Monday, August 11, 2014

Rebalancing My Life and Time

The view from one of my California vacations this summer

For the last four years, I have been helping raise two sets of motherless cousins: a teenage girl and three boys. This spring I had to send the troubled teenager back to live with her father, and right after school was done this June, the boys moved in with their father's new girlfriend. I have a house free of children for the first time in four years. While I miss the kids, especially the younger ones, and wonder how they are faring in their new situations, I am delighted to have my life back to myself. I was more than happy to help out, and volunteered to take on a lot, but now my life can be all about me again.

Living alone is wonderful (though I am still struggling with buying more groceries than I need and wondering which toys to keep around for visiting friends' kids and which to give away). Though extra money from having a roommate would be nice, I think I will be better off if I choose to live alone for a long while.

Suddenly I find myself with a clean house that stays clean; a freshly mopped kitchen floor that has time to dry properly because nobody stomps around on it right away; no messes to clean up in the car. I am not driving anybody else to appointments and after-school activities - something I was happy to do, but like other moms, found it stressful and tiring. My workday used to end at 3pm. I'd go pick a little guy up at the school next door, feed him snacks, supervise his homework, do projects in the yard or house with the little eager helper, and then we'd leave around 5pm. Back at his dad's house, I'd make dinner for the kids, drive people around to appointments, and generally get back to my own house around 8pm.

I'm realizing I have 5 hours a day back! I'm trying to figure out how to use that time - lounging around reading and watching TV, plus going to dinner and movies at night has been my solution so far, but that can't be permanent. Do I work more uninterrupted hours of work, blogging and writing (an appealing concept!) Do I go back to school, now that I can? Travel more, now that I can? I am so lucky to have a flexible work schedule - that opens up lots of options for me.

I almost titled this post "Rebuilding my Life" but realized my life hasn't been broken, destroyed or shattered. It doesn't need rebuilding. However, I feel like I need to arrange my time differently. Make time to exercise more. Throw more parties. Find a charity project that entails something other than just writing a check. Help my sister who is also helping raise two motherless kids. Go out with friends more, now that I'm not sitting at home in the evenings supervising people doing their homework. Offer to babysit friends' children more often, now that I'm not busy with relatives' children. Watch less.. well, I'm not sure I can commit to "Watch less TV" with all the cool new fall shows coming up! Let's be honest here.

Another of my vacation visits to California.

I did very indulgently go on a month of vacation this summer. A couple weeks in California, nearly a week in Las Vegas, and then a lovely staycation in my own town. I spent lots of time alone reading in the back yard, shopping for decorations for my house, and going out to lots of dinners, parties and movies. I decided it was ok to be selfish for a while and just think about me.

Now it's time to figure out what the months ahead will hold. I don't have to figure it out all at once though!


  • Challenge yourself to donate, throw away, or give away one unneeded item from your bedroom today.
  • Plan your week ahead. What will you wear every day? what appointments do you have to go to? Can you make a little time for yourself every day? Do you have an evening to spend with family for quality time?
  • Try to fit in time for two summery things this week or next weekend. What haven't you done yet this summer that you would enjoy? Farmer's market, long walks, berry picking, swimming, a visit to the park, an outdoor concert, a picnic, a barbecue?
  • Need to return any library books or movie rentals from the past weekend?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Maintenance Planning

I kept my house clean over the past four years, but can't say it was well maintained. All that running around driving kids everywhere, and spending money on their after school activities, weekend entertainments and trips, tutoring, appointments, clothing and school supplies made it hard to maintain and improve my home. I'm budgeting tonight and making phone calls to various places to handle some things. Here's what we're working on for the next three months:

  • Painting outside of house
  • Painting inside of house
  • Hanging a new chandelier above my dining table - my existing 1980s one is hideous
  • Having a handyman come out to mount a big mirror or picture on the dining room wall
  • Having a handyman mount my flatscreen TV over the fireplace finally - I've owned it for over six years.
  • Recarpeting three bedrooms and a hallway (first new carpet in about 14 years!)
  • Furnishing two guest bedrooms (I decided I don't need a home office anymore, just a small desk in my bedroom).
  • Possibly replacing my ancient refrigerator
  • New fence, which I've been saving for for two years

After supervising all those workmen, being available for service professionals, cleaning up around all the mess, I'll be broke and exhausted. But I will be living in an even lovelier, more comfortable home!


New for summer from Grey Goose: Melon vodka. While I'm sure it would make a tasty vodka tonic, I'm looking forward to using it in a cocktail made with fresh fruit juices. Or even in a slushy drink made from fresh Tuscan melons!

Grey Goose Melon Vodka

LOVELY BLOGS: The Self-Sufficient Home Acre

Lisa is a homemaker who is trying to be self-sufficient while living on her one acre homestead. She blogs about energy conservation at home, foraging for tiger lilies, reviews books on self sufficiency and conservation, shares recipes for things such as brine cured dilly beans, and lets us peek into her garden. She also does "Homeacre hops" which are visits to other blogs with fascinating posts on the topic.


Apricot Pistachio Squares (Smitten Kitchen)

Bacon Cheddar Potato Fritter Footballs (Hungry Happenings)

Baked Figs With Bacon, Cheese and Pecans (White on Rice Couple)

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken (Life in the Lofthouse)

Cauliflower Fritters (Sweetnicks)

Crispy Chickpea Fritters (Blue Apron)

Dinner Recipe: Salmon Cakes (12 Tomatoes)

Garlicky and Cheesy Quinoa Zucchini Fritters (Diethood)

Halloumi Tacos with Sweet Pea Guacamole (Tangerine Canteen)

Moroccan Style Zucchini and Grape Salad (CHOW)

Pressed Eggplant and Pepper Sandwich (CHOW)

Squash Flower Fritters (Cooking From Books)

Summer Squash au Gratin (Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner)

Whole Wheat Linguine with Roasted Tomatoes and Asian Vinaigrette (Taste As You Go)

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