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.

NATURE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT

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.

A WONDERFUL LIFE

‘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.

DONUTS AND LUCIFER

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.

A WARM WINTER SOLSTICE

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.

ANOTHER SURPRISE

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.

A NEW ADDITION

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.

A SURPRISE OF LIGHTS

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.

A DISTRACTED THIRD ADVENT

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.

A RAINY SATURDAY

The day started later than expected. This was a rare incidence that I had slept in until 09,00 and I would have slept a little longer if we didn’t have so much to do today. However, the rain made even those plans change.

As we sat to a simple breakfast of Croatian coffee and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, my husband mentioned we should see my family in California soon as he had never met them. The idea was then planted and I started my research.

‘Don’t force it’ he told me as I struggled to make things work with not only our limited time with the children this Christmas and having to return them on the 28th but also the great last-minute flight costs during the holidays for five people. I even called the airline to see if they could ‘do something’ but there was nothing. This idea would just have to be an idea until next year.

We returned to the idea of spending Christmas at home. Perhaps even at both homes. Then we continued with our Saturday plans as we went to the post office, grocery stores, and a clothing store before taking a break at home only to return to another grocery store and Target for our tree necessities.

A rainy Saturday might have dampened our initials plans but we went along with the changes and made other plans. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can do in such a situation. Accept change and move forward.

OLD FASHIONED WAY

I took a day off from work today so we drove to the elementary school to see the children and drop off some of the hrustule from Nona. As times before, the children were running late. They were there two minutes before the bell rang.

We gave the cookies to my daughter, hugged her, and then hurried down the hall to see my son. As we approached the classroom, we saw my children's father coming towards us. I asked him if he would be bringing the children tonight. He continued walking straight passed us with no acknowledgement of our existence and with an angry look on his face. We knew we did nothing wrong. After all, we did not start this war.

Once home, we made šipak tea and ate the Zagorski kolač my mom also sent. We ended up emptying the entire box of those treats by evening today. After breakfast we went to Barnes & Noble and a few other places before dropping off my husband at the apartments whilst I went to the house to put together the new pressure washer.

We bought the pressure washer a few weeks ago as we wanted to clean the garage and the sides of the house. We did not think a simple hose would work as well so we spent money on a large piece of electrical equipment which ended up sitting in the garage until today.

My thinking was that I would go to the house and quickly put the washer together and clean the garage. I told my husband I would be home in no more than two hours. With driving time, that would have given me almost an hour and a half at the house. As I opened the large box I noted the many components required to put together. After locating the instruction booklet, I saw warnings on almost every page but I continued with the assembly.

Once I reached the part about usage, I noted that I needed a special soap. I looked over at the large bottle of an all-purpose soap I bought and decided it was not special. I also did not have the goggles needed in order to operate this equipment. Then there were the warnings of how to properly store the machine. This was getting to be too complicated for such a simple task.

In the meantime, my husband called me to ask how the cleaning was going. ‘I’m still putting it together’ I told him. He then said he should have come with me. And perhaps he should have because getting the pieces back into the box and into the car would have prevented the pain in my back. After almost an hour, I decided it was easier to do things the old fashioned way. I filled a bucket with water and dish soap and poured it over the garage floor. I then scrubbed it with a large stiff broom and hosed off all of the soapy water.

As soon as I got home I found the receipt for the pressure washer and went with my husband to Home Depot to return it. This time I had him take the heavy box out of the minivan to take it to the return desk. Then we went home to enjoy the rest of our evening which included looking into adopting a kitten as we promised the children.

Today’s lesson was that sometimes doing things the old fashioned way is much better than relying on some fancy new device. We do not always need the latest and greatest in order to do something so simple.

SURVIVAL MODE

I stopped by the apartment complex this morning just as they opened for the day. Two packages of homemade cookies from my mom in California were waiting to be picked up since yesterday. As I left, I asked the leasing guy if they had decided on a deal for letting us out of our lease a month earlier without the need to pay.

'No, we just can't do that' was his reply. To which I stated 'Well, I gotta do what I gotta do' before walking out the door with my two Priority Mail boxes which I put in the back of the minivan and drove off to work. I was referring to my posting my review of their complex on Yelp.

We asked several times about the possibility of management letting us out of our lease earlier. We begged and pleaded. We even tried posting on the community board of the apartment complex about if anyone else has experienced issues like ours but our comment was rejected by management. It was not posted. 

Since it would end up costing us more to break the lease than to finish off the remaining three months, we gave our 60-day notice and now pay two rents for close to three months. Our furniture is here at the apartment whilst boxes from the garage and other items we do not need are making their way to the house.

It was not our desire to move so soon. Though we had been looking at large homes to rent, we had not planned on moving until early spring when our lease would be finished. However, legal circumstances warranted us to move sooner.

We moved back to a more affordable area. The area we lived before. But we have still not moved the furniture. After this morning's confirmation of no deal, we can wait to move the furniture for a few weeks. This way we can rely on the bus for the younger two whilst the oldest walks across the street to the middle school.

This is not an ideal situation in any sense and especially right before Christmas. We have been living in survival mode for over three years since the divorce and I was hoping to have some kind of peace for us all this year. But we are thankful to have each other despite the chaos of our lives at the moment.

