Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Season of Chaos

Fall is my favorite time of year. It is also our busiest.  Volleyball with three different teams, trying to get schoolwork done, other activities in the mix...I know some families have it worse than us, but it seems as if we are always on the move each day.  I don't mind, but I prefer the calmer months of winter.

We are planning a week long camping trip this month.  It will be our first longer trip with the trailer, and we intend to go visit the Grand Canyon, Durango, and Southwest Colorado.  We need to get away together, we need to regroup.  It has been a long and challenging year thus far, with more on the way.  We need some breathing space "in between".  Getting away from Dominick's constantly ringing cell phone, and stopping everything for just a short time will be so wonderful, even if it does mean we are 7 people crammed in a camping trailer.

Angela had it right when she told me this afternoon how excited she was about the upcoming trip when she said, "Even when we went to Lake City and it was only for 1 full day and 2 nights, it felt like we really got away and got to be together.  I love those times."  Dominick and I are blessed that, particularly at this age, our kids still enjoy spending time with their family because most are off doing their own thing by now.  A dear friend was at our house recently and we talked a little about the kids probably living with us longer than kids who are the same age but in higher grade levels.  She looked at me and in all seriousness said, "There's another reason...why would they want to leave love?  This house is filled with it,  Everyone should be so lucky."

I don't think I have ever been paid a higher compliment.

We made what for us was a big decision recently, when over the Labor Day holiday we decided it was finally time to replace some furniture, and actually go and purchase a set for our main living area.  The decision was sort of made for us the last time Dominick used the upholstery cleaner to try and clean the couch, and threads kept popping and stuffing was visible.  I didn't mind at all the fact that it was 25 years old and faded a bit, but if I can't keep it clean without shredding it, then it is time.

So off we went, all piled into the car and headed to Grand Junction...the Big see if we could find a deal over the holiday weekend.  We had no idea exactly what we were looking for, only that we really wanted something to accommodate all seven of us, finally.  We had discussed the possible purchase ahead of time with the kids, and this was not the first time we had gone Dream Shopping...but last time a couple years ago Kenny stopped me by wisely asking if it was a need or a want.  This time, we all agreed, it was at the point where it was a need.

We also agreed on something else, that this was going to be a family decision, not Mom and Dad's decision.  We are trying to be faithful about not getting into debt for "wants", and the only way we were able to consider this was because of the sale of our little rental that the kids all worked so hard on.  There wasn't a ton of profit from it, but enough to get a badly needed new roof installed, which is coming later in the fall...hopefully before too much more rainfall or snow.  We had a little more leftover, and we felt it was only right that the entire family benefit from it after the incredible job the kids all did and how much heart and soul they offered for the project.  Everyone thought new furniture, which we could never otherwise afford, was the best use of the remaining funds.

Oh, we had so much fun...and I am sure we drove the young salesman crazy!  We must have "test sat" every sofa in the incredibly large store.  If any one of us didn't like something, it got crossed off the "Possible List".  We were pretty certain we preferred leather, for cleanability, durability, and keeping allergy issues down.  We narrowed it down to two different sets, and after carrying over various coffee and end tables to see which went best with it, which surprised the salesman as we traipsed all over looking like an efficient moving crew, we settled on a set that was super comfortable, cozy, and truly "all us". I don't think he was used to seeing kids so involved in furniture purchases, but they asked pertinent questions about the materials it was made with, pricing, etc.  They are growing into smart consumers, and they did a great job.  It is not fashionable or magazine ready, but we are all so thrilled with it, and the way it is set up is more conducive to the way we talk as a family together.  Every single one of us has said multiple times, "I love our new furniture!", so we definitely selected what suits us best.  It is a bit large for the space we have but our family is a bit larger than this space was designed for, so it is what it is.

