Monday, June 27, 2016

Voices From the Backseat

No, I'm not going crazy. Well, no more so than normal. Tonight TheBoyWhoDidNotTalk(much) and I picked up cousin Graham Cracker and headed to the local splash pad. These two are the best of friends and have been since they were knee high to grasshopper. Look at these faces from about seven years ago.
New Wheels
Some things they don't share.

Playing with Lane's kitchen

Look at these innocent faces!

 On the way to the Splash Pad TheBoyWhoDidNotTalk(much) told Graham Cracker about how we went to play at a nearby lake the day before. "Oh man! You got to go to the lake?" Graham Cracker exclaimed. "All I did yesterday is sit. I don't know what else I did. I'm really good at forgetting."

We all have to be good at something kiddo.

The boys of course had a blast. One woman there with her twin granddaughters asked if mine were twins too. Twin cousins perhaps, though their features are very different. At almost eight they're still about the same height, same size, same coloring, even similar hair color.
After shutting down the splash pad we got back in the car to head back to G's house.  Along the way the boys were discussing their favorite subjects in school which are P.E. and Art, of course. They're the easiest according to both boys. Neither of them are as fond of Music as the other "easy" classes. "But if they had more harmonica in Music, I'd like it more," G announced. "One day, I picked up a harmonica, put it to my lips and blew. And what do you know, I can play that harmonica good. I just know how to do stuff like that, you know?"

Then the subject moved on to TheBoy's 10 hologram dogs. What I love about these boys is how easy they get along. They don't argue and say the other can't be right about whatever he just said, they just accept that their friend would never tell them anything false. They don't try to out do each other with the I-Can-Top-That stories. TheBoy just starts talking about hologram dogs and G asks him how many are in the car now, because obviously that is a possibility, right?

Pure. Easy-Going. Innocent. Those three words describe these boys and I hope with all my heart they never lose those qualities. I pray they will always be the best of friends and depend on and watch out for each other.



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We're Not Doing Community Service...well not THAT kind of community service

One of the really cool things about my new job in the Big City is how much my employer encourages giving back to the community. Annually, millions of dollars are pour back into the community for education, healthcare, food distribution programs, and road repairs. Along with those things at any given time employees can participate in raising money for charities, attending blood drives, and clean up adopted highways and parks.

Yesterday our whole team went to my hometown where we cleaned out flowerbeds, planted flowers, mulched, and other tasks at one of the local museums. After lunch we headed downtown where we set out as teams to pull the largest weeds, spray all the other weeds coming up in cracks near store fronts, along the sidewalk, and near seating areas. We swept up trash- mostly cigarette butts. My team for this part of the adventure consisted of two of my closest work friends. Along the way one store owner came out of her shop to ask where we were from to thank us for what we were doing. We spent a few moments visiting with her then proceeded with our task. After we completed our hot task we met up with other members of our team. Their experience wasn't quite the same as ours, as they cleaned near a law office a gentleman came to the door, and quietly locked it! Guess he thought we were doing that other community service. HA!
 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Goodbye School Year, Hello Summer


What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago we were in the process of saying goodbye to our life on the Plains as we anticipated our move to Big City. Peanut and TheBoyWhoDidNotTalk(much) were preparing to leave the only place they had ever called home. Early in June I shipped the children off to The Land of Dial-up where they spent a couple of weeks with my parents and attended church camp. On our sixteenth anniversary, Nickel and I packed up the last of our belonging and headed East. We had friends and family to help us move, thank goodness.

When school time came around, I knew the kids would adapt, with time. TheBoyWhoDidNotTalk(much) had some major anxiety. I don't blame him he would go to a building he didn't know the layout, sit in a class with total strangers, get on a bus driven by a stranger with other strangers to learn a sport (Karate) of which he knew nothing! Poor kid, it was overwhelming. For months when I asked him about his day he would say "boring" because he didn't know how else to describe his loneliness. Slowly he made friends soon it was Ricardo this, Jack that, Evie, Seven, and many other names. Finally, this boy had friends. His teacher, who was very concerned about his beginning test scores started to notice the change in him as well, and the blasted test scores came up.

Peanut was very excited to move. She wanted the chance to reinvent herself and make new friends. Things didn't happen quite as she anticipated. Classes were much more difficult in Big City than the Plains. Then drama happened. The class I mean. She had a nice camera and without planning it, she became the unofficial drama department photographer. She made a few friends then added a few more. She got her driver's permit. She started a job. She started exploring her independence.

This year has been full of change, but these kiddos have triumphed, and I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Begin As You Mean To Go On

“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, All of Grace

I don't know where I first heard this saying, but it is stuck in my mind and plays on repeat almost daily. Begin as you mean to go on. 

Peanut is now at the ripe old age of sixteen. She has her driver's permit. She has a job, a checking account, and a debit card. Begin as you mean to go on.

I'm a pretty mean mom. I've instructed Peanut that she will put the first half of her paycheck into savings. Doing this will teach her to pay herself first and create a habit of saving money. I've also told her she needs to have 5k in her savings before she can move out. WHAT?! You may say, is that even feasible? Well, at the rate she's making money she can easily put $100 into her savings account each paycheck, biweekly. That would be about $2600 a year. She has two more years left in school so yeah, I think 5k is possible. As anyone who has ever moved, you know how expensive it can be. There are furnishings to buy, deposits to pay, and groceries to buy and rent to pay for the first time. Hopefully, when that day comes she'll already be in the habit of setting aside part of each check and will manage bills. Begin as you mean to go on.

With the other half of her paycheck, she has to pay her bills. Using 25% of her total paycheck, up to $200 a month she pays me back for the bills I pay on her behalf. She recently upgraded her phone, and though I pay for the line, she has to make the monthly installment. Her car, which is my old car, isn't quite paid for yet, so she helps to make that payment. I say she pays up to $200 a month but she doesn't earn that much money, that's just what her phone and car cost her parents each month. If by some crazy turn of events, she earns more than $800 a month she would get to keep that extra money. Perhaps this is incentive to work more? Begin as you mean to go on.

The final quarter of her paycheck is hers. All hers and she may do with it whatever teenagers do with money. Buy crap. Get her hair colored. Buy her mom coffee. Her little splurges. She's learning that that money goes fast. Begin as you mean to go on.

My parents didn't teach me about money, saving, or budgeting. I'm not blaming them for my money mistakes. I think it just didn't occur to them. As far as I know they didn't have a budget, and we were so poor I doubt they had much in the way of savings for many years. I did see my mom balance the checkbook, and she gave me the first lesson in reconciliation, but it ended there. For Peanut, though, I see these financial lessons as training wheels for life. I know there will come a time when she forgets to write a transaction down, and it will start a little domino effect. It has happened to us all. And of course, we're always here to help her pick up the pieces. Begin as you mean to go on.

And just to show you how mean I am, I've put a hold on this book at our local library and am going to insist she read a chapter a day this summer and then we'll discuss what she learns. Oh, the torture! 

While I'm not sure everything in this book will be applicable, it will introduce her to a whole new world of money. She will learn what a 401(k) is, perhaps ways to avoid the credit card debt so many young people find themselves in, and how to set and achieve financial goals.  Begin as you mean to go on.

And if all goes well, we'll do this again in 8 years when TheBoyWhoDidNotTalk(much) is in a similar situation. Begin as you mean to go on.