cloudy sunset 1012
Life without hardships may seem more attractive, but it is a shallow, lackluster thing.
— Daisaku Ikeda

Monday returns but not without slight disappointment with regards to this week's schedule. What should have lasted until the end of the week was brought to a close during lunchtime. Nonetheless, there is a reason for everything even if we cannot see the reason at the moment.

The plans we make, both short term and long term, are far from permanent in nature. In fact, nothing in this life is permanent. Things change, people change, circumstances change. We must learn the art of being able to adapt at a moment's notice for if we do not, we will be left behind wondering what could have been had we been quicker to embrace such change.

Time stands still for no living being. We are given 24 hours each day which we are to use to the best of our ability in order to further our goals. Some days will be more difficult than others but we get another chance the following morning to start anew. With each misfortune or disappointment, we learn from the past in order to make a better tomorrow.

As the past is left behind, the future unfolds before us. Much to our chagrin, the end of the year approaches with quickening pace. It is astounding to fathom how half of October is already behind us with the festivities of December soon upon us. Then the entire cycle starts once again as a new year begins.

Though we might not have an explanation for why a specific moment in our lives occurred, there is a reason for all things. We simply need to learn to accept what comes our way and move forward with grace and gratitude.


orange sky tree

Something about Sundays seems to trigger time to slow to a crawl. Even the drivers on the road enjoy a leisurely pace as they seem to be going nowhere in particular. On this endless Sunday I longed to be elsewhere but found myself at home, venturing outdoors long enough to capture the sun's last light.

Though I could have used the time better, the motivation was lacking today for whatever reason. On the other side of the world he was alone at home as well. We chatted a few times throughout the day but nothing replaces our being together in person. Soon, I thought.

During the week as we return to a schedule filled with school and work, we will long for the time we took for granted. The time we could have simply enjoyed the serenity of a relaxing day. For this reason we need a day at least once a week which seems without end so that we may appreciate the little things life has to offer.


france and brasil

The car struggled to start as I turned the key. No doubt it was the battery and I wondered for a second if I had left a light on though I knew it could not be possible since I locked the car last night with the remote which also turns off any lights. I feared I would not make it to my son's game this morning and was determined to get the car going.

As a last resort, I would have had to walk to the park albeit at that point the game would have been half over. After a few more turns of the key, the engine started and I was on my way. I arrived seven minutes into the game. Saffron ran over to me when she spotted me and gave me a hug. Her sister was busy perfecting her handstands.

My son's team was playing against France today. On the French team was one girl amongst the boys. I walked around photographing the game whilst my girls vied for my attention. Cinnamon wanted me to watch her doing handstands but I reminded her today was her brother's day and she should watch him play. She simply was not interested and stated it was 'boring'.


Saffron stayed by my side and watched her brother for a while. The strong presence of the sun made it difficult to comprehend the season had changed. Autumn was nowhere in sight. In another month, the soccer games will be over for the year with the children going into a hibernation of sorts until springtime.

run france
sage kicks

As I watched today's game, I noticed my son more distracted than usual. His shin guards were itching him so he stopped every once in a while to adjust the Velcro strap. He also mentioned he was thirsty but perhaps he was also tired. Despite the odds, Sage continued to play and did his best this warm October morning.

shin guards
on the bench
sage alone

When the game was over, I congratulated my son on his game and hugged all three of my children before leaving. My girls were walking with a girl from their father's neighbourhood who heard me tell them I would see them in a week. The girl asked them where I was going to which Cinnamon replied 'her house'. 'We're divorced', added Saffron as if it was a trivial matter.

saffi smile

Though her tone of voice made our life situation seem inconsequential, she no doubt feels differently about it. But circumstances have played out as such and we must all learn to adjust the best we can. We move forward and learn from the past in order not to make the same mistakes again.

My car failed to start as it did before the game. A few more turns and it was going once again. I drove to the nearby auto parts store and had a salesman check the battery. A dead cell. I feared I would have to spend money on a new battery but I was lucky as the battery was purchased from that store two years ago. It was still under warranty so it was replaced without charge.

