There go my weekend plans

I just broke the cardinal rule of tummy bugs: I consumed food I would miss were I never able to eat it again.

Yep, my daughter barfed last night. A lot. My husband, upon picking up the bucket to empty it, said “Wow — that’s heavy.” (Sorry. TMI?) I sleep right next to her, so I’m now on watch for the next few days. And because I tend not to be able to eat anything I’ve ever vomited, the foods I eat this weekend are on the endangered list. But when you’re on a diet as limited as this elimination diet, what can you do?

Here’s hoping we get to stay friends, strawberry smoothie.

Speaking of the elimination diet, I’m entering the reintroduction phase now, on the advice of my nutritionist.

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You read that right — I finally have a nutritionist. And soon, hopefully, some answers. I sent 4 vials of blood off for testing yesterday, and will go in for a fasting blood test (4 more vials) next week. My wallet is much lighter now.

I’ll have to wait for the test results for answers to my big question (What can I eat?), but she did give me some pointers in the meantime. I figured I’d be chided for the absolute lack of variety in my diet, but she understood that part. Where I’m falling short is (drumroll) I’m not eating enough fat. So I get to do fun things like put oil in my smoothies. Hey, if it means I can stop thinking about food 24/7 and that this headache will finally go away, I will happily goop up my fruit.

In the meantime, I am testing out foods. I tried chickpeas last night. Since I am already in a flare, I can’t say if they set me off or not — but at least they didn’t make me immediately, noticeably worse. I’m thinking I might try some homemade hummus this weekend. Next week: Avocados. I hope I get to reclaim avocados. I miss them so.

sohungry

In other news, the print head on my printer died. Whether I killed it or it died of natural causes is unknown; I’m thinking these things simply have a specified life span to keep you buying new models. (I’ve had it nearly 7 years. That’s ancient in electronics years.) The new printer plus ink cost less than a new print head would have, and the new printer’s ink is less expensive than my current model’s, so I’ll take the hit. But damn, this was an expensive week.

As if I needed anything else to keep me inside this weekend, a) I had a quick freelance project come in and b) it’s freezing out there today. So I will stay home, sip hot beverages, earn a few Benjamins to throw at my newly burdened plastic (I just paid those off, damn it!), and hope I don’t puke.

Cross your fingers for me.

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I am doing 43 things

Two posts in two days. Imagine that.

Actually, I’m cross-posting this from 43t; I don’t have that much free time today. And I wanted to get this stuff down so I can think about it, and write about it, and hopefully even do it.

As I think I mentioned somewhere, I want to do 43 things in my 43rd year. I’m adding the caveat that they can’t be boring things, like “spring clean my house!” or “purge my closet!” that I’ve done time and again and simply feel like I should do them to be a good person or whatever. These are things I want to do to say I’ve done them (projects), or because doing them will help me progress in other goals (challenges), or because establishing that routine will have a lasting impact on my life (habits), or simply because I want to do something nice for myself once in a while.

Some of these list items require explanation, and I’ll provide that in later posts. Which means I have plenty of fodder to help me achieve #31.

My overall goal with this list is not just to do 43 things for the sake of doing them, but to look back over this year next May and see that I’ve made progress instead of simply keeping the plates spinning. I have no illusions that this is going to be hard; as much as the kids have been sick this past year, at times everything has fallen apart, and I have had zero time and energy left over for extras. But I don’t want to look back on my life and see that I spent my time cleaning and shopping and watching TV. I want to do as much as I can with the time I’ve been given, and nurture the blessings in my life rather than squander them.

In that spirit, here’s my list of 43 things.

