There’s something that happens to me when I’m physically tired – my mind goes blank. Sometimes I use this state to my advantage. I keep moving and getting things done, although more and more slowly. Other times, like today, my mind shuts down, so that I don’t even know how to make myself feel better. What to eat? What to do with my time today? Should I try to sleep this afternoon? What are we doing this evening? Absolutely nothing, is the answer to that last question. I’m stationed on a couch, watching Jeopardy! while I type this post. I’m alive, I’m carrying on, I’m prepared to go at this mountain of belongings again tomorrow. All of this will make our house sell more quickly for more money, and ultimately make moving houses much easier.

Even Husband, a bona fide pack rat, has gone through his belongings and whittled them down a little bit. A little bit. And that’s all I can ask of him at the moment. I have to do a final de-clutter of both kids’ rooms, plus find storage options for the boxes of belongings I have packed up (winter coats, boots, some books). The shed is maxed out, but I might be able to fit some of these plastic tubs underneath the back deck. Next weekend will be the big push to get everything finished, so for now I’ll just keep going on the tasks I can do myself. I often compare myself to the tortoise in the fairy tale featuring it and the hare. I might be slow but I never stop. Underestimating me is a big mistake.


The day my world view began to shift

As many of my readers know, I grew up on a farm in a very small rural centre, just outside a small town. I had a traditional upbringing, complete with Sunday church, close relationships with my grandparents and meat-and-potato meals. I was by all accounts a happy, trusting kid.

On Sundays I attended Sunday school, during which we learned Bible stories, did crafts, put on plays with a religious theme, and played games. The teachers were usually parents of other kids in our class or young adults in older grades of high school. Sometimes we had a substitute teacher. DUN-dun-dun!

One Sunday when I was about 9 or 10 years old, our substitute teacher told us all about sin. Keep in mind that up until that point my religious upbringing was gentle, all about how God loves us so very much, illustrated with pictures of Jesus surrounded by adoring children, blue skies, fluffy lambs and puffy white clouds. This teacher had a different approach and decided we needed to be scared of God, since he made such an example out of his own son. According to this teacher, everyone is born a sinner. What?! Even little babies are sinners?! Yes, she said, even little babies. This shook me to my very core. I had a younger brother whom I adored, along with every other baby I encountered. How could something so cute, cuddly and smiley be a sinner?! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this.

It was on this day that I began to believe a little less in God, Jesus, Christianity in general, and adult intelligence. Maybe adults weren’t infallible and were actually WRONG about things. Whoa. I began to question and in fact reject ideas presented to me. Today I’m a full-on atheist and generally a rebel with various causes. I’m also vegetarian, a city dweller, on marriage #2, I had pre-marital sex, I did not have my children christened, and I certainly don’t take them to church. We do commemorate traditional Christian holidays and Jewish ones too now that I’m married to a Jewish man. Symbolic Christianity has a place in my life due to sentimental feelings, so at least the Sunday school teacher wasn’t able to stamp that out. I’m not saying my atheism is all her fault; I’m certain I would have come to this conclusion on my own anyway. But maybe when I was 9 or 10 years old I would have still believed.

The changing landscape of my desk job

I have worked at the same company for over 7 years. Until late last year my job was the same since I started. I have had many different managers here. This is all fine with me; I just want to do the writing and editing I’ve grown to love doing.

That changed late last year when the company significantly restructured the functional teams and reporting structures. At this time many managers and a director or 2 were paid off/laid off. The remaining employees, of which there are many, have kept ticking along as expected. I have great work friends and I figured in good time I would get a handle on my new job here.

In the past month or so, I know personally 3 people who have gone on stress leave and a few more who would like to. Today I just about burst into frustrated tears. Never before have I been made to feel like an underling. Or if I have, I have forgotten and so this feels like a new experience. I have a good deal of seniority and I am trusted to get the work done as expected.

Lately though, and culminating today, I feel set up to fail. Admittedly I don’t fully understand my job functions although I have tried to learn my new duties and roles. My manager is an earnest smart person who almost never has time to help me. I’m meeting all sorts of dead ends while I’m trying to discover very basic information to complete the documents everyone is clamouring for. I’m at my wit’s end, frankly and I feel very disappointed.

We go off to work assuming and hoping our managers and VPs are smarter than we are and they know what they’re doing. After all we are giving them a lot of our time and trading for a salary to create a life during our off hours. When the day arrives as it always does to shatter your beliefs, the result is crushing disappointment, uncertainty and insecurity.

I may have mentioned we bought a house recently. Now comes the very hard part of readying our current house for sale. I have been systematically going through all drawers, closets, cupboards and other nooks and crannies to get rid of surplus stuff. To say I’m tired stressed and preoccupied would be accurate. Let’s add to this then my job uncertainty and see what we get — an overwhelmed woman having heart palpitations. A woman trying to understand the sparse info given that’s relevant to her work while also trying not to be discouraged by the lack of real support.

Children’s Choices

It’s hard to let the little ones grow up, not just because we miss the baby/toddler/preschooler cuteness and lisp. When children are young we have control over every aspect of their lives. We make their choices for them and control how they spend their time. When to sleep, when and what to eat, what to do during waking hours, etc.

