Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Try and Try Again

Saturday:  We truly did sleep in this morning, the whole lot of us.  John and I got up later than ususal and had coffee, croissants and bagels before anyone else got up.  It was rather nice. 

John told me yesterday that he wanted to go out today.  He did not say what he wanted to do, only that we were going out.  I make plans but hold them loosely.  Then if mine fit his, it's fine and it they don't, it's fine.  

I couldn't tell by the route we were taking where we were going.  I thought we were going to one spot and then another and then changed my mind to a third.  I was quite surprised at where we ended up.

Months ago, I'd made the comment that I really wanted to go to Red Lobster this year for my birthday.  And that's where John took me, even though it wasn't quite our birthdays.

I have to confess it was very nice, quiet and restful to be there having a meal without constantly reminding a 3-year-old to sit in the chair and finish the meal.  I can't say we had a long conversation.  In fact, we spent most of the drive and the meal in silence.  But all throughout the meal I was so pleased that he'd remembered that I wanted to go out to this particular place to have a meal.

We took a long way home.  It was lovely to see the changes that had been made since we'd last driven that way around.  Lots of clearing land and a few new houses going up.  Fields that looked dead as winter and fields that were fresh and green as spring already.  The river is swollen and has flooded the outlying swamps nearby.  It very much looks and feels like winter.

And then home to our muddy drive.  I thought we'd get a bit of a rest this afternoon, but it didn't work out so.  It's been a rocky day, again.  It will calm down once more when the anxiety is done.

Meals:  Croissants and Bagels.  I am out of cream cheese.  Because of the long shelf life, any time I find it affordably I always have four or five packets on hand but this morning, there was none...Why? And why did no one mention there was none?

Fish and Chips for me, Steak and Salad for John

Pizza, just pizza.

Sunday:  Shared Birthday with John and Little Miss.  I knew there was planning afoot but not what the plans were exactly.  

John and I barely made it out the door this morning in time to get to church, and we missed breakfast entirely.  Oh well. We made it to church on time, so there was that.   I'd mentioned that in light of this week's menu, I really needed to visit the grocery store today.  John wanted to go to Aldi, and I agreed but wasn't sure I'd find all I needed.  'We could always run by another if that's the case...'   That was threat enough for John to insist we'd just shop at Publix.

Things today were pricey.  Had it not been for the birthday dinner request (which won't even happen until tomorrow, since we have a meeting tonight at church), I'd have skipped at least two items on my shopping list, but a birthday is a birthday and comes round only once a year, so I figured we could splurge that little bit.  Despite those costs, I was careful to look over prices and shop accordingly on all other items.  I saved nearly 33% of my bill by choosing sales and such, so the cost of the birthday dinner almost evened out.  John insisted I get flowers and I chose a bigger bouquet since it was to be for my birthday. 

I was happy to get a Lactose free yogurt for the Little One today.  I discovered that it would be free as I scanned through the coupons from the store which I'd loaded on my phone.  

Home, with lots of texts flying between folks and since it was still fairly unclear what the plans were exactly, I was glad John insisted I buy hot dogs (on sale) and buns.  I knew I had chips at home.  I figured that was a reasonably good lunch for us all and if anyone had planned anything different, it was also easily put aside for another day.

I'd love to say things went well for the party, but the children were wild, the younger adults stressed to the max and the senior adults wary of both groups, lol.  

I didn't care at all for how things ended up going.  I was not happy with a parental mandate, but I bit my tongue after an initial plea and accepted that I'm not parent and it's not my place.  But I will confess it was a bitter disappointment to me that things went as they did.  By the same token, I must add that like it or not, I'm very proud that my children are strong enough in their parenting lives to tell me politely and respectfully, "I'm attending to this, Mama...Let me handle it."  I don't know if I'm proud because they feel confident or because we have a relationship in which they know they can say this and I'll back them up, even if I'm not thrilled with the action.  

Somewhere there is a dear little video of Little Miss and Grampa singing Happy Birthday to each other and each time they sang 'to you...' they'd point at one another with a huge smile.  Cupcakes were a lovely surprise which we all appreciated.  

Testing went on all afternoon long, with Little One determined to push boundaries.  It's been exhausting and difficult and has left more than one of us feeling shattered and weary.  It will get better.  It will get better. It will...Kindly my daughter in law reminded me of this.  She's been through it twice already and is dealing with it again with her third, who turned three today.  "It does stop after a bit...and then it's a whole different sort of crazy."   No doubt.

