Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Priceless Treasures

I neglected to say my absolutely favorite thing about New Orleans in my last post. And that is: That's where my home is, where my family lives together.

Kid Date Night

When I was a single parent, I really missed having individual time with my kids. I started thinking how I really wanted to be able to have a time with each of them alone. And now that there are two parents in the house, we are able to do that.

We've designated Tuesday nights, because that is what works for us. And surprisingly we have been able to do this at very low cost (mostly free).

The first week Greyson and I took a picnic dinner to City Park and ate on an island. Then I took him to KMart to spend a $5 giftcard he had that he was dying to use. He also took $1.50 that he had gotten from the Toothfairy. He spent $5.74 at the register and then bought a $.25 gumball at the machine and a $.50 necklace from the same machine. Yep, he walked out with a penny in his pocket! And for me it was so much better than trying to go with 2 kids into the toy aisles! That night Alex took Grant swimming at a rooftop pool at a hotel. Yep, both my kids thought dad was the best date.
The second week Grant and I made cheese quesadillas (his favorite) and then got out a cookie baking set he had gotten for his birthday (last year). While the sugar cookie dough was chilling we took a trip to Whole Foods for toppings (total spent $10). I admit, because of time and homework constraints, I did most of the work. That night Greyson and Alex went to a friends house for a cooking lesson.

This week was our 3rd Kid Date Night and Greyson and I rode our bikes to City Park to again have a picnic on "our" island. I was a little worried about the sun setting, so we rode right back after dinner and then played a couple rounds of Mancala. Alex took Grant geo caching and Grant came home with pockets filled with feathers and an army figure's leg. Yep, priceless treasures!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Things I like about New Orleans

Wow, I am overwhelmed by the responses on my last post. I received so much support, both publicly and privately. I really appreciate it - I have the best friends!

I think I do need to let you know the things I do like about New Orleans!
#1 City Park
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE City Park! City Park is about a mile from our house. I jog there just about every morning. It's filled with ponds & lagoons and trees - the perfect combination for those from the Great Lakes State! The Sculpture Garden is free and the Museum of Art is free every Wednesday. There is an amusement park (it's no Cedar Point, more like a fairground) and we bought a season pass that paid for itself by the second visit. Sometimes I take the kids just to run around to get energy out. City Park is by far my most favorite place in New Orleans.
#2 The Streetcars
The first time we came to visit, I found riding the streetcars with the kids was one of the cheapest forms of entertainment! Even though it's transportation, you feel like it's a piece of history and culture. The Canal Streetcar is just down the street from us and when taken from one end to the other you end up at the Aquarium which is also at the tail end of the French Quarter.
#3 The People
I know, I complain all the time how rude people are here. And most times they are, but there are also friendly people. The introvert in me was seriously freaked out the first time I went for a jog and EVERONE I passed said, "Hi!" And it's not just jogging, everyone you pass everywhere has a greeting. 

So while my heart belongs to another city, I'll keep looking for things I can love about this one!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life as I know it

So much to write about!
After the last post we experienced our first "hurrication." Sunday night we received notice that school was cancelled for Monday and Tuesday so families could make emergency plans. Knowing that if the hurricane actually hit New Orleans school was also going to be cancelled at least for Wednesday and Thursday, I decided to take a little vacation to my parent's house in Ohio. And it was a nice vacation, going to the beach and winery!

And then we came back. Honestly, I've been having a difficult time since the kids went back to school. And I feel guilty. I know so many people have been rooting for us to be together as a family again, and that's what I wanted too, but now that I have what I wanted, I'm not happy.

I feel like the last 3 years of my life have left me so scarred. My husband lost his job, left us to work out of town, I became a single parent, I lost the job I loved, it took me forever to find a new one that did not have the benefits of the previous one. And now here I am, in a new city 1,000 miles away from everything that was familiar, with no job and a drained bank account. And this is what I wanted.

And being a month into a job search has again left me demoralized. I keep having flashbacks of the last time I applied for a job every day for 6 months to have 5 interviews that lead to one job offer for 1/3 less pay and 3/4 less vacation time and 1/2 the sick time and no work at home option like I previously had. Don't get me wrong, I was extremely grateful to have that job especially when I wasn't eligible for unemployment (religious organizations are exempt from participating) and I met the most wonderful people that I have pretty much known in my adult life, but it wasn't what I was used to.

Here I am again, 13 resumes in the last month and one call back saying they had a hiring freeze, but no other word. Ugh, job searches when you actually need a job are the worst. And to make it worse, recently when my husband and I were meeting people he was asked what he did for a job, but no one asked me. My husband's response when I commented on it to him, "But you don't work anyway." First of all, how does anyone know that without asking? Second, how does that make the rest of my life less valuable?

So I find myself questioning my value. Because getting a Master's degree when you're 22 doesn't mean the same thing when your 37 and either over-qualified or under-qualified for everything available. Being "just a mom" isn't very fun after you drop fighting, complaining kids off at school and then go home to deal with the socks other people left on the floor.

And through it all I feel guilty. If this was anyone else I would tell them to look on the positive side. We are all together again, everyone is healthy, and while there isn't anything left after the bills are paid, we ARE paying the bills. And even though we will have a credit card balance for the first time in the last 8 years, we have NO other debt. But telling yourself to be positive doesn't always end in you being positive.

I want to be alright with the way things are but I also want to change things, without being dissatisfied until the change happens.

In the last couple of years I've come to realize that life is like a river. It's always flowing and changing. Sometimes the weather is calm and sunny and you can just float along enjoying the scenery. Sometimes it's rough and fast moving and it's all you can do to hang on. Sometimes you get hung up in obstacles, like downed trees in your path. Sometimes you have to backtrack and go back to the fork and take a different direction. Sometimes you meet up with a larger body of water. But whatever the path, you never stand still. Today is one of the days when I'm banking on change. I don't want to stay in this part of the river. But I also know I can't enjoy the ride without being grateful to all the experiences that have brought me to this point and will take me to a further point. I'm looking forward to the days when I can just float along, but until then I am thankful for the journey.