SENSE OF RELIEF

He would have been in Scotland by now. Waiting for several hours at the Edinburgh airport to board the short flight to Cork. The last minute one-way flight was somewhat inexpensive but the time cost was great. A total of 25 hours of travel time just to Cork. Then more time spent on a bus to Ennis from Cork. But none of that happened. He is here.

There was calmness to the day. A sense of relief in knowing we did the right thing by deciding to wait. For if we had gone through with the impulsiveness of our decision we would have regretted it for the rest of our lives. We would not have been able to recover from such a point of no return despite the frustration of having to exercise more patience.

The children seemed happy to see him there. At tonight's winter band performance of my oldest. She played the trumpet. After last night's text that my husband would possibly not be there, she was happy to see him. 'Trump can't send him back' she told me. Or it was that he could not take my husband away. Something to that effect.

So now we continue but with a different mindset. A different perspective. One where we appreciate that though things could be worse, at least we can deal with it together. To continue as we have before living across the world from each other for years to come would not have been sustainable for too long.

Instead of sitting at the airport in Edinburgh, he is here by my side. That sense of relief is comforting as we no longer have to wonder 'what if'. What if we did not get the house and continued to stay in this cagey apartment. We no longer have to think about those scenarios. But we do have to think about how to make the best out of the chance we have in front of us.

 

 

A FUTURE DIVERTED

In times of great stress, we tend to focus on the bad and forget about the little things which are good in between. Healthy habits are tossed to the wayside whilst the bad habits find their way into our lives to replace the good ones we have worked hard on introducing. Judgements are greatly impaired when we are put under mental and physical pressure.

Sleep was greatly lacking today. With about three hours of sleep, I found myself nodding away into a brief slumber at my computer. After a trying night last night, I yearned for more hours to close my eyes and get some rest. I realised it would take a while until that would come about.

The events of the evening unfolded as if in slow motion. Flashbacks of the good moments passed before my mind. We had let the things which are out of our control take over those good moments only to replace them with a decision which would have forever changed the course of our lives.

With about two hours to spare, we decided to take that other path. The one which requires a great deal more of patience. Something we both were out of already. The system is working against us but that is not within our control. The only thing we can control, however, is how we react to the change in circumstances.

A moment of reflection led to a future diverted. A change in the path we are to take. Hardships will still come our way but how we deal with them determine their outcome. If we can find at least one reason to smile each day, things  will not be so bad after all.

 

WHEN THAT TIME COMES

Sometimes you can see it coming from a distance. Other times it comes as a surprise and when it arrives you deny that it is there. You do whatever it takes to not see it. But it is there.

Sometimes things do not work out as expected. Unrealistic expectations which turn out to be too hopeful. It is then that Einstein's definition of insanity crosses your mind. When you have done the same thing over and over and expected a different outcome. You drive yourself mad wondering why it didn't work this time.

'Maybe next time it will work' you convince yourself. Then that next time comes and the result is the same as the time before that one and the nine times afterwards. Nothing has changed. Nothing will ever change until you make the choice to do so.

Sometimes it is our fear of the unknown which takes us down the wrong path or it is simply the fear of failure and our resisting change. But if we do not take a chance towards another path, we might not see that which is waiting for us. Something which gives us the motivation to awaken before dawn and work towards a better life.

Sometimes enough is enough and when that time comes, you will know it. When you reach that breaking point. The point of reconsideration. The final straw. It is at that point that we need to face our problems and accept the outcome. Though we might never know why things happened as they did, one day we will know when we feel better about it.

A WARM SECOND ADVENT

The second advent came and went quicker than expected which means Christmas will be here in a short while. We celebrated with marzipan stollen and lebkuchen on a table set with the four candles. The red and white spray roses that my middle daughter helped pick out this morning sat in a tall mason jar on the counter.

Before the oldest and the youngest child were awake, I whispered to my middle child to get dressed and accompany me to the store this morning. She was already awake and watching something on her iPad with headphones. She was happy to have her turn alone with me despite it being a simple run to the stores.

We first went to Trader Joes and stocked up on more lebkuchen, marzipan stollen, chocolate mint mini stars, as well as bread and cheese for our afternoon meal. Whole Foods was our last stop where we got the best butter croissants as well as some chocolate and cinnamon ones. After our having found that Macys opened up early this morning. Not having to deal with traffic and driving around in search of an open parking spot at The Domain was great.

As much as she enjoyed spending the morning with me, my daughter mentioned that shopping at Macys was not so exciting and a bit boring. I am certain I thought the same as a child her age as I got dragged to the stores by my mother on the weekends. But the unbelievable sale on the down comforters was enticing enough to make me want to get more of them for our new sofa. The one which is yet to be delivered.

But there is still no tree to decorate. Though I had wanted the children to help us pick out our tree this year, my son told me today to simply get it this week before they return on Sunday. We haven't even moved into our rental house where we plan to spend Christmas. So there is much to do this week in order to make the transition to the new place.

When you have two residences, it is difficult to shift your focus on the future place when the old place is still looming in the background. We have close to two months left on our lease and have asked the apartment management to make an exception for us and let us at least not have to pay for the last month. The answer was 'no' every single time. So we wait. And then wait some more on this crazy rollercoaster ride of life we have been on for the past year or so.

Starting over is a mixed blessing. On one hand we find that letting go of what we once knew and that which brought us some kind of comfort in the routines we kept is somewhat of a challenge. On the other hand we get another chance to make things better. To be excited to have that second opportunity at a new life. To start new routines and traditions such as celebrating a warm second advent with our new family.