Greetings from New England

Hi. I moved to New England.

Because I simply do not have enough funds to cover the therapy bills should I wish to rip the scab off and fully discuss in detail the horrors of our move across the country, let me instead summarize with cryptic and vague bullet points and then we can all just move on:

  • Sub-freezing temperatures, snow, and no winter gear. In both states
  • It’s easier and far cheaper to check a gun as airline baggage than to ship it
  • 4 weeks with no cars
  • 7 weeks with no furniture
  • You shouldn’t pack wine bottles in a pod in temps that will hit the negatives
  • The washing machine and dryer disappeared
  • Dust on dust on dust and there is still a mysterious odor
  • A concussion paired with a trip to the ER
  • Random surprise bills/fees/expenses costing us into the thousands of dollars
  • Advice: never vaccinate your kids early
  • The hell mouth has been located and it’s in my basement

And if you would like to know what happened to my beautiful kindergarten curriculum, I can say it paid off having everything for the entire year completed in advance. Of course, it didn’t help having most of it in a pod for weeks on end which has thrown it totally out of whack and I had to tweak, push, and prod everything to get back on track. And we were on track until this weekend when the plague descended upon my little family and was highlighted with not one but two ER rooms and an ambulance. But come hell or high water I will finish this damn school year on time and without tears, and along with it, I will finish uploading all the missing weeks if you wish to borrow my curriculum for yourself.

Which now brings us to today and what is happening in my life.

First, we are short-term renting a house. Our lease is up this summer and by then we need to have decided if we are going to buy or rent another year, and act upon that decision. I was rather tired of dealing with winter moves and a short lease means we can break that cycle. We are looking at the possibly jumping town or even state, so at this point, I am going to leave our current location broad and unannounced. We are in New England, we are staying in New England, and that’s all I’ve got for you.

Speaking of, our rental house would be a blog post in itself. Maybe several. My landlady is nice and considerate and a good person, but her definition of finish is vastly different than mine. Her definition of the working kitchen is also vastly different, but I gave up silently judging for Lent so I need to stop the conversation here. So besides the occasional rant about having only a 2×2 work surface on which to cook, the smoking chimney, the severe drafts, the doors that won’t open or close, and the random ceiling coving flying off the walls and trying to impale me with its rusty, bent nails, I won’t get into too many details. She is trying to sell the house and I don’t want to ruin that for her. I also don’t want someone tracking her down and telling her I am complaining publicly about the daily plaster dust raining from the wall and ceiling cracks because that might hurt her feelings needlessly. And it isn’t hurting a buyer by the lack of disclosure because believe me, you can see these cracks from several rooms away.

I have resumed my cooking. And with it, I resumed my passion for needing all the stuff, which led me to purchase a pie bird, 5 Mason Cash mixing bowls, and Julia Child’s famous cookbook. Which do not fit in my kitchen with the 2×2 work surface?

I have started looking into next year’s curriculum. If you were paying attention, this means I am not currently in Vermont since Vermont requires the whole damn thing to be done and submitted no later than yesterday. But I did purchase the main bulk of the textbooks by that date and started to organize the non-text book based classes and draft the grade book spreadsheets. I should be able to put up some curriculum notes soon. I know you are just so excited.

I haven’t resumed running as I am still having issues with my lower extremities. The house being questionably stable and certainly in no way level isn’t helping. Ah, well. Baby steps. I am sure to get in my 10,000 steps a day. Sweeping plaster dust eats up a good few thousand alone. At least I am not Couchy McCouchersons.

And I have resumed blogging. As you can see. I am sure it will be sporadic at best but then, whatever. I am not doing this for money nor am I in any way professional. I haven’t yet resumed writing the next novel but that will come when the dust settles. Not literally because oh my gosh seriously the dust never settles in this house.

My First Day as a Single Mom

Finally I can share some news! The Husband landed a new job which involves travel, travel, and more travel. This first project can last weeks, months, or even years. We don’t know. No one knows. But boy I hope someone starts to know pretty quickly.

For him it is miserable. No one melting down at full volume at the worst possible moment, no one kicking him in the face as they crawl into bed with him at 2 am, no one watching him go to the bathroom every flipping time. He gets to eat from his Pit Boss Grills 340 Wood Pellet Smoker when he wants, has a maid clean up his room daily, can explore fabulous cities, and will spend his time with adults doing adult things and having adult conversation. I don’t honestly know how he is going to make it through this. Totally sucks to be him. I get to experience our kids twenty-four-freaking-seven totally up in my face not leaving me alone for a nanosecond. Sweet goodness I won this coin toss. Alone time is overrated. So I have heard.

But coupled with this awesome new single mom title is a super tight tight tight budget. Because we are going to have to move and moving costs money and the sooner we do the sooner I can cease being single mom. I know. Day one and I am already prepared to give up the title. Clearly I am ungrateful. And undeserving.