The youngest 3 are at an age where they are not in my company on weekdays and so I have to trust they are making (what I would consider) good life choices. At the moment these choices are related to friendships and food, a little bit about behaviour and time management. But that’s all. During mornings, late afternoons and evenings of course, and whole weekends, they are in the company of adults. So, their decision-making time is rather limited.

The oldest 2 children are out there in the world entirely on their own, making choices on everything in their lives, now living what lessons were taught to them when they were under their parents’ roof. We have to hope they learned well and are making informed choices.

1. Are they working? If no, will they be able to figure out what to do next? If yes, are they happy at their job? Good job? Satisfying work? A job with a future?

2. Are they taking care of their physical selves? Making good choices wrt smoking, drinking, and sleep?

3. Are their relationships (romantic or otherwise) feeding their souls and being supportive? Are they a good influence?

4. Are they thinking about their future and working toward loftier goals than getting their rent paid on time?

5. Are they keeping in touch with us? Are we up to speed on what’s going on in their lives? Or are they relying on us too much, involving us in drama that stresses us out because we can’t do anything to resolve it? Will we be happy with the solution they come up with?

6. Are they enjoying the lives they have set up for themselves?

I am reminded of when children are just learning to walk. When I set them on the ground I had to make sure they were steady on their legs before I let go. Metaphorically that’s what we do when our children are late teens. And then in their early 20s we have to let go, confident that although they may wobble, ultimately they will walk on their own.

We have been busy

Busy is an interesting word, useful as an excuse to get out of, well, nearly anything in life one wants to get out of doing. Having said that, we are very busy lately because we purchased a new house.

We are leaving our cherished neighbourhood in pursuit of financial gain. We can leverage the equity we have built up and put it to good use elsewhere. Most people don’t do this.

Most people, even in my generation, buy a house, raise a family, work the same job for 40 years, die in that house or will it to their heirs. This will be our second move in 3.5 years, so obviously I don’t subscribe to that way of life.

My goal is to use the cash equity to open my own business. A passive income would be best so I can keep working my day job at the same time. I’m spending some quality time researching my options.

Buying a house in a safe neighbourhood in the city is not a straightforward task. There are many people scrambling for each reasonably priced home in reasonably safe neighbourhoods. Last weekend we found ourselves in a multiple bidder situation (17 of them to be exact) where we were disqualified when other buyers submitted offers that were 50K above asking.

To say we are fortunate to have great realtors working with us, to have found and successfully purchased a house in a reasonably safe neighbourhood that is detached (instead of a semi-detached that would share one common wall), has PARKING for 2 cars (!), and enough room for our family to live are all good reasons to feel proud of our accomplishment. To add that we purchased for significantly under the list price is amazing! The kitchen is a wreck that will need to be redone, but otherwise the inside of the house is in great shape. I picture us being very happy there. The kids have mixed reactions. The baby of the family, girl midget, is thrilled, as is the oldest girl midget (not even a midget but I like that description). The middle 3 are not thrilled but have accepted our decision. We have taken this situation as an opportunity to teach them about financial planning, equity, cube jobs, business, and the housing market. I think even the 12-year-old is plenty old enough to find out how adults make a living and some of our financial options as we get older.

We are turning a corner with all of our kids. All of them are growing up and none need to be shielded from our circumstances and decisions. I did learn the hard way not to bring girl midget on house hunting expeditions, due to her never being silent. Turns out I have a hard time making large life decisions when she is constantly yapping.

When I was growing up no one discussed their income and financial situation with their children, at least not specifics. I had no idea what my parents made per year nor their exact situation, except that they were budget conscious and I needed to apply for student loans to get through school. We had a nice house, lots of land and a middle class lifestyle throughout most of my childhood. This was a nice situation but it didn’t teach me anything about how to use capital when I became an adult. I learned some things about money, for sure. But I never would have thought to buy a second home to rent out (which I did in 2008) nor to sell the family home to free up equity that I can turn around and invest elsewhere. I never would have figured that out had I not gotten divorced and received a lump sum for my share of our house.

It’s time to start teaching financial planning in high school. That’s when most people get their first part-time jobs and start to have cash flow. Sex ed is being taught to younger classes nowadays and it’s time for school to add to its practical curriculum.

Chatterboxes, Siblings

Husband and I have a hard time communicating lately. This is because of Girl midget who never.shuts.up. She talks when we are talking, she fills all the empty spaces between conversations, sentences and words, AND she talks when she is supposed to be sleeping in bed. From the moment she wakes up she is talking in various volumes depending on her audience and whether they are paying attention. This continues until she leaves for school (and if we give her a ride to school obviously she talks the whole way there) and as soon as I see her late afternoon she starts up again. Everything she observes she needs to vocalize and otherwise ponder out loud. And the questions. Oi, the questions. (Oi is the Irish spelling. I feel I need to explain this to my Jewish readers.)

