Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Last One for November

Prompt of the Day:

What did you learn from NaBloPoMo?

I learned that I am not good at making time each day to blog.

I learned that daily prompts make me feel like I am in grade school again, writing quick answers in a daily writer, before the bell dings and it's time to put the paper and pencils away.

I learned that some things are just too hard to think about, even over a year later. 

I learned that sometimes  I think I don't have an answer, but once I give myself a few minutes to really think about it, I come up with something I never knew was in me. 

I learned that pushing myself to try something new really is not so scary, and if I don't do it "right" or I "fail", that's not so scary to deal with either. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


My little snowglobe life has been shook up - taking a brief pause from blogging to get things sorted and settled. Will be back by Thursday or Friday, but no prompts until then probably.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lazy Day Sunday

Parent/Teacher Conferences were last week for us. I have heard good things from his teacher, Mrs. CW, through the year, so I was damn near giddy at the idea of getting to sit for a bit and hear how awesome my kid is. (I'm proud of him, what can I say?)

The report was actually better than I had expected. He has a passion for math, which shows. From the phone calls home and chats after class, I already knew he was being well-behaved in class and showed a lot of excitement in learning. What I did not expect though was how far he has come in reading and comprehension. Last year, he was barely at grade level and hated to read. As a mum that is an avid reader and a writer, it was heart-wrenching. I personally felt like it was my fault, some sort of grave error on my part, that he didn't like to dive into books and explore the ways words can be combined into fantastic stories. So when Mrs. CW showed us his comprehension and reading test scores, my jaw almost dropped. He is reading at the next grade level and is almost at the top of the testing scales! I knew he had been reading more and more around the house, but didn't realize he had improved his skills that much! It was one of my proudest mumma-moments, to say the least.

When he gets good reports, I like to reward him with an "Anything Agent M Wants" day. We pick a day when I don't have work or other commitments, and what he says goes. I make what he wants to eat, we do what he wants, go wherever he decides, and I don't work, do laundry, wash dishes, etc. I'm all his and he's calling the shots for the day. In the past, we have gone to the park for hours, eaten cookies with breakfast, and gone to my parent's house to play video games with my Dad. When I asked him on Friday what he wanted for his day, which was going to be Sunday, he said he wanted it to be one of our "Lazy Days". Lazy Days are few and far between at our house, simply because of lack of time. We do the bare minimum on Lazy Days, the agenda usually heavily devoted to watching cartoons while laying on my bed. With writing to be done, job-hunting, laundry, work shifts, and school plays to juggle most days, we have not had a Lazy Day for months. Saturday night he was going to be spending the night at my parent's house (and I was taking advantage of the time to go out with some girls from work), so a Lazy Day following on Sunday sounded perfect. 

I told my Mum about the Lazy Day and that he was allowed to sleep in as late as he wanted (and their plans allowed). She loved the idea and to give them enough time to play, we planned on me picking him up about 12noon (Which was good considering I slept in until 11am that morning). Once I picked him up, Agent M reminded me that we were to go right home so that he could play a game on the laptop while sitting on my bed. Still waking up, I thought that sounded like a great idea. 

Our day roughly went like this: We climbed onto my bed, he played his games online for a bit while I crocheted. The cat snuggled with us, we made up pretend conversations with her. 

Suki loves Lazy Days just as much as we do. She was in our laps  most of the day.

Snuggled up on the bed. Crocheting to the left on me, Army games to the right, Suki stuck in the middle.

Photo from my bed. Such a messy room! Shoes to be put away, laundry to be hung! But Lazy Day means no cleaning!

Numerous episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle were watched, and I got in numerous naps. He requested "Brinner" for a late lunch (normally, "Brinner" is "breakfast for dinner", in this case it meant we had hash browns, biscuits with jam, and scrambled eggs for lunch.). More crocheting, more games, more cartoons, more naps. I played with the camera on my phone. He defeated online armies. 

Where we camped out for 80% of the day. (And no makeup!)

While making dinner, we discovered that at 7 years old, he has already grown taller than my shoulders.

I am 5ft tall. Agent M is quickly catching up to me.

For dinner, he decided on red beans with rice and tilapia. Nothing fancy, but one of his current favorites.

Not the best photo - but we decided that red beans and rice are love. :)

We finished off the evening with him beating me at chess, twice, and then heading back to my bed for a chapter of Harry Potter before actually going to bed. I turned on a "Harry Potter" playlist on Pandora while I read, and we snuggled close under a big fleece blanket, the cat wedged between us, purring happily. It was a perfect Lazy Day, a reminder that even with all the fuss and work to be done, we should take the time for more lazy moments.

