On Time and More of It

For those of you who don’t know, I was recently “restructured” out of a job. Remember my lovely job in downtown Trenton? (I posted about Trenton here and here). Well, it is no more.

On one hand, this is not terrible. I wasn’t thrilled with the job anyway and financially and emotionally, it made sense for me to walk away. No condolences necessary, please.

On the other hand, now I have to be concerned about money and making a life for myself, two things I never had to worry about during my thirteen years on the gravy train that is the federal government.

So here I am. Kicked off the train right onto my butt. It’s 9:30 on a Tuesday morning and I’m blogging. I’ve been home for a month now, taking it all in, and here’s what I’m ready to share:

It’s weird being home. I’ve worked since forever, besides taking a few short breaks for maternity leaves (if you could classify those as “breaks”) and for studying for the bar exam (which also shouldn’t be considered a “break” since I actually studied all summer).

Why is it weird?

I’m freaked out by the idea that I can use my time as I wish. I’ve never had that before. My time was always dedicated to something– morning hours were for getting the boys where they need to be, then I’d rush to work, then after work I had to get the boys from wherever they were and rush back. In the evening it was a juggling act with my husband over activities, homework, dinner, baths, etc. Finally, bedtime would arrive and I’d have about two hours to decide what I wanted to do.

Now though? I still dedicate the mornings to getting the boys out of the door. After that, until 2:30 when I have to get JC (no more After School Care for us), I have to decide what to do.

Um, yeah, I don’t know how to do that. It’s like when I tried to take “Self-Paced Logic” in college, and had to drop out after two weeks since I hadn’t yet bought the book. Now I’m trying to work out a “Self-Paced Life.” Hmm.

First off, let me give a shout out to all the stay at home moms. I get it now. There’s a lot to be done. But before, while working-for-pay, I didn’t feel the guilt of not doing it as much. I was literally imprisoned by my office, with no chance of parole prior to 5:30 p.m. Now? I sit here typing this blog post and feel the guilt creep up (I should be cleaning something, I should be calling someone, I should be doing something, anything, because I’m on the outside now!).

Of course there are a million things I want to do for the house and family. I’ve done about five of them so far (cleaned out the boys’ dressers, organized the kitchen cabinets, started a renovation project with a contractor, made about a hundred doctor appointments, signed the boys up for activities that we can now do with our new schedules).

There are also a million things I want to do for myself. I’ve done a couple of them (worked on my writing, sort of started a workout routine).

I’m still working out the details of how to actually get stuff done. My dad asked me yesterday, “What have you been doing?” (I think he missed my blog posts- Hi Dad!). The answer is, I’ve been busy, but I’m not sure what I’ve been doing.

I haven’t turned on the television during the day (… not much, anyway. I do enjoy Empire and started House of Cards again), so I’m not sitting here binge watching.

I’ve been working on my writing. I want to start the moving process for my projects- moving from draft to final, moving from the laptop to the world. I also joined an online writing group that takes some time, and I’m helping others with their projects.

I’ve been “cooking.” I use the term loosely. I hate doing it and think I’m terrible at it, although my husband claims I’m doing great (beggars can’t be choosers). I make a kick-ass loaf of bread though:

Kick-ass loaf of bread, from scratch, people.
Kick-ass loaf of bread, from scratch, people.

I walk the dog, a task I dread but end up enjoying once I’m out there. Isn’t she cute:

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Sleepy Time
Kiri Dog
Kiri Dog

I food shop during the day, which is probably the greatest luxury ever- working people cannot possibly understand the joy of food shopping on a Wednesday morning at the Shoprite. The difference between the Shoprite on a Saturday afternoon with two kids, and on a Wednesday morning solo, is like night and day.

I also spend some time looking for jobs, which freaks me out and makes me nervous. Dealing with unemployment in New Jersey freaks me out and makes me nervous, too. If you need a reason not to vote for Chris Christie if he runs for President in 2016, look to the New Jersey unemployment office. If he can’t make that work, how is he going to make a country work?

AND, I did this:

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My hand (with a photo bomb by this blog post). No, I didn’t get remarried! Look at my nails, friends. The nails.

I painted my nails blue. This is significant because (a) I’ve been biting my nails for the past two years from stress with the crap going on at work and now that I’m home they are growing, (2) I had time to paint them and let them dry, and (3) that’s Wonder Woman nail polish that I bought from MAC years ago and never had a chance to enjoy. I bought the blue (awesomely called “Spirit of Truth”) and the red (amazingly called “Obey Me”) solely because of the marketing. What employed person with money to spend could resist this:

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Where am I going with this post? I forgot. I seem to have drifted into my favorite relevantly irrelevant-ness arena, so I’ll just end it with a quote:

“Time is an illusion.”

