SETBACKS ARE EXPECTED

Just when you think you can move forward in peace, something else comes along to make you think otherwise.

Then there are those little things which somehow keep you focused and grounded. Beautiful smiles on our children's faces and the everchanging colours of a sunset.

Setbacks are expected in any situation. Just like sailors in a storm, one needs to learn how to navigate them with care.

A NEW ROUTINE

The early morning started out dark. The power was out in our house. It was also dark in the neighbourhood, I noted as I opened the door to look outside. I wondered how long it had been out. Improvisations were needed or else nothing would be done.

I turned on the flashlight on my phone and then showered, put on makeup, and prepared breakfast. I planned on us having toasted English muffins but the oven was not working. Cereal was our next best option as we just had yogurt yesterday morning.

As the time came to go awaken the children from their slumber, the power returned. But there was still not enough time to toast the English muffins. They finished their breakfast whilst I put together the lunches and then hurried through my breakfast. Getting used to a new routine will take a while but somehow we make do.

Today I could finish my shift at work with some cooperation in the after school care. But we met the children at the middle school for my daughter's Spring concert where she played the trumpet. Afterwards we stopped by the grocery store for some Haagen Dazs then home to make a later than usual dinner.

We made it through another day of a new routine just slightly more tired than the night before. But the most important part is that we made it together and with a little understanding and combined effort which I hope continues.

MY WORLD

My children are my world. They are my sunshine on a rainy, stormy day. My breeze on a warm summer day.

My children are my life. They make me smile. They make me laugh.

My children are my everything. In their absence the sound of silence is deafening. When they are with me, all feels right in my world.

HIS NINTH

‘This is the best cake ever!’ said Cinnamon.

‘I want this next year for my birthday’ said Sage.

‘I want this in the form of cupcakes’ said Saffron, whose birthday is coming up this summer.

‘I want this every year for my birthday’ continued Sage.

The cake was a recipe I developed for my older daughter’s 6th birthday whilst in Germany in the summer of 2012. I called it Rustic Ricotta Cake and the notes I wrote in my recipe notebook were ‘most awesome’. This time I added a topping which the children called more of a glaze than frosting. Both they and I do not like frosting and I almost never frost my cakes. Today was an exception. I was struggling with it today and had to remake it with another container of mascarpone but the addition of lemon zest and lemon juice made a great difference the second time around.

We rushed through my son’s 9th birthday celebration but enjoyed the limited time we had tonight. First he opened his presents. He guessed the soft package wrapped in green tissue paper was some type of clothing. It was a black shirt depicting six drawings of the sinking of the Titanic. My son is fascinated with the Titanic and still has a wooden model to build from Christmas.

He also read the title of the book through the cream-coloured tissue paper. ‘A Black Hole is Not a Hole’. The next two presents he did not guess but was pleasantly surprised when he opened them. A 3-D puzzle of Big Ben to add to his London collection and the one thing he really wanted but did not know came in Lego form. A ship in a bottle. He wanted to open it right away but we were pressed for time and still had the cake to eat.

I was happy to be able to spend this time with my children.

FOR MOTHERS AND CHILDREN

mothers day sunset 2018

The children were excited to give me their presents this morning as I went upstairs to check on them. Some they made. Others they bought. They know that I prefer anything they make. Including the aluminum foil 'cat bed' as my son called it.

Back downstairs, I started to make a special Sunday breakfast. My older daughter wanted to help. At least this way, she reasoned, she would not be on her iDevice. Of course that only lasted as long as she was helping me. Then she was back upstairs on her iPhone though Sundays I prefer to have a 'no device day'. The younger two understand that rule but the oldest is clearly addicted to her phone.

I cherished the time I had with my daughter helping make breakfast. The lemon ricotta mixture for the crepes, the strawberries and blueberries also with lemon zest and a little sugar, and the crepe batter. She was amazed at the transformation of the ricotta into something tastily edible with the simple addition of caster sugar and lemon zest. She made a double batch to be sure we had plenty for the crepes.

When the crepes were all made, we sat down and enjoyed them along with the berries. Out of the three children, my son was the one who could finish only half of what was on his plate. But he did return to the table later to finish the rest.

Afterwards I cleaned the kitchen island and started preparations for the lemon yogurt cake I later made with my son. I planned on making spaghetti sauce with my middle daughter but ran out of time as they had to be at their father's house by 18,00. At least we had crepes and cake. I'm hoping next time we can make something more.

Today was a day to celebrate mothers. I like to think of it rather as a day for mothers and children as without children there would be no mothers.

Every year is a different experience. The children are growing and developing different interests. But what is most important is to remember to make the most of the time we have. No matter the circumstances.

WE PAUSE WE WONDER

Sometimes things do not work out as we would like. Sometimes the timing is simply off. And at other times we lose all hope of anything going right at all. There are choices we must make but their outcomes are uncertain. Yet somehow we must move forward.