Last night was a regular night at our house. I finished work for the day and started my second job – molding young minds and bending them to my will. Mostly I try to respond to all comments and questions from both midgets, which means I hold up my index finger to one of them at times so I can correctly hear and then answer the question being posed that is obviously sooooooooo urgent and important. Do children ever outgrow their self-centredness when they are around their parents? I ask because I’m not sure I have. Go ahead, kill any hope I have in my heart that one day the midgets will give a crap about anyone besides themselves, their needs, and their little lives less than they do of their parents. The emotion is called compassion and it’s not taught in school.

I used to take my 2 midgets everywhere with me and together the 3 of us had some fun times. This format needs to be put on hold until they grow up a bit and stop bugging the shit out of each other. We usually need a 4th nowadays to balance out the personalities and take the pressure off me to interact separately with each of them. What happens every time we try to do something together is they start verbally arguing. They call names, they figuratively push each other’s buttons, and I end up being the most upset of all. So eff that. I expect some back-and-forth between siblings because that’s normal behaviour and my midgets aren’t angels. But WOW, every outing seems to be ruined these days. Both of them are becoming increasingly moody on a regular basis; this is my payback for having them so close in age to each other. (I thought I had already gotten payback by having 2 in diapers for a full year, oh! and giving life to 2 babies within 26 months.)

When the midgets are grown up I wonder if they would still keep in touch. Heaven knows I haven’t with my sibs although our relationships wax and wane.

And yet the world keeps spinning

So many tragedies in this world. Many of them we don’t even know about.

If you are on Twitter, you should consider the following feeds:

For some reason, these people comfort me, make me laugh and cause me to think.

How to convey the significance of a trip to Europe

Does anyone have a way to do this, for children? I am of course all over this Google search and have come up with 2 good sites so far:
(This one seems to brief in its description but I’ve only just started looking at the site.)
(This one seems too wordy and complicated to hold a child’s interest, but we’ll see.)

Husband says I should create a presentation.

Oh! Why am I doing this? We are traveling to British Isles next summer, 2014. We have been talking about this trip for months and I’ve started doing some planning, armed with Trip Advisor, Frommer’s, and Rick Steves. (According to my Google search, Mr. Steves is a Lutheran, has 2 grown kids and is divorced. Anyone else find it odd that this info would pop up on the first search result page for this man? It’s difficult enough to get divorced and live your life without it being the first result Google finds.) Right now I have too much information about the British Isles, too many must-see landmarks, and far too little about the significance of British history in a nice neat summary. I don’t want to get in-depth info about Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh. Just the high points here; I’m attempting to grab the attention of my brood. Hence Husband’s idea of me creating a presentation.

We will be traveling for about 5 weeks total to Ireland (incl Northern Ireland), England, and Scotland. I don’t think we will have the time for Wales nor the Isle of Man. I would like to make the effort to see the Orkney Islands if that destination turns out to have some interesting things for us to see. So far it looks like a collection of rag-tag homes on top of a rocky landscape, serving fry-ups to tourists while skipping over the history lesson the tourists crave. I hope I’m wrong about that one!

There are definitely landmarks I want to see, no matter if anyone else does. But I know all too well how important it is to get buy-in from the midgets (see Egypt, 2009). Otherwise I’m not only struggling myself to keep my spirits and energy up in a confusing land, I also have to prop up the others with false bravado. Yes kids, we have to get up at 3:30 to see Abu Simbel. It’s amazing, you’ll love it, and actually who cares because I want to see it and you can’t stay at the hotel by yourselves. Luxor was where boy midget had his travel meltdown. It’s a predictable event. It happens once a trip when boy midget has hit his limit for strange food, strange surroundings and lack of screen time. In Paris it happened at a laundromat. To remedy this we took him to the grocery store and bought him whatever he wanted. In Luxor we had luckily found an English pub being run by some expats from Britain (Thanks Margie!) and so at least the language and food were familiar within the confines of the pub. Boy was soothed by the sounds and smells of home, and fell asleep while the rest of us enjoyed lunch. In Lima his meltdown happened in a van on our way to see the San Francisco church, so we made a quick stop at Starbucks, where only rich tourists can afford to frequent.

Starbucks has turned out to be a bastion of western civility for me when we are traveling. Everything is the exact same inside, no matter what country you are in. Even the power outlets are western, whether or not the voltage is. It’s good to have a Starbucks as a quick pick me up, for all our sakes.

When we visited the Pyramids in Giza the midgets were impressed for sure. But since our return home boy midget has lamented that he didn’t fully understand the importance of what he was seeing at the time. Well how could he? He was only 8 years old. I’m determined with our next big trip to prime them more properly, not just buy them a book and entice them to read it. I will lecture, teach a mini-course? I guess. A fun one, though. I love history and have always done. I love taking my kids to foreign lands so they can see how small the world is and that there is more than one way to live our lives on this planet. I think I may be succeeding, but only time will really tell.

I can create a new blog at any time! Isn’t that great?!

WordPress is gunning for world domination, I suspect. Soon everyone else will have a blog too. Remember when web design was just getting popular, and many businesses threw up a web site? I remember the special effects being used, like blink, gifs, and frames, on wildly colourful backgrounds and of course said Welcome at the top of the home page. I was an avid reader of that was written by a web design teacher. This site still exists, I just checked. I wonder if there is a Nope.