(Albert Einstein)

Have a great day, whether you are at work or at home, whether you are in survival mode or self-pacing. It’s all an illusion, enjoy what you can.

AHH, the House is on Fire! Or, L’Eggo my Eggo!

From the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt:

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

  1. My MacBook (wouldn’t want it to melt with my masterpieces living inside).
  2. My cell phone (to call 911 and so kids can watch Netflix at shelter/hotel).
  3. Our coats (it’s friggin cold out).
  4. My car keys (Duh).
  5. My wallet (for access to credit cards and driver’s license).

Wouldn’t that just make sense? I hope my light switch did not cause this fire.

And speaking of fires, after I brilliantly installed the light switch, I almost DID set the house on fire. I dropped a waffle through the grate of the toaster oven onto the heating element. The waffle caught and started to FLAME, people! Orange flames, like bursting and crackling! In the house! Scared me to death.

The kids played in another room, completely oblivious. The dog came to my immediate assistance to growl at the fire and try to trip me. I blew on the waffle, like I was trying to put out birthday candles. Probably not the best idea to give an oxygen supply to a flaming breakfast treat, but sadly, this was instinctual. At least I didn’t throw water on it?

In seconds, the flames were out and I’d successfully fought my first fire. I blame the entire incident on a design flaw in the toaster oven. The heating element is unprotected and exposed (my toaster oven at work has a metal grate that covers the element, this one does not). I’m wondering if I should email Cuisinart?

The toaster oven involved in the incident. Notice the unprotected heating element.
The Toaster Oven involved in the Incident. Notice the unprotected heating elements.
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The Delicious Waffles involved in the Incident.
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Close-up of Directions: “Toasting Should be Supervised”- I’m a living testament to that directive. You never know when a waffle will tumble to the bottom of the toaster oven  (or accidentally be pushed through the grates by an impatient mother).

Ah, the exciting life I lead! The adventure never ends.

Have a happy, flame-free day.

 

Snow Day Time Lapse

Time it takes to find appropriate clothing for two boys on blizzard days:  45 minutes.

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Two boys= 2 sets of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, 2 sets of thermals, 4 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 1 snowsuit, 1 snowpants, 2 coats, 4 gloves, 2 hats, 2 scarves, 2 pairs of boots, and a partridge in a pear tree.

 

Amount of time spent putting said clothes on boys: 15 minutes.

Size of snowsuit that you are cramming your nine-year-old into:  6/7.

Time it takes for little one to decide he has to pee after said clothes are in place: 1 minute. Time it takes him to unwrap and actually pee: 5 minutes.

Time spent arguing with eleven-year-old over which pair of gloves he will wear:  3 minutes.

Time spent outside in 24 degree weather: 20 minutes.

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JC and M, adventures in the snow.

 

Number of times you open the sliding glass door to yell at children: no less than 20. (Do you care? No, because at least you are inside.)

Number of times husband complains that you are letting the cold air in: no less than 20. (Do you care? No, because at least you are inside.)

Number of times you yell at children for throwing snow at each other and dog: no less than 10.

Time spent undressing freezing cold, suddenly starving children: 10 minutes.

Time for various layers of clothing to dry: 2 hours.

Portion of kitchen covered in wet clothing: 50%.

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The Aftermath

Time between stripping children and first cries of “I’m bored” : less than 5 minutes.

Time it takes for parents to pop the cork on the wine as soon as kids hit the sack: 30 seconds.

Here’s to Spring!

 

My Littlest Artist

My nine-year-old, lovingly referred to as “M.” on this blog, recently took a liking to art. The other day, we sat together with a pile of paper and he drew for awhile, then I gave him suggestions and he drew some more.

Here are some of his pictures:

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This one looks like an angry dude in a doorway.

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Ahh, happy people. With many ears. Seven ears, to be exact.

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Happy person, two ears, lots of birds flying around.

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This one looks like a surfer to me. Shout out to Steve, the sweetest surfer on WordPress!

Finally, my favorite picture of the day. I asked M. to draw Kiri dog:

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That’s her drinking water. I love the smile and her tail.

Since my littlest artist, M. has autism he doesn’t say much, and I find his drawings interesting. A window into his mind. I wonder why he made a surfer-looking dude. It’s not something he’s exposed to. Also, all those ears on that one guy! What’s that about? And angry guy in the doorway? I wonder if he meant that to be his brother.

