made; including the time I drove a U-Haul from Colorado to Sacramento in 24 hours non-stop during a winter snow storm. Though I had a month to move, in the end I realised I had underestimated the time needed to make such a move by myself.

The final weekend of moving started Friday afternoon when I came home from work at the same time the children got off the bus. That was their last time riding the bus whilst staying with me. I had hoped to be able to take them to their father’s place earlier than our 18,00h drop off time. However, he was on a business trip and did not make it back in time.

The children were as patient as children can be, having to sit in the minivan whilst I loaded it with boxes from the garage to take to the new place. We made four or five trips in that time until the children noticed their father’s car parked in the driveway. Had I not taken advantage of that time to move the items from the garage, the move would have lasted until later this afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon I was to leave the key to my old place with my landlord. I sent him an email letting him know I needed more time and would be able to meet him late in the afternoon. Thankfully, he let me leave the key inside the house and was to lock the patio door behind me. Were it not for that option, I am not sure how I would have managed to get everything out of the house and clean up in time.

As I looked at each room and what was left to do, I became overwhelmed and did not think it was possible for me to finish in time. I was tired and hungry but did not take the time to either sleep or eat until later today. Somehow I found the strength to move a large, heavy dining table down the stairs and into the minivan. I got into a rhythm and did not stop until all was moved. That time ended up being noon today as I drove over the plants from the patio.

The relief I felt as I closed the patio gate the last time was immense. As I unloaded the plants, the next door neighbors were outside. The lady was mowing the lawn whilst her husband was doing the edging. When she noticed me coming out of the car, she came over to introduce herself. She and her husband live next door with their teenage daughter. She mentioned her daughter was a certified babysitter if I ever needed someone to watch my children.

After the peach tree was out of the minivan, I drove into the garage and shut the door behind me. I breathed a sigh of relief and was glad the move was finally over. I was hungry by now but needed a shower first. Not having had time to clean the shower or anything in this house, I simply put perfection out of my mind and did what needed to be done. I lay down on the mattress for a moment which turned into three hours.

Shaking from both exhaustion and hunger, I got into the car and drove to Whole Foods and Trader Joes for food. Wine was also a purchase I made and something I had not enjoyed since close to two months. When I got home, I poured myself a glass of wine and made myself a simple sandwich of baguette with avocado, smoked Gouda, and arugula. The move was done. Now comes the fun part of setting up the new place.

FOOLISH MOVE

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‘Don’t stress’ he repeated as we were finishing our phone conversation. I sent the landlord an email earlier in the day with the subject of ‘URGENT’ asking him how the Internet was connected in the house as I found no in-wall box for the cable modem nor any Cat5 outlets. He specified the cable needed for the modem was in the family room and that the previous owners had connected everything downstairs.

As I had already planned on having my computer upstairs in my room and had taken all of my equipment up the steep stairs, I panicked and stressed. Seeing how I had plenty to worry about at the old place, I had no time to figure out how to go about setting up my computer. It would have to wait until tomorrow.

The hours passed and progress was slow. I saw no end in sight and wished for the move to be done before nightfall. However, the sun set behind the mountains as I was on my fourth of seventeen window blinds to clean. Nineteen if you count the two in the upstairs bathroom. So far, I have completed five and doubt I will work on the rest seeing how I am still not out of this townhouse at 22,55h.

Meals were non-existent today, save for bread and ice cream, as I focused on the move. At one point, I started to think perhaps this was a foolish move. Maybe I should have simply paid the increase in rent. I am not sure the savings will be significant as I had to pay for movers and the gas for my car driving back and forth to move items I did not wish to pay the movers to move.

Other expenses include paying for lawn service at the next place and the increased water bill. What I saw was not my dream house but a yard for my children to play in after school. I envisioned us walking to school in the morning and walking back home in the afternoon. I did not think how things would change once I got a job. At the moment, the job issue is not a real issue as I will be at the current assignment one week more and have no further leads.

The sunsets and the amount of light coming in through the wall of windows I have given up, I continue to ponder. Access to the pool and walks around the ‘compound’ I am also giving up. Then I think how I almost never went to the pool nor took peaceful walks. The school bus picking up and dropping off the children was convenient. I stopped my thinking and continued packing and cleaning.

