Twenty-five years ago

This morning began a bit rushed; I was so focused on making breakfast, packing lunch, and getting ready for work that I completely forgot the importance of the date to me until hours later.

Again I had not slept well, so I was more tired than usual. Only when I was gathering my laptop, my pump bag, and my sneakers from the van, after I’d parked in the overflow parking lot where I usually park because it’s closer to the side of the building where my desk is, did I realize that I didn’t know where my ID badge was.  Ug!  Rather than be too upset that I needed to walk around the building to the front lobby and request a temporary badge from the always-friendly receptionist, however, I considered it an opportunity to get some more steps for our annual walking challenge currently in progress. Also, I guessed that my badge was in the plastic bag in which I’d put several things to carry home, along with my other items, on Friday–I worked from home on Monday–and that I would find it in the bag when I got home.

After I got the temporary badge, I went to the break room to put my lunch into the refrigerator.  That’s when the day got even better.  When I entered the room, I saw the layout of baked goods on one of the tables. Usually on Mondays, one of our summer interns brings leftover donuts, pastries, cakes, pies, and other bakery products from his grandparents’ bakery for the rest of us to enjoy. He wasn’t in the office, either, on Monday, so he brought the leftovers on Tuesday.  Lucky for me!

Lunch safely in the refrigerator, I eyed the delicious-looking spread of goodies.  When I opened one of the boxes that usually contains donuts, the rest of my not-so-happy mood disappeared.  One of the leftovers was pain au chocolat! Woohoo! Often I joke that I lived on that tasty bit of Heaven in a chocolate-filled rectangular croissant while I was in France the first time, because the university cafeteria food at lunch and dinner was not especially to my liking.  (I refuse to eat veal, which seemed to be the entree more times than not.) Seriously. I think I spent 90% of my spending money at the local bakery, especially on Sunday mornings after church, when the cafeteria did not serve breakfast (and maybe not even lunch; I can’t recall).

As I was enjoying the unexpected treat, which I’ve only had a couple of times here at home since that trip, I realized that exactly twenty-five years ago today, I returned home from my first-ever trip abroad, a nearly-one-month study program in Dijon, France. What a wonderful way to remember the trip!  J’aime le pain au chocolat!



Pre-holiday weekend busyness

This weekend I really wanted to finish a skirt using a pretty, summery fabric, but alas, it didn’t happen, for a variety of reasons.  On Saturday, when I was able to focus on that project when the children were occupied with other activities, I started working with one pattern, then realized that I didn’t have the back piece, so I started working on another pattern, and realized that I didn’t have interfacing for the waistband.  By then it was too late to get it, so I thought that maybe I can work with the first pattern if I can either find the missing pattern piece, or find a visual of it online.

After some searching, I had not found the piece, but I did find a series of very helpful videos from Mimi G showing making a skirt with that pattern from start to finish.  Awesome!  I spent the rest of my free time on Saturday watching those videos.

Today after church, the kids and I spent some time cleaning up the family room, and my oldest spent time to organize and clean up the boys’ room.  Then I took 3 of the kids to the pool, where my sister was waiting for them, and the Kindergartner and the baby and I went shopping for the interfacing and a few other things, including lining material, because I decided after watching Mimi’s videos that I should add some to my skirt.

The baby started to fuss as we were checking out, but she quieted on the ride back to the pool, and then started again as we were walking into the pool.  I changed her diaper and took off her one-piece outfit and then tried to nurse her, but she wouldn’t nurse,  For most of an hour she sat contentedly on my lap, in the shade, watching her big siblings and the other people in the pool.  Finally I lay her on a beach towel, and she quietly exploded that and the grass in reach.  I thought about taking her into the water a bit, but there’s no shade over any part of the water, she’s too young to use sunscreen yet, and the sun was too too much for me to risk her getting sunburn.  This was only her first time at the pool; God willing, we’ll have other times.

By the time we got home and got dinner–and the baby had her first taste of rice cereal; she loved it!–and then snack, it was already past bedtime for the kids, so I shooed them to bed so that I could write this.  As I typed this, my second son came back downstairs with the baby.  Maybe now she’s ready to nurse.

More soon, hopefully!

Thoughts about money/income and skills

After a busy week of rushing to finish drafts of 3 installation manuals for a project, and finally resolving (I hope!) an issue with health insurance, I’m ready for a weekend! Since Father’s Day is tomorrow, and I didn’t really get much “me” time on Mother’s Day, I decided that I’m taking time for myself today, while my husband and second son are fishing.