Where we will end up is any one’s guess- that guess heavily weighing on that aforementioned anyone who has the magic answer to how long the current project will run and where next project will be located. Because the husband keeps threatening to hang it all and move us to Vermont and he totally means it.

Either that or he wants to move across town to this charming 1979 two story ranch loaded with original features including not one but two faux stone fireplaces, low popcorn encrusted ceilings, period tile super glued to the subfloor, and a burgundy kitchen that looks remarkably like the coagulated aftermath of a pig slaughter gone horribly, horribly wrong. Oh and it butts up to BLM land. In the high desert. You know, the place that is dirt, dirt, and more dirt and will only ever be dirt except that one day it floods and becomes super sticky mud? I will never have anything clean ever again. But hey, bonus! All that wind stirring it up will naturally exfoliate me and within a month I will lose at least five pounds in skin alone. Who needs those top seven layers?

I told him I wanted a project. What I meant was a gorgeous 4000 square foot Queen Anne loaded with original features in beautiful Schenectady. I want to spend my life battling lead paint and drafty windows, not black widow spiders and rattle snakes.

So here you are in my journey with me. His journey started this morning as he embarked on his twelve hour travel path through half a dozen airports because where we live and where he is assigned are remarkably the only two places in this entire country that don’t seem to connect to any mutual hub stream. At all. None.

Which is why I am single mom for a (please please please let it be) limited time while the powers that be determine the place he shall be and the length he shall be there so we can live at least in the same time zone. And if the powers that be especially love me, they will make sure it isn’t in Vermont.

But, good news, I survived day one. Almost.

The teen is about to blast through the door between work and her date tonight, the two youngest are watching what is probably an age inappropriate movie instead of sleeping, and I know there is one bag of peanut butter cups downstairs that is the sum total of our contribution for trick or treaters and at this rate I may have to keep the lights off and just hide in a closet the whole night because I. Need. Them. Now.

That aside, we ate meals on time. And the dishes were done. And we brushed our teeth. And I managed to pack two boxes. And I made a shopping list to go with my new meal plan for my new budget. And no one died, got mutilated, or got slapped with an anti-social behavior order and ended up on probation. So I survived. Hooray for me.

Rambling Thoughts

Just another journal entry today.

Sewing:
I finished the olive green dress. Well, mostly finished. I did mainly French seams but the few I did standard need to be finished. I also need to add a second dart, the hook and eye, and a bit of trim. I know, the same stuff I have been needing to add for the last week and a half. I think I will make today a sewing day and get that sorted out. Maybe.

I also have two sweaters I am altering using a method I saw on Pinterest. They are both excessively large on me, but warm and wooly and free. The concept is to sew along the existing seams, trim, then seal the seam by running a zig-zag stitch that just scootches off the edge. Basically, it is mimicking a serged seam. Let’s see if this fake-it version works. If not, I have been meaning to whip up some bias tape and will seal the seams with that and hope for the best.

I am being gifted a few yards of material from my Mother-in-Law which should arrive end of next week or so. I only know it is tricot and “t-shirt like.” What weave, what weight, and what yardage is unknown but I am excited all the same. She said it was to make dresses, but she also greatly underestimates how big I am. Which, I guess, is actually rather sweet. It sure beats being thought of as a ginormous zeppelin. But when it comes to the amount of material she might not be gifting enough for an entire dress. It will be enough for a blouse or skirt, of that I have no doubt. I have several patterns in mind and can’t wait to see what I get to create.

Wardrobe:
The great wardrobe challenge is exactly that- a great challenge. For those not in the loop yet: My goal is to start wearing as few items as possible. Not quite a capsule wardrobe, but rather a minimal clothing allotment. I want to get over the societal pressures of having new clothes for every occasion, a huge walk in closet stuffed to the brim, and impulse buying. So for this, I need to have as few items as possible, with great function and scope, and stylish for the season/era in which I live but not absolute trendy. I decided to mimic the wardrobe levels of yesteryear but not the actual fashion style. I have been reviewing “typical wardrobes” of the 1930s and 1940s to do this, thinking that the depression and war years would give me simplest yet realistic base numbers.

So far, I have discovered the two summer dress method of the 30s isn’t sufficient. I think the key difference is I don’t wear the undergarments of the era- so the slip that would naturally add the absorbent layer is missing meaning they need to be washed more frequently. And since I don’t hand wash like my ancestors, this was expected to not be a problem as I can toss it in every day if I wanted. Only that in itself has been the very problem. My seams are breaking down, I already blew out one zipper on one of the dresses and had to replace it, and the fabric print is significantly faded. The cheaper quality lining material is full of pills and thinning. Washing even only couple times a week has wrecked havoc on the dresses. I haven’t decided how I want to correct this problem yet, but as summer is on its way out I have plenty of time to study and review before the next year’s trial.