His art teacher called us recently and asked if she could put one of his masterpieces in an art show. Of course we said yes. Here’s a picture of his art:

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The teacher had asked M. to make stripes with acrylics, and then gave him some items to add texture. M. used a fork through his stripes, and some sort of tire. To me, his picture looks like a boat at sea, with the sun in the upper left corner. We named it “Sunset at Sea.” It was pretty cool to see his artwork hanging on the wall of the gallery.

Also, I think there’s a uniqueness to the picture that a typically-developing nine-year-old couldn’t, or wouldn’t be able to express. The painting is messy, but it’s an ordered mess. M. wasn’t worried about being perfect or staying in the lines. The painting is pure emotion, yet not “scribble-scrabble.” The stripes and texture are present, but there is a lot of feeling coming through, too. I wonder if a typical kid in art class would, or could tap into their emotions to let loose like M. did.

That’s all I have. Just thought I’d share and be the bragging parent for the night!

Thanks for reading!

Daily Prompt: Re-springing Your Step

Today’s Daily Prompt from The Daily Post reads:

Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

I changed out a light switch today!

I realize that’s not exactly rocket surgery or brain science. It’s nowhere near as awesome as Kate and her Fence Repair (click here to see her adventure). Still, I probably would have paid an electrician a hundred bucks to do what took me five minutes. I did a search on YouTube for “how to change a dimmer switch,” listened and watched the nice couple demonstrate, then got to it.

I shut the electric to that area of the house, matched the wires, and voila!

I did this!
I did this!

Admittedly, my husband helped me with the screws, but that was after I had connected all the wires. I know my dad is proud, especially since I didn’t electrocute myself or cause any fires (he’s a retired firefighter).

I was so happy to flip that switch and see light! It definitely put a spring in my step. The prompt asked why the event had such a positive effect. I think, for me, the positivity came from the fact that I wasn’t expecting it to work. Had someone offered a wager before I flipped that switch whether or not the light would turn on, I’d have bet against myself. I didn’t believe that I could successfully do something so outside of my usual.

Well, hooray for me because I would have lost that bet!

I’m now looking around the house for my next “home improvement” project. Maybe I’ll replace my back porch. Okay, that’s a big jump from replacing a light switch, and I’m not Bob the Builder or Tim “The Toolman” Taylor. Or the amazing Kate from Did That Just Happen blog.

Thanks, but no thanks, Bob! I’ll handle it from here.

However, I’m guessing I could YouTube “how to do” just about anything, and find a video on it. If the directions are good and I have the muscle power, maybe a couple of tools, the possibilities are endless!

Have a nice, well-lit night.

 

(Bob pic:  http://www.bobthebuilder.com/uk/images/parents/bob.jpg )

 

Reflections on the Eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This past summer we traveled to Washington, D.C. for a short vacation and visited the MLK Memorial. You can read about the memorial on the National Park Service website by clicking here.

The Memorial is breathtaking. The statue of Dr. King is huge, and his famous quotes are carved into the walls surrounding. Here is a picture from our trip:

Little M. at the MLK Memorial
Little M. at the MLK Memorial
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – 1963

A description of the memorial, from washington.org:

The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders, which started as one, represent the Mountain of Despair. The boulders are split in half to give way to the Stone of Hope, which appears to have been thrust forward toward the horizon in a great monolithic struggle. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent the soul-stirring words from Dr. King’s history-making “I Have a Dream” speech. On the visible side of the Stone of Hope, the text from King’s famed 1963 speech is cut sharply into the rock: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Every visitor enters through the Mountain of Despair and tours the memorial as if moving through the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. Visitors end in the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary Stone of Hope stands proudly in the plaza, where the civil rights leader gazes over the Tidal Basin toward the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality.

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech of December 10, 1964.

I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.

***

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

You can read the entire speech on the Nobel Prize website by clicking here. It’s a great speech, well worth your time.

Two years ago I posted about MLK day, amazed that Dr. King was only 39 years old when he was assassinated. You can see that post here.

Dr. King was born in 1929, so he’d be celebrating his 86th birthday this month. I wonder if things would be different today if he hadn’t been killed. How would his influence develop over the years? How would he feel about what’s going on politically and socially in the world? Maybe some of the recent horrible events, domestic and international, wouldn’t have happened at all.

Sadly, we will never know what he could have further accomplished. I bet it would have been significant.

May he rest in peace.