Right now, I should probably be sleeping in, since I’ve had about 5 or at the most 6 hours of sleep every night this week, because the baby has taken hours to get to sleep (sometimes not until midnight, when I want to be in bed by 22h00 to get my preferred amount of sleep) and the four year old has been waking up around 06h00 because of the sunlight entering the room because we pulled back the curtains so that they would not cover the window AC unit. Instead, I’m writing. 🙂

I was up for an hour before starting this post, getting something to eat and spending time with the four year old. Because my husband and the kids spent hours this week doing many loads of laundry that had piled up, I don’t feel obligated to spend most of my waking hours on a Saturday cycling through multiple loads of laundry. Not having that chore today definitely helps me feel less stressed. Or is it anxious? (We often interchange the words, yet they’re not the same.)

One thing I’ve done for myself this past week is read Laura Vanderkam‘s book All the Money in the World during my pumping sessions at work. (Note: I do not receive any monetary compensation from sharing these links, nor did anyone ask me to share them.) It’s an interesting read, and I hope–no, plan–to implement some of her ideas (mostly about focusing on increasing income instead of cutting small expenses, which I already do as habit.)  About once a month I do go out to eat with friends from work (spending <$5 on a special) and get Chinese takeout for my family (for an average of $25 per order), but beyond that, I do not spend money on any of those expenditures that many people cut from their lives if they are trying to save money. I’ve never been in the habit of frequenting a salon, or buying coffee, etc.

Last night, after I got the baby to sleep while the other kids were still playing before bed, I had the chance to converse a bit with my husband (until the baby woke up just before it was time to get the other kids to bed). I told him that I can’t decide where to focus my small amount of personal time: on writing fiction or on sewing.  I do want to write my stories and publish them, yet I also want to do more sewing. He commented that I write better than I sew, which is true because I’ve had much more practice writing than sewing. I want to develop my sewing skills because I want to have a more practical skill that I also enjoy–which I can’t say about cooking!–and I feel that in really tough times, people will not pay for fiction if they are more in need of new or repaired clothes, in which case sewing will be more valuable than writing. I like being creative with fabric; I even dream about adding pockets to pants for the boys.  Still, I prefer writing (whether it’s fiction or not) to sewing. Writing makes me more happy. So does reading. Besides spending time with my family without the pressure of household chores and other responsibilities, my favorite activities are reading and writing.  Although I am a professional (technical) writer, I would prefer to be a professional writer of fiction and of non-fiction that I decide to write.


In Search of…

Whenever I can, I hang wet laundry on the outside lines to dry. Doing this provides several benefits: I get some sun, some fresh air, some exercise, and I use less electricity (energy), which saves a bit of money. Plus, the clothes smell nice and fresh after a few hours (or a work day) hanging on the line.

My biggest problem with hanging wash is finding clothespins! I used to have dozens and dozens (many of them passed down to me from family members), but now, because of clothespins lost, broken, or warped from the rain (when children left them out instead of putting them away), I now have less than 50, which is certainly not enough to hang 4 loads of clothes on the line in one day as I do sometimes.

Although I haven’t checked out all of my local stores–I work full-time during the week, and my husband does most of the shopping–I haven’t had any luck, in the places that I have looked, finding clothespins that aren’t flimsy-looking pieces of plastic or wood with cheap-looking springs. I want, and need, heavy-duty ones, preferably of non-rusting metal or of decent wood, and even more preferably, American made.  My best-performing clothespins don’t even have springs; they are simply wood.

What does a modern mother do to find information about an item that she wants to purchase? Go searching on the Internet, of course! In the first page of search results, I found several promising options; yay! I will investigate further before I order, but I may just try a few different kinds to find out which kind I like best, and then order a few dozen more of that kind.

Off to the laundry again!

Working Out LOUD (WOL) Week!

Today (5 June) is the start of International Working Out Loud Week.  Curious?  Check it out and get involved.  It’s fun and rewarding to work out loud (WOL).

On Day 1, answer these questions about the purpose of your work:

  1. Why do I chose to do the work I do where I do it?
  2. When I and my organization are at our best what are we doing?
  3. What outcomes are we looking to achieve for others with our work? How will my work make things better for others?
  4. If we didn’t do this work, what would be missing?
  5. What about this work gives me energy?

I have 2 sets of answers to these questions, one based on my corporate job, and the other based on my hobby of creative writing.  I work my corporate job because I haven’t yet been able to focus enough on other projects that would generate income.  If I didn’t need to earn an income, I would definitely fill the hours of the day with more time spent with my children, more reading, more writing, more gardening, more sewing.  For me, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and I can never say that I’m bored.

