Kids, there is so much to tell. So much. But there is so little time. So little. Rather than cramming all of the things into a gigantic post, it seems less painful to us all to let some snippets suffice--
--I started back to work a month ago, and can now say with authority that if you are going to start a new job, it should be with a company you've already worked for and like, and with people you've already worked with/for and like. You will have the BEST first week ever, and will only sweat a little bit from excitement, rather than buckets and buckets trying to figure out workplace culture, boundaries, and the like.
--On my first day I showed up with my trusty work laptop, ready to get back into the swing of math and big engineering words and stuff. I had a lot of questions, but I settled pretty easily into my workspace knowing most of them would be answered eventually. There were a couple, however, that were more urgent than the rest. And it turns out they are pretty much universal. You can be most any occupation, in any stage or station in life, in most any place in the world, and it boils down to these key issues: "Where is the bathroom?" "Where is the water?" and "Where do I get/store my lunch?"
You know what's not universal? At my particular away-from-home job no one asks me to do any bottom- or nose-wiping. People try to be as alone as possible in the restroom instead of all crowding in to find me when I'm there. They get their own food and drinks, and if I shoot a serious look or point to my phone they can tell I'm concentrating and should not be bothered unless necessary. I haven't had to give a single time-out to any co-workers, and I still get to say silly things sometimes. On the downside, no one has expressed any desire to give me snuggles or hold my hand walking into a building, but somehow it still feels like I'm winning, so I think it's a good fit.
--Overall the balance of work and home is...balanced. I *think* I might have found my own personal sweet spot. Our schedule is full but not overwhelming, at least most of the time. The house is a notch messier than before, and still not completely assembled the way I'd like it. And I would love a little more downtime for *just* me, but that will come in time, I think, as I learn how to chisel it out of the day.
--The equinox arrived and, like clockwork, the weather cooled. My favorite time of year is now, when the mornings and evenings require a fleece but it still gets warm enough in the afternoons to take the chill off. The fall sunshine has a nibble of crispness to it, and of course the orchards have the best apples, without that suspiciously shiny wax coating one finds at the grocery store. The kids love it when I melt peanut butter and chocolate chips to dip their apple slices in, but I'm happy to skip the melting and dip right into the PB and chips. My family loves the local homemade apple butter with its hint of molasses, but I have discovered the "low-sugar" version, which in the case of jams and jellies doesn't mean blandness or artificial sweetener, but rather a bolder, more tart, and purer fruit flavor. I might have a slight low-sugar apple butter toast problem.
--Thus far moving back to Massachusetts has gone swimmingly. It's not exactly the same, of course; no place ever is. But we have made some new friends and re-acquainted with a few old ones, and are experiencing the joys of relational roots.
--I turned 38 a few weeks ago. I've been in a bit of a heady place for a few years, kind of surveying my life and realizing I'm THERE. I'm an adult, driving the mom-mobile, flying through these years of raising a family. A while back I saw a picture of my family (parents, brother, and me), taken when I was the same age as His Highness is now, and realized that when that photo was taken my parents were younger than I am now, and I got a little mind-blown, thinking, "There we were, and here we are."
--And finally, time for a little bit of True Confessions. I don't much care for Pumpkin Spice things. You can keep your lattes and pies and pancakes and whatnot.
I'll be over here with my apple crisp...