Time to get ready for our meeting...

later:  Home from the meeting.  It was a scratch supper tonight for each of us, everyone taking leftovers chosen from the fridge.  Tomorrow night I'll cook a proper birthday dinner for John.  As for my own, remember that John took me out to eat on Saturday, so I've had my special meal.

But I do have a birthday cake!  Yes, I do...Publix sent me a coupon good for a cake or half gallon of ice cream and I opted for a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake.

Speaking of Publix, I was uploading my receipt this evening on Ibotta and Fetch.  Honestly, Ibotta and I have a 'Meh' sort of relationship.  They don't think much of my brand choices, and I find they seldom have deals on anything I do use.  But now and then I'll get 10c for a receipt photo.  Today, such a nice surprise.  I got a full refund on that dairy-free yogurt I got this morning.  So, I actually was PAID to buy the yogurt.  Yay!

Tomorrow is a new day.   I so hope things go well with the Little One in the new school...But that is truly tomorrow's worry, isn't it?  Not a thing to do with today.

Meals: we skipped breakfast

Hot Dogs, Cheese Puffs, Cupcakes

Everyone's choice of leftovers.  I won't bore you with all the choices made but it was a help in nearly clearing out the fridge.  

Monday:  The little one was happy enough this morning and seemed okay about going to school.  His mama said later that she went in with him to see him settled (which I expected she would) and he seemed happy enough with it all.  I admit the last nursery has left me gun shy about phone calls and even texts coming in, so I cringed today every time I got a text or call, but no dreaded call came.  

Overall, it's been an emotional day.   I am not emotional because it's my birthday but over a bevy of unrelated concerns that have hit me over the past 24 hours.  I think I've said before that there are times when the pain others are experiencing really seems to bite deep into my own soul and start to consume me.  Well wishes and sweet surprises haven't offset those things I have held in my spirit this day.

I was not helped along by a rough morning with coughing and stuffy nose.  Just when I was so sure I was very nearly done with this thing, it rears up and kicks back.  I was struggling at the same time with the checkbook and getting squared up with it.  I came nearer where I should be but doggone if I can find why it's off by the little it is when every single thing has been accounted.   Then I fought with the credit card bill.  It is my habit each month to go through to check each charge made (usually kept in a file folder so I have that info handy) but Amazon charges are the worst to decipher.  

It's not just a matter of knowing what you order, but how things are invoiced.  And that's where you end up having to dig a bit deeper to find out how something was invoiced.  Even so, there are times when items invoiced together don't get shipped together, plus you must know which items you had to pay shipping on as to how those were billed, and it's just more complicated than you'd think to sort it all out.  And more so if you're continually being interrupted while you're trying to do that figuring.  I finally got it figured out.

All in all, it took the bulk of my morning to get it done.  When I came out to the kitchen, it was well past 12noon.

Biggest surprise today was the lack of leftovers in the fridge.  There are two items I know are really best suited to a single entree.  I've yet to purchase those containers I'd said I would, finding that much as I love glass containers with snap on lids, I also seemingly have a habit of breaking glass containers.  However, I definitely need to find something to use for a freezer container and get those items frozen. Those two single serve items and pizza slices were absolutely all that was left over from last week.  Pretty good job of using things up.

After lunch today, we were not happy folks.  I was struggling already and then John sat down and poured out his heart and it wasn't a happy talk in the least.  When he finally wandered off to play guitar I went outdoors with my journal, pulled a chair into the sun and sat down with it and sobbed as I wrote.  If yesterday was too much, then hearing his heart, mostly on matters with which I'd already been concerned, was even more of the same.  

Journal and nature soothed.   The sun was warm and comforting and bright.  The birds fluttered and chirped and called.  Two daffodils have bloomed out beautifully in a shaded area and the sun through the trees was hitting them in such a way they turned into molten gold.   I noted that grape hyacinths had popped up and bloomed, a sole dianthus had braved the frost and cold and bloomed, there were buds on the little forsythia.  John came out and sat down beside me and I laid down my journal.  We closed our eyes and absorbed the sun.

I did feel my mood had lightened and the heaviness had lifted.  It was a blessed reprieve.  

This evening, we took a hard hit.  The little one will not be returning to the new nursery.  He will be cared for here at home for a while longer.  Information from the facility stated he displayed signs of great anxiety.  For those of you with real life experience with an anxious sensitive child (who might have been coded as 'difficult' but is/was not) and you have any tips please share them with us.  It would be much appreciated.  

