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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


It was another nice day with the children. Other than my going to the house early this morning, it was a day of staying indoors. On my way home though, I made one more stop to Angel Donuts. I remembered my daughter wanting donuts for Christmas day but knew they would not be open on the 25th.

When I arrived, a sign stated the business was open today until 14,00 and would not reopen until the new year. Seeing how we were combining the European and American traditions of Christmas, my daughter would get donuts on Christmas day as celebrated in Europe on the 24th. They were happy to see the big white box concealing the assortment of donuts inside.

After breakfast, I went to the kitchen whilst the others went on their devices. At one point as I walked into the children’s room, I noticed all three of them sitting on the top bunk. They were playing Minecraft together as the kittens lounged in their cat tree nearby.

Later in the afternoon I set about preparing Christmas dinner. I made lamb for my husband and the youngest two whilst my oldest and I ate meatless loaf. We also had mashed potatoes and green beans. Not the typical European dinner but something different. I had planned on making a marble cheesecake but am glad I did not as nobody could eat another bite of food. But I might do so tomorrow.

After dinner I continued wrapping presents for tomorrow. This is the American part of Christmas we will celebrate this year as things did not work out quite as planned. We are flexible and know that next year we will not see the children until after Christmas so we make things work the best we can.

More classic Christmas movies followed dinner with Frosty and Rudolph. The girls watched with my husband as I showed my son how to think simply with regards to making gifts for his sisters. He was stressed about not being able to make some complicated origami object at the last minute so I helped him to understand that sometimes simplicity is best. He was happy I helped him though he was unsure his sisters would appreciate the peppermint mix hot chocolate with marshmallow treat bags with German chocolates.

Nature was kind enough to give us its yearly gift. The one of cedar allergies. She was on time this year though I hoped she would skip me and give me the gift of breathing properly for the next two months. Once again, we will have to make the best of nature’s Christmas gift.


‘Mama, you have a lot of surprises for us’ I heard my middle daughter say as I prepared for breakfast this morning. She asked what we were having for breakfast. I simply told her ‘a surprise’. I like to keep my children guessing and then see the look on their faces when it is something they do not expect.

Though I would have preferred to stay in bed this morning, I knew I had to leave our place early in order to avoid the crowds. I told my older daughter she could go with me to the store before breakfast since the other two already had spent a little time with me. We set off to the Whole Foods at The Domain to buy the lamb for Christmas. My oldest and I would be eating meatless loaf instead.

We bought fresh croissants for breakfast and made one more stop at Trader Joes for food but also red spray roses which now adorn my bedroom. I am afraid if I leave the roses out on the table that the kittens would get to them.

After breakfast, I hardly spent half an hour at home as I ran back and forth and back again between stores and residences. At Costco we got a tall cat tree with sleeping areas which the kittens enjoyed. They are now starting to get used to each other and seem happy but are also mischievous. The spray bottle with water seems a good discipline tool when Lucifer climbs on the counter or the other kitten misbehaves.

My husband spent most of the afternoon with the children making presents whilst I drove in circles as I kept forgetting something at the house. Then as soon as I would get to the gate of the apartment complex, I would forget another thing I should have taken. We planned on spending Christmas at the new house but things turned out otherwise.

Tonight’s movie for movie night was another new one I just bought today. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. The classic American Christmas movie. The children were tired and uncomfortable on the daybed with all five humans and two kittens. But one thing we noticed was that the children seem more peaceful since the arrival of the kittens.

It was a busy but productive day spent mostly in the car but we have quite a wonderful life if we really think about it. We are not wealthy in money but we have each other and make the best out of what we have. Life is truly what you make it, no matter how difficult our situation.


Today was much colder than yesterday. And it was raining. It would have been a perfect day for staying indoors but there was still more to do. I wanted to surprise the kids yet again with something for breakfast which they never have at my place so I went to Angel Donuts.

