Unexpected Answers

August 26, 2008

By the end of the weekend I had worked over my anxiety over the upcoming school year.  It helped that I was able to finish up my big projects and get back to our day-to-day routine of naps, stories, and laundry.  And I knew that I would be tired, but I could most certainly handle balancing my two jobs.  I was ready.

I wasn’t ready for what Daniel said last night after he said, “did you get my Dad’s email?”  (I hadn’t.  I wouldn’t see it until after I got home.)  But I am grateful that Daniel was the one who told me, so we could talk about it right away. 

My plan with him had always been to work myself into obsolescence with him.  I figured that by the time he was in grade 12 I’d only check on him once or twice a week.  My goal was for him to leave for University fully supported, but fully confident in his own abilities and ready for the future.  It wasn’t my plan to be out of a job when he started grade 10, but this economy is hard on everyone, and his family is no exception.  They had to cut down on household expenses and so Daniel is going to try it on his own, and checking in with the after school homework help at the high school when he feels like he needs it.

I asked him how he felt about stopping tutoring.  Kind of happy.  Kind of sad.  Why sad?  I asked.  And he replied that he really liked having someone to talk to, and that we had fun.

Paul asked me how I felt about this.  Kind of happy.  Kind of sad.  Yes, I’m really going to miss the money, and I’m disappointed that my fast track to cleaning up our finances has been stalled.  But also, it sucks being laid off.  And I’m going to miss Daniel — it took us a while but in the end we actually became friends.  I really hope he does well.  And I really hope they call me again if the situation changes. 

But this takes major pressure off me in the evening.  I don’t have to stress out when Janel is late in getting out of the office.  And I’m going down to nearly no driving at all (which means gassing up very rarely!)  This takes Paul off the hook in the evenings, so if he needs to stay late to finish up something, he can, and his evenings are open for his other projects, instead of wrangling tired children.

What does this mean for Daniel?  I really think he’s going to be fine, actually.

What does this mean for us?  Well I’ve still got Aiden (THANK GOODNESS!) so we can still pay our bills.  Maybe something else is coming.  Or maybe we’re going to move.  Or maybe it’s just our lot to pay down our debts slowly, and the double jobs over the summer was just to get us through some very difficult blows.  I guess I’m just going to have to see what comes next.  I won’t bother guessing, there’s no way I could have even seen this coming.

I know I made a difference in Daniel’s life, and I guess that’s all I needed to do there.  I know his parents saw the changes, too.  This is how my “pink slip” concluded:

Thank you very much for teaching Daniel for a year….. We are going to miss you…. 


He Always Knows How to Make Me Smile

August 23, 2008

Paul had some downtime between a training and a hearing earlier this week.  He knew he’d be going past a WalMart and asked me if there was anything I needed.  I replied that I was out of carpet cleaner.

He called from the store.  “Ummm, is 4 enough or would you like me to get more?”

I told him one was fine and two was plenty.

He brought me four.  He isn’t a very good listener.  He knows how to go beyond what I say to what I really need.  I sure love him.

I’m Beginning to Freak Out, A Little, A Lot

August 22, 2008

Last night, when I realized it was Thursday night and I still had a laundry list of things I hadn’t done this week that probably wouldn’t get done I tried to console myself by thinking “well this has just been a busy week.”

… as opposed to???

And it hit me.  In two week’s it’ll be September.  School will be back in session.  Most mothers in the world will breathe a collective sigh of relief.  I, however, will be my busiest yet.  While I did balance babysitting Aiden and tutoring Daniel all along, this time it’ll be different.  It won’t be like the summers have been, where I’ve had only two long days matched with three days of babysitting but no tutoring.  It won’t even by like May and June where I had been not tutoring on Fridays.  Nope, all indications are that I will have no days off.  Monday to Friday will be the same thing: balance the needs of three little boys all day, then hurry up the hill to tutor a teenage boy, then hurry back down the hill to feed my family.

So how am I supposed to do all my other things, too?  Cub scouts?  Primary?  Housework?  Fun stuff with the family?

And to think I was getting serious about my business again.  (remember that?  the handmade baby items?  uhhh, yeah, I didn’t think so.  I had pretty much forgotten about it, too.)  Why did I think I could work on my business while working two jobs and still trying to care for my family?

I just need to keep focus.  The good thing about September is I’ll start getting full paychecks again, tutoring a full week.  That’ll definitely help.  As long as I can keep my eye on the prize and move all that money to the appropriate accounts (instead of Target…) then this’ll all be worth it.  I just need to take a deep breath and stay focused.  I enjoy both of my jobs.  I’m going to be okay.

I’m going to be okay.  Sleep is overrated anyway.