(No NaBloPoMo Prompt today - the prompt doesn't really apply to me, so I'm calling for an "off day")

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Happy

Prompt of the Day:

What has been the happiest moment of your life, thus far?

Happiest moment of my life. That is a tough one. I have had a lot of bad days with happy moments, happy mornings, happy evenings, happy outcomes. How do I pick just one? Each one has had it's value. How do I place one above all others? The answer: Easily.

When thinking of happiest moments, the first that comes to mind is the moment when I got to finally hold Agent M and really see him for the first time. Labor sucked - I had been stuck all night and morning in a hospital bed with monitors, a catheter, and no end in sight. I briefly remember that at one point during pushing, he was not coming out and they threatened to use forceps, only to discover that his cord was wrapped around his neck - at which point they told me to stop pushing and I begged the nurse to let me push, the urge was so great. Once he was untangled, the rest is a bit of a blur. He was checked, I did...something...not sure what...and then, he was in my arms. I said to him, "There you are!" and marveled at how little and bird-like he was. His nose was so cute, and his ears were adorable. I felt like my eyes were not enough to see him all, I wanted to see him and know him completely at once. At that moment I felt what I had never once felt before - what I can only describe as pure love and joy for another. What I felt went beyond just being happy. Having him in my arms and seeing him felt perfect. It was as if something in me finally clicked, shifted just a little but enough to make my whole existence for a different reason. It was a brief moment, as I needed to be checked more and people shuffled through the room. But that moment, that shift, that little connection, was enough that it has been nestled close to my heart every single day since.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Crush

Prompt of the Day:

Make a list of everyone you've ever had a crush on in your life, then choose one from the list and describe him or her in great detail.
(Guest Prompt by Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look )

Lordy, do we really have time for this? 

I fall into crushes easily. Painfully easily. I have been enamored with everyone from classmates, people I've met at local live shows, coworkers, bosses, clients, customers, store clerks, friends of friends, and close friends who I adore but would never want to cross that line with. Sometimes those crushes become so big that I blush and end up avoiding the person until I can simmer down and get over it, but the only crushes I have now are little ones that just make me smile and happy to know such awesome people.

A (brief) run down: 

- a girl in grade school who had the most amazing, wavy hair and green eyes, ever. 
- a kid named Wyatt (again, grade school) who wanted next to nothing to do with me and ended up falling hard for a girl I could not stand.
- more classmates in junior high (Silas, Kathy, Vik, Anthony, Bruce, to name a few)
- more classmates in high school, but this was where classmates started to interest me less and less as they became more judgmental, more confusing, and more snotty, and I came out as bisexual and really started to question myself and what I wanted out of life.
- Two high school crushes worth mentioning - my friend Chris and his punk friend, that he tried to set me up with but the guy dropped out of high school before we could date. Chris was, of course, interested in the same girl Wyatt had been interested in years before. She was not so annoying at this point, and we actually were friendly in class to each other. 
- Kendra, Aaron, Mike, a different Mike....not classmates but people I knew through a youth center I hung out at.

(...geez, this list is making me sound bad...)

- Big Tom, Andy, Scampi, and a few other various local musicians (drummers and bass players in particular, it always seemed)
- various customers at the jobs I worked after high school
- a coworker who is still a dear friend to this day
- a couple coworkers when I worked for Tower Books (two who worked at the same store as me, one who worked at the record store)
- a girl who worked at the beauty salon next to Tower Books, who I quickly got over once I actually went on a date with her.
- a friend I used to go play cards with at another friend's house, almost nightly. I badly had a crush on him but he had no interest in me other than as a friend. That one stung a bit.

(ok, fast forwarding a bit...)

- a definitely straight, but totally cute as hell and beyond artistically talented friend of a friend
- one of my professors from last semester, who was absolutely brilliant and pushed me to think in ways I had not thought before.
- two former coworkers from the grocery store I work at now.
- three of my current coworkers, one of which knows. 

And of course, a trail of famous actors, actresses, musicians, and models. But they aren't "real" and therefore don't count, right? 