At time we pause. We sit and wonder. What if this or what if that. But we will not know until the time comes.

My husband has a job offer. In Ireland.  His employer is so pleased with his work that he is even willing to pay for his flight to Shannon. We have a choice to make. And there are many to make before the year's end.

Perception is everything but it can also be nothing at all. We all have choices to make. Paths to choose. For the decisions we make will have a lasting impact on our future. On our goals. Much like the butterfly effect.

A seemingly insignicant occurrence can lead to one of great significance.

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FINDING THE SILVER LINING

At times it is difficult to see the good in an otherwise bad situation. We know it must be somewhere but finding it proves to be a challenge. Such is the case at this point in my life when I long to focus on my future but have a dark cloud hanging over me.

These past several months have been the most difficult I have experienced thus far. Having to fight for the right to continue seeing my children every other week is a battle I never expected to have to fight but I promised to do whatever was in my power for the sake of my three children.

Life seems to have been put on hold and turned upside down at the same time. We are living in survival mode as if in a war which is really what this has become. Somehow we continue to move forward. Somehow we make it through yet another day. Somehow we will find that silver lining.

FOCUSED AND DISCONNECTED

Friday has finally arrived and I am happy that tomorrow I will have an internet connection. The work week is over but I was quite focused today. Listening to music helped me exceed my goal which made me feel accomplished at least for one day. I was able to tune out everything and everyone else and simply focus on getting the work done.

The day was warm which made it not too bad when I left work after the sun had set. I had boxes in the car from the morning when I went to the apartment before work to drop a few things off for my husband. The lease will soon be over but still not soon enough. The apartment management has done nothing to ease this transition yet they give all kinds of incentives to new tenants just to entice them. ‘There is nothing we can do’ they keep saying. But we all know this is not true.

After work I first drove to the house to take the boxes to the garage. I then continued to the apartment to pick up the hub. Disconnecting the coax cable from the wall was pointless as it seemed to have fused to the wall connector but I am sure the internet guy will have one. It’s interesting to observe how we have become so dependent on being connected to the world. As if somehow we are missing out on something if we are disconnected even for one day. However, such is the case these days.

A LONGING FOR QUIET

My eyes are tired and seem to be getting more out of focus as time goes on. Sitting in front of two computer screens on a daily basis is a great contributor to my bloodshot eyes. I need new glasses but wish I did not need them in the first place.

I made it to work earlier today so I was able to leave during daylight hours. But I wish I could work from home. Writing books. Doing something creative. Anything to avoid spending hours sitting in a tiny cubicle and sitting in traffic.

The sound of cars passing by the bedroom window can be both calming and unnerving. I need to remember this for the next house. The house needs to be far away from a busy road. I have a longing for quiet when reading and sleeping.

TIME WILL TELL

Today was quite a bit warmer than yesterday. I started to think about the return of spring and the sun’s later descent. It is unnerving to awaken and to leave work when it is pitch black outside. I long for the sun’s early morning greeting and look forward to photographing beautiful sunsets once again.

The children return to school tomorrow and should have been here tomorrow after school for three nights if I had at least their rooms set up. But I do not and thus have my work planned out for the weekend so that I can see them the following Sunday when things should be more pleasant.

So far the year has not been too different than most of the months of the old year but time will tell whether change for the better is in store for us.

THE GREAT TRANSITION

The second day of the year was not as good as the first. The biting cold made it difficult to leave the warmth of the house to return to work. The freezing weather was more conducive to staying indoors and fixing up the house now filled with boxes and furniture waiting to be sorted.

The move of the past weekend left me tired. Both physically and emotionally drained. The large bruise on my right thigh from the fall of the footboard of my son’s bed is still sore and now turns from blue to yellow. The pain in my right shoulder and back is piercing yet I still wish to continue with setting up this house which will be our home for more than a year.

I made it to the apartment after work to drop off food for the kittens as my husband takes care of them there whilst I take care of the house. I grabbed a few more of those little things and know there will be more trips back to the apartment over this next month until the lease is over. Yet somehow I know I must manage the great transition. It is never easy to start over in another place but at least this time I have more than a year until a possible next move.

A PEACEFUL START

It was a peaceful start to the new year. I spent the day alone at home. I went nowhere and it felt good not to have to drive anywhere. To not have to go to shops. To do nothing but relax.

My children texted me throughout the day and it brought me much happiness. My son wished me a happy new year told me he could not believe it was already 2018. That it did not feel like 2018. I then wondered how does a new year feel. I told my son it will be a good year. He wrote back that it will be a good year with the cats and that he will build a lot of Legos and puzzles.

I did manage to work on the house a bit but mostly stayed in bed. It was cold outside which made spending the first day of the new year indoors a good option. Tomorrow I return to work but look forward to returning home to work on the house some more. This year is the year I take my life back. When I do things which make me happy. I will do whatever it takes to make this year better than the year before and the years before that.

