We’re Have I Been All This Time…

Longest break I’ve taken in a while…somehow, at the end of a week at the keyboard, it is kinda hard to make time to pop in here.  Silly me.

Weekends have taken on a new measure of quality family life now that our time all together is really limited to breakfast and dinner/bath/stories/bed.  We ALL look forward to those weekends.  Since I last checked in we have had a few adventures.

April was our Scottish Summer this year I think.  So one weekend we took advantage of the delightful weather and strolled along the Fife Coastal Path

with our new friends Tomandsuzie (not to be confused with Tomandclaire) and our wee tots to the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem.

Then we made some essential modifications to the chicken coop so that the girls could get up and go to bed without our help (esp helpful now that it is light around 4.30am and dark at 10.45pm)…and so that a helpful undergrad could come in and feed them whilst we made our first UK road trip to visit Tomandclaire in Manchester.  During this balmy weekend we managed an outing to the local RSPB reserve…

…and HeatonPark which had the added bonus of a tiny farm and a playground.

The following weekend was the Royal Wedding – and though none of us are particularly royalist in persuasion…there is something kinda lovely about a wedding…so I managed to make a cuppa and turn on the TV for some of the proceedings – though I did have a lot of interference from the easily distractable male members of the family.  We followed up the festivity with our first BBQ of the season – though the weather was not so great then, and has not really picked up since.  Sigh…

Later on we even managed a spot of garden planting.  As per usual, the little herbies are doing great.  But after an unseasonably warm April, May has been so cold that not much else has survived the transfer to the cold little garden patch .  Apart from the fabulous radishes we harvested this week.

The big news of the month was QPR (the Doctor’s football love) were promoted to the Premier League.  Whilst sport is still really something I do not understand…this was an event worth celebrating – with chocolate cake and bubbles!

And the other big news was the big-boy bed.  We took the sides off the cot…and Kaz has pretty much settled into a rhythm of sleeping in his own little space.  We have to lie down by him now to get to sleep…but that usually happens pretty quickly.  He has fallen out several times, and one night I stepped on him in the dark (oops) and another night he fell over all his toys trying to get out the door in the dark…but slowly we have made adaptations and sleep IS happening.  Now onto potty training…

Our final news is the galvanising into action on the house-hunting front.  We have been out most weekends looking for a permanent home.  A frightening and enlightening process.  We think we have narrowed down the area we would like to live in…and this charming village has caught our eye…

…Kaz has so far loved going to see houses, esp when we come across a playground en route

…but it will probably take us most of the summer to find something we are sure about…so no move imminent yet!

So…a big update.  Sorry it was so long…and I was absent for so long…hope to mitigate that in future.  It all got a bit hectic there for a while.  Happiness to you and thanks to those of you who kept popping in to see how we are doing.  I will try to be back here more often in future!

Advertisements

Making Ourselves at Home

The weekend has finally arrived.  It is time for a new look here at ‘Not Working’… As I mentioned earlier in the week, on Monday I enter the potentially crazy world of workinginsideandoutsidethehome.  I am shying away from saying I am going back to work, since it is abundantly clear to me…and most people who think about it for a few minutes…that there are all kinds of work done in our world – and not all are remunerated.  But from Monday, I shall be remunerated for some tasks I do, and I will be remunerating someone else to do the many happy tasks I have been doing with Kazuo for the past two years.

Akira and I will be renegotiating the roles we play in keeping the home running, though we have managed to develop a fairly smooth routine, so I am hopeful that there will not be too many teething problems there.  Kazuo will make perhaps the biggest adjustment – as he settles into a life of full time nursery school.

As I reflect back on what I have felt about ‘working’ over the past few years – and look forward to more time here in the blog (yayy for lunchbreaks!) I came to the conclusion that I was working hard to make us all feel at home, wherever we happened to be.  So even while I return to the paid workforce, this need to feel at home…and help my family and our critters feel at home…is perhaps the guiding narrative of our life together. (See more on this on the Where I Find Myself Page.)

This weekend I have bustled about trying to get our house in order to weather the changes ahead.  I finally managed to find some secondhand cubbies for the entrance hall, and managed to wrestle some control over the chaos that had developed in that little vestibule.  Now the coats hang in the corner, the boots have a space, and the wee guy can sit down for wellies/shoes/slippers and not stand up caked in mud (or latterly, chicken poop – ewwww!):

We’ve planted a tiny row of garlic in our little plot – and now to wait for the spring for the other plantings:

And we installed a compost bin and made a trip to the recycling centre – showing the little one the delights of separating out our waste:

Here we are then…making ourselves at home.  I hope you will too.