Now, here's the thing about my crushes - I get them on people I think are witty, interesting, or extremely talented in some way. They are people I just like to be around or want to hang out with a lot. No one that I have had a crush on has ever become someone I had a relationship with, EVER. A crush NEVER becomes more than a crush. That's where it's different from the start for me. When someone comes along that catches my interest enough for me to want to pursue them, it's a totally different feeling. I get shy. I blush, a lot. Crushes I'll chatter at, tease, joke with. Someone I'm actually interested in will have a hard time getting me to look them in the face because I simply won't know what to say. It's stupid, but that's just how it always has been for me. 

Out of respect for The Swede and what we have going on, I'm not going to describe in detail any of my crushes. Besides, I don't spend that much time on thinking of any of them anyways. I am quite smitten by The Swede, with his bright blue eyes and scattering of freckles. I like everything from the way he laughs, to how how strong his hands are, to the way he silently would walk up behind me, wrap his arms around my waist, and just press his lips against my hair or neck while I was cooking or looking at something at the store. If I am thinking of anyone in great detail, it's him. And those are details that I am keeping to myself. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Adulthood

Prompt of the Day:

What is the moment that you leave childhood and enter adulthood? 
(Guest Prompt by Catherine Gildiner, author of After the Falls)



Through getting married, having a child, moving to a new city away from family, moving back to the city I grew up in, buying a house, separating from my husband, moving back in with my parents, getting my own apartment, moving to a better apartment, getting served with divorce papers, selling the house, buying a car, and, now, trying to wrap up the divorce...I can honestly say that being an adult kinda blows. 

But, sticking with the prompt, I don't think there is a set moment. I might have gotten married, but I still felt like a kid playing dress-up most of the time. I gave birth to Agent M, but there wasn't any sort of "I am a grown up now" moment (funny aside - to this day most people think I am his older sister because I don't look my age, I love it!). The beginning of the separation - forget feeling like an adult, I needed my parents so much through that time that I felt like I was in a cocoon most days, wrapped up tight and preparing before emerging back out into the big, scary world. 

I guess what I am trying to get at is that I don't think there is a set moment for entering adulthood. There are grown-up moments, and rites of passage, things that make you pause and think "Whoa, we're not a kid anymore". Buying a washer and dryer was one of those moments. Watching from the bridesmaid line as friends get married, buying a new car - and then scrambling to find the money for the payments, facing my parent's mortality when they get diagnosed with life-effecting medical conditions and start needing reading glasses. Those are the moments that personally hit me the most. But most days, I still don't feel like a "grown-up". I do adult "things", like the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the mum-business, going out with friends at 18-and-over locales....but I have always had this mental image of "adulthood" being only wearing polo shirts and mom-pants, as I lose my identity to Agent M's after-school functions and working an unrewarding job. 

And that is just not me. That works for some people, but not me. 

I'm wrapping this up - this has been a difficult prompt for me. It's given me a lot to think about and I don't feel like I can properly respond to it, since it brings up so many questions of what is adulthood, what is adulthood for me, etc. Maybe I will never feel like an adult. I'm okay with that. Or maybe my ideas of what an adult is will evolve as I evolve. Or maybe it will take something big for me to finally hit that "moment". I really don't know. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Fear

Prompt of the Day:

"I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?" 
(Guest Prompt by Ricki Lake, who can be found on Facebook  or Twitter @RickiLakeShow)

Have I faced fears? Yes. Have I overcome them? Sometimes, sometimes I just look like I did, and sometimes I run screaming in the opposite direction.

Facing my fears has become easier since I left my husband. I say "easier", but what the really means is "I have to do it sometimes or risk missing out on a lot of things or not sticking up for what I know is right, and I'm getting more used to having to put on my big girl pants and taking care of business". Leaving our house was the biggest fear I have ever had. I left with no money, almost none of my things, and had no clue what was going to happen from that moment on. I just knew that my heart was screaming that something had to be done, so I finally did it. Despite all of the sadness, confusion, frustration, anger, and more fear that has been brought on from leaving, I am also happier than I have ever been. And that is part of what pushes me every time another fear creeps up or blocks my way. Knowing that I have faced fears and come out alive (sometimes bruised and in need of care, but alive) comforts me enough when I feel like I just can't do something. 