FAREWELL 2017

The end of a most tumultuous year is here. It was indeed an intense year with more changes than I ever anticipated. At the end of last year, I had hoped for a better 2017 but it turned out to be nothing more than a rollercoaster ride that I now wish to exit. My hope for this next year is more stability for both me and the children.

There are many things I wished could be different. However, life had another path for me to take and now I need to see where it will lead me next year. This new place is not my ideal house but it is a house with more space for the children. The other house was better. The one with the casita. For that I would need a different job.

One day perhaps I will have my own place and a better job. For now I will make this place our home to the best of my ability. Life is unpredictable but we have the ability to make decisions which will make for a better life. I bid farewell to 2017 and greetings to a peaceful 2018.

MOVING MODE

The day I dreaded for so long had arrived. Moving day. I was in a frenzy of loading up my minivan with anything I could grab. I had to be at the house by 09,00 to accept the second delivery of a dresser for my son as the first dresser was badly damaged. I had no breakfast. No coffee. I was in moving mode.

I disassembled the bed and wrapped the mattresses before the movers arrived at 13,40. One of the movers recognised me from one of my three moves last year. During the summer. The other mover was new having been on the job only six months.

I watched them wrap the furniture with blankets then shrink wrap as I talked with my husband. We were just discussing the beautiful hand carved cabinet now being wheeled away on a dolly down the stairs by the new guy. The cabinet I had since my oldest was born. Then the loud noise jolted me.

The crash was loud but I stayed seated hoping that everything was fine. When the movers returned they assured me it was just the dolly hitting the last step and that the cabinet landed on its feet. I trusted them. I should not have.

After two hours of loading the furniture, the movers made their way to the house. In the meantime, I went to Home Depot to buy a Y-connector for the washer as the movers did not wish to remove the one in the apartment. Something about them not being plumbers and rules and such.

I watched them and told them where to place the furniture. ‘Just plop it over there’ I said as I the house was already full with the other items I brought to the house during the past month. They even brought over the Christmas tree with its lights. Then my beautiful carved cabinet was unwrapped.

At first I noticed no significant damage. A slight indentation on the top which the movers let me know would not show up on photos if I submitted them for damage claim. They agreed to reduce the moving costs by $60. After they left and I paid for the almost four hours of moving, I went to the apartment intending to relax and watch Friends with my husband. I had a change of mind. Some things never change.

I made two more trips to the house with anything and everything left in the apartment. The little things always get you during the moves and there are so many more of those little things left behind in addition to the daybed, a table, and a desk. When I arrived to the house after my first trip, I noticed it.

I turned the cabinet around and saw the split in the mitered joint on the bottom. It was on both sides. Then a noticeable gap above one of the doors. Somehow the glass was not broken and I wondered how the cabinet fell and from which height. What really got me investigating further was a now darkened piece of missing wood on the front of the cabinet from years ago that I left exposed. Somewhere I have that missing piece but now the area was coloured in.

I looked closer at the gap and noticed that also looked to be coloured in. I felt betrayed. That feeling of being lied to is nothing new but dishonesty like this about a piece of furniture was difficult to comprehend. I then wrote an email to the moving company about the situation and now have to wait for their response.

I returned to the apartment and took more things. I will have to spend time going through everything next year to see what I can get rid of before the next move. I was not planning on moving from the apartment until I could afford to buy a house but things changed. I need to believe this new year will be better though I realise it will not be an easy transition as I continue living in this extreme survival mode.

OPPORTUNITY COSTS

Sleep was necessary. Enough to warrant my not going in to work today. I could not risk falling asleep at my desk on this last work day of the year. So, I slept in and it felt good.

A text from my middle daughter was waiting for me early this morning. She wanted me to know about her favourite Christmas present she got yesterday from her father. I wondered what it could be. I thought perhaps a kitten. No, it was an iPhone 8.

I thought how wasteful and a bad lesson for the children to have so much money spent on something they truly did not need. A 9-year old does not need an iPhone. I also found it interesting how the other day her father let my son know that he could have gone to London with the money I spent on last year’s Christmas/birthday gift of the Tower Bridge Lego set.

Opportunity costs he called them and stated the children are old enough to know about them. I wonder if he mentioned to them the opportunity costs of the phones he bought for the girls and his stepson. That with that money we could have fed the children for several months.

After my texts to my daughter, my husband and I had breakfast. The kittens were waiting at our bedroom door. They were happy that I finally awoke to feed them their breakfast. Around noon time I felt a bit better so I put a few things in the minivan to take to the house.

I managed to package up two of the kids’ mattresses and a few other things in preparation for the furniture movers tomorrow. There is much more to do but the most important is getting the heaviest of the furniture out of this apartment before the end of this year though we still have over a month left here at the apartment.