I'll just go on and add that if you have nothing but criticism for parent/grandparents involved, please do NOT comment.  Your sort of help isn't wanted nor needed.  I beg everyone else's pardon...You'd never believe some of the comments that come through at times.

Meals:  Eggs and toast

Pizza and Salad

Ribs, Corn on the Cob, Potato Salad, Birthday cake if anyone has the heart to eat any of it. Definitely will be skipping the singing and candle.

Tuesday:  I think we were all a bit shell shocked yesterday evening.   Potty training has backslid.  It's an effort and a real hassle to get him to even consider going in to sit down.  I'll keep trying but that has regressed considerably, so we'll begin again.  

Other than that, thus far today it's all been smooth as butter. The routine here is obviously part of the safe environment Little One requires.  In reading online last night, looking for any help we might find, we came up with a safe space.  In the past when there's been an upset a certain spot in the house became a haven.  It's in a corner behind a chair.  Today the space was slightly enlarged, by moving the chair further from the wall and a quilt, pillow and favorite stuffed animal (or book) are there waiting for him if he starts to feel overwhelmed by his feelings.  He's been in it twice, not due to any upset but just as a matter of play.  I remember a place I loved to huddle down in and play in Granny's living room, a place to cuddle dollies and read a few lines of a book.  It was between a big old itchy upholstered chair that was angled into the living area and the side tale that served it and the couch and I and my doll just fit nicely in that space.  It was near enough the heater to be warm, and I had only to look over my shoulder to Granny's rocker to see her nearby.  I think it's a wonderful thing to have a spot all his own.  I would like one all my own.  At supper tonight when he wanted his teddy bear, I asked, "Did he go to a safe place?"  He looked at me and then ran to that corner and came back happily carrying the bear.

On the other hand, intelligence is obviously not the issue...I was informed today at lunch that his lovely whole grain bread had seeds which he proclaimed 'sgusting'...And the table was soon littered with seeds.  I told John I'll be sure to cut bread ready for him to toast in the morning as I make plain white bread.

This morning during a spell of play, when my attention was not needed, I slipped outdoors to refill the bird feeder.  I cut two daffodils that were fully blooming.  We've got rain coming in and they'll be battered.  I'd rather enjoy them.  I came back indoors and watched birds at the feeder.  A small flock of gold finches joined the other birds this morning.   What a joy to see them. 

These days go quickly.  There's no time for any extra, just the bare routine things and making and clearing up behind meals.  I am admittedly tired, frustrated and feel caught.  I see the long line of things I've wanted for the longest time now being pushed still further back to another someday position.  It makes me sad and angry and frustrated.  And those are just my emotions.  I don't know what the other adults feel, and I certainly can't fathom what Little One feels, but I do know he's happiest here with us for the most part and that much as I think I'm giving up, there will be gain.  

I've made my pleas to the county commissioner to not put the new dumpsite just across the boundary of my land.  I don't like it one bit and I hate it mightily for the neighbor who will have to look at it from her windows.  I've done all I can, protested on the behalf of the neighbors, of myself and my family and I'm not sure we've any of us made a valid point that hasn't been addressed with reassurances, etc.  I know that dump sites are necessary.   Our county does a wonderful job of trying to keep up with them and keeping them picked up in between pick-ups.  But no one wants to live next to a dump site.  We've vast amounts of empty land here in this county that isn't being farmed and even just up the road there might be a better place but no it must go in this particular place, right next to houses...Just one more thing.

Meals:  The usual two breakfasts for Little One.  First he had orange, toast and yogurt with banana.   Then he ate a bowl of cereal and a piece of toast.

For LO: ravioli, peas, orange, bread (sgusting bread!)

John had a sandwich and leftover potato salad.  I found a serving of Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes in the fridge and ate that.

Beef Stroganoff, Rice, Green Beans, Salad, Pickled Beets.  I bought dairy free sour cream to use in the stroganoff.  Forgot to buy noodles so I've subbed in rice.

Wednesday:  Another peaceful day.  A struggle day as this cold, which seemed to be on the tip of being done, has decided it likes the facility where it's staying...Ugh.  Hard morning for me but really it is/was a peaceful day.

Just as Little One decided he was done with potty training yesterday, after our ride to take off trash, when we returned home, he ran in the house and to the bathroom.  No success yet but he made it clear he was done being stubborn and he sat patiently.  I appreciated his cooperation.