One of the biggest fears I had after leaving The Ex, was doing things with Agent M in public. I just didn't know if I could wing them alone. Things like daytrips out of town, or just the two of us going out to kid's events at museums and theatres. What if something went wrong? What if I blew a tire? What if I locked my keys in the car? All the things that wouldn't have been as big when I had a partner, are even bigger now. I know I can handle them, but the knowing that I would be the only one responsible to handle things made me shy away from a lot of things at first. Slowly, I got used to it, though. Eventually, I heard about one of our favorite bands playing a concert out of town and decided to dive into my fears, head first. Agent M and I took a trip to a city we had never been to, to an event we had never been to, stayed longer then I planned, and had an amazing time together. That gave me the confidence to look for more things we could do together, locally. And little by little, that fear has become smaller. It's still there, but instead of towering over me like a beast waiting to swallow me whole, it's become a small enough to carry in my purse, jumbled in with the packs of gum and loose change. Sometimes, I even forget about it completely. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today is cold, as it rained on and off most of the night. The sky has been gray all morning and the birds outside my window are flying from tree to tree with such intensity that poor Suki is so focused on them that she is tense and twitchy. The house is so quiet on weekend mornings like this, when Agent M is at his Dad's house. I woke up at 5am, oddly wide awake but not too odd considering that last night I came home from work tired, made a steak for dinner, drank a beer too quickly, and fell asleep much earlier than I had planned. When I woke, I grabbed my mobile to check the time and found notifications of missed phone calls from the The Swede, a cryptic photo-text from my Mum that won't download (titled "It had to be done!") and another notification of emails received since last night - one of which was a sweet little message and three photos of a misty November morning taken near a lake by The Swede.

Today will be for crocheting, for hand washing dishes and putting away laundry, and for Agent M's next to last soccer game of the season. Today will be boots worn with leggings. Today the owl necklace that I adore will be cold when I put it on, but the metal will warm to my skin and the clink-clink it makes through out the day will make me smile. 

Today I will wrap up the stress from the last week, work on more job applications, and begin to plan which classes to take next semester. Today I will miss Agent M chattering at me, miss The Swede being close enough to touch, but also today will be for finding comfort in the knowing that I have two great guys in my life and the time we have together is that much more special. 

Today is beautiful in ways big and small - from the happiness of knowing that while I slept, someone was thinking of me, to the fresh smell in the air that only comes after the rain. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: Wishes

Prompt of the Day:

It's 11.11.11, make three wishes!

Serious wishes:
  1. I wish for Agent M to grow up into a happy, healthy, wise, and compassionate man. I want him to be the type of guy who holds the door open for others, knows how to shake someone's hand properly, sticks up for the underdog, and lives with passion. I want him to become the type of man who thinks for himself but is open to considering the opinions of others, loves without fear, and likes going for walks in the woods. I want him to be the kind of man who sees the good in people and doesn't judge someone simply by their social status or looks. I want him to be happy with his choices and happy with the person he sees in the mirror each day.
  2. I wish to be able to see the "path" easier, and to have the strength, perseverance, and sense to follow that path, where ever it may lead me. I understand that plans have to be flexible to life's ebbs and flows, but I know what I want and hope for. I just want a little help in seeing that there is a way to get to those goals and that it is all possible. I know in my heart that it is, but sometimes that knowing gets clouded with doubt and worry. I want to have what it takes to be as strong and happy as I can see myself being.
  3. I wish for a secret wish. This wish is a quiet one, one that I keep close to my heart and do not share, yet. But I wish for it often and with as much passion behind it as I can muster. 

"Lighter" wishes:

  1. I wish to be able to lose 20lbs in a healthy way before seeing The Swede again. Losing 20lbs would put me back at a weight that I was pretty comfortable with. I still wanted to get more fit and smaller, but I didn't feel fat. Right now, I feel fat. But, I want to lose it right - not by restricting severely, not by becoming obsessive about calories and how many sit-ups I do each day. I want to lose it in a way that will keep it off and have me being the healthiest I can be. 
  2. I wish for this damn divorce to get over with, and to get what I want out of it. Not that I am wanting much - I just want my personal things that are being kept from me and to be on the right path to being able to fully support Agent M and myself without relying on support checks each month. Plus, I just want the whole deal to be done with so that I can focus my time and energy on other things. Like throwing a big "Merry Un-married!" party, hahaha.
  3. I wish for life to work out the way I hope it to - to be successful enough at crafting and writing to support myself and Agent M, to have little-to-no debt, to become fluent in Swedish, to be in a place where The Swede and I wake up snuggling with each other every day, and to have a cute little house with a decent sized yard for Agent M to play in. 

Silly wishes:
  1. I wish for my hair to grow faster! I miss how long it was before I cut it all off, and both Agent M and The Swede are anxious to see me with long hair again. (Boys! Geez! Haha)  
  2. I wish to be able to get caught up on chores, cleaning, and laundry this weekend, along with getting in time to cam-chat with The Swede, and take a long, warm shower.
  3. I wish to be blessed with enough money to catch up on my bills, buy Agent M some new toys, clothes, and a drum set, and to go on a little bit of a clothes-shopping spree. 

