Posted in Uncategorized

Things I do when my spouse is traveling

My spouse and I have been together since 1997, so when he’s out of town it is deeply weird. This time he’s in Houston for a few days, then will be back for a couple, then gone again for a few more. I have lists of food I’ll make for dinner, things we will do in the evenings, but it’s never easy when 2/5 of our household is gone.

Nights like this, I tend to draw back into myself. I read a book (tonight’s is for the UU book club: Memoirs of a Geisha) and listen to my favorite female musicians (Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Jewel, Alanis Morisette, Juliana Hatfield, etc.) by candlelight while the children wander in and out, foraging for food or bidding for my attention in new and exciting ways.

Sometimes I indulge in long phone calls with old friends or family members. Tonight it was my birth family. I was trying to explain about my youngest wanting a piccolo for Christmas and how that was a wonderful thing. They said it would be so loud and off-putting, but to me, it’s music and comfort and safety because I can hear the melody and know exactly which kid it is playing and where my kid is and what they are doing. Their traumas are different than mine. I am terrified of not knowing what is happening to my children, of not being present, of moments unacknowledged. My goal as a parent is that my children never spend a moment wondering if they are loved or seen or acknowledged. I spend my days making sure that they know that they are welcomed and loved and seen for who they are, and that they know that however they may change, they are still loved. There is more about all that in the memoir I am writing, of course.

Tonight there was also a brief storm, so the youngest and I wandered outside and danced in the thunder and lightning, a tradition we’ve had since he was little. The rain drops were huge and we were quickly soaked, but it is what we do. We danced and sang and when we became too cold, we came inside and burrowed in blankets on the couch, listening to the midkid practice his French horn.

And now it is growing closer to bedtime, but I am unable to sleep. I never do when my spouse is gone. I will probably stay up and watch movies he would not enjoy, while listening to one of my kids sing his Region Band music, which is identical to music I and my friends played when we were in high school. It’s funny how things go around and come back to themselves.

Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Exercise, My Own Personal Weirdness, Parenting, Television & Film, What I Love, Writing

This week isn’t going how I thought it would

Tuesday, I got up and was so hopeful. Sure, I had my Spiritual Practices class that evening, but I had all day to write, so it was going to be great!

Nope. Due to some not-quite-disclosable things that are in the works, I got caught up in not one, but two different side projects. One is writing adjacent and in the end won’t require as much of my time as some of the things I’m doing now, but there was a wrapping up of one set of things in order to hand them off to someone else so I’d be ready for the next thing. I know how vague that sounds, but that’s the way life is sometimes, right?

The other thing is not writing adjacent, except in that I am writing up minutes for a group that I had thought I wasn’t taking part in any more. So there was catching up for that group’s information and making sure I still had access to all the notebooks and cloud storage that I need to do that work.

By the time I completed both things, it was time to hit the gym. On Friday, I rejoined the one that is walking distance from my house, instead of the one that I only go near on the way back from taking kids to school in the morning (which isn’t a good time for me to write, due to my ADHD meds timing). I went and learned where all the new stuff was, which machines I could still comfortably use, and which ones are still out of my happiness zone. It was a good workout, and I felt better for having done it.

The rest of the night zoomed by (literally haha!). Wednesday I had two meetings scheduled, so I knew I’d have to make the most of my in-between times for writing. Unfortunately, by the time I’d gotten home from the first one and eaten lunch, a problem had sprung up.