Challenges
1 Complete an ab month
2 Complete a meditation month
3 Complete 43 things in my 43rd year

Health
4 Be able to run a mile
5 Meditate every day
6 Exercise 30 minutes per day
7 Cook a meal using ingredients I grew myself
8 Have family dinners 4+ nights a week
9 Discover 10 healthy meal recipes the kids will eat

Family
10 Read to the kids for 20 minutes each day
11 Help Anya with her speech 5 minutes each day
12 Work with Kai on letters, numbers, and word sounds 5 minutes a day
13 Have art time with the kids once a week
14 Introduce my kids to the library
15 Start a family heirloom collection
16 Have a weekly family game night
17 Make time for R (a monthly date night would be ideal)
18 Resume monthly family outings
19 Get married
20 Have an awesome familymoon

Projects
21 Improve my home’s curb appeal
22 Clean out the garage
23 Tidy up the deck (and nag the landlord about getting it replaced)
24 Complete my 2017 scrapbook
25 Rip my CD collection and reclaim that shelf
26 Finish Anya’s blanket
27 Complete a Duolingo course
28 Put together photos for photo books

New Habits
29 Fine-tune our morning and bedtime routines
30 Refine and expand our recycling routine

Create
31 Blog regularly
32 Finish my NaNoWriMo book
33 Create 10 drawings I’m proud of

Career/Money
34 Brush up on my ID/PS/IL skills
35 Identify and take classes that will help with my career
36 Piece together sufficient freelance work/obtain full-time employment
37 Stabilize my finances
38 Put the same name on all of my credit cards
39 Put together a portfolio website

Foster Joy
40 Read one book a month
41 Grow flowers
42 Make time for friends
43 Have one do-nothing day per month

Going and doing and getting ish done

Much going on this week. Yesterday I spent the day with my mom. We were at the dentist’s all morning; now that I have finally quit doing all of the things that stain teeth, Mom and Dad are paying to have my stained fillings replaced (and the broken teeth capped, because I haven’t had a nightguard since I left my last one in a hotel room during a business trip when Anya was a baby, so of course I’ve broken a couple of teeth). I will also be getting a new nightguard so I don’t break any more teeth. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of having pretty teeth again. And a new nightguard.

Mom and I hung out the rest of the day, just shopping and talking like we did before the kids came along. Which was also nice. Don’t get me wrong — I missed the little boogers. But I also like to have grown-up conversations once in a while, and eat without holding on to another person’s plate so they don’t throw it Frisbee style at some unsuspecting diner.

Today I have a wheelbarrow full of work ahead of me. Again, nice. Money is always welcome, y’know? And I am only hyperventilating a little at the prospect of it all being due today.

Tomorrow, unless I have more work come in, I will Organize The Things. I ordered a cube storage unit to replace the broken particleboard dresser in my closet, and it came in yesterday. The cubes themselves are due to come in tomorrow. So I will be assembling and sorting and folding and organizing. I love it. I also ordered (and have received) some fabric drawers that I’ve placed atop the cabinets over the washer and dryer. It is my intention to put out-of-season decorations in those bins, so that they are accessible yet out of my way. Once all that’s done, I will organize the clothes I can’t wear right now and the linen closet. And then I will be done organizing…until I work up the mojo to go through my daughter’s crap again. (I have to do so on a semiregular basis because she has a tendency to stuff everything in bins when I make her clean her room — clothes, silverware, used tissues, everything.)

This is my idea of a good time. I really need to work on more interesting hobbies.

Saturday is our Chinese New Year celebration. I have paper lanterns, party poppers, kid crafts, veggie potstickers, the ingredients for fried rice, even some fortune cookies. And some pocky; while it’s not exactly authentic, the store I was in had flavors we have not tried yet. (And fortune cookies taste like sticky cardboard.) Should be fun.

Starting Sunday, I’m hoping to double down on my resolutions. I’ve been cleaning and clearing and streamlining. I have the house-cleaning plate, the kid-school plate, and the healthy-meal plates spinning. Now I just need to work in the exercise plate and the work plate.

Oh, and the regular-blogging plate. Of course.

Like it’s my job

Yesterday morning, my computer would not boot. It would get to a certain point in the process, then stop. I’ve been through this dance more than once, so at first I was calm. I turned it off and turned it back on.

A few times.

I stuffed down the first bubbles of panic and called in R. He built it. He could fix it, surely.

It wouldn’t boot for him, either.

The bubbles brought friends. But all was not lost. I could always work from the laptop.

The laptop no longer has a valid copy of Word. My current version of Word is Office 365. Which is only good on one device: the tower. I have the Word app on my phone, but I am not editing 16 pages on my phone. Plus I have PDFs I need to look at and mark up. Argh.

The panic began to fizz. In to Best Buy.