This morning he wanted to return to school.  I explained as gently as possible that due to his behavior at school he was no longer allowed to attend and that learning to better handle his emotions would help us all to see that he got back to school eventually.  He seemed to take notice of this and played quietly.  He spent a good portion of time in his safe place this morning.  He was content and peaceable.

This afternoon when he was tired, we had minor struggles.  Each time I led him to his safe place and invited him to go in.  Each time he was out again in a few minutes, and we'd had no tantrum.  He was tired, and I know that this is a time when I myself am most prone to be anxious.  It's a good lesson to myself to create a safe spot where I can retreat for a minute or ten minutes and collect myself.

I went to watch a video by Page Jordan on YouTube.  Mother of 8 she'd just finished potty training child number 6.  She recommends taking a toddler to the bathroom every half hour and that you plan to devote 3 full days to it.  She's also very much in favor of rewards.   So far, I've had little success, so I thought I'd look to others.

I don't want to rush him, by any means, but I do want to try to get the idea across that it's a growing up experience.

There's a warm southern breeze blowing out there, warming the air and the earth and there's been plenty of sunshine to dry out the driveway.  I know though that the breeze means rain will be coming to us.  I'm grateful we got a chance to dry out a bit before this next round of winter weather.

Meals:  Breakfast Sandwiches

Sausage Dogs (us).  PBJ, applesauce and cheese popcorn for LO

Chili Mac, Cheddar Biscuits, Pineapple 

Thursday:  We had a momentary success.  We went potty.  It was completely by accident.  Little One was upset and crying.  He was rewarded but honestly, I don't think he made the connection between the action and the reward.   Advice varies widely from mother of 8 to mother of 8.  I'm a sick gramma with a 3-year-old.  I'm just going to do my very best.  Honestly, I'm not that sure he's really ready for this step.  But he will at least be aware that this is how he will be going to go to the bathroom eventually.

I went out to fill the bird feeder, empty the compost, weeded a square foot of the flower bed, and watched LO ride his scooter down the drive.  Unfortunately, he refused to turn around and come back when he reached the bottom.  He wanted to keep going.  Gramma might be sick and old at the moment, but she can still cover the 1/4 mile to the mailbox in pretty good time. Of course, it helped tremendously that he was just as determined to ride his scooter which he could only move about 4 inches at a time.  It was a bit like racing a turtle.  I caught him. Then I marched him back to the house. I was rather surprised to find I was only just winded even though I continue to cough like crazy at times.  Oddly enough this made me feel less old and more capable than I've been feeling the past few days.

I didn't run him into the house but was determined to let him continue to play and did until he had a tantrum.  It was then I brought him indoors and took him to the potty, the plan being he'd go to his quiet spot after.  That was the plan but instead he went potty mid-tantrum and so he got a lollipop.  I think he missed the point all around.  I did it all wrong. 

I never thought I'd return to writing about child activities all over again.  It's like coming full circle with my writing, sigh.  The pantry work, the freezer inventory, the un-mopped floors...Is that what I want to write about?  It hardly sounds more interesting.   But I've always made it my habit to write my life, and this is life at present.  Not where I thought I'd be, but where I am.

I ordered another birthday gift for the birthday boy next door.  Then I recalled that my oldest is having a birthday this next week, as well...sigh.  And then there's Valentine's Day.  I've done NOTHING.  

I'm not juggling things very well at all.

You know what?  No one is going to die because I haven't.  And whatever I get done gets done and whatever I don't doesn't.  If it bothers anyone besides me, they can do it; otherwise, it will wait until I get to it.  This week, today, I'm tired and I don't feel great and I'm over pressuring myself to do what no one else even cares about.

Meals:  Cheese Biscuits, Sausage, Orange

(LO) Toast, Egg, Sausage, Orange (the one I'd meant for myself) and Fruit Loops.  He's a hobbit.

Vienna Sausage, Potato Salad, Apple (LO)  Roast Beef Sandwich, Potato Salad, Apple (us)

Alpine Chicken, minus the Swiss Cheese and almonds, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower, Cranberry Sauce.