I’m at my best when I’m being creative, when I can ignore responsibilities, at least for some time, and when I don’t need to follow someone else’s time table.

Unfortunately, I can’t even finish this post as I would like because the baby is awake, and it’s past my bedtime.  Hopefully I can finish more tomorrow.

Here’s to working out loud!

Back Pain

When I was growing up, I witnessed several relatives deal with back pain that was so strong that they were barely able to move.  As a child, and as a young adult without that pain, I could not understand what they were experiencing.  When I was pregnant with my fifth child, I finally started to understand because I began to have pain in my lower back.  At first I thought it was strictly related to being pregnant, but when I experienced the same pain months and years after that pregnancy, I began to think that the pain was from an old injury, but I couldn’t really determine what caused the pain to come and go.

Finally, though, I realized that I usually experienced the pain after I’d not had enough water the day or so before, that the pain was, most likely, from dehydration.  This usually occurs when I’ve been very busy, especially at home on the weekends, and I haven’t taken the time to drink as much water as I usually drink each day while working in the office, where I typically drink at least 3 liters during the daytime hours.

I can go months without experiencing the pain, so when it returns, I often don’t remember right away why I have the pain, and often think it’s from moving too much or lifting too much weight or something.

This afternoon the pain came again as I was helping to prepare for an academic year-end awards ceremony, but I didn’t attribute the pain to less than my usual amount of water until hours later, when I was driving home, and I realized that in the 4 hours before, during, and after the ceremony, I’d only had about 20 oz of water, when I usually have at least 3-4 times that much during that time period during the day.  Also, thinking back to yesterday, I spent hours doing housework, and I neglected to drink my usual amount of water.  Another factor is that the baby is having her three-month growth spurt, so wants / needs more milk than usual, which means that I need to intake even more water.

If I have the pain again, I hope to remember that it might be from having had less water than usual, so that I can remedy the problem sooner.

A Short But Not Bad Weekend

Although the weekend was too short, and I failed at some tasks, I succeeded in others. I failed to find a specific t-shirt that I remember seeing a couple of weeks ago, and I failed to find a specific piece of paper that I have a vague memory of seeing in January, when I was gathering all of the task information.  (I checked the folder where that tax information is; the paper isn’t there. Ug!)  I didn’t have a chance to finish reading Linchpin; maybe I can finish it this week.

Friday night after dinner, I joined the kids outside, taking a walk and then kicking the soccer ball around with them. The preschooler wanted to play, too, so I made sure to give him turns, too, so that his older siblings didn’t monopolize the ball.  He actually has a decent kick for a little guy, and he can outrun me.  (I am slowly getting back into an exercise routine, 12 weeks after having the baby.  I’m definitely out of shape, but hope that by the end of the summer, that will no longer be true.  Swimming every chance that I can get should help, I hope!)

Saturday, in addition to chores and childcare, I spent some time sewing.  Several of my skirts had slits that were too long/high for my taste, so I finally took time to sew them closed.  I also started piecing together the patchwork skirt that I want to make from scraps from t-shirts that I cut/disassembled for my t-shirt quilt projects (that I still haven’t started yet).  My sewing machine definitely got a work-out, because I also used it to attach some badges and patches on my older daughter’s Brownie vest.  At her most recent meeting, she got 4 more, so I needed to get those on her vest in addition to a few that I hadn’t put on before now.  I couldn’t find my basic black thread, which I use for the bobbin thread that only shows on the inside of the vest and doesn’t need to match the badge background color, so I need to wait to finish that project.  I bought some thread today, but was too busy with other tasks to get back to that project, which I need to finish by Thursday for her Bridging Ceremony.

Today (Sunday) after church I attended a meeting to start planning/organizing this year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS).  With the baby, I can’t take as active of a role as I would like, but I told the director that I will help in whatever way that I can.  After the meeting I went home for a quick lunch, then was out the door again for another church-related monthly meeting, and then a quick shopping trip (with both daughters in tow) for the thread and a few other necessary items.  Back home, my husband and I took a walk with the baby while the other kids played with neighbors, and then he and I went to another neighbor to bring dinner to him and his wife in honor of his birthday today.  The baby was a bit fussy after that, and because of dealing with her, I didn’t even eat dinner until after 21h00, and was interrupted long enough while eating that the food went cold and I needed to heat it a bit in the microwave before I could finally finish it around 21h45.

Now it’s later than I’d planned to stay up, so I’m going to get some sleep because it’s going to be another busy (but hopefully not long or bad) week.