Tonight marks my last night at this apartment.

ONCE AGAIN

The plan was to leave for work before 07,00. However, that plan did not manifest itself and I found myself sitting in the car half an hour later. I wished I could simply have stayed home to have breakfast with the kids but knew that would not be the case this morning.

I needed to be at work earlier so that I could go home during lunch to pick up the children and take them to their father’s house by noon. The next time I see them will be in the new year at the new place. In the meantime, I will have plenty to keep me occupied at the house as I set up at least our beds before the children arrive Wednesday night.

The return to work took longer than expected as I encountered lunchtime traffic. Along the way, I craved a croissant for lunch so I made a quick stop at Whole Foods. After the croissant I was still hungry but sleepiness became more of an issue.

Once again, I found myself nodding off at my desk. It was worse than on Tuesday so I waited until 15,00 to leave for home. The tiredness was becoming a distraction at work as I could no longer focus. As soon as I got home, I crawled into bed and slept for a while.

With the children now away, the apartment is quiet once again. Except for the two kittens who are having fun chasing each other and playing on their cat tree in the children’s room whilst they also await their return.

A TEMPORARY STATE

I was happy to have another day off work today. My last of the year though I wished to be able to take more time to spend with family.  But without the distractions of having to worry about movers and setting up yet another place which isn’t even ours.

The new furniture was scheduled to arrive before noon so I left the apartment before 09,00 to prepare the area at the house where the furniture would be placed. I did not return home until after 12,30 which meant the family already had breakfast without me. Whilst waiting, I finished putting together the steel shelving in the garage.

It was cold in the garage so I left the door closed. But as soon as I opened it, a scorpion hurried along inching its way towards the door leading into the house. I grabbed a piece of cardboard and shoved the scorpion outside. Then I placed the cardboard on top of him and had to get rid of him.

My husband was not happy when I mentioned he needs to be careful about scorpions. He was less happy tonight after I returned from the house again and told him I saw a large raccoon running away from the front of our house.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on the daybed in the living room and binge watching the ‘Friends’ DVDs with the younger kitten curled up beside my husband. This was quite amusing for me as he never wanted a kitten in the first place and certainly not two kittens. Now he is taken by them and will spend the next week alone with them when the children return to their father’s house tomorrow at noon.

As the new year approaches, we start to think of all the things we will do better as we reflect on the past year. Certainly this year has been one of great challenges but as a friend recently reminded me, ‘no condition is permanent’. This is easier to notice in hindsight but difficult to take into consideration as we experience those challenges.

The new year will also bring with it new experiences as we make the transition to the new place. As we continue on the path towards our goals. As we live in a temporary state. As we make changes along the way with the requisite flexibility and adaptability.

NODDING OFF

Morning came too early as I had to go to work. I sat down to a simple breakfast alone. Šipak tea and bread with butter and sour cherry jam. I wished to have breakfast with the family but that meant I could be home earlier. Days like this I wish to find a telecommuting job.

Several times throughout the day I was nodding off whilst staring at my computer screens. I must have been really tired as this has never happened before and hoped that nobody noticed.

I tried to stay awake to the best of my abilities. During lunch I drove to Trader Joes and bought food we needed for the week as well as dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I ate a few of those in an attempt to stay awake but it did not help much. I also realised I should have bought the milk chocolate version though usually I prefer the darker version.

Then the text came from my husband. A photo message with the letter he got in the mail. One which would change the course of our future but not in the best way. I had hoped for good news for the new year but that seems not to be the case for us. In fact, everything seems to be against us and the future we had planned.

I would have preferred to have more time at home with the kids during their holidays but I have another day off tomorrow. Whatever comes our way, we will deal with it as best we can. All we can do is hope for the best whilst waiting.

NOT AS EXPECTED

I get to spend Christmas with the children every two years. This year was my year and though it did not turn out as I expected it, at least we were all together.

I had planned to have the house set up and envisioned baking with the children. I thought we would all be sitting on the new sectional around the fireplace reading books and watching it snow outside. But none of this happened. We are still at the apartment, I baked no marble cheesecake as planned, and the delivery of the sectional I had delayed twice already. And there was definitely no white Christmas.

We are still living in survival mode. A mode I hope to eliminate at some point in the near future. The uncertainty of life is at times necessary but hopeful.

The children enjoyed opening presents. Then we ate a simple breakfast and stayed home the rest of the day. I truly wanted at least one day at home without the need to go somewhere. I simply wanted to stay home and relax for once.

I avoided driving anywhere until late afternoon but that proved to be unsuccessful as I realised we could not avoid the new place too much longer so I drove to the house in an attempt to put up the garage shelving. Time was limited but at least I made a start.

The plans I had for the kids’ winter break turned out different than I had wanted but we made the best out of the time we had.