Sometimes we get lucky with a second chance or even a third chance. Despite being knocked down repeatedly, as in a soccer game, we get back up and keep going. We continue with our goals and do the best we can. But most important is to never give up.

france brasil october


pink grass
Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others.
— Unknown

The phenomenon of human nature is fascinating when we stop to think about it. When we find ourselves siting in a room full of people for a week, we come to know them in a way we perhaps did not expect. In addition, we might learn something about ourselves which we can take away from the experience to use for the future.

Everyone has a story. Some are more willing to share their story than others. The quiet few sitting at the end of the table might take some time to warm up to the rest of the group but their story is just as important as any other. We can learn something from each other if only we are willing to listen and not simply strive to be heard.

When we share, we inspire others, we motivate them, and we give the world something we did not think we had. We let people know they are not alone in this world as we let them know we too are going through something similar. When we choose to share a part of lives with strangers, whether through writing or simple face-to-face communication, we give hope for the future as we offer another point of view.

As I put down my headphones and listened to the people around me instead of the music, I found the various conversations both fascinating and inspiring. I discovered there are more people with a desire to create something to share with others. I was inspired by others' hard work to have a better future. I was motivated to think about returning to a path I had abandoned years ago.

Along our journey in life, we will come across people who help us get to where we need to go. At times we might not know why we had to meet someone when we did but the reason will be apparent to us at one point. When we share, we make a difference.


sunset tree 108

Happiness means something different to each one of us. For one person, it could be a sincere smile from a stranger passing by. For others happiness might be to indulge in time alone. Yet we all long for something which brings about a sense of contentment, well-being, and belonging.

grey orange skies

In any case, happiness comes from within. From a decision we make on a daily basis upon awakening. Nobody can give us happiness though their presence can certainly bring up feelings and emotions which lead to a happy state of being.

Happiness is peace of mind, body, and soul. It is finding a purpose in life and working towards that goal. Some of us might believe we cannot truly be happy until we win the lottery or land the perfect job or meet the person of our dreams. But there is no such thing as a perfect life. We have to do the best we can with the life we have been given.

The challenges and struggles we experience in our lives come and go. Some days are better than others. Yet somehow we find the strength to keep going. Happiness is something we actively pursue rather than expect to be delivered to our doorstep. It is a conscious decision.

corner tree

By savouring the joys of everyday life and learning to live in the moment rather than reliving the past or longing for a perfect future, we can make room for what matters most. Happiness is what you do now. Cherish the little things in life for they are often the ones which matter most. 


october sunset 107

The bright reddish-orange ball in the distance tantalised me with its beauty. As I drove past the first stop light, I wondered if the black Ford truck in front of me would make the second light. I had let him drive past me as I waited at the stop sign by my house and hoped he would have continued straight instead of turning left into my old community. He did not.

sunset sky 107

Three minutes it takes me to drive to the place I used to live last year. The place where the sun dips down behind the hills each night. It took me four minutes this time. Though I had been watching the clock during our daily Skype session, I realised I should have calculated an extra five minutes in order to capture the sun setting instead of simply capturing the sun's last glow.

grass in sunset

By the time I had parked the car, ran outside with my camera, and adjusted the camera's manual settings, the bright reddish-orange ball had said goodnight. All was not lost, however, as I was able to record the most enchanting colours of a warm October sunset. As I gazed upon this splendid display of nature, I knew I will forever be amazed by its beauty as no two sunsets are ever alike.


blue sky dead tree

I still cannot comprehend how a single parent balances work life and family life. Besides the organisation of time and effort at home, many other factors come into play.

An employer might require an employee to stay until late at night or on weekends. How we respond to these requests depends on our priorities.

What are the choices if you have nobody to watch your children? Child care centers are not known for being open until midnight, so the options are limited or nonexistent. How we come up with a solution for this balancing act is a great challenge and mystery.


There are two ways to face the future. One way is with apprehension; the other is with anticipation.
— Jim Rohn

The future may seem daunting with so many things unknown. We know not what will happen years from now much less a few hours from the present moment. But we keep moving forward, one step at a time.

 At times it might feel as if we are walking forward with a blindfold over our eyes, hoping we do not stumble and fall. Along the way we meet people who can steer us towards a better path. We might get weary and stop for a while and think we are getting nowhere but when we look back on the progress we have made, we see how far we have come.