When we are stressed we tend to second guess ourselves. We wonder if what we are doing is the right thing to do. Whether or not the move was a foolish one remains to be seen. I never intended for either of the places to be long term but I hope soon I will find our ‘forever home’ where my boyfriend and I can settle down with the children for at least a while.

HOPELESS FRIDAY

saffron last day

Some days are good. Some days are not so good. Those 'not so good' days are the ones where we tend to overthink every move we make. We wonder if we made the right decision to move to a new place. We wonder if we will ever catch a break in life, when the clouds will move aside and the sun come shining through. We think, and then think some more until we can no longer think. And we become hopeless as options cease to exist.

This morning's drive to work was a steady five miles per hour on Mopac. It took me well over an hour to get to my destination in south Austin after having dropped off the children at school. The stormy weather contributed to today's delay. I worked alone for most of the morning but was glad to keep busy. I am not the type of person who can sit and do nothing. Being idle is not in my nature but I know at times I need to learn to simply sit and relax.

The dark, overcast morning did not help my state of tiredness and frustration. Frustration at the current situation and not knowing when the time will come when things are better. Frustration at being separated from my boyfriend for so long and not knowing when the time will come when we will be together. Whilst working, I sent an email to the staffing agency inquiring about next week. The email I received back both angered me and made me sad. I was told my inflexibility in my work schedule is causing me to lose job opportunities.

Sitting at my desk, I shot back an email to the lady telling her I will not apologise for having a family or wanting to be there for them whilst they are still young. I know in time I will have to find a suitable childcare solution but only after I get a suitable job where I can afford childcare and limit the time the children are away from home and family. For now, I need to keep looking for an employer who understands the struggles of single parents needing to maintain a healthy balance between work and family.

In the midst of life's storms we become hopeless. We cannot see past this moment to a brighter future which awaits us. I realise a year from now I will look back on this day and wonder why I ever doubted the sun would not emerge from those dark grey stormy clouds of life's adversities. Until then I will do whatever I can to move forward and make things better for my family.

Hugs...I asked for a hug for this photo. I meant for them to hug each other.

Hugs...I asked for a hug for this photo. I meant for them to hug each other.

ANTI-FAMILY

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News of the second job, which was to start Monday, came today as I called the staffing agency for an update. They informed me the company requesting someone to start next week simply could not accommodate my schedule. The schedule which would require my leaving work in time to be home when the children finished school in the afternoon. The schedule which is every other week due to my co-parenting arrangement. Call it whatever you would like, but to me the message is clear...they are anti-family.

Any employer who fails to allow their employees to care for their family is not one for which I wish to work. Their view of reality is skewed to the point where no allowances are made for real life circumstances. If the children were older, they would be able to stay home alone for a few hours until I finished work. They are not old enough. For a long-term job, I would consider some sort of child care but not at a price where my take-home pay was paying solely for child care. In the grand scheme of things, it needs to make sense.

Worries about my future follow me throughout the day, every day. I wonder how I will be able to provide for my family. I wonder what my next step should be. I wonder if I will have to move into a studio apartment sometime soon and sell everything I own in order to make it. A lesson to anyone considering divorce...get a lawyer no matter how much your spouse convinces you that getting a divorce without one is a better, more 'amicable' solution. In my case, my being 'nice' proved to work against me and now I find myself fighting for my future with my children.

Being a single parent is tough when the odds are against you, but more so when employers do not take into consideration an employee's need to care for their family. A family is unpredictable. Children get sick. Parents get sick. Children need to be taken care of after school by their parents and not by strangers. This is the reality of life. If more employers would realise this reality by allowing for flexibility in schedules and the option to work from home, parents would feel less stress and guilt for abandoning their families.

The ideal job would be one where I could work from home. Commute time would be eliminated and I would be able to be home for my children when they finished school in the afternoon. I am sure there are companies out there which are not anti-family and which take into consideration the realities of raising a family, particularly as a single parent. Finding such company will take time. Meanwhile, I continue my search and hope to find something soon.