Pop Quiz

August 21, 2008

What do Robert Plant, Al Roker, Joan Allen, Connie Chung, Amy Adams, and I all have in common?

So Much to Say, So Much Unsaid

August 20, 2008

Where do I start in describing my mother’s two-week visit?

I guess with the beginning.  It’s a good thing she mixed up those numbers.  She thought she had found tickets from Edmonton to LA for $183.  (By the time she realized it was $381, she was too excited to back out.) 

She arrived only the day before our anniversary, but by the time I had to leave for tutoring and then go on my hot date the boys were more comfortable with her than any other babysitter we’ve had.  Paul and I went to Damon’s.  Even with the sweet deal we got on a restaurant.com gift card, we still ended up plunking down $65 on our meal.  (translation: we’d have paid $85 otherwise!)  But it was our NINTH ANNIVERSARY!  and we hadn’t eaten at Damon’s in four years.  Totally worth it.  We got the coconut shrimp appetizer, the garlic bread, the big salad, and then Paul had a steaky-something (sorry, the names all blurr in my head) and I had the fish special: tempura mahi mahi.  Half of my food made it into the take-home box, and I’m embarassed to admit that for the first time in my life I did not finish a dessert at a restaurant.  (The orange slice cake our waitress brought us for our anniversary!)  I have never been so defeated.  The food left over was enough for both me and Mum for lunch the next day.

We went shopping a lot.  She plans to get a job as soon as she’s settled in Edmonton, reentering the workforce for almost the first time in 30 years.  She needed clothes and was delighted to discover that much of what’s in style now is similar to what she wore when last she was teaching.  I helped her find some amazing deals (ifIdosaysomyself.)

We went to parks and pools.  We went to JoAnn’s.  We stayed home and read stories with the boys.  We went to El Molino Viejo.  She spent some time with her sister-in-law in Glendora and the following weekend we all went out for Adam’s mission homecoming pool party and bbq. 

We ate out more in two weeks than we normally do in several months.  McCormick and Schmick’s for her birthday dinner (the boys were at their pajama party,) Caffe Primo, Gin Sushi, Acapulco on the fly for lunch because Paul was passing through.  And our home-meals were much more elaborate than normal as we planned meals based on foods she hadn’t tried before. 

We went on long walks because with an extra adult we could take an extra stroller.

I think she found clarity in her own life by being able to step away for a while.  I’m glad.  I’m also glad the boys got to finally spend quality time with her.  They know her now.  They will miss her.  It sure was nice to have an extra adult to read stories and play with the boys.  It was nice to have an extra adult help tidy up the place.

And after two weeks, it is also nice to have our old routine back, and our living room back.  I am amazed at how much more cleaning I get done when I’m not chatting with someone — already my place is cleaner than it ever was when she was here.  Why sacrifice my precious visit by cleaning?  (justbetweenyouandme,I’malsorelievedtonothavetothinksomuchaboutmyfamily’sproblems)

Now my children know her.  They will remember her.  They will miss her.  And now when she looks at their photos on flickr she’ll hear their noises and know the personality behind the expression.  It was a priceless visit.  I miss her.  But I’m very glad for her to start her new life in a new town.

Time to Reevaluate

August 5, 2008

Thursday mid-day brought the most unhappy news of another $100 rent hike.  I was so sick to my stomac.  I tried very hard to fight the visceral reaction to declare that we were moving, trying to learn the lesson from last year.  It turns out I was quite right to stay calm, as ours was definitely not the highest increase.  My husband reminded me that we had been getting a little complacent and that we needed this push to look at our priorities and make sure we were on track.

By Friday morning I knew that the answer was not another rental in southern California.  Which leaves us with three options, still.  Stay and tough it out (but submit a list of maintenance demands — if we’re paying for it we’d better actually get it!), low-ball someone on a condo (I won’t pay more on my mortgage than I will on rent, but if I can get it to work out … ), move out of state.  I don’t know what the answer is but I also don’t think I’ll know this month.  In the meantime I feel very calm.  Things will be okay.  Would I rather not pay that extra $100 every month and instead use it toward my debt reduction plan?  Of course.  But as long as I’m babysitting Aiden we actually CAN pay that extra rent.  I just won’t like it.

It has taken a great deal of effort this weekend to not go off the deep end and freak out.  With stratospheric gas prices, food prices, and energy prices, but stagnant wages, it’s really hard to not feel squeezed on every side.  It’s really hard to not feel like some grand power is toying with us to see how long it takes before we implode.  Believe me, some days I’m pretty close to imploding.  It’s not just that I’m upset that I don’t see how we can get ahead, I’m mad that for so many families it’s nearly impossible to catch up, or even just tread water.

But I have faith, and I need to remember the calm I felt.  I don’t know the answers, but I know that we will.  Eventually.