Moving forward is the only direction we have. We can either embrace it with fear or with the confidence and belief that we are doing what is best for our future. As long as we keep moving, we will eventually get to where we wish to be. The future is ours to build and it starts with today.


bw sunset
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
— Neale Donald Walsch

Within the walls of our homes we stay, day after day. It feels safe. There is nothing to fear. We venture out of doors on occasion, out of necessity. As such we limit our lives and come up with myriad of excuses as to why we cannot go out of the bounds of our comfort zone into the zone of discomfort.

In this discomfort zone we are vulnerable. We wonder what people will think of us. We wonder if we will succeed or fall to the ground and never be able to get back up. Fear limits our endless possibilities. The fear of meeting new people, of writing that book we have been dreaming of for years, of going after our dream job despite the steep climb to success.

Success seems out of reach, so we settle for the comfort of what we know as it has not failed us. But comfort is a crutch. It holds us up and pushes us down at the same time. Within the confines of this comfort we need not make the effort to change though we know change is an inevitable part of life.

Change causes us to stop and think. Is the path we are on now the right one? Is there another one which is better?  As we continue on our path, we realise we cannot turn back. The past is gone and we are left standing in the present moment as we visualise our future.

The future stands before us. In order to get there we must move forward. To move forward is to push past the limits of our comfort zone in order to enter a place where all seems strange and new. The place where we stop existing and start living.


brasil and england

Brasil played against England at this morning's game. I arrived about five minutes after the game started as the children are not with me this weekend. Today's game was the liveliest of all the ones thus far as both teams ran and fell and tried scoring goals. In the end I am not sure who won but it did not matter.

At one point Sage came up to me full of pride to tell me how he got up shortly after having fallen down. Lately I have realised my little boy is no longer little but is growing up and gaining his own identity. His hesitation for a hug yesterday as I dropped him off at class made it clear that I need to follow his cue and let him tell me what he wants.

Being the youngest, Sage fights for his place in the family. He is doing rather well lately and his playing soccer has been good for him in terms of finding out what he likes and where he fits in. As long as he is happy, that is all which matters.

sage smiles
sage brasil

Meanwhile, Saffi and her younger stepbrother were playing their own game with Saffi defending the large goal. She has expressed a desire to play soccer in addition to the ballet which she started recently. Perhaps next season I will be attending her soccer games as well.

goalie saffi

After the game, I returned to a quiet home where it will remain as such for the next two weeks.

england ball


palm bw
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
— Lao Tzu

Analysis paralysis is another term for overthinking. Overthinking happens when we spend too much time analysing something to the point of becoming unproductive. As a result, our lives become complicated which can lead to stress and unhappiness. Finding ways to overcome this tendency to overthink is key to a happier, satisfying, and more productive life.

In this age of technology, there are even more ways for us to get overwhelmed by information which makes it difficult for us to arrive at a solution. On a daily basis we are barraged with data and the possibility of research at our fingertips. With so much information we tend to think about the outcomes of choosing one option over the other until the point comes when we cannot choose any option and are thus left paralysed with indecision.

We fear moving forward. We strive for perfection. We rationalise and come up with excuses for why we cannot do something to the point where we end up either waiting too long to come to a conclusion or making a wrong decision.

The chaos of indecision clouds our minds to the point where we are left exhausted both mentally and physically. We spend countless hours, sometimes days, analysing one small and seemingly insignificant, choice that holds us captive and prevents us from taking the next step.

Sometimes an encouraging word from a good friend can change our perspective. Listening to our favourite music or going for a long walk can also clear our minds from the chaos which paralyses us. In the end, we realise we cannot control everything, nothing is perfect, and there is no such thing as the optimal solution. By letting go and focusing on the present moment, we can move forward into the future.



'You didn't even say hi', cried Saffron as she waited outside for her stepmother to come get her and her sister to whisk them off to ballet.

'There was no time', I snapped back which was followed by my daughter telling me something along the lines of my being the worse mother ever and her never wishing to see me again.

Though I knew we would be late, I started to drive to the ballet studio until Saffron talked back to me with and attitude and in a tone which was not acceptable for any child. It both saddened and angered me at the same time. I then turned around and wrote to their stepmother that this was too stressful a situation due to the time slot chosen for this class. She then asked if she should come get them and I agreed.

As they climbed into the car, I closed the garage door and went inside with Sage who stayed behind. He was calm and taking this all in as best he could.

