Things I have learned this week

  • I don’t need as much conditioner as I thought I did. In fact, I only need about a dime-sized amount. My hair looks, feels, and dries much better for this piece of knowledge, which makes my day go that little bit more smoothly.
  • Lemon curd, while delicious, has way too much egg in it for my touchy tummy. Which means that if I make that lemon cream cake again, I’m going to have to find another means of lemoning the cream part. (Didn’t stop me from having cake for lunch for three days straight. I just had to take an antacid afterwards.)
  • My son can say “ice cream.” And make pretend ice cream out of Play-Doh. And serve it to Mommy. And then really eat the Play-Doh after Mommy pretends to.
  • Working at a computer while sitting at a table in a wooden chair causes a tremendous amount of pain. I’m going to have to revamp my work setup for working while watching kids.
  • The Deep Focus playlist on Spotify does, in fact, help me focus. It helped me power through some 18-hour work sessions this week.
  • I may have to consider mobile data for my tablet, for freelancing purposes. Thanks for that lesson, Cindy. But at least it allows me to work on offline files while the power company deals with the downed lines, and mobile data on my phone lets me contact my clients and let them know I’m in the dark. Technology is cool like that.
  • I maybe learned more this week, but I’m too tired (and now running behind on things) to think of anything else right now.

Blink and you miss it

The paint splatters on the floor, the ones that won’t come off — those are Anya’s childhood.

As are the scuffs and scrapes on my particleboard kitchen furniture, the stuff I bought with my ex-husband. On the particleboard everything in this house, to be honest. (Which is pretty much all the furniture, save the kitchen table and chairs.) I have already started mentally planning painting and mosaic projects for when they stop being so destructive.  The walls, the carpets, my clothes, my car…everything they touch bears marks from both kids.

Or I suppose I could just buy all new stuff.

But in just a few years — 20? 10? 5? — there will be no evidence that they were ever here in this house.

When I was a child, we moved from Illinois to Tennessee. Before we left my childhood home, I wrote my name and the date inside the closet: black Sharpie on powder pink paint. (And probably something about that being my room FOREVER, because I was 14.) That was nearly 30 years ago; someone has surely painted over the words by now. Probably more than once. No marks are forever, even Sharpie.

This morning, as I sit here PMSing and also hot-flashing (which is a really bizarre mix, let me tell you), I’m getting all misty thinking that these marks last no longer than they do. That childhood lasts such a short time. That in a few brief, brilliant moments, these tiny, beautiful creatures who depend on me for everything are going to turn into adults and move on.

I know it’s ridiculous, but I just wish I could hold on to these years for a while. Even the bad moments, where Kai throws toys at the other kids in the library, when Anya lays claim to every toy in the house and won’t let her brother play with so much as a half-deflated ball.

But I am also so looking forward to getting to know the adults they will become. So I cannot wish to keep them small forever. I’ll just have to compromise by taking 13.4 million photos of them, so when I’m old I can look back and remember these days. Unfortunately, photos and videos can’t capture the smell of their hair, the feel of their skin. So hopefully they will provide me with grandchildren, and thus allow me to recapture a little of these days.

How did I ever think life moved slowly? It goes by so brutally fast.

Today is Library Day

I decided Monday (or maybe Tuesday; this week’s already been at least two weeks long) that Wednesdays would henceforth be Library Days. Because I want there to be a Library Day this summer. Monday is Art Class Day and Tuesday is T-Ball Day, so Wednesday it is. Thursday has been Laundry Day for years now, and Friday is alternatively Cleaning Day and Fun Day (when it’s not just a regular old Work Day).

It would be easy to say “I have too much work to do; let’s put off Library Day.” (It’s true; I do. This week is trying very hard to make up for my lack of work these past few months.) But I cannot put off art class or t-ball, and I think the library deserves that same level of dedication. So here we go.

