Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trying to stay afloat.

"It is significant to consider that one's life, therefore, cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. President Wilford Woodruff counseled us all about the mercy that is inherent in some adversity: 'The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we could never have passed through without.' (Journal of Discourses, 2:198). Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, "Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds," Ensign, May 1991, 88)

I've felt weary lately.

Blame it on the never-ending stress with the house, the impending move, the concerns I'm having about Jonah's schooling next year, the economy that has finally hit my industry a year late but is proving to put an enormous amount of financial strain on my family, the feeling that I'm being pulled in a million different directions all at once, the age-old battle of allowing day-to-day life to interfere with one's spirituality, or if nothing else, feeling the aching compassion, empathy, and pain that comes when a friend is suffering. Either way, I'm weary.

Sometimes I need the reminder that all the pieces of what can feel like a very broken puzzle really do come together in the end to create the portrait of who we are to become. I do try to acknowledge and appreciate the tender mercies I'm shown as I wade through sludge that can be mortality. I can see how each difficult experience I've endured has taught me invaluable lessons that I could never replace. But at the end of a long, taxing day/week/month/year its easy to forget, isn't it?

The next few weeks are going to be very tense as we try to get out of here and into the D Street house. I'm hoping I'll have the strength to hold it all together. In the meantime, I'm going to keep this thought in my heart and attempt to stay afloat.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Price Tags and Hair Elastics

Jonah is a collector at heart.

Early-on, he was the recipient of some heavy-handed influence from his live-in great-grandmother. Her list of collections is almost too long and obscure to count: it includes mass amounts of frog paraphernalia, carved wood, beads-never-strung, books about mushrooms, ceramic molds, and boxes --multiple boxes-- of rocks. So I suppose its safe to say Jonah comes by it honestly.

When I was a kid, I recall feeling passionate about a couple collections, the most important being my erasers. Not just any erasers, but those of the novelty variety. I saved my allowance to hit up the Hello Kitty store whenever possible to add to my collection. They were never, EVER used -- they were for viewing purposes ONLY. I remember spending many after-school hours at Molly Carollo's house going through our respective eraser collections (and smelling her hamsters, but that's another story). Totally awesome. I actually found a few eraser survivors when I packed up my life and moved in with Tyler, but they have since been gnawed and eaten by the monsters I call my children (because what else would you DO with a pretty, heart shaped eraser?).

But back to Jonah's collections --

A couple years ago I started finding pieces of clothing price tags in Jonah's room. Apparently, the perforated strip at the bottom of the tag containing the purchase price was the best (and most coveted) part of the tag, so he began saving them. There were constantly confetti piles of those little tag strips littering his bedroom floor. If I removed and threw away a tag from a new piece of clothing without his knowledge, he'd eventually find it (because my child likes to root through the garbage can. Doesn't yours?) and give me the stink eye for trying to thwart his elevated interests. But it gets worse. Soon I started noticing that he'd get really quiet and momentarily slip away while we were at the clothing store. It took a few store visits and a few pockets full of price tag strips discovered pre-laundry to realize he was combing through the clothing racks and actually removing the tags to add to his collection. Not exactly criminal activity, but still strangely compulsive. I explained that if he continued to remove that part of the tags on unpurchased items, no one would ever know how much the item cost, and it would make it really difficult to shop. It became ritual for me to remind Jonah of what NOT to do before we went shopping ("No screaming, no hugging kids you don't know, no crawling under the dressing room stalls, and NO price tag removal!"). It must be one important collection, though, because he then took to scouring the store floor for tags that had already fallen off. Who's that kid crawling on the concrete floor underneath the tankini rack picking up stray price tags and shoving them into his pocket? Oh yeah. That's MY kid.

And then I began noticing that my hair elastics kept disappearing. I couldn't find any sensible reason for the disappearance. Its not like I was taking them out of my hair and absent-mindedly shooting them across the room. A hair elastic should last for a reasonable amount of time. But every morning, I kept finding myself reaching for a new one because the previous day's elastic was MIA. It made no sense, until I watched Jonah clean the bathroom one day. While clearing off the counter top, he quickly grabbed an errant elastic and stuck it in his pocket. A few days later, I saw him do the same thing while brushing his teeth. And when I went in to dust his bureau, it all made sense. Sitting on the dresser was a pile of hair elastics. I asked him why all my elastics were sitting there, and he responded quite innocently, "Its my collection, Mom."

So the question is, is he a budding collector, or a kleptomaniac? I suppose it could go either way. In his defense, he hasn't shown much interest in those collections lately. His sights have moved on to marbles and leftover pieces of mesh-mosaic tile (clearly the child of a never-ending renovation). This afternoon as we were going through toys and packing up books in preparation for the D Street move, we came across an old pile of price tags and hair elastics. I told him they were all going in the trash. He froze in terror for a moment until I assured him there would be an opportunity to collect more in the future should he determine that was necessary.

He relented with little anguish.

I guess that phase is over.


One less thing to add to the list of "Things to discuss with a Child Psychologist"...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Glimmer of Progress...

Remember these before photos?

Here's where we stand right now:

We've yet to install the subway tile backsplash, the pendant lights over the sink and cooktop, or the exhaust system, it hasn't been painted yet, and we're still waiting on some cabinet doors (for the cabinets that were originally installed in December!), but the bones of the kitchen are at least in place. It probably looks small to most of you, but it feels HUGE compared to the old kitchen, and compared to many of the kitchens in our neighborhood. (Space. It was our biggest compromise, but you just can't beat the location!)