So, there you have it. The serious to the silly. What would you wish for?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No NaBloPoMo Today

No prompt this morning. Just not feeling it right now, there's too much "other" on my mind.

Big snafu on my part last night. It's Agent M's week at my house, and usually on these weeks he stays the night once with my parents. Last night was that night, since I was going to be working until 9pm anyways. But I had forgotten that The Ex and I had swapped days yesterday, and Agent M was supposed to go to the other house last night.


Of course, my being at work meant that I couldn't answer my mobile when The Ex and my Mum were trying to call me. The Ex called my Mum, Mum kept trying to call me, Agent M was unhappy that he couldn't finish Monopoly with my parents, and I was oblivious to all the going-ons. When my Mum called my work, the girl who answered had not seen me and told her I was not there.

Apparently, a small batch of chaos ensued as my Mum then worried that I was dead in a ditch somewhere.

Finally, Mum got through to me. Slight more chaos, and a few phone messages left for The Ex, of me apologizing and asking to talk to Agent M. Eventually I was able to talk to Agent M, who was more forgiving then I expected him to be. Unfortunately, to make things right, he will be spending the night at my parents tonight, so I will not get to wake up tomorrow morning to him climbing into bed and asking for Harry Potter stories. (We both have Thursday off of work/school and other then an attorney appointment for me and soccer practice, we planned to spend the whole day together).

I really am upset over how little I have gotten to see Agent M this week, and I am trying hard to not be annoyed at not getting to at least see him on my lunch breaks today and Friday, but it is what it is. I can't expect my parents to shuttle him across town to my work, just for an hour visit. I am upset to be working so many night shifts this week, but I am looking for a new job that will not make my hours so unpredictable, there's nothing else I can do about it. I am nervous about the appointment with my attorney tomorrow and attorney appointments always make me just want to hole up with Agent M and soak up every minute I can of our time together. But, I can't.

It also does not help that I am all sorts of PMS-y, so simply thinking of the crap The Ex and his attorney have responded with make me want to pull out my hair, stomp my foot in injustice, and cry. His response pretty much ignored everything my attorney and I had gone over and sent to them, so I have a lot of papers to get together again and a lot of questions that I want answered and a lot of muck to point out and drag ourselves through. Why can't this just be easier?

With all of these things on my mind, I barely slept last night. I woke up this morning and could not focus myself to any one project, save for going through emails and a chat with The Swede. Speaking of which, the Swede made my morning a little bit happier, though. He sent me a photo of himself in his work uniform, which I have been wanting to see for some time now. He is so damn handsome in it. I am a sucker for uniforms and getting that photo this morning made me grin like a Cheshire cat. Instead of letting the snafu from yesterday, the sad stuff from today, and the anxious feelings about tomorrow's appointment get me down, I guess I should think of that photo as my reminder to find the good bits.

With that in mind, now I get to head to work. Maybe tonight I will post a response to the prompt.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day: A Traumatic Event

Prompt of the Day:

Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event. (Guest post by Adrienne McDonnell, author of The Doctor and the Diva)

Yeah, no.

Talk about one hell of a question. 

Where to go with this one? Maybe my grandfather's death when I was a teen, or when I saw a boyfriend slit his wrist in front of me because I was scared of him and told him I wanted to break up, or how about my induced labor that took years to come to terms with, or the postpartum nightmare, or maybe the first time that person I was married to forced himself on me after drinking too much, or any of the numerous times afterwards when I would wear layers and layers to bed to try to prevent his unwanted attention. Or maybe when my mum had to have a sudden surgery and I faced her mortality for the first time. Or coming home with my son one day to find court summons on my front step, saying that The Ex thought of me as an unfit parent and wanted full custody of Agent M. Or maybe should I "describe the scenes surrounding" The Event that happened last year that I don't talk to anyone about, ever.

Yeah, there would be any number of things to choose from on this topic. But writing about them would give them breath. Give a bit of life to the dusty remains of memories that have left scars, some of which are more visible than others. Sometimes I bring the stories out, carefully handled and controlled like puppets, to illustrate a point or to share with someone who has their own stories. But pick one and expose it's details here? To be picked at, prodded, brought into the forefront and open to questions (and judgement) by anyone? Not today. Possibly never.