HUNGRY FOR ONIONS

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Growing up, my mom used to tell me a truly hungry person would eat even fried onions. The saying gets lost in the translation from Croatian to English but one gets the point. As a child, I despised onions so I could hardly imagine wanting to eat them even if I was 'starving hungry'. Quite the opposite is true now that I am an adult as I have grown quite fond of the taste of fried onions.

From what I remember, we ate whatever was on the table. There were no exceptions. If you did not like what was served, you would be hungry. But it was your choice. Food was provided and you had the choice whether or not to eat it. The time we were served liver was the time I exercised my right not to eat dinner. Instead, I put the liver pieces into the planter of a tall indoor plant which, if I remember correctly, was also in the dining room.

The mistakes made years ago were giving in to the demands of my children and not enforcing the rule with which I grew up. This went hand in hand with the fact I was taking care of the children as a single parent in a marriage as my then husband would often be on business trips. As a result, I now have demands and protests at the table on a daily basis. Such was the case today which started the moment the children arrived home from school.

saffron protests

Saffron came home asking about a snack before she even walked through the door. Since I was waiting on the other plumbers which the landlord ordered Monday, I was unable to attend to their snack until after they left.

'Can we have ice cream?' she asked.

'No' I replied.

'But I'm staaaarving!' she bemoaned.

The two younger children were happy to eat the mini pretzels I gave them. Saffron, on the other hand, refused to eat them stating it was not real food. I told her of the phrase about eating fried onions if you are truly hungry. She was not amused and threw a tantrum for what seemed like an eternity.

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For dinner, I baked a puffy pancake but did not have sugar. Instead, I used honey for the batter but had no powdered sugar to sprinkle on the top as I have done countless times in the past. Instead of being grateful for having food on the table, Saffron began to protest the absence of the powdered sugar. I threatened to take her dinner and throw it away if she did not wish to eat it. She started eating shortly thereafter.

Children test our patience to the utmost limits of our abilities. The demands and protests along with the crying when they fail to get whatever they desire is at times unbearable. Tonight's bedtime was 18:30h. Sage fell asleep as soon as his head hit his pillow. Cinnamon could not sleep for another hour and drew instead. Saffron also fell asleep easily. It seems all those protests and crying wore her out in the end.

TUMULTUOUS TUESDAY

sage wall

It was another long day wondering how I will get anything done with the kids staying with me this week. By the time I get home from work, I am too tired to do any further organising or packing of boxes. Meals are quickly put together but at least we are together. I had wanted a better start to my week with the children but when you are in the midst of a move and have nobody to look after the children you do what you can to make things work.

Utter chaos surrounds us as items of necessity are often left unfound. After school, we had to drive to the local store in order to get new toothbrushes for the children since I threw out their old ones thinking I would start them with new ones at the new place. Little did I know I still needed them here this week. I had them pick out one flavour of ice cream to add to the ones we have at home. Sage picked Caramel Cone which was not something his sisters wanted. They preferred lemon or raspberry. Raspberry was nowhere to be found.

Learning to live in the midst of chaos is a good learning lesson for the children. As parents, we have a tendency to want to shield our children from anything unpleasant. In doing so, we are inevitably setting them up for disappointment later in life as they find out chaos is a normal part of life. They will grow up as if in a bubble and not be able to handle reality as they grow older. Therefore, it is important to teach children to be adaptable to any situation.

not a little bit

As I was leaving work today, I noticed a text message on my phone from the staffing agency. I was instructed to call back as soon as possible regarding another job opportunity starting next week as the assignment I am currently on ends this Friday. In a way I wished I could have been able to stay at this current job as I have enjoyed getting to know the two ladies in my department. But I realise the need to move forward.

We pass through life meeting people along the way. Some end up staying. Others are meant to last but for a short while. But with every encounter, we take something away with us. We learn a little more about ourselves, others, and life in general. We all have battles to fight and obstacles to overcome. Getting a glimpse into other people's lives shows us we are not alone in our struggles.

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MY MONEY

the three new place

There are certain subjects to which young children should not be exposed. A couple's spitefulness and anger towards each other after divorce is one of them. 'But at Papa's...' started the conversation this evening as we pulled into the garage of the new place. The issue was the car seats and Saffron asking why she had to keep sitting in the 'baby' seat.