It's the first real new furniture we've had in 25 years, and it feels so luxurious and special that I feel spoiled beyond belief.  Sitting here enveloped in soft, squishy deep brown leather as I type this, I am so, so grateful.  I can imagine winter days spent with all of us sitting side by side, tucked under blankets reading history together in the mornings.  We all thanked each other over and over for the back breaking work that went into this being possible...each of us feeling as if we accomplished something extraordinary as a team together.  The first night was sat there laughing and remembering how poor Olesya spent days staining the fence at the rental, how many wheel barrow's full of gravel were moved, how depressed we were to have to go in and clean after terrible tenants.  We all agreed that it was worth it, and made us appreciate the new furniture more than we would have had it not taken so much work to earn.

Aside from that, blogging has been hard to get to because I am spending hours and hours in front of the computer screen for other reasons.  The web site for our new business is slowly taking shape, and we hope to have it life by the end of November. Not quite sure if we will make it, but we are going to work hard to try to hit that goal.  We are easily at a couple of hundred hours spent, between my Data Entry Team, consisting of Angela and Olesya, and my IT and Imaging Team, made up of only Matthew.  I am doing Content Development, overarching planning, basic design, and more. Dominick is lining up vendors, and Kenny and Josh get a pass until later in the plan, as they will be our Show Salesmen.  I have no clue if this will lead to anything of substance, but we are putting our hearts into it and will see if we can make something happen.  My hope is that it will be able to help others, and if we make a little something out of the deal, great.  The kids are learning lots of new skills as we talk it all through,

Kenny in particular (no surprise) is a great big picture thinker and has some terrific ideas on a bigger scale than I am thinking.  He may not have organizational skills that will allow him to do the back end work, but that young man will really be an asset as we move along.  Matthew is also quite high on the idea, and is imagining a much bigger future than I am :-)  I hope all their enthusiasm is catching!  LOL!  The two of them are planning another little small business, which will take quite awhile to unfold.  They want to sell their existing 50 lbs of Legos to allow them to purchase a 3D printer.  They are talking through the design of some sort of device that will sort Legos robotically, utilizing some sort of laser "eye" system that can help determine color and size.  I have no stinkin' idea what they are talking about, but they have a Plan, and with a 3D printer they can create the individual parts to build this machine.  Of course, they have to learn a lot in the process about electronics and robotics, and I am not sure how they will manage that, but Matt is the builder, with Kenny's input, and Kenny will be the Marketing Guy.

They have so much confidence in each other, and it is actually kind of sweet.  Individually each of them keeps talking to me with great excitement about their joint venture.  When I questioned Kenny about whether Matt could really build this, he looked at me sort of incredulously and said, "Mom, of course he can!  I helped him talk through the design, and made him think about how people might like to be able to sort Legos.  Matt can teach himself anything and is brilliant.  I don't think you know how smart he is, Mom.  He can totally build this, but it is going to take trial and error, and he'll mess up.  But when Matt gets on a project, you know how he is, he won't give up until it works."

Later, Matthew was talking to me about Kenny, and he said, "People don't understand just how smart Kenny is, because he can't remember things or organize things.  But they underestimate him, Mom.  Kenny can think...better than most people can, and he thinks deep about things.  I know he is always going to have a hard time because of the things he can't do well, but there is so much he CAN do well.  I never want to sell or talk to people, and that is where Kenny is awesome...he can talk to anyone and if he hears "no" it doesn't bother him at all.  He said if I can build it, he can sell it, and I believe him.  He is already talking about figuring out how to get someone at Lego to see it if we can get it designed right!  Haha!  He'd totally do that, too, Mom."

There has never been two young men so completely different from one another, who understand one another so well...and respect each other for their differences.  It is a far better blessing than a new couch.

Lots of dreaming going on around here, and lots of hard, hard work that is not visible yet, but getting there.  What a wonderful team I have in Team LaJoy.  I have made the commitment to continue blogging throughout the kids' childhoods with us, and I am sticking with it even when it is hard to fit in the time.  Lately I have missed blogging the moments, the glimpses of things I want to remember, and I have to do better at it.  I'm trying, but in the Season of Chaos, I might slip a little!

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