Speaking of which, already my summer dresses just aren’t heavy enough and we have barely entered fall. And I live in the desert. I am having to layer cardigans, which is no problem, but also leggings. At this point, I might as well wear pants and call it a day. It would be less bulk and my skirts wouldn’t stick and ride up. The online advice says to add boots that touch or cross the hemline, but I don’t wear shoes around the house all day long. Still doing a lot of thinking about this, though I need to think fast or I am going to be awfully cold soon.

Homeschooling:
Elementary:
It’s pretty much status quo on the homeschool front. Winter is my goal to purchase the following year’s textbooks so I can spend spring writing up the weekly schedules. I may need to re-evaluate my choices because at this point we have way more time than money. I really wanted to avoid modular learning and instead, use a foundational course. It may end up that I have to make some hard choices and adjust my plans. I know, I know. First world problems, eh?

I am a few weeks behind posting my lessons plans- so getting caught up is on the agenda for today. We are starting week 8 on Monday. I can’t believe the quarter is nearly finished. The “every other-ish day or so” method of recording is working out well. I am also thinking of tweaking when we do the math- so far it is four days a week, which I am happy with. The book covers 130 days, which is set to the public school format of 180 days minus 50 for testing/non-learning days (parties and field trips). To make this work, the “every five days” assessments fall on top of a normal lesson, plus sometimes on top of a special hands-on lab, making it a significant math day. As in a good solid hour significant kind of math day, not even counting the follow-up work at the end of the day. It’s a bit much for a kindergartner. I am going to see if I can re-balance and use my 50 blank days for the assessments, making some weeks 5 and some weeks 4 lessons. It won’t reflect in my lesson plans this semester as I am going to just pencil it in. If it works out next quarter then I will make the change permanent for the second half of the year.

High School:
The teen is looking at a spring start to community college this year instead of fall next year. We discovered with 24 transfer credits she can skip her High School Proficiency exams, the SAT and/or ACT, and only be required to take the expected math and language arts placement exams because she will be entering her four years as a transfer student and not a high school student. No weird explanations, no pockets, no justifications for my GPA assignment. High school “won’t count” since she is already a college student so the worry about extra accountability for homeschooling is no longer an issue.

This is mainly possible because we know where she is going to University. It was an easy decision: in-state, because paying twice as much or more for non-resident fees, is stupid, and not the one close to home because she wants to “go away” to college. So that left an option of one, UNLV (University of Las Vegas). Additionally, our local community college has a direct transfer program to UNLV and academic advisers on campus. She can, and is, ensuring that she not only has 24 transferable units but those 24 will satisfy her actual degree and streamline the whole transfer process through their special intake system. As for acceptance- they have an 85% rate. I am thinking with her projected GPA and following their special intake policies, it’s a safe gamble to put all our eggs into this one basket.

With all this in mind, we are focusing hard on her completing what she needs to get proper placement in math/language arts levels and completing the courses she won’t need for her degree (she is an engineering major) but does need for having a balanced and well-rounded education. Because of life. Once she starts the community college, she will be keeping up her foreign language, programming, and literature courses at home. It won’t be for credit, but it will be for her balanced knowledge.

Looking at this process, I am re-evaluating what the little ones will do once they get to high school. The idea was to send them, possibly, to a public four-year. But now I am thinking I may keep them home until 16 and then follow the “off to college” route their eldest sister is doing. As for social development, it isn’t going to increase suddenly because they hit puberty. All stages of life need social interaction. While they will miss things like the prom (unless they are the dates of a public school child) and yearbooks, they won’t miss out on friends, peer clubs, and group activities. And I am not worried about age. There are so many high-school-on-college-campus programs they will be with plenty of their same age group. They will also have the added bonus of the age groups above their own, thereby strengthening their ability to mix in society.

The Great Ugly:
There have been some positive developments on that which is sucking the energy out of me right now. Hopefully, we will have turned the corner by the end of the month, and it is looking like this is what is going to happen if everything continues at its current pace. There are still so many questions left unanswered, the main one being where on earth we are going to live. So far, Vermont isn’t an option (hooray) but one of the other diamond states is. Staying local has now pushed its way to the most likely option and for that I am thankful. We have built up such a wonderful base of friends that I hate to leave them so soon. In the end I know that it is what it is. When you put your trust in God there is no fear, no regret, and from what I have experienced, no being idle. This stone is certainly not destined to gather any moss.

And bonus- if we stay local we may still move rentals. This means NO MORE NASTY OLIVE GREEN CARPET. Oh, happy day! Now, of course, saying that, I probably just guaranteed us one more year in this house. Le sigh.

The Novel:
It isn’t writer’s block. It’s a secondary character who keeps trying to push into primary position. Since she wants everything to be about her, I am thinking of letting it be about her. I am toying with the idea of splicing the former main character’s story into her own. It will be a complete rework, but if I am to the point of not even writing anymore because I am annoyed with how it is going, then what is the point of going that direction? Best to scrap it and start again.

So here I go. Starting again. So much for finishing it this year. My goal is to write a book I am happy with not write a book to meet an arbitrary deadline. Since it will make me happy to do this, this is what I do.