Transition Time

The Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness.  Some years I have gathered a pretty impressive score on this scale…Making big changes to one’s life can either be rather liberating, or downright terrifying.  Strangely, although I think I am a pretty stressy, nervy, risk-averse kinda girl, I usually welcome change.  It feels refreshing, and full of possibility.

When we moved here to Scotland, everything was up for grabs.  The one known factor in the mix was Akira’s job…so nice, and so rare, to have something permanent and fixed that we could do all the rest of our reconfiguring around.  But then, since I have effectively been in some kinda limbo since we left York in 2008…there was a lot of rapid reshuffling to do on my part.

Though I promised to muse here on those things…they seemed a little close to my inner tranquility.  And so unresolved. I think I just wanted to the Universe to reach down and solve all the ‘issues’…and in a little way, that is what I think might be happening.  Though it is taking me kicking and writhing a little too…

I had considered all kinds of things…self-employment (still attractive, but taking more resources/gumption than may be currently available)…re-training (again, an attractive option, but maybe needing more time than I currently have available)…returning to teaching (a less-attractive option that would have involved jumping through a lot of hoops, and taken up rather more time and energy than I was willing to devote)…and of course I was really hoping for part-time work (perfect scenario – except that around here, there was NOTHING on offer that would cover the cost of childcare)…staying home for another year with Kazuo until his daycare is partially state-funded (perhaps another great option, but rather delaying the other hoped-for benefits of re-entering the paid workforce).

Then, rather suddenly (though not without a little effort on my part)…a kinda perfect opportunity presented itself…and I will be off to daily paid full-time work at the University this coming Monday.  Kazuo will begin full-time nursery school – a prospect that probably fills us both with equal dread.  Except that I KNOW he knows we love him…I KNOW that the nursery will take good care of him…I KNOW that in the long term many of the things we hope for as a family will be facilitated by this transition…and although I will miss Kazuo and Mama days desperately…and I will miss the wonderful things that come from being the person who sees him day in day out…we will weather the storms of this transition too…and there is good to come through all of this – and I am SO grateful for the joys of two wonderful years of being always with our delightful boy.

‘Not Working’ is due for a change as I will be working EVERYWHERE…I hope to roll out the new look this weekend…and let’s see how the universe and I manage THIS transition…

Mama Came Back

In younger days, when I contemplated parenthood, I had this idyllic dream of raising my children in community – surrounded by family and friends who loved and helped to nurture them.  My children, I mused, would be confident and relaxed and outgoing…and happy to spend time with any caring adults who came their way.  They would not be tied to my apron strings, they would be set free to flourish in a warm communal setting.  Lofty ideals…and still rather cherished.  But there is no accounting for circumstances.  Life as we are leading it right now has meant that Kazuo has spent rather more of his days with just Mama than I would have ever envisaged.  It is a happy existence, but it makes for a slightly different view of raising a child than I imagined.  It also means he has a few more hurdles to overcome right now as he is getting used to being with people outside the family.

This month I have begun the process of helping Kazuo to settle into nursery school.

He has been a brave little trouper really.  For such a self-contained little person, he is developing a fairly healthy sense of his own situation.  Yesterday was our last official settling session.  It is two weeks since the last as he has not been too well in the intervening period.  As we drove into the school carpark he said ‘No, no nursery school’…and my heart sank a little.

At the previous session,  I left him for 20mins. First I  announced my intention, then I  gave him a hug goodbye, and satisfied myself that he was intent on pottering about in the tiny kitchen and would find some toys to play with.  Then I retired to the reception area and watched him on the CCTV.  Thank goodness for modern technology!  I could see that he was happily engaged for most of the time, and that the nurse in charge was very attentive.  As I returned he had a little meltdown, having just really noticed my absence.  But some cuddles from the nurse, followed by hugs from Mama seemed to do the trick.  Our dialogue for the following week went along the lines of ‘Mama left, Mama came back, cried…’  ‘Who cried’  ‘I did’…this last part was eventually replaced with ‘The babies’ – either a little displacement, or an observation of the slightly more needy nature of several of the much younger babies in his class.  I choose to think the latter…