Talk with a Geek Squad guy who was just a little condescending (just because I didn’t build it doesn’t mean I’m clueless about computers, dude). The computer boots for him.

Bring it home, plug it back in: Bootage.

Also, backupage. Backing up of backups. Hello OneDrive, my new friend. Let’s get acquainted.

My irreplaceable memories, my photos and videos and writing about the kids, are all in the cloud. (Not that I don’t need to back those up, too; I do. It’s on the list.) Nothing I would have lost, had I lost this hard drive, would have broken me. But it would have made life very difficult for several months. Everything is in this box. EVERYTHING. All my work files and my accounting files, my resume, my records, my personal organization files, my Christmas card address list (because when else do I actually mail things to people?)…it’s all in here.

I’m a freelancer now. Full stop. This is my work computer. Time to start treating it as such.

So once I catch up on what I didn’t get done this morning, I will go get a new hard drive. (GeekSquad guy says mine is geriatric. He’s not wrong. My “extra” money has been going to frivolous things like food and electricity and baby diapers.) I will get my own dedicated external hard drive for backups. And a new tablet, so I have something to fall back on in case of future system failure. Because let’s be honest: There will be a future system failure. It’s a testament to R’s computer skills that I’ve gone this long without one, but there is no way to prevent them entirely.

And work, like progress, and time, and dust, waits for no one.

Local candidates only

I have learned a lot about reading between the lines in job postings this year. In years past, I would send out resume after resume, and be crushed when I got no response or a rejection email. My confidence crumbled a little more after each one, even as my skills and experience grew. I tried again. And was rebuffed again. What do I lack? I wondered. What do those other candidates have that I don’t?

My guess? Geographic proximity.

I did not pick the most popular vocation for my area. So many of the jobs I have applied for are hours, states away. Most are clear across the country. And, I see now, most employers simply do not want to mess with interviewing a candidate who would have to move to accept the position. Not when they have qualified local candidates.

This time around, I am specifically looking for remote work. But still my job searches return jobs that are not remote. They don’t always say that outright in the post, but I’m beginning to learn the clues. Unless remote work is explicitly mentioned in the posting, I consider these items to be red flags:

  • Explicit mention of office location
  • Any talk about office culture or office environment or coworkers
  • Reference to hard copy resources or specific software requirements
  • A list of in-office perks or local attractions
  • Managing freelancers or working with customers listed under job duties
  • Any talk of a required work schedule

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve come to accept that I am a full-time freelancer now. I can no longer claim unemployment because I consistently make too much to get paid. (I am making too much today to get paid this week.) So I am no longer applying for every job I am qualified for, but selecting only those I feel are the best fit. I would refuse any job offer that required me to work in an office, or travel, on anything like a regular basis. I may one day return to the office, but not at this point in my life.

So I scan the job postings carefully. If none of the above things are mentioned, and if they do not specifically state “no telecommuting” or “on-site only” or “telecommuting allowed X days per week” or “local candidates only,” I apply. Sometimes I even get interviews.

It still stings when I get rejected. But at least I get rejected less often now.

Being okay when everything is not okay

I have been fighting my true nature these past few weeks, and over the weekend my bravado blew up in my face. Somewhere between fighting with the confusingly written, yet immensely condescending, unemployment site (hey, guys, you could really use my help – that thing’s a mess) and realizing that I either have to tank my credit score or become homeless and turning off autopay on all of my credit accounts, I just crumbled.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation. And you can’t do it! There’s no home safe enough, there’s no country nice enough, there’s no relationship secure enough. You’re just setting yourself up for an even bigger fall, and having an incredibly boring time in the process.

-Kate, French Kiss

Welcome to my life. Boring. Messy. Now featuring a huge dollop of fear on top.

So I went down the rabbit hole. I won’t be able to find another job, I thought. I will destroy my credit, which has survived divorce, two 3-month maternity leaves, moving, and being the breadwinner of a family while working one part-time job plus freelancing. Without good credit, I will live the rest of my life in crappy rental homes, driving beat-up used cars, and wearing ratty clothes. (But we have food, thanks to my FIL’s recent apocalypse kick. There’s that.)

