Sometimes progress can be difficult to see when you are in the middle of a slump or things are just not moving as quickly as you would like or expect. A short time ago, my boys and I were going through one of those times. They didn’t ever express such sentiments, but when every request is a “no” answer because of the lack of money, it isn’t a stretch to think they were feeling the frustration every bit as much as I was.
I am a fan of tangible evidence. Just paying bills and eliminating debt isn’t enough. I can’t put my hand on the absence of debt. I want to actually have a way to show that we are doing better and that we are making progress, so I came up with an idea for me and my boys to do just that. The idea is that we need to make a list of things–things we want to do, things we want to buy, places we want to go. These “things” should be anything we want, no matter how mundane and no matter how extravagant. It is to be a list of probable, possible and seemingly impossible things. I want my kids to shoot for the stars because you never know what circumstance is going to come your way. Items will be added as we think of them and crossed off as we buy/do/travel to each one of them. That will be the tangible evidence of progress. Like a very ambitious to-do list.
So, I gave my boys “homework”. I asked each of them to give me a list of their first 10 things they want on that list. I made a list of my first 10 as well and the following is the beginning of our dream that will hopefully keep moving and growing.
- Buy a house–This, to me, is the biggest representation of success. For some, it might be no big deal, but for me, it is monumental. During my marriage, when we were making a LOT more money than I am now, we were always behind on the mortgage and, quite honestly, the house was falling apart. I went from there to my Grandpa’s house where I lived for free (I wasn’t employed yet) for 3 months and then to a low income apartment. In May, I moved in to a rental house. I love having a space where I don’t have to worry about playing music loud enough to hear it, where my kids don’t have to worry about stepping too hard on the floor and disturbing the downstairs neighbor and where I can, for the most part, do and grow whatever I want. The next best thing would be ownership. The very best thing would be ownership.
- buy a newer car–I love the car I have now, but it is 14 years old and in dire need of numerous repairs. I would love to have a van or a pickup truck so that I can transport all of my stuff for the art and craft shows in which I am a vendor. I have only ever had used cars. Like REALLY used. My newest car has been at least 6 years old and the oldest was almost 20 at the time of purchase (1978 Mercury Zephyr–I LOVED that car). To me a car is nothing more than a means of getting from location to another, but having one that is reliable is one of the most important things on my list.
- Buy a toolbox–I am gradually getting basic tools that every household should have (hammer, screwdrivers, small saw, etc). The problem is that I have nowhere to keep them and therefore they get put down wherever anyone is finished using them. That means, I can’t ever find them when I need them. I buy replacements and then find the original. It would be much more convenient, not to mention financially responsible to have everything in one place and not have to keep buying the same tools over and over again.
- Take my kids on a trip to Monterey, CA–Monterey is my favorite place on earth, and I have been to some pretty cool places. There is so much about it to love. It is beautiful, it is by the ocean, it smells heavenly, it has amazing food and, for me, it holds some wonderful memories. Immediately after graduating from army basic training, I was sent to Monterey to study Russian at the Defense Language Institute. There, I experienced my first sense of adult freedom, my first kiss, my first real relationship, first love. I made some of the most amazing friends I have ever known. Yeah, there is much to love about Monterey. I don’t know if it is just my slightly skewed and bias opinion, but I can’t imagine a more wonderful place. I want so badly to share that with my kids. I have been talking to them about Monterey forever. I have them convinced. I only hope it is as heavenly to them as it is to me.
- Buy a fishing license–I have been telling my boys for the last two summers that we should go fishing, but never actually putting any effort into doing so. There are probably a million places in Idaho to fish, but I don’t know where they are, beyond the Boise River. Thankfully, I have a rather large number of friends from which to glean that information. My goal for summer 2018 is to go at least 5 times. Five is not a really large number so it should be doable, but life, my life, has a bad habit of getting in the way of plans. At any rate, five is the goal.
- Get another tattoo–I actually want to get several, but there is one that I want to get more than any other–a Phoenix. My most recent tattoo, a watercolor butterfly, has special significance for me. A butterfly is the perfect example of of transformation, the concept of something amazing, graceful and beautiful from something, well, ugly, blobby and awkward. I feel like I am, or was, that caterpillar, some loathsome thing that no one really wanted and I felt like I really didn’t deserve happiness or love. While not quite where I want to be, I feel like I have transformed from what I used to be. My next tattoo is going to be a Phoenix because a Phoenix rises from the ashes. Rebirth from destruction. I have been through a lot of things in my life (see previous posts) and I have managed to survive all of them. Not unscathed, but I am still here. I have repeated piles of ashes from every time I have been broken, damaged or destroyed and come out stronger.