I had a feeling that the scheduled ballet class would cause time issues as it takes close to 20 minutes to drive to the studio and gives the girls less than five minutes to change into their ballet clothes and buckle into their seats. Somehow there was no time for the usual 'hello' and 'how was your day'.

This situation was preceded by a day of writing lengthy emails to their father about his winter travel plans, my returning to work and needing child care, and his subsequent accounting of my time spent with the children at the end of last year.

It was exhausting to say the least and a great waste of time to sit at the computer and go through each month accounting for the days I spent with the children. His recollection was incorrect and I had to set the record straight as time consuming as the process was.

Back in the house, Sage and I worked on his reading and math homework before he sat down for a snack. He was hungry but I did not wish to feed him too much before his practice this afternoon. He ate a banana and 18 mini pretzels, as he pointed out to me. Then he proceeded to count down the pretzels one by one as he ate them.

We arrived early to practice due to a lack of communication. I kicked the soccer ball around with Sage whilst we waited for his coach and teammates to arrive. In the meantime, the girls arrived along with their stepbrothers and stepmother. Saffron walked up to me, hugged me, and apologised immediately for her behaviour.


For it being only his third practice, Sage did quite well. Watching his teammates, it was clear most of them have been playing soccer for at least a year if not longer. In any case, my son is enjoying the game and looks forward to his stepfather watching him play.

sage ball

After practice, Sage and I returned home whilst the girls stayed with their stepmother. A day such as this comes along once in a while and is exhausting when you get hit from all sides at once. In the end, we all somehow learn to adjust to the inevitable changes and challenges of life.


backyard autumn
Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
— Charles Dickens

Time and sleep have a way of changing your perspective. As we sit and reflect on the past nine months of the year, we realise how circumstances can change in a matter of seconds. Our reaction to the change is what matters most.

September has come to a close, leaving us with three more months in which to accomplish the goals we set out to reach by year's end. Some goals we might have already realised whilst others will be left incomplete by the time the clock strikes midnight at the verge of 2016.

As the season of thankfulness approaches, we should reflect upon all of the good which has come our way this past year instead of all the bad which has transpired. In the end, we will find going through the difficult times makes us more appreciate all the good which has come our way.



new soccer ball

I was pleased to see the children playing outside in the backyard after school. The soccer ball I ordered for Sage arrived late last night and was waiting for him when he came home today. He loved it. He asked Cinnamon if she wanted to go outside and play. They both grabbed their shoes and ran outside.

sage kicks

Whilst Sage was kicking around the ball into the two goals he set up with the trees and the area opposite the trees, Saffron was sitting on one of the Moroccan chairs on the patio. She was drawing a basket of eggs for me.

Meanwhile, the middle child was working on her handstands and cartwheels which are getting better every day.

After a while the younger two played together with Cinnamon attending to one of the goals and Sage trying to get the ball past her. It was nice to see them playing together outdoors on this sunny and warm autumn day.

seena handstand

As evening approached, I was left wondering what the future has in store for me as the day did not end as I had hoped. Everything has a way of working out for the better though we might not see it at the moment. The past has gone, the future is yet unknown. All we are left with is today and the hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.


run kids run

The girls walked to my place after school, bursting in through the garage door as usual. 'Where is Sage?' I asked.

'I don't know', Saffron shrugged her shoulders matter-of-factly.

'What does that mean?' I continued my interrogation. Before I called their father to ask whether Sage got on the bus to his place, I had a stern talk with the girls about not leaving school without their brother.

At the same time I called their father the school called to let me know my son was still at school. Though I told them it was fine that he walked the two blocks to my place alone, I should have had his sisters go get him.

After all of the excitement of another almost-lost incident, the three sat outside and enjoyed a rare treat of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Vanilla bean and mint chip in a cone. I opted for a blended berry banana smoothie.

moroccan chairs

Their excess energy they burned afterwards by running on the freshly cut backyard lawn. In the meantime, I put on a pot of water on the stove for rice with beans as the three informed me they were 'starving'. They played tag and ran around until it was time for dinner.

running trees

Once dinner was finished, the children went their separate ways. Sage sat downstairs and worked on math again, Cinnamon worked on her spelling homework, and Saffron worked on a drawing.

Somewhere in the midst of the activities of the evening, my boyfriend and I managed to find time to see each other on Skype and catch up on the happenings of the day. We both agreed that the coming months will hold both great change and challenge for us as we make plans for our future together.