My oldest asked for donuts as a treat for Christmas but I decided this morning would be a good time for donuts. I bought a dozen assorted donuts along with donut holes. The children were grateful and happy but also full after so many unexpected treats. Everyone’s favourite was the cinnamon glazed donut followed by the Bavarian cream filled ones.

I wished we could have spent more time for breakfast but I had to be downtown at the animal shelter to pick up the second kitten so I left the house at noon in the rain. I ended up waiting close to half an hour for the veterinarian to check out the kitten and make sure she had a clean bill of health. She was given a sulfur bath in order to make sure any signs of ringworm were eliminated which ended making her smell like rotten eggs.

The kitten meowed a little during our half hour back home in the rain but I was glad to have that taken care of before Christmas. After I dropped off the smelly ‘wet black cat at home I continued on my way as there was still more to do. I went to the house to pick up the movies I took over last week when I thought we would spend the Christmas holidays at the house. Then I went to the HEB by our house and bought a movie for tonight, then Trader Joes again before returning home to the apartment.

The kittens were getting to know each other but kept their distance. In honour of the kittens name, we watched the latest episode of ‘Lucifer’. Afterwards, we watched the new movie, ‘Family Man’. Despite the long day, it was nice to have time to get done what I could not otherwise do if I had to go to work. Taking time off for family during the holidays is the true meaning of the season.


The winter solstice is here and today was a warm start to winter. As my son and I were leaving the apartment complex, we saw a mother and her little daughter in swimsuits. It was too warm for December at 26 degrees Celsius.

I was supposed to be at the house waiting for the new furniture as I had rescheduled the delivery twice already. But other things were more important such as spending time with family and signing the adoption papers for the new kitten. So I took my son with me this morning.

We first went to buy coffee, tea, and Croatian cookies at the Turkish store. As soon as the store owner saw me going towards the coffee section he knew what I wanted. He has seen me there many times over the past several years and knows I come there solely for the Jubilarna coffee packages.

‘Are you looking for this’ he asked as he held a large box. ‘They just came in this morning…take what you want from the counter’ he added as he went to restock the shelves. In all of the years I had been coming there this was the first time he had a conversation with me.

My son and I looked around and bought a few other items we did not really need. Eurocrem was one of them but something special for the kids as that is nothing I ever buy. It was the Croatian version of Nutella, something else I do not buy.

Our next stop was Central Market but there was no parking so we continued to the other location of the animal shelter where I filled out the paperwork for the adoption of the other kitten. Afterwards we returned to Central Market and were able to find a parking spot and bought some food we needed for the week.

Once home, I wrapped some presents and placed my last Amazon order. Whatever would we do without online ordering, I wondered. Though I had wanted to spend more time at home, I knew there were things which needed to be done during my days off work. Sometimes days do not go as planned but we simply need to learn to adjust and make the best of it.


December seems to be a month of surprises. Today we had another surprise for the children. One which required us to drive over the dam 12 miles away. My husband stayed home to watch our new kitten whilst I went with the children to visit a lady who fosters kittens for the animal shelter. I contacted her the day before to arrange for a time to meet another little kitten. A 3-month old black Siamese.

The children wondered where we were going. I told they would just have to wait and see. As soon as we walked into the room where the lady kept the kittens, the children ran off to hold every one of them. Four of the cats were black and I wondered how the lady knew which one was which. But she did and our newest kitten had a distinctive wider face than the others.

‘Can we have three…one for each’ I heard my oldest and youngest ask me. My middle child said she is happy with two and would have been fine with one. I let them know that having one was a big deal for me so two was more than enough. We agreed on the kitten and decided to meet after the adoption papers were signed later in the week.

Once home, the children busied themselves with playing with the tabby kitten whilst I left for a few hours to get some things done. I would have preferred to stay home with the family but there were errands to run which are quicker to do alone.

The kitten had a lot of attention today but the children were arguing about their time with her. ‘Just let her be’ I heard my husband say as my son ran around after the kitten. He was excited as were the girls and it will take a while for them to learn how to share their time. Once the new kitten arrives, there will be more challenges and excitement as everyone learns to live together.