Yesterday Kaz was a deal more reluctant to let me leave.  But in a firm but Mama-like manner I hugged him, said ‘Just like Dada going to work, I will come back’, waved out the classroom window and retreated for 40mins to the reception and the CCTV. He did remarkably.  The staff ratios were good enough to allow him to have the attention he needed, when he needed it.  So he got hugs during a couple of tearful episodes, and they managed to ascertain that he likes to read Charlie and Lola (since he seems a little obsessed right now this does not surprise me) and got him a special book to read.  Last night  he also told me that he cooked ‘ham and sausages with the lady’ in the teeny kitchen.

The overriding narrative is still ‘Mama came back’…which allows for time to discuss the fact that I will ALWAYS come back…and that the ladies at nursery school are lovely…and that it can be fun playing with the kids.  But a little overwrought episode post-nap later in the afternoon, when he thought I had left him and in fact I had just gone to do a little cleaning in the bathroom, suggests that deep down – or perhaps not so deep – the separation is quite affecting.  Which of course is to be expected, but nonetheless heartbreaking.

I know that he will become a stronger person for these interactions. I am fairly confident that we have found a safe and stimulating and caring environment for him to learn a little independence.  I know that these days it is normative for children to be cared for outside the home and that advocates of daycare focus on potential social and developmental benefits…But for all that, he seems so little to be making this transition.  And I am concerned that maybe he might not really understand it…so I am doing all I can to help him feel safe about it…

The best we can say is that ‘Mama came back’…’cos she will ALWAYS do that.

Working…or not…

I began writing here a couple of years ago when we landed in the USA and I suddenly had no paid employment prospects on the near horizon.  At the time I was searching for a new sense of worth…convincing myself that being at home/unemployable (for reasons of immigration policy, not a sudden lack of competence, though at times that is still how it felt) was a legitimate use of my resources.

Then, in true international-post-doc-wife fashion, I fell pregnant, and the ensuing couple of years became about the labour of love that caring for Kazuo certainly entails.  There is a kind of strange interplay between the Stay At Home Mother and the SuperMother…a bit like the evil dichotomy of Virgin/Whore that women have been trying to shake off for decades.  I feel very strongly that both positions are valuable, that we make the choices that best fit our circumstances and that women who are at home with their families AND women who return to some kind of paid employment outside the home are doing the work of community building and should be celebrated.  Personally, it was suddenly much easier to create a kind of network and sense of legitimacy in being a SAHM, even though I knew that had to be a temporary state of affairs.  This early in our life together (without owning a home or establishing ourselves) we cannot really afford to live on one income for too long.

But returning to the UK (and thus, the possibility of employment) has thrown up a raft of new Not Working kinda issues for me.  In the intervening years there has been a global recession, a change of government and some massive (and ongoing) belt tightening in the UK economy.  This is not a good time to be trying to find employment in a small community.  I am also discovering the costs of moving countries twice within a decade and of leaving here mid-career in my mid-thirties.

Finally, there is some cost involved in some of the other decisions I made over the past decade with respect to my teaching career…moving into boarding and letting some of my teaching professional development fall by the wayside was perhaps a bit of an error.  It was certainly foolhardy to keep thinking (in a very ostrichy way) that I would one day return to New Zealand, so jumping through hoops to register with the General Teaching Council when I had a secure position in an independent school was unnecessary.  Sigh.

Realistically, I do not want to return to the classroom just yet.  I know many mothers do so…I am just certain they have more personal resources than I do…I would find it difficult to sustain planning, marking, reporting and being a committed member of a school community whilst still maintaining a focus on the family life we are trying to build while Kazuo is still so young.  Equally, I think that since he has not been cared for by anyone outside the family, the transition to daycare/nursery needs to be a little more gradual (we are settling right now, and it seems a heart-wrenching process for both of us…), I would find it hard to leave him in care for a full week  just yet.

But it seems that right now, I am suddenly less employable than I have ever been, in the most fiercely competitive market I have ever entered.  Part-time jobs that pay well and have regular schedules just don’t seem to exist.  I am still looking…and persisting…but that feeling of being a little unworthy has descended again…even though I still have the safety net of our daily Kazuo and Mama routine to anchor me.  I am not sure I will feel properly settled here until I have resolved this issue, and gotten our schedules a little more fixed, and figured out just what I am ‘about’ for the next little while.  This keeps shifting every time I spy something I may be ‘qualified’ for…a stranger concept than I ever expected.