The car seat is hardly a baby seat. Saffron has the larger Britax car seat which cost somewhere close to $400. The other two children have the smaller versions of Britax which are nearly as expensive. In their father's small hard top convertible Lexus car, the children have simple booster seats. I told Saffron they have something which works and I will not be spending any more money on things not needed. I also told her if she wants them, have your Papa buy them for you.

'Papa said...', so the conversation began. It turns out he told our children he cannot buy me anything anymore since I was no longer living with him. Cinnamon wanted to bring over a dress I purchased for her, one she refers to as the 'nature' dress, but her father simply told her 'no'. Cinnamon was sad as she recounted this conversation. I was sad as well that the children are being used as pawns in our divorce.

He went on to explain that items I purchased with 'his' money during our marriage were not allowed to be taken out of his home and that I was to purchase my own things with my money. I explained to my children that I do not have anywhere near the large income their father has and that we should be careful about spending money on wants as opposed to needs.

After hearing the girls describe the scene which took place, I let them know it is not their fault their parents are no longer together. Somehow Saffron got on the subject of both me and her father having moved on to happier lives. I was surprised at her answer to my question of how many time she had seen her parents hug each other. 'Once', she replied. I will take her word for it as I cannot recall that one time.

Despite the differences in an unhappy marriage, all should be done to ensure the children grow up with a sense of belonging and love from both parents. What hurts the children more is any fight they happen to be in the midst of as the result of one parent making the other parent look bad. In an email, I admonished him about this and the fact that it was 'our' money since I gave up over eight years of income earning. No surprise the lack of response.

In the end, it is all about the children and their well-being. It is not about who has more, who has a bigger house, or who can buy them anything they want. It is about being there for them when they need you most. Money comes and goes. Your family should always come before money, no matter what.

SURVIVAL MODE

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The timing could not have been worse for the water in the kitchen to run out. I noticed the water pressure diminishing over the past week and thought I could put up with it for another week. However, when the water reduced to mere drips tonight, I wondered how I would go about cleaning the kitchen and cooking tomorrow when the children arrive.

Running upstairs to check the faucet in the bathroom, I noticed it was fine. I then went to my computer and looked up 'no water pressure in kitchen' before I sent an email to the landlord. If only this issue could have presented itself later in the week instead of now when I have six days left before I turn in the keys.

This Sunday was far from a relaxing one. The living room downstairs at the old place is now empty, an echo resonating throughout. I made five trips to the new place with the minivan packed as much as could fit. Or perhaps it was six. I know three of them were with boxes from the garage. Albeit I planned on moving my computer, I realised I still need it here this week. Another call to Time Warner Cable is warranted in the morning to see how much time I have until they disconnect the service at the old place.

Twice in one year. I have moved to two residences in a span of a year. In my earlier days, before I had children, this was normal. The state of unrest brought about by not having a permanent home is unnerving. I decided we would live as simply as possible for the next year, unpacking the necessities and leaving the rest in boxes. This I consider survival mode as opposed to living.

Bruises cover my thighs from having balanced both furniture and boxes during the past three weeks. Aches from carrying those items from one place to another accompany me from morning until night. I do not mind as I know the end is nigh. Patience is needed at a time like this but patience does not come easily these days. Both my boyfriend and I are living in survival mode at the moment and look forward to the day we can have a place to call home for several years. In time, the future will unfold. Our dreams will be realised. One day, not now.

WISHFUL THINKING

long grey cloud

To think I could have both houses ready by the weekend turned out to be more wishful thinking than reality. Most of the day was spent out and about gathering the necessary supplies and food I could not get to earlier in the week. Whereas previously I was doing the shopping after I dropped the kids off at the bus stop, now I am joining the multitude of families who shop on weekends for food items needed for school the following week.

A change of plan was needed. I decided the children and I would spend our last week here at the old place since there was simply too much to do at the other place to make it livable. The children will sit at the bar on the three bar stools which we rarely used and I will stand whilst eating. We will sleep on the floor as if we were camping and we will make it work somehow for the four nights and four days I have the children. I will then shift my focus to the new place when I return the keys to the old place next Saturday.