My kids school had a potential shooting threat. They informed parents right at the same time the 504 coordinator called to ask me if we could postpone our meeting for that afternoon. Because of the way our high school sends out alerts (first in the form of a phone call from the school’s main phone line wherein a computer voice reads the entire body of the message, including the URL’s – letter by letter; then almost immediately as an identical text message, an identical email, and then as a link to an identical letter in our district app), and the fact that 90% of the more than five a week they send are either about buying football tickets or that the PTA is selling Chik-fil-a at lunch on Friday, I have stopped answering calls from the school. So I missed that phone call and drove directly to the school. It was a madhouse. Literally hundreds of parents had driven there to take their kids out of school. Since there’s only one way in and out not on lockdown, they were all in the same foyer I needed to check into in order to get to my appointment on time. I was speaking to the woman guarding the door about my having an appointment “Honey, everyone is saying that,” when the 504 coordinator called me again. Since I was already there and the coordinator was meeting me at the inner door, I was ushered right inside. I heard the scoop on everything potentially threatening that was going on, had my kids 504 meeting, and offered to take the kids home anyways, even though it sounded like there was nothing actually going on other than the parental mayhem out front. Both my kids declined. One didn’t want an unexcused absence and the other wanted to go to Writing Club (oh my heart!).

They both wanted me to keep close “on standby,” so I ended up hitting the nearby stores and doing some early Christmas shopping to keep busy, since I had no computers or iPad on me to write with in the parking lot (the notebook I’d brought for the meeting literally had two pages left and I used them during the meeting). Scooped up the first kid out, then sat in the car waiting for the second kid for almost an hour.

I was exhausted, physically and mentally, by the time I got home. I ate dinner and was just heading to bed, when a kid -the one that has never in his life sat still for a movie – begged me to watch a silly Disney movie (Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge) with them. Of course I had to.

Today was an early-to-school day for the kiddos, but I had all the chores I hadn’t gotten done Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to get to work on, plus grocery shopping, so I did those things first. Then I had critiques to do for the Pineywoods Critique Group (which has a new website with a forum and blog here), along with hitting the gym again so I don’t turn into a stiff blob like I was all last year). I also needed to finish one last bit of an old transcribing project that I had promised someone ages and ages ago.

All of this is a long way of saying: it’s late Thursday and I’m still at 684 words for NaNoWriMo. *sigh*

Posted in Around the House, Everywhere But Home, Family Time, Friend Time, Parenting, Saving Money

Feast of Tabernacles

You know how we thought the Feast of Tabernacles last year was weird? Yeah, this year is weirder.

If you are new to this blog and do not know: we are an interfaith household. My husband’s family belong to the United Church of God. More info on the Feast of Tabernacles can be found here.

David is headed off to Utah with church friends from all over. I dropped him off at the Tyler airport today after spending all day with him yesterday trying, and failing, to get his phone fixed before he left. We ended up getting him a new one instead, as T-Mobile doesn’t recognize Sprint’s care plan after their merger.

David waited til the last minute to tell us what he was planning, then the pandemic threw a wrench in things as well, with some locations deciding to limit visitors all together. So Utah was super last minute, which meant getting him a reasonably priced airline ticket was going to cause some issues. He ended up on three different planes with one eight hour layover in Dallas and one twelve hour layover in Phoenix.

He was totally calm about all of this. It was me wracked with worry. What if he missed a flight? What if the Phoenix Airport wouldn’t let him spend the night inside? What if he forgot to pick up his luggage in Phoenix and ended up in Utah without it?

My anxiety levels were already crazy, but sending my 19-year-old off on his own for the first time drove me over the edge. Hence the All Crochet All Weekend confabulation.

He got there just fine. His friends eventually picked him up at the airport. He’s great, he says.

Meanwhile, the other four of us are at home this week. Nick and Greg are going to watch videos livestreamed from other locations. They can do it in the morning with a Florida site or in the afternoon with the Utah site David is at. (Ree and I? We are doing school work or writing or practicing instruments. We’re fine.)

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Exercise, Family Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, Organizing, Parenting

Our Quarantine Home Life

Sundays are fairly normal. My husband, Nick, gets up around 6:30am and exercises, then I get up and make some breakfast. The midkid and I watch our church service online instead of driving two minutes down the road. Nick and Greg make a grocery list, which Ree and I add to once our church is over. Then Nick goes out shopping for a couple hours while the kids and I do some household chores. In the later afternoon we watch another documentary or play a board game. Sometimes Nick has to work some more. Then the Nick makes dinner, the kids set the table, and we eat dinner. Then it’s time for showers and bed.