Instead, I will post photos today. Photos from the last two years that have make me smile. Of things that made me happy, people I care about, and memories that have given me hope. Snapshots that are silly, have some sort of story of their own, and in some way remind me that no matter what darkness I have met, there is always good laying in wait. 

Maybe one day, I'll tell the stories that go with each one. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaBloPoMo Prompt of the Day

(and aside - Not counting the days anymore since there are no prompts for the weekends and that would make for some off numbering since Day 5 would really be on Nov. 7th and that would make the little OCD part of my head explode.)
Prompt of the Day:

"Making family time is important to me. How do you balance your children, relationship, and work life?" (Guest post by Ricki Lake, who can be found on Facebook  or Twitter @RickiLakeShow) 

Funny that a question about balance would come up today. Later this afternoon, like the clock striking midnight and Cinderella turning back into a mere housegirl, I will go to work and when I punch in my employee code into the time clock, my vacation will officially be over. Back to juggling work shifts I was told I would not have to work anymore, back to scrambling to get things together for the divorce attorney, back to wondering how to make food appear in the fridge and on the table. All the while squeezing in every minute I can for reading stories and playing chess with Agent M, working on creative projects, writing, and finding time to shower and sleep. And I plan to take classes next semester again. Oh, and I have a new boyfriend.

So, how DO I balance it all? When I first sat down to write this, my immediate thought was "Honestly, I have no clue. I feel like I have been trying to learn to balance it all ever since the day I made the decision to wing it as a single-but-not-solo parent." I thought of how sometimes the dishes pile up while I focus on the laundry.  Sometimes I let Agent M play "Zombie Farm" on my laptop longer than my mum-conscience is comfortable with as I attempt to make breakfast and chat with The Swede. And sometimes I wear leggings to hide the fact that I haven't shaved my legs in days, just so I have the extra time each morning to work in a little bit of "me time" (which usually involves writing or working on an art project).

But then as I typed more and more, I realized - I do balance it all. Not perfectly, but pretty damn well. The plates that I used to struggle to keep spinning, now only need little adjustments here and there, and I have become better at deciding when to start spinning more plates and when to say that I have enough and can't add any more.

There is no set formula. That's the biggest thing I have learned over the past year and a half. Routines that worked one month sometime ended up completely abandoned the next month. But along the way, I've made some good progress figuring out what works for me, and for us. You could say I have a bit of an "advantage" because Agent M splits his time between two homes, and because The Swede lives half a world away. But in a heart beat I would change those things in preference for having more time with both of them, and I admit to bristling when my "advantage" is pointed out to me. On the other hand, as a single-gawd-I-hate-that-term parent, I also have to do the work of two people. Laundry and dish duty falls solely on my head, except for the days when I can get Agent M to unload the dishwasher for me. So, what does work for me? What do I do to keep it all balanced?