See, this is why I don’t understand why people say “Mommy _____” with such derision. “Mommy jobs” and “mommy bloggers” and “mompreneur” and the like. Because at the same time I am making the executive decision to put my children’s literacy above my workload, thus guaranteeing me a couple of short sleep days as I scramble to make up the time, I am also managing cleaning and laundry and shopping for essentials, contacting the landlord about the rotten deck and pest control about the wasps in the garage, checking in on my parents, and ensuring my kids (one of whom got up at 4:30 this morning, so of course I have Apple Jacks ground into my living room rug already) are safe, happy, fed, and don’t burn the house down while I’m on a call. As a freelancer, I’m juggling four different jobs (this week; I have more) while all this goes down.

Scheduling and organization are key. Having a time and a place for everything, and keeping everything in its place. I have to-do lists of to-do lists.

I thought I was an organized multitasker before I had kids. I did not know what it meant to multitask back then. I could clean the house and it stayed clean. Now I scrub the kitchen floor three times a day.

Moms work hard; moms that work from home work even harder. There is no window of time during which everyone is out of the house and someone else is caring for the kids, so the chaos is literally neverending. I never have nothing to do, ever.

So yes, I am a mompreneur. A mommylancer. A work-at-home mom. If I mention my kids in context of work, I’m not telling you that I will need lots of flexibility or sick days (though let’s be honest, I will). I’m telling you that I can put out fires with a watering can and make s’mores from the embers. Your project will therefore be no problem.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go change a poopy diaper and get back to work. I only have a few hours before we leave for the library.

 

Settling into the new normal

House listings are my porn. I have accounts on Trulia, Zillow, and RedFin, and visit HotPads from time to time. I have saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of listings. Any time I see a for-sale sign in a neighborhood I’m interested in, I grab my phone and search for the realtor listing. How many bedrooms? Is there a garage? Separate laundry room? What unfortunate color scheme would I have to paint over?

I’m not buying a house anytime soon. I’m too far in debt to even consider it. Nor are we moving away in the foreseeable future; my parents’ health is waning, and they are beginning to truly need our help. Even if that were not the case, my kids enjoy living close to them too much to leave right now.

No, my house shopping is just a dream. But it’s pretty much a harmless one, so I indulge myself.

The other day, I learned that I did get one of the jobs I’d applied for, a part-time contract gig. It’s flexible enough that I can do most of my work before the kids even wake up in the morning, and squeeze in my other freelancing while Kai naps and after R gets home from work. Which leaves me the rest of the day to take care of the kids and help my parents out.

This is not how I’d pictured my days. I was anticipating having to decide between a daycare and a babysitter — a decision I’ve fought since I became pregnant with Anya. Now I’m the daycare. It’s the goal I aspired to before I had kids. I didn’t expect it to feel this scary, though.

If I bust my hump and the work stays steady, with this new job I will be making close to what I made when I was laid off…but without benefits. If we manage to get married later this year, come tax time next year R’s tax return will offset my tax payment…but we may just barely break even. The security of the job I didn’t get was so great that I admit I’m having trouble seeing the bright spots in how things turned out.

But if I am to be honest about it, I think things turned out just as they needed to.

My mother, while not as bad off as we had feared this time last week, is very ill, and recovery is going to take at least a year. My father has health issues of his own that he’s been putting off treating until Mom gets well — and the time has come that he can no longer do that. They need me to help them out.

My kids need me, too. My daughter, while she thinks she is grown, is still little enough to want to spend time with me. And I’d be a fool to regret having the time with my son that I missed with her because I was working so much.

My debt is at times utterly overwhelming to me. Because we had to rely on credit during both of my maternity leaves, my current debt is roughly half my annual income. The first thing I’d intended to do once I started receiving a steady paycheck was to use my freelancing income (because of course I’d intended to continue freelancing, at least for a while) to start paying down my debt. So I could eventually pay back what I took from the kids’ savings accounts and our down payment savings account.

Now it’s going to be a while before all that happens. Years, perhaps. And unless I do return to work full time, the down payment account may never come back at all. My house hunting will remain a pretty dream.

But I’ll hang on to that dream just a little while longer.

 

Hurriedly written with my thumbs before bedtime

I really meant to post before now, but today just didn’t go like that. It wasn’t an entirely bad day, just very busy.

Two things to note:

1. For 3-ingredient (4 if you count the cookies) ice cream, this stuff is pretty rad.

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Especially when eaten from tiny cones.