Though the light at the end of the tunnel is at times difficult for us to see, the wait is worth the time spent in order to reap the rewards of a brighter future.


super moon

On top of the roof of the parking garage of The Oasis I waited. At first alone, I attached my camera to the tripod facing the sky at 90 degrees east and waited for the spectacular rising of the Super Blood Moon.

More people arrived with great anticipation as there was much hype about this rare occurrence. An occurrence such as this one would not appear again until the year 2033.

Somehow I expected more. I imagined a grandiose display as the moon rose over the hills. I watched the distant lights and waited. But there was no moon rising in the distance as it had already risen behind the clouds.

blurred city lights

As I waited for my chance to capture a great event, I felt disappointed. Not only was I not able to capture the blood red moon, but my children spent the evening away from me at the request of their father, leaving me alone on this Sunday night.

Deciding there was not much left to photograph, I left. I drove home and waited half an hour before driving a mile away where I parked on the side of a road and waited for the eclipse and the emergence of the blood red colour of the moon.

Cars drove by casting their harsh lights in my direction. Despite the light and the clouds which covered the sky, I settled on a nebulous capture of the not so super blood moon.

nebulous red

The house was quiet upon my return and would remain so the rest of the evening. One day, I thought to myself, things will be different. The clouds will part. The moon will shine brightly upon a new path.


one on one
Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what.
— A Fish out of Water, Helen Palmer

One of the books Sage reads quite well is 'A Fish out of Water' by Helen Palmer Geisel, the wife of Dr. Seuss. In the book, a boy has purchased a fish called Otto and is instructed not to overfeed him...or else. He fails to heed Mr. Carp's warning which causes all sorts of problems as the fish grows larger and larger with the boy not knowing what to do next.

Such was the case with Sage today as he sat to breakfast. I fed him one small glass of strawberry banana smoothie and two pieces of bread with almond butter and sour cherry jam. He requested another glass of smoothie and gulped it down before I had a chance to finish my first one. He seemed hungry but it turns out the second smoothie was more than enough.

He was tired, not from a lack of sleep rather from both the heat and the abundance of food in his belly. Unlike Otto the fish, he did not keep growing but slowed down in today's game. When I told my boyfriend, he gave me that look. The look which said I should have known better than feed my child before a game. Next time I will make sure to feed him simply one piece of bread with water.

my ball
three balls
kick it

Despite my overfed son, he played to the best of his abilities until the last ball was played. He was happy his team won the game and happy to be leaving the sun's intense heat. As we climbed into the car, he told me he wished he could play soccer indoors. I told him he would have to endure the heat and rain, when it arrives, just as the real players. My reply did not please him.

game over

Sometimes you think you are doing something for the good but it ends up being for the worse. Next time things will be better as I will remember what happened when I fed my son more than enough. As for Otto, Mr. Carp came to the rescue and somehow mysteriously returned the fish to its normal size whilst the boy vowed to listen in the future.


math focus

'Dear Mama, Mama I know you know I like math. Mama do you like math and Mama how are you doing at work. Mama you are the best mama ever. I love you. Love, Sagey'. This was the dialogue journal entry from school today which Sage wrote for me to answer over the weekend.

The writing was much neater and smaller than that of his sisters. His teacher told him his writing was small like mine. Though a few words were written according to sound, due to the many spelling rules and complexities of the English language, I was glad Sage was making such an effort in first grade.

Such was not the case last school year when he stated 'I hate school...I hate learning' and asked why he had to go to school. It appeared somewhere along the way a switch turned on for him to have such a change of heart, particularly when it came to math.

With the front door wide open for much needed light, Sage sat in the carved wooden chair this afternoon for close to three hours working on his math workbook. He got up only to show me his work a few times and to run upstairs to get his crayons for one of the assignments.

'Are you bored? Do you want to do something else?' 'No', he simply replied. So, I let him sit there until shortly before dinner when he switched to his adult dot-to-dot book.

After dinner, he readied for bed. The place was noticeably quiet with his sisters having gone to their father's house for the weekend. He noticed it was quiet and was pleased with being able to spend time alone with me for a few days though we will see the rest of the family at the soccer game in the morning.

