Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Just an almost-summer list

The graduates and their families overran our city this last weekend.  We avoided them.

I had a visit with one of the best friends of my best friend.

I got a therapist.

I cooked a few dinners, and they were eaten with gusto.

I washed almost all of the dirty laundry in the house.

I did not clean.

I slept enough.

I am reading printed books again.

We went to church.  It did not suck nor did either boy have a meltdown.  I nearly did, due to noise at the potluck afterward.

Our skittish cat is becoming a world-class snuggler. On her own terms.

My hair is long again, for the first time in 22 years.

Spark will get glasses this month.  That makes all four of us.

The neighbor couple had a baby girl.

Another neighbor is donating their old shed to us.  Hooray for outdoor storage!

We've had rain for four days in a row now.  The thunder has been splendid.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Life changes when one's work changes.

Six weeks in to the new schedule, and new job. I think that, as a family, we may be slowly growing and sending out strengthened roots, enduring this winter, getting ready to bloom. 

Working just 19 hours a week (automatic benefits kick in at 20 hours, and I'm a provisional employee at this point), there is time for me in the mornings and afternoons just to be by myself. I can think. I can breathe. I can eat breakfast and have coffee at home. I sit in front of the HappyLight for at least 15 minutes every morning.

The place I work for now is a non-profit that serves children and young adults with mental health issues, and their families. 

At the agency, I have my own office. It's quiet. It's got a translucent 6 x 7-foot window that would otherwise look into the ground-level parking lot and train tracks. I will soon be moving a slightly different office, and I have my choice of paint colors and a new desk. The people are so deeply kind there. I don't really know how to open up to that yet. Years of work-related sarcasm and management-by-neglect feel like a too-tight shell around me.

It's hard for me, being the new kid in a role for which I'm mostly perfectly prepared. I'm used to being able to do anything and everything required by almost anyone in my business. I don't fully understand all of the processes and reasons behind them, and I don't always get all the details of a task on the first time around. Oh, and I'm a perfectionist!

One of my goals during this time of transition is to support my family more. In one way, I'm doing that by cooking dinner for the family every night. I was shooting for a goal of ten nights in a row without resorting to take-out or frozen pizza. We've gotten to six nights for a few weeks so far; I'm pretty happy with that.

So far, some of the dinners have been raving successes, and some have been real learning experiences. Three out of four of us usually like meal as it is served; there's usually one person who doesn't care for it. Last night was an exception. Primo has strong preferences regarding food textures, and I thought I was going to get to a good place with our main dish --lentil and sausage soup -- by making the texture consistent. I blended the soup into a thick, pasty mix and served it with hot cornbread. While the texture was a bit grainy, the I thought flavor was wonderful, especially with fresh sweet cornbread.

The boys did not agree. And I've been a bit testy lately about some of their responses to my cooking. We've always been an eat-it-or-make-your-own kind of family when it comes to dinnertimes . . . so the kids usually make an effort to try the meal before they choose to go hungry or make a sandwich.

Well, this time, I saw the boys were really trying to eat the soup, taking a hunk of cornbread and quickly spooning a small bit of soup in with it. No dice. We started laughing. There was a brief mention of Utah Phillips' Moose turd pie. (Listen to it!!)

True to that story's form, no one complained! So I let the kids fill up on cornbread, got out some veggies and hummus, cheese and crackers, and we called it a night.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

More than two months have passed. Ready to exhale.

Friday, January 3, 2014: the second day of the rest of my life.  

The job change has come.  I almost didn't make it to the end, but it in order to claim unemployment, I had to work as long as the job was available.

The boys and I have been in our jammies all day, keeping warm and doing indoor activities.  There's tortilla soup on the stove, cats freaking out with catnip toys in the dining room, and kids playing Minecraft, too. Our Christmas tree stands in a corner of our living room, unlit.  I think we'll put it away tomorrow.

Hero has just arrived home.  I kissed him hello.  He promptly changed out of his work clothes and into flannel pajama pants, slippers, hoodie, hat, and thick insulated vest.  That's how we roll.  A cold snap is heading our way. We may not venture out all weekend.  Due to a forecast with dangerous wind chills, school has already been cancelled for Monday.

I've tried to make a habit of not expecting much out of life, especially not expecting happiness.  When I received the layoff notice, I went into a period of very low self-esteem and high-energy job searching.  It wasn't a very nice time to live through.  Then, as I settled in to the reality of being forced to make a much-needed career change, my spirit rallied a bit.  I'd hate to say that I started 'leaning in,' because I'm not fond of that term.  But I did start daring to hope.

Since having children and getting Primo's autism diagnosis, I've tended to be a keep-your-head down, keep-working-to-support-your-family kind of person when it comes to work.  I know what I'm good at, and though I've built up new skills over time, I tend to do the same kind of work wherever I go.  Even when a job gets boring, tiresome, and lacks challenges or interesting people, I tend to stick to it loyally.  But then things start to change, and the boredom starts to show my productivity.  I lose focus.  If the management style of the next-higher-up isn't proactive, I find it difficult to not go into something of a stasis, if not a tailspin.  And then it's time to change.

It seems that the life cycle for my jobs is between two and five years.