I am tired. So freaking tired. I have been scraping by for over a decade now, and just when I was getting back on my feet, the rug was yanked out from under me. I can’t even see the damned rug now.

Cue meltdown. Crying, and cleaning (it’s a coping mechanism of mine), and not eating. My daughter was sad, and scared; I am not normally an emotional person, and she doesn’t know what to do with me when I cry. My son obviously could not articulate his feelings, but he’s been unsettled as well: restless and cranky and acting out.

Even once I managed to stop crying, my stomach churned, my muscles knotted. I could not rest. I could not eat. All of the things that usually provide me escape – planning our wedding, window-shopping for houses, looking at social media, reading blog articles on parenthood and productivity – seemed frivolous at best, and some even depressed me further. (Why look at wedding dresses when we can’t afford a wedding? And forget buying a house. I will never buy a house.)

It’s been a few days; the storm has passed. But I still don’t feel any better about anything. I am, it would appear, powerless in the face of my unemployment. I just happened to pick a field in which there are few opportunities where I live, and little remote work. (Why? I can edit just as well from my house as I can from your cubicle.)

The other morning, I turned off my 6:30 alarm and snoozed a bit more. Kai’s been teething, and I have been quite sleep deprived as a result. So I was in bed when my daughter awoke at 7:30. She snuggled close to me, and cradled her brother between us. R cuddled up close, as well. One big fam sammy. And I felt…safe. I felt loved. All the more so because I’d been feeling the exact opposite for days.

I remembered my vow to fight off the precise train of thought I have been suffocating beneath. I realized that just recognizing it isn’t enough; I need to figure out how to head it off at the pass.

Going for a walk normally helps. But that morning I had an editing test, so I didn’t have time. I need to make time. I need a schedule. A wake-up time. Scheduled time for work. Scheduled time for play. Time for exercise, meditation, self-care. If I don’t have enough work to fill the allotted time, I can do something fun in that window. If I have more, I will need to juggle my other scheduled tasks accordingly. But self-care and play time are not negotiable. I need those each and every day.

And snuggle time. That’s the most important to-do of all.

 

Shiny!

Our theme for the July PopClogs bootcamp is “Shine Bright Like a Diamond.” So I’m working on sparkling.

Part of my approach to this bout of unemployment is to think of it as an opportunity for a fresh start. I’m thinking big-picture here. What would make me shiny? What, ultimately, do I want?

  • I want to be healthy.
  • I want to be present in the moment, and fully appreciative of the moment.
  • I want to feel more grateful.
  • I want to feel more in control of my day-to-day life.
  • I want to do work that I find interesting, and that pays well enough that we can afford the things we need – and some of the things we want.
  • I want to spend more time with my family.
  • I want to create a support network of friends and colleagues.
  • I want to fill my free time with fun, interesting experiences and activities.
  • I want to continue to improve our financial picture, so that we can afford the big expenses we’ve been saving towards and so that our future is more secure than our past has been.
  • I want to live somewhere that fits us better than our current location does.

So…that’s kind of a tall order. This month, I’m starting small.

Focus on fitness
For so long, my body has been taking a back seat to my bank account. From here on out, fitness is a priority.

Practice mindfulness
I’ve been allowing Anya to beg off of meditation, and getting frustrated with her when she doesn’t participate in the sessions I insist upon. I don’t want meditation to be a chore, nor do I want it to be a point of stress. I want it to be a special time together for us. And I want us to both learn how to better manage our negative feelings and be more in the moment as a result of our practice.

Streamline household systems
Declutter and clean, so that it will be easier to maintain that clean. Automate/schedule routine tasks so that nothing gets overlooked. I’ve already started on this, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

Master mealtimes
This is the perfect opportunity to wean us off the boxed crap and start eating better, more healthful food. Menu planning. Strategic shopping. Established meal times and meal routines. These things need to happen.

Continue to pursue balance
It would be easy for me to fill my days with low-paying freelance gigs and ignore my needs and my family’s needs. Instead, I will strive to establish a balance. Work some and play some and exercise some and clean some, learn some and read some and sing some and dance some. Talk, and sit quietly. Spend time with each child and spend time with my partner. And when it’s all done, rest some.

Once I get those things down, I will work on the rest.