Anyway, there is a what’s-on-top about all that just now…I am sure I will bring some more clarity to this discussion in the next wee while.  But it is Wednesday, and I feel the need to try and find something new to apply for this week.  One job a week is the goal…getting there.  Wish me luck!

Working?

This week I got my work permit in the post.  A month early – arrggh.  Now I have to look for paid work.  Yesterday I applied for a job running an after school programme in North City – quite the poorest part of the county and probably not even a real vacancy anymore (seems the non-profit website I used is a little unreliable)…but it made me dust off the CV and get my head around some letter writing skills again.  I am off to try my hand at applying online for some Med School research assistant jobs now.

I am looking for part-of-the-time-paid-work as we have a part time place for Kazuo at a daycare centre nearby that will be quite suitable.  I am not planning to go back to teaching here as I only want to engage in paid work for the social contact and to gather together a little fund for relocation expenses.

I think that the rest-of-the-time-unpaid-work takes up enough of my energy and enthusiasm.  Working outside the house again will be a challenge.  Frankly I am not sure how the super-moms do it…and I guess I have discovered that I need our family life to be my main priority for a few years yet, so paid employment that involves passion and take-home enthusiasm/activity might just be beyond my own personal remit.

At the same time, Akira has embarked on job-seeking and is getting some good responses…so we shall see how that impacts our future plans soon I guess.  All change again!

I am feeling a little wistful already about my days with my little man…and nervous about how his sensitive little soul will cope with daycare as he has lately become (predictably for his age) very wary of others, very clingy to Mama and Dada and very shy of other children.  Sigh…if only it was possible to stay home all the time, but alas, our lifestyle does not really allow for such luxuries these days.  Not working, with all the social strangeness that comes with it, is still quite an attractive option right now.

But on with the serious job of finding some other work…and on with the happy job of looking out for this one:

New Year

It seems a little silly to be recording my New Year’s Resolutions now, in February… But so far 2010 has kinda caught me by surprise and for a number of reasons, I have gotten off to a very slow start.  So here I am, bearing in mind that it is also the start of a decade, resolving afresh to do all the usual things (be better with money, eat well, exercise more blah blah blah) and also hoping to take a longer view of my aspirations.

I’ve also been reflecting on my thoughts at the start of last year, when I was heavily pregnant and everything seemed to be on ‘pause’ while we waited to see who would arrive and how he/she would impact on our lives.

This year we are in limbo again as we look ahead to the end of our time in the US and try and imagine where we will end up next.  Once again this is totally determined by Akira’s career choices, which is fair since that is why we made the big move to come here.  But I am hoping that this year might bring some clarity for me in terms of potential career-changing new directions.

So what am I resolving to be purposeful about as we enter 2010?

  1. I may need to change the title of the blog as this is the year for returning to the paid workforce in some manner.  Ideally I would like this to be ‘part-time’ so that I can still be primarily focused on caring for Kazuo.  But the increased costs of being resident aliens (we are now ‘substantially present’ here!) and childcare may impact on that decision.  With this in mind, I have applied for a work permit this week, so it will be a few months yet before I can seek out employment, but we are making progress on childcare options for Kazuo…so Not Working may take a change of direction…
  2. I did what I could to stay somewhat politically engaged over the past year and hope to at least maintain my regular attendance at Amnesty International meetings.  Whether I can sustain any more active involvement really hinges on the outcome of point 1.
  3. We need to totally trim down our food outgoings…at the same time that Kazuo is ramping up his solid food intake – sheesh!  So, more creative ideas need to kick in really soon (have been rather meticulous about this lately… doing OK so far) for healthy food that we all love, that is nutritious and appetising and that keeps down the costs.  Being a working mama may erode this resolution… and it seems like a tall order – but imperative nonetheless.
  4. The weather is really cramping my exercising style – last year it took until September to lose the baby weight, but it DID go…now I need to lose my winter layer!  I am keen to get Kazuo and I back on my bike in some fashion in the Spring.  Perhaps Akira and I both need to join a gym…
  5. I still wanna get crafty for cash…I have a few ideas but they do require capital and time, both of which are still a little scarce.  But after the Fall craft shows in STL last year, I felt newly energised.  So need to make this a priority I think.
  6. I would like to become a slightly more chilled out individual this year – I know that seems unlikely, but it might be good for all concerned.  So I guess I need to look out some me-time things that make me feel connected to others, and to myself…yoga? date nights? getting arty/crafty? more weekend girly time? naps?…ideas anyone?
  7. Time for doing the things I love…reading, watching films, listening to music, going to theatre…hmmmm I need to make these things somehow fit into family life.
  8. Kazuo is my number one priority these days…so it is only fair to say I am pretty much resolved to help him grow into a happy little guy.  Guess that goes without saying though…
  9. Become a little more other-centred again.  Life became very insular when adjusting to the newness of parenting, but we are getting a little into the swing of that now, and should have a bit of a hiatus before we consider whether we will go down that route again, so I think that in considering paid employment and any ‘spare’ time I may have, I am keen to think about how I might make my time count for those in less abundant circumstances.
  10. Cultivating wonder was a priority last year, and as I had imagined, Kazuo gave plenty of opportunity for that to happen. Getting outside into the natural world and continuing to foster that wonderment is also important for me right now.   I wish to combine that with an increased sense of gratitude this coming year…