On any given weekday, Nick gets up at 5:30am, goes to the living room and exercises with some weights my kid brought home randomly from my dad’s house. He is so thankful for that. I wake up at 6am and grab a cup of tea and a chat with him before he heads off to shower. I read the news until it’s time to swap. After my shower, I dress myself and put on makeup and jewelry because that is one little piece of sanity in my day.

Nick starts work at 7:15am in the home office I rigged up for him from the desk our college kind left behind. It’s perpendicular to my own home office. We hung a curtain from the ceiling between us so our online meeting people don’t have to see the other person in the room. I also need it there because I cannot write if someone is looking over my shoulder. I’m also not used to people being home during the day. I usually spend quite a lot of time alone and I’m going a little bit crazy without alone time.

7:15am is also when I wake up the kids. They don’t wander out until nearly 8am, so I spend time playing the new Animal Crossing Game. It’s very soothing to have someplace to go and other villagers to visit with. My brain doesn’t care that it’s not real. Once the kids come out, we eat breakfast and then take a walk around the neighborhood. I try to pick a different kind of thing to look for every day, just to keep it interesting. Sometimes it’s a kind of tree or a bug or a bird.

When we come back inside, our 7th grader  has an online meeting at 9am. The teacher says its optional, but she also texts me every time he doesn’t show up, so I try to make sure he goes into the Zoom meeting before I leave his room. Then I encourage our 10th grader to look at his assignments. His teachers haven’t posted much at all, so he’s inclined not to check unless I stand there and watch him do it. Since he has 8 classes to check, this takes a while.

At 11am,  I coax the kids away from the computers and we start looking at our lunch options. I’m usually the one that buys the lunch food, but I cannot go out because I’m immunocompromised, so we have to make do with what my husband brings home. He rarely thinks of lunch food. By noon, we’ve come up with something, eaten it, and the kids wander back to their devices for some recreational screen time while I chat with my husband, who has an hour off for lunch. Sometimes instead I hide in our now-quiet bedroom and luxuriate in the fact that no one is speaking to me.

At 1pm, it’s instrument practicing time. Each kid has two instruments, so one plays for 30 minutes, then the other, and then back and forth again. Sometimes I don’t have to monitor this time period. If I can get away with it, I sneak off to do some writing or editing.

From 3-5pm, it’s serious school work time. The middle school teachers have been assigning all the things, so our youngest has a TON of work. The high school kid does not. So I have the youngest ask the middle one for help during this time while I go do my “work hours.” I have a lot of volunteer positions — Secretary for the Tyler Council of PTA’s as well as focus person for Bell, Moore, Lee, and Andy Woods PTA’s when they need help, Secretary for the Lee Band Parents Association, Secretary for the Moore Middle School PTA, Membership chair and Assistant Webmaster for the East Texas Writers Guild, Facilitator for this group. Plus I’m a member of  two critique groups. Some of my groups have successfully transitioned to online meetings, some have not.

At 5pm, I encourage the kids to go play outside or water the garden or weed something. Soon it will be too hot for that, so we may swap our morning walk for yard work, do indoor chores during this time, and take a post dinner walk.

From there, the kids get some non-homework time until dinner set up starts. I usually try to find some artistic thing for them to do or science experiment to run instead of more screen time. Some times it works. Occasionally one of them has an online music lesson during this time.

We eat dinner around 7pm, like we always have. After dinner, it’s time for a family board game or more Animal Crossing, which we play on the big screen together in group mode. Occasionally Nick or I will have an online meeting for one of our groups instead. (He’s on the security and media teams at church and he’s also trying to host online game nights for some of his co-workers who are quarantined alone.)  Then showers for the kids and they are sent off to read in bed until they fall asleep. Nick and I go to bed around 10pm after watching Star Trek: the Next Generation.