The kids were so excited and thankful for a cat that at one point my middle daughter told me ‘…if I don’t’get anything else for Christmas, I will be fine.’

The day started out with my having slept in longer than usual. I drove the younger two to school then returned to get the oldest ready to drive across the street for her classes. Then I returned home to eat breakfast and get ready to not go to work. I am taking some time off for family.

We had the children’s Christmas parties at school and went to them. Afterwards we went to the downtown Whole Foods for lunch and had our not-so-usual tacos. Once again Whole Foods made changes to the menu ordering system which required our having to tell the lady behind the counter the changes we wished to make since the options were taken away. She made the changes but then did not realise we ordered five tacos as she gave us only three. Eventually we got our order and decided afterwards to look for another place for our traditional morning out with the kids.

After our tacos then the almond and chocolate croissants, we bought some fresh bread for the next few days before driving to the animal shelter to look at cats. The children found a kitten they wanted online but she turned out to be the third one they liked who was already adopted. After ten or so minutes of looking at the cats in the cages, the children found a few they liked and we left with a three-month old tabby kitten.

Once home the children were excited to have a new addition to our family. They even went to sleep with no arguments.


I arrived home late and was greeted by happy children holding a plate of hrustule for me as I entered the door. I took a small piece and then took off my shoes before coming inside. As I rounded the corner to the living area, the lights went on. Surprise ! Our Christmas tree was covered in both the white and multi-coloured lights.

During work I thought how I would need to put up the lights on the tree. I thought the children would have liked the colourful bulbs so I got a few boxes of those along with an equal amount of white. All of the boxes were emptied and the children requested more.

I was glad to see the children busy decorating for Christmas. They were excited and happy which made me feel the same.

The rest of the evening involved looking for an available kitten to adopt as the options the children had ended up already being adopted. Cinnamon had a virtual 10-page list of wishes for presents. Every ‘page’ was for a cat.

My husband warmed up to the idea of having a cat and I initially agreed to an outdoor cat as that was all I had as a child. However, the children have been asking for a kitten for quite some time and we finally gave in to the request. As long as they take on the responsibility of her care.


It was another morning of sleeping in late. No matter how much I wanted to get up and start my day, my body told me I needed more sleep. And so I did until it was close to 10,00.

It seems that cedar fever season has arrived. Today. A Christmas gift from central Texas. Every year I hope it will not affect me and every year it appears to get worse. But today I was only sneezing and had a stuffy nose. I have another two months or so of dealing with the effects of this winter allergy.

I should be enjoying this time of year but am distracted by the healthcare system in this country and how it now affects me. As I was inputting my work hours into my contractor website, I discovered that I have been charged double every week for my coverage.

In addition, my health insurance website states that I have no coverage since a week ago. Apparently nobody told the insurance company that my contract was extended for another six months. However, I have been double paying for coverage. I hope to get some clarification for this mess this week.

But I digress and return to the events of the day. Breakfast was lunch at around 13,00. After my husband’s soccer match that he watched online. This time we ate bread with avocado and cheese instead of cookies. But the Croatian coffee proved to be not such a good idea.

We had a few hours until the children arrived and had to choose the most important things to accomplish before then. Getting the three super heavy metal shelves from Home Depot to the garage at the new place was first on our list. However, this required my renting a truck and unloading the shelves. There was no way I could have done this without my husband’s help but we were able to get the shelves unloaded in about 15 minutes.

Afterwards we took care of the next important thing on our list. The Christmas tree. We debated getting two trees but decided we might not be spending much time at the house until the furniture is moved unless we wanted to sleep on the floors. Which we don’t. So we will make the best of our time at the apartment this last time before our move before the year’s end.

We went to the other Papa Noel’s near our house and found a 6-7 foot tree for a decent price. I managed to negotiate a small discount of five dollars but something was better than nothing. The tree was not large but perfect for our place and enough for us.

We managed to put the lights on the balcony and set up the tree in the tree stand right before the children arrived. They were happy to see we got a tree and we were happy to have accomplished something important today on a distracted third advent.