So, that is enough I think.  The year ahead will be galvanising for me personally, for our family life and for Kazuo’s development.  I look forward to seeing how it will all pan out, and hope that having at least some sense of purpose will help when things seem a little murky.

Where Have the Last Ten Months Gone?

Today our wee pop is ten months old. I am still thinking about the passing of the nine-months mark, and suddenly another month has passed.  Those first few weeks seem to last for ever in a fog of sleep deprivation and lack of any real structure to the day.  But now, although the days are still randomly ordered in response to Kazuo’s sleeping habits, they are much more predictable and my sensation of time has begun to speed up again.

Not long now and we will be in England with friends and family celebrating Christmas, New Year and meeting some of Kazuo’s other wee 2009-born buddies.  And there will be much anticipation of celebrating the major milestone of getting to the end of his first year.

With mobility and fine motor skills being the top preoccupations right now, there is a lot of intense development going on.  Kazuo is getting pretty cranky with the whole deal. I think the idea that we can just get up and walk away from him is intensely frustrating.  We have spent another grumpy morning on the floor trying to work out this crawling thing… and he was awake/peeping almost every hour last night.  It is wearying, but important work – and this too will pass!  Sometime soon, probably before we get on that dreaded flight (ugh) in December, he will crack this whole getting around thing – and then the fun starts.

We spent the morning on Saturday at MOBOT – have I mentioned before that I LOVE these gardens?  One of the things I appreciate about being in St Louis is the well-kept public facilities.  Places like the History Museum, Art Museum, Zoo and Botanical Gardens are all free to enter and that is a splendid entitlement that should be the case everywhere. At MOBOT you have to visit on Wed or Sat morning to gain free access, but those times are suddenly quite doable since our baby-led lifestyle begins very early each day.  Anyway, Kazuo and I went for a ‘walk’ with Bridgid and Luca while the Dadas did some hard graft at work in our absence.

As I mentioned, in his ten-month old state, Kazuo is just beginning to get a sense of the otherness of other children. There is something about these little people who move around near enough to him that he could almost touch them that is quite diverting.  I think he still considers them fascinating toys, like Roby the Robot, or Crabby – crawling toys that move around for him to give chase. But he does make an effort to connect, even if it is just to pat/poke/prod his new friend.  This picture pretty much sums up the relationship between Kazuo and Luca, a happy little co-existence that is enhanced by Luca’s sunny disposition:

Kaz and Luca

The morning was pretty much spent ambling at two-year-old pace and sitting around in the gardens appreciating the warm of the sun and beauty of the environment.  There was time to stop and ride a random concrete sheep… and I was grateful for the opportunity to get outdoors with our wee guy and enjoy good company and a fine day.

Sheepy

These ten months have concertinaed up lately, but I am also intensely grateful for the luxury of not working… for the joy of having been with Kazuo every day since he arrived and the comparative luxury (what a notion… something is wrong with the world right now…a luxury to look after your own child…) of being able to be his primary caregiver.  As I have said before… hard work… sometimes work that feels a bit like it is killing off a few brain cells with monotony (but there are many other far less rewarding jobs that really DO do that…) but OH, such important work, and I would rather be the person doing that work right now, than paying someone else to do it for me.