Fridays are different because Nick only works half days. We have our eldest son over (he lives alone around the corner from us) and do some take-out for lunch. Then play a game, usually. He goes home afterwards. Then Nick’s been finding household jobs to do to keep him occupied while the kids finish their school days. He’ll make a fancier dinner that night.

Saturdays are pretty normal. We wake up later, sit around reading or playing music on our instruments, then eat a bigger brunch. Nick’s church meets on Saturday, so he and the bookend boys watch the service online while I sneak off to write. Our midkid wanders off to read. After church is over, we have a family dinner and maybe some more board games. Sometimes we watch a documentary together. Then the eldest goes home and we do our nighttime routine.

And that’s our week.

Posted in Around the House, Computers and Internet, Exercise, health, My Own Personal Weirdness

Quantifiable things

1. I have exercised this week.  I’m stretching each morning and trying not to fall on my face. I’m following the Workout Trainer App on my Android and while I’m not in love with it, it’s better than nothing for a free exercise course to get me started.  Also, my friend Monaca and I agreed that we’re not getting any skinnier meeting for sweet rolls and floofy drinks, so we’re going to try walking in the future around Rose Rudman trails instead.

This is not Rose Rudman, but a walking trail close to home that I can use in the evenings. And these are the sweet kids playing there.

2. I have figured out a better daily schedule, but it includes me getting up at 5am.  Umm.  I’m not getting ahead on that plan, so I re-revised it and now I’m getting up at 5:30 and doing the aforementioned exercising in the comfort of my own room. Whee!  I’m also writing a bit more, not fiction yet, but daily stuff and a little poetry that’s rattling around in my brain lately.  Also taking care of the kids and trying to make life more sane.

3. I’m doing a Bible study off the YouVersion app and answering its questions. Not as good as going to one with other people, but way better for scheduling.  For real people, I’m going to a weekly book study on Raising Resilient Children (that’s the authors website).  It’s a really good book and has challenged me to respond better to my children.

A good book about child rearing.  Go, read it!  :)

4. Today I’m booking our trip to the UK for June.  Thursday night Nick and I are discussing our hotel options and more detailed itinerary.  Whee! (Two goals for the price of one?)

5.  I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app for the iPhone, since the SparkPeople app cost a ridiculous amount of money for the update (it used to be free).  So now I have two fitness pals (one a very skinny lady indeed and one person who I don’t remember at the moment) and I can track my food weirdnesses.  Whee!

See, we're eating healthier already!  :)
See, we’re eating healthier already! 🙂

6. There is never going to be a #6.

7.  Scaling back on the internet, I figured out how to add people to my acquaintances list on Facebook, so they practically never show up.  It even suggested people.  Some of them I didn’t acquantintize.  Yeah, not a word.  Whatever.  Also, set all my newsreader subscriptions to Mark All Read so I’m not tempted to try to catch up and so am just starting over.  I may dump some, we shall see.  I also set my FB notifications to archive immediately so I’m not having to see them all the time.

Posted in My Own Personal Weirdness, Parenting

NY Resolutions and 2013 Family Motto

Yesterday my little family took a tour of the house and looked around.   I mean REALLY looked at things: the socks on the floors, the fingerprints on the walls, the dishes on the coffee table, the unmade beds, etc, etc.