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2. Anya feels bad. Earache, intermittent fever…nothing horrible, but she is not 100%. She got weepy at bedtime and told me I wasn’t giving her enough attention, and that I should because she is sick. So we meditated, and cuddled, and read a story, and cuddled more. I apologized for not paying her enough attention, and told her that in the future, she could let me know when she needs a little extra TLC by using the code phrase “rainbow unicorn.” That appeased her; she is snoring peacefully next to me.

I have a full workload plus an important job interview tomorrow. This rainbow unicorn thing will almost certainly come back to bite me. Oh, well. What can ya do?

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Snuggle down, go to sleep, and hope tomorrow is better for everyone, that’s what.

Five posts in five days

Yeah, I’m kind of proud of that.

But also busy, and I promised my kids I’d take the afternoon off, so I thought I’d resurrect my Friday goal update post. Except my goals have shifted since I last wrote one of these, and I have a whole bunch of goals at the moment, so I can’t possibly write updates on each. Here’s the highlights.

Goals

Daily meditation. Though I have not started my meditation challenge, I’ve meditated every day this week. It’s helping. It also appears to be helping Anya. Still hoping I can turn this into our thing. 

Family game night. We’ve actually had a few of these. Kai has shown increasing interest in playing games. And then loses interest, because games are long and he is 2. But I am encouraged; perhaps he will be the push we need to game as a family.

Eating. Nobody is into it right now. I’m still in stressy not-eating mode. The rest of my household would rather snack. So I’m just trying to make sure we have healthy snacks for them. Meals will come later…but it may be fall.

Bedtime routine. I’m trying to steer us toward a better bedtime routine: Medicine, teeth, shower, story time, meditation, then TV. Because by the time we get to the meditation part, Anya’s falling asleep. (Kai is still napping erratically; we probably won’t get him into a regular bedtime til we fix that.) It’s a work in progress, but progress is being made.

Exercise 30 minutes per day. Not every day, but more this week than I have been. The weather’s been beautiful, though, so that’s been easy. June-August will likely be another story entirely.

Work with the kids on their letters/numbers/sounds. Anya got a wonderful report card yesterday! She went from only having mastered about half of what she was expected to know to knowing nearly all of it. This after having missed literally half the school year. I’m amazed at her resilience, and how quickly she’s learned.

She’s still struggling with speech, and her IEP report card wasn’t as wonderful as her pre-K one, but she’s doing a great job considering how many speech classes she missed. Practice is really helping. I’m also making sure some of the books we read are short and repetitive, so she becomes familiar with the look of the words, because that helps her figure out what sounds she’s missing.

Kai, too, is picking up what I’m putting down. We practice letters and numbers (which I’ve written on the shower wall in bath crayon, for visual reference), body parts (joints are hard, but he’s got the main pieces down), and I’m starting to throw some colors in there. The trick with both kids is short sessions every day. Neither of them have the patience for long lessons, but five minutes here and there makes a huge difference.

Blog regularly. Five posts in five days is serious improvement over my recent posting (non)schedule.

Reading: The mom edition

Borrowed from LKD, my reading hero. She reads with a toddler. I am in awe.

Do you have a specific place for reading?

On my phone. My kids destroy paper books. I need more Kindle books.

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I am a dirty dog-earer. But only in my own books.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of the chapter?

I’d prefer it was the end of a chapter, but I have learned to deal. And also to read the same line/paragraph/page/chapter multiple times because I have forgotten where I was.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

I am never without green (morning) or ginger (the rest of the day) tea. Hot, of course.

Music or TV while reading?

Not my choice, but yeah, usually.

One book at a time or several?

There was a time when I read many books at once. Now I struggle to read one.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

Wherever I can. Hence the Kindle app — I am never without my phone.

Read out loudly or silently?

Silently. Unless I am reading to the kids, because that would be mean.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I don’t skip.  But I sometimes skim.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

My books look loved.

Do you write in your books?  

Reference books and text books, yes. I also underline meaningful passages of other books. Kindle…not yet.

I had to hide from the kids to finish this, but it was fun. Perhaps I should also hide from them to read. Hm…