Not Working Seems To Be Working…

…for now anyway.  After reading my lovely friend Mandy’s comment on yesterday’s post, I have spent some time today reflecting on things I have put out into the blogosphere in the past year, and musing on how not working feels now, after more than 18mths of the habit.  I have been inspired by, and feel some camaraderie with other stay-at-home-mothers who blog their daily lives.  It has helped immensely to read their thoughts and to feel that I am not alone, and indeed there are some very creative and interesting people out there bringing up their children splendidly…

In the past week I have found the erosion of my social position (if you could call it that) in the absence of paid employment more acutely than I have done this year.  Not sure why that is… nothing much has changed.  But I guess, like homesickness, these things come and go in waves.  So it appears I may not have really resolved any of the feelings of being all at sea that come from not working, rather just buried them beneath a patina of getting-on-with-it-ness (is that preoccupation?).

Nevertheless, on the whole it seems that the job of the homemaker generally sits well with me – for now.  I keep busy keeping the baby clean, healthy, happy and hopefully stimulated enough to be developing at a suitable pace.  I usually manage to keep the house tidy and clean, the pantry stocked, and food on the table.  Most weeks I also manage some sort of creative endeavour and/or some interesting outings and social engagements.  I am also keeping involved with some political activism of sorts and making an effort to stay engaged a little with the outside world, though often it is only the internet that answers for that.  As I said to Akira’s aunt last week, I do enjoy the quiet pace of life with Kazuo, and am reluctant to disrupt it in the near future, though the prospect of paid employment is looming on the 2010 horizon.  And one thought that bugs me, is that most women are expected to do all the things I mentioned above AND engage in some kind of paid employment… now where does the energy for that level of commitment come from?  How must the division of labour in the home shift to accommodate the working mother, and am I cut out for such a juggling act?  Even more interesting, how could my split personality (for surely that is what is required) impact on Kazuo, who currently has my more-or-less undivided attention?

Well, I don’t have much to show for today’s not-working, but one of the main activities was keeping the little man somewhat close to his usual sunny dispostion – seems he woke on the wrong side of the bed.  Here you can see us at the post-consolation-point, Kaz still in his sleep sack from his nap, but managing a smile after the hard work of cheering him up from a teary awakening has been achieved.  I am grateful for the tenuous and perhaps fleeting ability to still comfort him/get him to sleep with a little cuddling, a bit of patting and some soft singing.  I hope that persists for a wee while yet.

After the Nap

Gratitude

I am inspired at the moment by the thoughts of the everyday wonder of ordinary life, and of trying to make a habit of being a little more thankful.  This was also brought home to me last night as we sat and discussed the Science on Tap event that Akira took our friend Christine to – on the Science of Happiness…  It seems that most people perceive themselves to be happy about 60% of the time – I am not sure really what that means, it seems a little inflated (if you consider that the rest of the time you are either unhappy or neutral… would have thought one would feel neutral a little more often…), but I do think we are lucky to feel so on top of things, and long may that continue.

And I am also very much inspired by the spirit of thanks in Amanda Soule’s recent blogs on the subject of gratitude.  As she says, a little gratitude goes a long way, especially when things are not going too well… though thankfully for us, things are in good shape just now.  Something I am grateful for… what else?

Today I am grateful for pretty robust health for all of us, for sunny Sunday afternoons with baking in the oven a baby sleeping in his bed and the prospect of maybe a little more kicking up the beautiful autumn leaves before the day is done.

Leaves to Kick

I’m also grateful for the kindness of friendship – those persistent friends who have stuck with us through the upheaval of making room in our lives for Kazuo this year and still invite us over/come for dinner/bring us a meal/meet for coffee or just make time to hang out with us and allow for the joyous shouty disruption of our little monkey.

Halloween

 

I am thankful to the god of small things for tiny incursions in my life – whether that be babies, butterflies, little tasty treats or ladybirds – small things have given me a lot of joy this year.

Butterfly

I’m also grateful for time, afforded by not having to/being legally able to work right now, to enjoy learning to parent our wee lad and to get as creative as I can to make sense of my time-rich/cash-poor lifestyle as a result.  There is much more… but that is enough to be going along with today… perhaps I will manage to give thanks for something every day in this month of thankfulness… there’s a challenge!