Messy bathroom
Messy bathroom

Then we had a little refresher talk about kindness.  We’d talked at church about ways to be kind to others at church (holding doors, handing out hymnals, bringing water to the disabled during fellowship time) and out in public (again holding doors, giving someone with less stuff the first turn in line at the grocery, etc).  We needed to think about how to be kind to each other at home. We talked about things like putting away items (clothes, dishes, toys, towels) when we are done with them so other people don’t have to, cleaning up our messes as we make them so they don’t get stuck on so someone has to scrub (rather than wipe) later, and wearing headphones when we’re with our personal electronics so we’re not disturbing the people around us.  Then we talked about our 2013 Family Motto.  We’ve never really had one before, but as I was reading FlyLady and trying to get back on my cleaning schedule, I’d really liked hers and thought we’d co-opt something like it.  “Be as Kind as can be in 2013”

 

My resolution this year is simply to take a bit better care of myself. To choose ME this year instead of others more often. Because I haven’t done that in a long time and when I look at myself and pay attention, I see that I am another year older, another 20 pounds heavier, and stressed out beyond belief. So I’m going to just be good to myself this year and see where that takes me. 🙂  My best friend mentioned that I need to break that down into a list of Things To Do, so I can check things off at years-end, which is not something I’m very good at remembering to do.  In fact, looking back, I fulfilled NONE of mine this year and didn’t appear to make any resolutions at all the several years before that (at least on the computer.  I might’ve on paper, now that I’m thinking about it).

 

Resolutions as Things To Do:

1. Exercise a couple or three times a week.  This can include, but is not limited to: walking, swimming, yoga, some kind of Wii sports, whatever gets my heart rate up, actually.

2. Drop a couple of my less-than-enjoyable obligations.  I already have two in mind, but I’m not sharing those here yet. 🙂

3. Investigate the idea of going back to school to be a media specialist for schools.  I’ve been asked about doing that a lot lately and while I don’t know if I am interested enough yet to go through with going back to school, I’d at least like to look into it.

4. Plan our trip to the UK.  Go there.  Enjoy ourselves as a couple, rather than as parents.

5. Date my husband more this year.  By more, I mean at least once a month go somewhere not chore related on our own and smile at each other.  Whee!

6. There is no #6.

7. Figure out a better daily schedule, so each day doesn’t feel like a crisis situation.

8. Pay attention to what I’m eating and drinking so I don’t eat a billion pieces of chocolate or all the french onion dip in just two sittings.  I don’t know how to make this one quantifiable yet, as the last two programs I tried that kept track of that stressed me out more than helped me.

9. Scale back on my internet time somehow.  I think this will involve dropping some of my newsreader subscriptions and the facebook friends I am not terribly close to will go to unchecked for updates. I’m also turning off a bunch of notifications, as I spend half my time these days seeing double updates, as facebook sends them to my inbox and the phone posts them twice.  So that will be done, too.

 

So that’s quite a lot for now.  Some steps have more than one step.  So exciting.  I’ll set myself a phone reminder to check the list midyear and see how I’m doing. 🙂

 

Posted in Organizing, Parenting, Writing

Tools for NaNoWriMo 2010

  • 8:58 am: I bought tools for Nanowrimo: 4 pens & a notebook. Pens have been kid-appropriated already: B=teal, D=blue, G=brown. I guess I get green.

From twitter.

Posted in Around the House, Exercise, Parenting

Autumn & Greg’s Party Update

  • 07:50:23: It’s 45 degrees out there, so naturally I’m dressed in shorts today (it’s my first day back to the gym). Yay for autumn!
  • 13:19:45: Greg had a fabulous birthday party yesterday! Thanks to everyone that joined us! 🙂

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Posted in I Am Traveling, Parenting

Enchanted Rock

  • 15:39:18: Just climbed up & down Enchanted Rock with 4 adults & 6 kids age 10 & younger. All of us still alive.

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Posted in Everywhere But Home, I Am Traveling, My Own Personal Weirdness, Parenting

I’m here in B/CS now.

Ok…I’m here in B/CS now. Excitement, excitement!

David has a walker now. My mom got it for him. He’s so cute in it. He doesn’t quite touch the floor, but he’s having fun exploring all the buttons and knobs on it. It’s nice and noisy. woo-hoo!

🙂

That’s about it…other than the fact that it’s been a bad food day and I hate Boston Market and trees in the road are just a VeryBadThing.

Yeah. it’s been one of those days.