I am quite sure he will return to his math workbook when we return. I will certainly not deny him his love of math, for a passion such as his is wonderful for a child who previously eschewed learning. In response to his dialogue journal question: 'Yes, Sage. I like math too.'


sage soccer ball

The activities of the week returned today and commenced with a new ballet class for the girls in a new dance studio. The young teacher with blue hair was impressive as she eluded gracefulness and took the time to correct any girl she noticed was struggling with a pose. This was quite the contrast from last week's class where the older dance instructor gave no regard to the incorrect form of the girls in the class and instead seemed relieved when the class was over.

Whilst the girls were dancing behind the almost one-way glass windows, the boys were outside chasing chickens. The mother chicken appeared at the front door of the studio causing quite a stir. I walked outside with Sage and heard the sounds of baby chicks which ended up belonging to 'teenage' chicks. I laughed and took a photo of them with my phone to send to my boyfriend. I knew it would get him to smile.

After the dance class, we all headed to the park where the boys had soccer practice. I watched his focused attention as he interacted with the other boys on his team. It was a pleasure to see him using both his body and mind instead of simply sitting at home and building Lego sets and working on math problems. Afterwards he commented on how he could barely walk. I knew he would sleep well tonight.

As the end of yet another week approaches, we reflect on the changes which have taken place and the future changes still to come. Schedules will be forever shifting as we all work together for the good of the children. Despite our best efforts, there will be times when one or the other parent or stepparent will not be able to attend the children's activities for various unavoidable reasons. This is the reality of life but we will make every effort we can in order to be there when they need us most.

Life is a series of inevitable changes we can learn to accept in order to move forward or deny and get left behind. Children can teach us many things if we simply take the time to observe their various actions and reactions. They adapt to change though not without some difficulty as we adults tend to look upon change with disdain. Once we let go and realise that change and life go hand in hand, we can learn to cherish the days we have ahead of us. 


the girls 923

The lesson of the day was the use of real money. My oldest wanted to go shopping with the allowance I had been implementing since the summer. I give them five dollars every two weeks since this is the time they spend at my place. The other two weeks they are with their father but the children do not get an allowance there.

Years before, their father and I had discussed the issue of allowance which got confused with getting paid for doing work around the house so it was never put into place. I finally decided that I wanted my children to learn the money management concepts of saving and spending as well as sharing. I also wanted to keep this separate from any work they do around the house as I believe children should not be paid for chores.

The concept of money is taught at school from first grade. As such, I wanted my children start learning the monetary value of both paper money and coins in a real life situation instead of simply as drawings of coins on paper. Tangible items are a greater motivator than guessing a correct answer on an assignment.

At first my oldest wanted to get Shopkins. On our first shopping trip earlier this summer, I discovered what these were and let her buy them but did not think small plastic 'super cute, super tiny, grocery-themed collectibles' was a good use of her money. She informed me she could play with them and trade them but I still did not see their purpose.

I suggested she think of something else which might have more value so she requested we go to Barnes and Noble where she intended on buying a small Beanie Boo. Once again, I wanted her to think before making a purchase and to question whether she really, truly needed one more stuffed animal though I was not against her buying one.

As the girls were busy running around looking at everything the bookstore had to offer, Sage and I ventured into the learning section since he wanted a math workbook. We thumbed through the ones intended for first grade but Sage wanted nothing to do with those 'easy peasy' books. Instead, we selected one for second grade which he worked on as soon as we arrived home.

Sage ventured off into the land of the colouring and activity books whilst I sauntered about looking at the colouring books intended for grownups. I had noticed this trend in Ireland this past summer and remembered the mandala colouring book at the apartment in Berlin a year ago where Saffron coloured two pages and cut them out to give to me.

When I caught up with the girls, they surprised me by telling me they were pooling their monies in order to purchase a larger item which they could use together. I looked at the large box and inquired about the price. They each contributed around twelve dollars for a colour changing lamp which works on battery power where they first had to design, paint, and then assemble it. I was impressed with their choice and the decision to combine their allowances.

The girls walked up to the register to pay and Saffron handed the clerk two twenty dollar bills. When Saffron got her change, she had to figure out how much to give back to her sister. It ended up that Cinnamon owed Saffron 87 cents which she paid her with a dollar and where Saffron now had to make change for the dollar. This discussion was rather confusing for the girls but I am guessing with more of these shopping trips they will learn the applied math skills they need for their future.