- Buy A Taboret–A taboret is a wheeled, portable table or cart, used for holding and moving art supplies and functioning as a hard surface to create on. Right now I have a tiny Walmart coffee table that is overflowing with art and craft supplies. I would love to have something mobile to make painting and creating more convenient. Taborets run anywhere from about $100 to about $800 and sometimes even more. I don’t want or need anything fancy. I just need mobility. I am tired of my coffee table being unusable for its intended purpose.
- Take my kids to Lagoon–I haven’t been to Lagoon in about 25 years. It has changed a lot in that time. I do remember it fondly though. Growing up we went about every other year (poor family, 4 kids. You do the math). My boys have never been to a theme park. Never. We have been talking about going for years, but we have never had the money or reliable transportation. Come tax return season (spring break), I think we will be going, if we either have a newer car or we can borrow one from someone else. A trip to Utah can fulfill two things on my list–Lagoon and a new tattoo. I got my butterfly done by an artist in Orem and I would love to have him create another for me.
- Get a dog–I miss having a dog so much. Dogs are amazing. They are quite possibly the greatest gift from God, right after our own offspring. They don’t judge your weight, your place in life, your beauty, your job or your mistakes. They love. That’s it. They love us when we are unlovable. They love us when we screw up. They love us without stopping to think if we deserve it. They instinctively know when our hearts are broken and we need extra love. There is just no downside to having a dog.
- Buy a new bed–Several reasons for this. 1. My mattress is about 16 years old and needs to be replaced. 2. I am sleeping on the same bed and mattress that I had while married. That alone is reason enough to replace it. 3. My bed frame is a lodgepole pine frame so it is really big, really heavy and tall enough that I have to climb up into it. 4. It is super squeaky. Like embarrassingly so. If I have to explain how that is problematic, you are way too young to be reading this blog. Squeakiness is not a concern now, but at some point in my future, it might become an issue. Again. Maybe.
“A’s” list (age 12)
- A set of Prismacolor colored pencils–“A” is definitely my son. He loves to create anything and everything. He loves color and art and sees the world differently than most. Despite the fact that he already has a growing collection of writing utensils (much like his mother), he wants more. And Prismacolors are the best. I have a set I share with him, but he wants his own. I get it. There is something about having a collection that beautiful all your own. The color, the feel, the smell and the way it changes a white sheet of paper into a work of art.
- Nintendo 3DS–Well, he is a 12 year old boy so further explanation would be redundant.
- Trip to Peru–This one actually surprises me. He has said a million times that he wants to move to Italy and he has talked about visiting Japan and a few other places, but I don’t ever recall Peru being one of them. I love that my kids are adventurous and willing to try and do just about anything once and I’m glad this one is on his list. This trip may be a very long way off, but that is the point of the list–to dream and plan, even if it is seemingly impossible.
- Get a dog–“A” is an animal lover. There isn’t an animal he doesn’t like or want in his life. Someday, he wants to be a veterinarian or an ASPCA worker that rescues animals. He has such a heart for animals. We used to be a vendor at farmers markets and “A” used to find every single dog in the market area and make friends. Not just the cute puppies or lively young ones. He loved the old ones, the “ugly” ones and the shy, skittish ones. He loves cats too, but dogs are something special.
- Buy a new house–As of late, we have been doing a lot of online house hunting. We aren’t quite ready yet, but that does not stop us from looking. I think that “A” might want a house for the sole purpose of being able to get a dog. Right now he shares a room with his brother and he is dying to have space of his own where he can escape his brother. What can I say? They are close in age and fight constantly.
- Buy a new bed–My kids are sleeping on old metal bunk beds with hand-me-down mattresses. The bunk bed is old and squeaky and uncomfortable. And the frame is such that the two beds cannot be separated. They need to be separated. My kids are just about too old for bunk beds and they are both sick of them. We bought the entire set up for $100 from a neighbor who desperately needed the money. Each had what the other needed. Now we need something else.
- Buy a Galaxy Note 8–Right now “A” has an inexpensive smart phone. He wants something better. He says he just really likes the galaxy phones. He hasn’t had much experience with any other kind of phone. He liked his first phone so much he wanted to keep it in the Galaxy family.
- Buy the book “IT” by Stephen King–He has read the book already, or several chapters of it anyway. Yes, I know he is only 12, but he can be pretty mature for his age. Sometimes. The minute the trailers for the remake of the movie “IT” came out, he and his brother started pestering me about seeing the movie. I was a little wary because the nature of the book/movie, but he thought the movie was, in his words, “AWESOME”. The only part that made him uncomfortable was when the bully was going to kill the cat. That was the only part where he looked away from the screen. It Figures.