I will say that this week we've all really enjoyed our meals.  I said they were pricier meals but really, they weren't.  The most expensive was the Sparerib dinner.  I know that one was expensive because the meat was very pricey and the corn, too.  But all the rest were made with what we had on hand.  I had to buy only potatoes and mushrooms to complete the rest of the meals and I did splurge on dairy free sour cream for the Stroganoff so that Little One could eat it without issue.  He wasn't even vaguely interested in the taste of it though so I could have saved that one expense.  I'll use the rest of that sour cream up in next week's menu though, so no waste there.  As for the mushrooms and potatoes, I got both of those at a lower than usual price since they were on sale, but I typically buy those anyway.  No extra splurge there.  The mushrooms I bought were white, sliced mushrooms and the 12-ounce package was half again less than the 8-ounce of baby Bella, which I usually prefer but savings counted this week and I bought for the savings.

My thought process was that I need to find more balance once again. I'd so focused on cheaper, more economical meals that I forgot the pleasure we get from eating favorites which are not really expensive meals, either.  And I've seen that the balance will come in without my forcing it.  The chili used to make Chili Mac began with only about 1/4 pound of ground turkey.  It served us chili twice and the leftovers became our dinner last night and there's enough to serve one and a half more.  For the chicken dinner tonight two bone-in breasts were used. I boned and skinned them and cut each breast in half.  We had enough for five servings and the bones and skin went into the freezer to be saved towards a broth making day.    

The Stroganoff could have easily served six.  We all ate a little extra and so I had only a small portion to set aside but again, five portions and really should have served six. And of course, eating all of our leftovers has really been a money saver.  So, the balance comes in if I just pay attention and take notice of it.

If I could just figure out how to balance the rest of my life...Maybe I should stop trying so hard!

Friday:  Here of late I've noted that sites such as Southern Living and Allrecipes are now touting fast food restaurants offerings.  I'm quite serious!  Allrecipes this week on Instagram has been telling its followers why the current season offering at McDonalds is so fabulous.  And Southern Living posted a web article on the new Chik-Fil-A sandwich.  

Both sites are well known for their good recipes...so why are they 'hosting' these fast-food places?  Is it part of their media group parent company?  I have to admit it turns me off.  I'm finding less and less that interests me in many online sites that are mass produced for public viewing.   

This morning we had ENOUGH.  John was telling me of a study he was doing with a well-known pastor's book, and I realized as he was talking that he was half right.  We weren't being financially bound at present, though that does come and go, but we are circumstantially bound.  Circumstances are against us in a variety of areas and as we talked, we felt convicted to pray over the house, the family within and the circumstances coming against us in each area.  Did I get healed of this sorry cold?  No... but I know that healing will come.  Did a 3-year-old suddenly reverse his language and declare yes to everything we told him to do?  No.  But he will change as he grows through this stage, just as he is once again recognizing that he's gone potty, so he runs to the bathroom.  Will our home remain in a state of flux forever?  No.  Nor will we be burdened forever with circumstances we had no hand in creating.  Even as I write, our lives are already starting to change.  Because there is nothing that last forever except God's promises.   

It was very cathartic prayer and much needed.  

I have taken a forward step today.  When I'd finished my morning sob session (earlier than the prayer session), I sat down and put on makeup for the first time in two weeks.  I might be sick and tired but I'm more sick and tired of looking at that haggard face of mine in the mirror.  I've done what I can to improve my appearance.  And now we've done all we can to improve our circumstances.  We will wait for change to come.

I finished the Elizabeth Goudge book, Gentian Hill yesterday afternoon and immediately picked up a book by Taylor Caldwell I'd not read before titled Melissa.  At the moment, five chapters in, I'm finding all the characters rather despicable, but I read Caldwell's books in the past and know that there is a redemptive character in them who always comes to light and makes things bearable.  So, I shall continue to pursue my reading of this novel.   

I picked up this book at the last estate sale I attended.  This is a first edition printed in 1948.  I'm curious, as I always am, how this book came to be in the possession of those who lived in the house, which was built in 1965.  It must have been something from life before the marriage began, perhaps a book given as a gift?   There is no inscription so I've no clue.  At any rate, I'll continue to read.

And so, ends another week in our home, one in which we have tried and tried to get it right.  The house is Shabat ready.  Shabat bread is cooling on the counter.  Meatloaf is in the slow cooker for tonight's meal.  I do feel slightly better.  I'm coughing a lot less.  I'm still tired but tonight I will go off to bed early again and try my best to get as much sleep as possible.  I will also return to my prayer that whatever sleep I get will be sufficient for the day ahead of me tomorrow.  I read that somewhere and it's the wisest prayer I've heard.

How was your week?

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(C) Terri Cheney

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