  • I keep more than one calendar. So many life couching/parenting/divorced parenting/whatever sites say to keep A calendar. One calendar does not work for me. I tired it. I would lose the calendar, forget to put things in it, or have events change so often that whole days looked like scribbled out blotches. So, I have calendars in a few places. I take a photo of my work schedule and keep it on my phone. I write on a wall calendar in Agent M's room of who's week it is and who is picking him up from school each day. When I have a meeting with the attorney or there is something pertaining to the divorce that I need to keep track of, it goes on the calendar in the magazine holder next to my bed. School and soccer events that don't have their own flyers get made into post-it notes and put on the back of our front door (the ones with flyers get left in a tidy stack near the kitchen since or taped to the back of the front door also). When I am on school and work deadlines, digital post-it notes fill my mobile phone screen and laptop screen. This all might sound chaotic to most, but it works for me. And that's a big part of juggling events - finding what works so that you will remember things. No matter what the system, if things slip through the cracks then the system isn't good enough. 
  • Agent M time is Agent M time...most of the time. Knowing that Agent M would be going to a party without me on Saturday night, I spent the afternoon playing with him in his room instead of doing the dishes. Knowing that I would have this morning to myself while he's at school, we spent half of yesterday playing chess and reading together in my "mama chair" under a big, soft blanket. Being that I don't get to see Agent M every day, the time we have together is time that I want to show him what being a parent is. It is my time to be a role-model, tickle-monster, silly mum, and provider - not a parent that always plunks him in front of a video game or tells him I am too busy working to play. But - the key to that last sentence is "always". There are also the times when we have lazy days and he plays video games for a bit while I work or chat with The Swede. There have been trips to the college where Agent M has had a bag packed with crayons and maze books while I try to navigate getting financial aide and reinstatement appointments. And there have been many mornings where he has come tumbling into my bed to read the writing I am working on from a snuggled under the blankets spot next to me. (This is usually followed by an insistence that it is only fair to let him play on the laptop next since I am "playing" on the laptop.) I try to make the time we share really be the time we share. I try to plan a head and put off the laundry, dishes, and bill paying for the times when he is not here. But when those things spill over, it's not the end of the world. He sees me taking care of life's little duties, just in the same way that I went to classes with my mum now and then, and would run errands with my dad. I think it's important for Agent M to see that, just as much as it is important for him to know that I will set those things aside as often as possible to spend time with him. I'll have him help me cook, or get his input on my writing. I manage what I have on my to-do list to either make the time be about us, or to at least include him in what has to get done.
  • I have a big, huge, support net. I would never, ever be able to do all that I do without my family and friends. I have been fortunate to not have to pay for childcare because my parents have almost always been available to watch Agent M or pick him up from school as needed. When I first got served with divorce papers and my world felt like it was imploding, my parents and many other friends and family were there to remind me to just keep my focus, keep breathing, and they'd invite us over for dinner so that I didn't have to spend as much time grocery shopping and cooking. Even now when things feel too big and unbalanced, I have friends who always are there with words of encouragement or suggestions. It's taught me that crap happens, but when you stumble or start to give up, someone will be there to either drag you until you are on your own two feet again or to tell you to get your butt up and quit whining. 
  • I make myself work. This applies to the dishes, the trash, scooping the litter box, writing a blog post, writing in general, getting on the exercise bike, dusting, crocheting, and generally anything else that at some point I have mentally found myself stomping my foot and pouting, "I don't want to!". Not that I dislike any of these things (ok, maybe dusting...), and they all have great payoffs. It's just the time spent on them. I don't have a ton of free time to get it all done. I'd rather go to the park and feed ducks then pay bills. But, especially as the only adult in the house, there is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders and no one else to take the weight. So, I suck it up and make myself do the work. Procrastinating or putting it off doesn't get things done or the results any quicker, so why bother. My favorite quote from a powerhouse of a writer is basically, "Butt in chair." It really is that simple. I have been just as guilty as others for whining about not having enough time for things, but when something is important, you make the time. I want to be financially independent and stable? I won't get there with my current job. Since that really is important to me, I write. I paint. I crochet. I work on promoting the blog. I set up an etsy account. I get out of bed early and make myself exercise. I read stories from others who have made similar paths and take what I can from their experiences. Would I rather lay in bed at a reasonable hour each night and watch NCIS episodes while eating mini-Snickers until I pass out in a sugar coma? Of course. But that won't make my butt any smaller and it won't pay the bills. 
  • The Relationship. The Swede is thousands of miles away and lives 9 hours in the future. When I am getting up in the morning, he is preparing to get off of work. Our relationship is consciously dependent on how much time we are willing to put into it, more so in some ways than for two people who can just go run to the grocery store together. We can't have lunch together, but we used to spend my lunch breaks chatting online while I ate in the break room and he checked email or got ready for bed. I have woken up early just to sneak in a bit of extra time to talk to him and he has stayed up late to see me on the webcam. Weekend mornings for me are weekend afternoons for him, and we try to spend at least part of them together on the webcams or by calling each other. He has even webchatted with me and Agent M while I make breakfast. When I was in school, we'd chat on my laptop during classes or he would attempt to keep me awake with MSN messenger nudges as I worked long hours into the night on papers. With so much distance between us, we have committed to taking the time to keep in touch with each other. Sometimes that is as simple as just a quick text message saying "Hey - I'm going out for the night, but I miss you and was thinking of you." And when he took the time to fly out here for 10 days, I made sure those 10 days were as focused on time spent together as possible. When he was here, he asked me why I would want a boyfriend so far away. I jokingly replied, "Then I don't have to put up with your butt taking up all my time each day." It's harsh and sad, but also slightly true. As much as this means I spend less time physically with him, we both have more time in the day to do other things. But, this also means that for me there are no date nights. No getting ready for an hour before we go to a movie, or going to his place to watch movies all night. When one of us is busy or gets off of work late, it means that there are days when we don't talk. But we both agree that we want to see where this goes and we're willing to put in the work for it. To be honest though - sometimes the only thing that keeps my spirits up is the thought that this must be what it is like for couples where one person is in a touring band, or works overseas, or in the military. At least neither of our jobs is as risky and life threatening. 
  • Most of all - I am not Super Woman. I don't try to do it all and I try to make taking care of myself a priority. I don't want a life filled with an active social calendar and hundreds of lunch dates and play dates. I just want a happy kid, my health, a decently cleaned up house, and a smile on my face when I go to bed each night. I make sure to brush my teeth twice a day. I take vitamins and avoid caffeine. I try to eat food that is good for me and drink lots of water. I drink tea and eat gummy bears because they make me happy. I spend time with people who make me laugh and make me think. Instead of trying to do it all with the end goal being happiness and time to relax, I look for the good in every part of the day. I try to find my time to recharge in every shower when I wash my hair, and every time a song I love comes on the radio. It's not much, but it's enough to make even the dreaded parts of the day a little bit easier to deal with and keeps me from losing myself in the mum/girlfriend/work load shuffle.
So, there it is. Nothing unheard of, nothing fancy. I balance it by trying new things until something clicks and making myself be productive. I focus on what is the most important for me in the moment and give my energy and time to it. I don't stress over a slightly messy house, and when I need help, I ask for it (or at least ask someone who seems to have it all together what they do to make it all work.) I guess you could say I keep it all balanced by following what my heart wants and aiming to get the most out of each day - even when that means just taking the time to relax and recharge. I keep it all balanced by knowing that it will be unbalanced sometimes and trusting that I can always keep the plates all spinning.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Day 4