The kitchen is our favorite part of the house. We put a lot of thought and energy into our choices: painted white maple cabinets, single-basin sink, Cambrian black antiqued granite, all Bosch appliances (including a gas cooktop, a convection oven, built-in microwave, and cabinet depth refrigerator...all of which I scored at mind-blowing prices. MIND BLOWING!!!), red oak floor (it was a new install in the kitchen), new window sizes, where to move the plumbing and electrical, etc. Its been the most time-consuming part of the renovation, but obviously provides the biggest impact as far as resale goes.

We've been spending every spare moment at the house, trying to get things completed. At this point, we've got to finish up the kitchen (although I think I'll wait for my sister's visit in May to do the backsplash -- bet you didn't know that, Annie!), finish painting, and install baseboards, new exterior doors, carpet, the workshop's vinyl floor, window coverings, the new fireplace mantle (which I give Tyler permission to not build until we're in), and new bathroom fixtures, and we'll be ready to move. (At which point we have to unpack then start on the outside of the house...yeesh.) But we're hoping another three weeks. It could be four. But let's hope for THREE!

Any and all motivation is sincerely appreciated. We're running on fumes, here...!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My son, the Entrepeneur

Should I be proud or concerned?

I've mentioned before how much Jonah loathes work. For a six year old, however, extra chores and odd jobs are really the only way to make a little moolah. (Unless of course that six year old is lucky enough to receive an allowance. Mine is not. Tried it. Didn't work too well. We'll revisit that in a couple years.) Since he has a really hard time holding on to the money he does earn/find in the parking lot/con his great-grandpa out of (must-buy-the-SuperTarget-popcorn-combo!!!) he's learning he has to be creative to keep the dollars flowing.

The other day I walked into the bathroom and turned on the light to find this staring back at me:

"Look at Loos (lots) of Marbles!!! Just for $14."

I know he's been "saving up" [translation: spending every penny he has on candy and then complaining that he needs money] to purchase a replacement battery for his hand-me-down Gameboy (at a cost of $10-15). I guess this route made the most sense. And why not? He's been raised in a family business. He's never known any different, really. I sell stuff so I can buy things. If Mommy does it, why can't he?

But $14? Whew! Do those marbles tap dance?!

...I keep my prices pretty high, too. Way to be a diva, Jonah.

Good boy.

His Great-Aunt (who supplied him with the marbles) stopped by to drop off Easter gifts for the boys. When she was heading out, I followed her to her car with the lunchbox to show her his foray into entrepreneurship. We had a good chuckle about it which was interrupted by Jonah who had come out to see her off. He caught us looking at the the open box and declared, "Wait! You looked! Now you have to pay me $14!" She replied, "I'm sorry, but I don't have $14." "Well then you're just going to have to bring it next time because you OWE me $14." A few chocolate bunnies later and he had forgiven the debt, but I haven't dared to open it since!

But here's a photo so you can see "Loos" of marbles (!!!) for yourself. If you want to send payment, Jonah is currently accepting cash and checks.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools

I've said before that Jonah is "enthusiastic." I'd try to come up with some other words to describe him, but vocabulary does not exist that better illustrates this little boy. Everything is fun. Everything is exciting. Everything is an adventure. Not a bad trait to have (although by 4:00 PM, even after having had a 3 hour break from him, it starts to wear on you).

So this morning, as with every morning, I was woken up by a beaming six-year old ready to tackle the world. Only today, instead of saying, "Mom, I'm awake. What can I do?" he said, "Mom, I'm awake. And I want breakfast."

I was prepared for this. Its April 1st.

Yesterday afternoon he made a big production of bringing me a carton of eggs, going on and on about how he wanted eggs for breakfast the next day but that I had to use the eggs that had an "x" written on them (a detail punctuated by a suspicious snicker in between each word). It was the same exact exchange we had had on March 31st the year before. And the year before that.

I rolled out of bed, dragged myself down the hall and pulled a frying pan out of the cupboard. I set it on the stove, not even bothering to turn it on knowing where we were headed, and decided to drag it out a bit this year for fun. I asked if he wanted toast and slowly began fussing with the twist tie on the bread bag.

*He started to fidget.*

I pulled a piece of bread out of the bag and placed it in the toaster, stopping to adjust my bedtime ponytail for theatrical impact.

*The fidgeting turned into small hops.*

I turned the toaster on, opened a drawer and started rifling through it, looking for a spatula.

*The small hops became larger jumps and his arms began to flail.

I pretended to look for some non-stick spray and made a comment about maybe making some juice to go with his breakfast.

*Full-body convulsions were now accompanied by small, irrepressible snorts as if he was moments away from having an aneurysm.*


I dramatically gave the eggs a smack on the counter top, and before I could even comment on the fact that they were hard boiled eggs, Jonah was rolling on the floor, gasping for breath in between guffaws.

"I got you Mom! I got you! April Fools! I got you so good!"

"You sure did! Hard boiled eggs! That's a good one, buddy!" (Again.) "I had NO idea!" (Year three, now? I guess if it works, why change?)

So we had hard boiled eggs for breakfast. While he was in the shower, I took all of Jonah's clothes out of his dresser and replaced them with Sam's clothes. If I thought he enjoyed his little breakfast hoax, it was nothing compared to being the recipient of a prank. As I watched him dripping with water in the middle of his room, I seriously considered throwing a towel under him to protect the carpet in case the delirious laughter led to loss of bladder control.

He's one easy kid to please.

So now we're conspiring, trying to decide how to punk his dad tonight.

I'm thinking maybe we'll just have eggs for dinner...but only the one's with an "x" on them.