- Trip to Italy–He is fascinated by all things Italian. The food, the art, the architecture, the landmarks. I don’t blame him. My dream vacation would be Italy so I could see the art and architecture I studied in college. What’s not to love about Italy. There is so much history that happened in and around Italy. Some of the greatest artists in history are Italian and some of the most amazing architecture on the planet is located in Italy. For a kid that loves all things beautiful and artistic, Italy really is a perfect fit.
- Get a parrot–Not only are parrots cool, but again, the color and “A” is all about color. Parrots are intelligent, colorful, beautiful, funny and they can be affectionate creatures. Dogs are on the top of his list, but it is easy to see why a kid like “A” would want one.
“N’s” list (age 13)
- A trip to New York–I am not sure what he is most looking forward to in New York. There are so many awesome things to choose from. Shopping, food, adventures to be had, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, architecture, entertainment, except for musicals, of course. No musicals. Musicals induce much eye rolling and complaining.
- Lots of Airsoft guns–“N” is 13. He likes guns and these are somewhat safe for him to use with the proper safety equipment. I am not sure why the “lots” designation is necessary, but, like I said, he is 13. I am thinking I might actually enjoy engaging in battle with him. Something to think about when it comes time to purchase, if we do decide to do so.
- Trip to Lagoon–My kids are somewhat deprived when it comes to the entertainment aspect of their lives. Having never been to a theme park, I can see why this is so important and on the list. “N” loves a thrill and roller coasters and the like fit that bill. But more than just roller coasters, Lagoon offers, from what I remember, much more entertainment. I have to do my research, but I believe they have added a number of rides to the park and even though I am 47 years old, I might have a good time too.
- Buy an iPhone X–My son is all about technology and, if given the chance, would have all the latest gizmos and gadgets. I am somewhat technologically inept so I have to rely on his knowledge and research when it comes to such things. As bad as it sounds, I need him to explain how things work on my iPhone. I am an Android girl and my recent upgrade found me walking out of T-Mobile with an iPhone instead of an Android option. I am still not sure why, but I am thankful my son can negotiate those waters for me. I don’t think I am ready to commit to a $1,000 piece of technology for a 13 year old, but perhaps I can be convinced if he becomes a bit more responsible when it comes to taking care of what he already has. One can hope.
- Buy a tent–The last time any of us went camping was at a craft fair in Homedale, ID about 4 years ago. The only time actually. Prior to that, I think I was about 13 (unless you count 5 months in Saudi Arabia). My boys and I slept in a borrowed tent and used blankets from home. I don’t want to be that mom that always talks a big game and does nothing. I want my boys to experience sleeping in a tent, smelling like a campfire and breathing in the fresh, clean air in the middle of nowhere. We talk about and plan, but so far nothing has come to fruition when it comes to the outdoors. Buying a tent, as well as other equipment, is my goal for the coming months. Camping is definitely on the agenda for 2018.
- Get a job–“N” is only 13 right now, but he is counting down the days until he turns 14 and can get a job. In Idaho, you can work at the age of 14, but options are pretty limited. He doesn’t care. He wants to make his own money. He will happily do whatever job is available. Now, if only I could get that kind of enthusiasm when it comes to cleaning his room.
- Buy a gaming PC–He has been asking me for this for a long time. Occasionally we go to Best Buy and look at things we can’t afford and a gaming computer is one of those things. I don’t know much about them, but “N” does his research. He doesn’t always do well in school, but he is no dummy. He loves to research things. He enjoys spending hours telling me facts about things he has found on the internet and in books and magazines. He has a couple specific computers in mind and they and their components have been well researched. We need a new computer anyway. Maybe this is the way to go to suit all of our needs.
- Buy a MacBook Pro–He’s 13, he’s into technology, he’s a fan of all things Apple. ‘Nuff said.
- Buy a house–All three of us want a house of our own. “N” is at an age where having his own space is becoming more and more important. Sharing a room with his brother is becoming more problematic. They drive each other crazy. In each other’s faces and in each others way. They are becoming way more physical with each other and could both use space away from the other. “N” also understands the importance of having something of our own, something that, with each monthly payment, we get closer to ownership. At the present time that investment is going into someone else’s pocket.
- Buy a car–“N” is already talking about getting a car. Not one for the family to get around in–one for him. In Idaho, I think you only have to be 14 1/2 years old to take driver’s training and 15 to get a license. He is a very independent kid and cannot wait to drive. He is so anxious to grow up. He is an adventurer and is already planning his escape.
We all have so much to look forward to when it comes to our futures. Sure there will be bumps in the road, but that is okay. We will just keep moving forward at a pace we can handle. I can’t wait to get everything on paper and begin crossing things off.