Day 4 Prompt:

When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

Me: "So, Agent M, when you write, do you prefer pens or typing on a computer?"
Agent M: "Typing on a computer, 'cuz then you can send it to someone, you can send it to who ever you want."
Me: "But you could make a letter and send it through the mail?"
Agent M: "But that takes longer, when you could just go on a computer, type all you want, and then send it. For a letter, you have to go alllll the way outside, just to put a letter in the letter box."

Friday, November 4, 2011


To the left of me: An open bag of Mission Tortilla Strips and half eaten container of La Mexicana Mild Salsa. Also, the foot stool has an empty mug sitting on it, a sign that I should go boil more water for tea.

To the right of me: My "I Mean Business" padfolio that holds the last copies of resumes and cover letters that I used two years ago.

In front of me: The laptop on my coffee table, with my mobile phone pulled into it to charge, download photos from the last couple of weeks, and get messages from The Swede (who survived the trip home and who I miss so much already).

I got my schedule for when I go back to work this morning. There was nashing of teeth and growling. I am not thrilled. Things could always be worse, but I am tired of this. The never knowing my shifts, the surprise-that-is-no-surprise-really when my shifts are yet again totally different than what I was told I would be working.

So, add that to my motivation to not have to rely on child support forever, to be financially stable, and to save up to see my pojkvän as soon as possible, and Mama's looking for a new job. I don't have any big trade skills, I am still new to freelance writing, and I don't crochet nor paint as often as I should if I ever want to make serious income off of it...but I am good at customer service, a quick learner, and have a who lot of drive to succeed.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Day 3

Prompt of The Day: 

Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?

With today being a rare exception, I usually listen to music all day long. When writing I prefer to have music on, but only if it is something by a band or artist that I feel is either extremely talented and/or lyrically rich. Foreign is sometimes best. For some reason, I can't put two paragraphs together when Jack White or Kate Nash are singing (both artists that I love) but give me an hour's worth of Florence + the Machine or Shakira and I feel like I could write the next great American novel...or at least a couple blog posts. 

Today has been a quiet day though. I drove the Swede (who still needs a better nickname...) to the airport today. Our goodbye as he got on the inter-airport shuttle was too brief. I made it to the bottom third of the last escalator down from the shuttle area before tears and sniffles were too hard to hold back. By the time I got to the car and settled into the driver seat, I was full on crying. Neither of us were ready for him to go, and after a brief ridiculous spat last night, all I wanted was just one more day. Today, after ten days of flipping through radio stations and fussing with my iPod together, listening to music alone just wasn't fun. On the drive home from the airport, the only song I heard was the Lady Gaga song "You and I", that had also come on the other day when we were driving around town together. My classic-hard-rock-AC/DC-Black-Sabbath-loving Swede had surprised me that day by saying he actually liked her, simply for the fact that she is so talented. Listening to her croon "It's been a long time since I came around / Been a long time, but I'm back in town" had been funny with him tapping his fingers to the beat next to me. With the passenger seat empty, the same lyrics were painful.