At the old place, I disassembled the daybed into five pieces and then placed them into plastic protectors for their transport to the new place. The children's puzzle shelf was the other furniture item I took over today. Two more tables remain, one which I use for my computer and the other I use for blocking my hand knits. The computer will have to make it to the other place tomorrow and I can hope I am able to have everything connected properly.

Thunder and lightening came tonight along with heavy rains. There was a forecast for 'quarter-sized hail' as reported on the NOAA radio I have sitting in my kitchen. I wanted to avoid the hail damage from a few years back, so I grabbed my keys and headed out the door to park the minivan in the garage at the new place. Somehow the entrance to the garage here seems too small to be able to make it in without scratching the car.

Tomorrow is another day with more work to do even if it a day I would like to take time to rest. Despite the work, I will take time to make Sunday dinner for myself with the ingredients purchased today. I look forward to returning to the kitchen and focusing on creating healthy meals and realising my dream of writing a cookbook complete with my own photographs. It might seem like wishful thinking, but it is something which will one day become a reality.

LESSONS LEARNED

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Throughout life we experience many lessons. The lessons we learn serve to guide us in making wise decisions in the future, but sometimes we do not get quite as much from the lesson to be learned as we should. Sometimes we make the same mistake over again and expect an outcome different from the time before. We think we have learned from our past mistakes, yet we continue to make more mistakes.

Tonight I drove to the new place despite the storm and pouring rain. I walked around the house, now filled with furniture and boxes, looking at ways to reorganise the place. As I glanced at the front leg of my 20-drawer wooden cabinet, I noticed a 3-inch long gash which was one quarter of an inch wide.

The damage to the unique piece of furniture was not something which would have been overlooked had it happened prior to the move. It was a piece I selected from Cost Plus World Market years ago upon moving into the house where the children were born. Therefore, the cabinet was moved only once last year when my ex helped me move it into this townhouse. At such point, there was no damage.

The lesson to be learned from this ordeal is that nobody takes care of the property you own quite like you do even if someone gets paid for it. I believed incorrectly that the movers would have wrapped the furniture in padded blankets before the move and to have moved the items on a dolly. However, when I inquired about that, they replied the blankets would cause the furniture to slip as they carried it. They do, however, cover the furniture with blankets once in the van.

Whilst it is understandable that these are simply material possessions, one should take care of personal property in any case. Another lesson to learn is if you are able to move the little things yourself, do so. Do not allow others to pack your stuff unless there is a valid reason for it. Otherwise, broken items will start appearing throughout the day. I am glad I was able to move the things I had already moved as I can imagine the carelessness of handling other people's possessions.

As I get ready for tomorrow's day of work at both residences, I reflect upon the time I will have this weekend for much needed rest. Another lesson I am still learning...listen to your body and do not fight sleep as there is a likelihood it will catch you when you least expect it.

Lessons we learn in life are many. Some we listen to, others we do not. Most important is for us to keep moving forward despite the obstacles which stand in our way.

EARLY TO BED

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The light storm this afternoon which accompanied my drive home from work made me realise to never put off doing something as you never know what could happen tomorrow. There was a bit of rain and a few flashes of lightening in the overcast skies above. Having the movers come yesterday to move my furniture proved to be a good idea.

My plan tonight was to move a few more items from the old place but fatigue set in and I simply could not get myself to move even one box into the car. Going to be early should help me recover from yesterday's moving of boxes and bed parts. It will also get me ready to take on the weekend and to clear out the old place as the children's father has offered to take the three this weekend so I can finish my move.

Whilst at work today, I received three or four emails from my oldest daughter telling me she loves me and misses me. I had not heard from her via email since she was in Berlin, perhaps due to her iPhone having been taken away for a short while. I wondered if those were old emails just now coming through or new ones written from school. It turned out they were new emails sent today.

Saffron and her sister stayed home sick today whilst their brother went to school alone. I will miss the three this weekend but know I must take the time I have to set up their beds, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Anything else can wait until a later time. The most important things need to be taken care of first.

Tonight was another beautiful sunset accompanied by dark grey clouds. I wondered why I had not taken time before to stop and look outside the window as the sun was setting. Perhaps I let other insignificant things get in the way of my stopping to appreciate the beauty nature gives us. When we stop to appreciate the little things, we get rewarded in unexpected ways.