Similar

Until recently, I didn’t really understand when people said, “So-and-so and I are just alike. That’s why we never get along.” Then there was Evan.

It’s horrifying to see all my flaws and weaknesses mimicked and thrown back at me by a four-year-old. Beyond that, it’s aggravating. I know I’m to blame for a lot of Evan’s bad habits and unpleasant behavior. I have a short temper; Evan escalates just as quickly, and within minutes we’re both furious. He shouts that he’s not my friend anymore and I mutter that I don’t care as I stomp off to lock myself in the bathroom for a brief moment of privacy.

Parenting is hard. And lately I feel like I’m doing it all wrong.

I have been making an enormous effort this past week to stay calm and patient when Evan is being his normal belligerent self. It’s exhausting! I’m crossing my fingers that persistent effort will pay off eventually, but for now I still have a surly kid on my hands. I think Jarom is both amused and frustrated by how similar Evan and I are.

Today was Evan’s checkup, and we always do ice cream afterwards. Because his appointment was at lunchtime I decided to use a little of my spending money to get Happy Meals for the kids and let them play for a while at the play area, with the condition that they could only open the toys when we left – and only if they left without fussing. When Evan went to go play, he told me, “If you call me, I will come with no fussing because I’m a good listener.” We’ll see if that actually happens. I’ve been trying to praise more than correct, which I hope will help mini-me be a little nicer in turn.

Any other advice? I’m struggling mightily!

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Loved

I haven’t really ever had to deal with losing a loved one. My mom’s dad died when she was a little girl, and my dad’s mom passed away when I was just a little too young to feel sad about the abstract concept of death. The first time I remember being impacted by a death was when my bishop passed away when I was 16. I was impressed by how upbeat his family was at his funeral – they’d known he was going to die soon, and their faith gave them perspective. Since then, I’ve only been to two other funerals – one for our stake patriarch, whose wife had passed away many years before, and who everyone felt was ready to go; and one for my aunt, who’d had a long battle with cancer. I remember that occasion as being sacred and reverent. Every aspect of it was carried out with deep respect and love.

Jarom’s grandmother passed away yesterday. She had been in poor health for the past year and hospitalized recently, but her condition had been improving, so this was sudden and unexpected and heartbreaking. His grandparents had been married over 60 years, and I can’t imagine how his grandfather is feeling now. It’s been hard for everyone, with so many prayers in her behalf and great hopes that she was on the mend. I’m glad we all got to visit over Thanksgiving, and have that memory.

We’ll be heading down to the funeral soon – I don’t know the exact date yet – so there may not be regular posts for a few days.

Have you had to deal with this kind of loss? What would you suggest that I do to help Jarom and his family out?


Hobbies

I used to think being a Jack of all trades meant a person could do many things with great alacrity and skill.  I was happy to think of myself as a Jack of all trades; a person who was always willing to jump into something new and do it well.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Jack of all trades is only half of the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  As it turns out, this may be an even more apt description of myself.

Much like my lovely wife, I find that my interest and focus changes with some frequency.  In the past, the following things have captured my interest: fishing, woodworking, cycling, my 280zx, jogging, Magic: The Gathering, and writing.

Part of the problem is, however, that in a desire to not do anything half way, I throw myself into each of these pursuits with great vigor.  I will give you an example which is perhaps (though reports cannot be confirmed) a source of great ire from Mika: my 1981 Nissan 280zx.

Initially, we purchased the car because it was affordable, and it appeared to be a good opportunity for me to learn about car maintenance.  Soon, however, I didn’t want to simply maintain the car, I wanted to improve it!  So I set out to learn as much as I could about the car, and I quickly discovered that many people were able to successfully change out the engine in my car for the turbo version of the engine in other models of the same car.  Quickly, the completion of this project became my ardent desire.

Around the time of graduation, I even went so far as to purchase a car for parts which had the engine I wanted.  I began work on the transfer, which I had been assured was a simple process.

I quickly learned that when mechanics say that swapping out an engine is easy, they mean two things: 1) It is easy for mechanics, and 2) it is easy compared to other engine swaps.

As a result, I am left with a half-finished project.  The engine has been taken out of the donor, and placed into the silver car,  that is as far as it has gone.  I mostly blame winter, but maybe I can now also blame myself.  Just a little.  Don’t tell Mika.


Routine

I wasn’t meant to be domestic, I think. I’m not a tidy person by nature, and I’m lazy. But I firmly believe that with effort, people can change . . . which is why I’m trying very hard right now to implement a cleaning routine. I love it when my house is clean – but it seldom is. At this point, I’ll be satisfied with the expected mess that comes with little kids, rather than the overwhelming mess generated by laziness and a lack of order.

I get discouraged really easily, so I often try to tackle an entire at once, end up staying up late to finish, and get burned out, which means I especially don’t want to clean anything ever again. With that in mind, I started this past week by clearing out my storage cupboard and sorting through all of the kids’ toys. I could sit down while I went through toys, and the kids were so happy to see the things I’d stashed in my closet for the past few months that they were only minimally disruptive. Today I cleaned my bathroom, throwing out lotions and expired medicines, moving the not-kid-friendly things up to a top shelf, and reorganizing the cabinets so we can actually get to the things we use most. Then, of course, there was a lot of wiping down and cleaning and taking out trash. And then I tackled my bedroom.

I’d actually made a deal with Jarom at Christmastime that he’d help me get the bedroom completely clean and keep it tidy for 3 weeks. We’ve worked on it a little at a time on the weekends, but today I got it to the point where there’s a box of stuff to donate, costumes that need a storage box, a few things to go in the shed or cellar, and Jarom’s stuff that I didn’t know what to do with. I even cleaned off the pencil marks from where June scribbled on the door shortly after we moved in. Now if I can get these last few things cleared out, I’ll just need to do quick pick-up every night and then make the bedroom/bathroom a once-a-week deep cleaning.

This is a great theory, of course . . . we’ll see how it goes in practice.


Storage

In our basement apartment, we had this cool Ikea wardrobe for the kids’ room. Jarom’s grandma got it for us when June was born, and it was perfect for keeping clothes organized. We had a small dresser in the closet for stuff-that-doesn’t-fit-yet.

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I’m shocked to find that I miss this little room.

Our house has built-in wardrobes in every bedroom, so the kids didn’t need the Ikea thing anymore. I knew I wanted to set up a desk in my bedroom for a work area, so I decided to use the Ikea wardrobe as a supply cupboard. After I got everything unpacked it was nicely organized. Guess how long that lasted? Actually, I did reorganize the cupboard a few times as I added new supplies. But eventually it ended up looking like this:

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This morning I decided to tidy my supplies. There were plenty of things I never use, or seldom do; I’d sorted through the box of pens, markers, and pencils before we moved, but in the past 7 months a lot of the pens have stopped working. They got tossed, as did the plethora of highlighters. We had about a dozen each of yellow, pink, and orange. I think Jarom got a lot of free highlighters at law school – but neither of us uses highlighters at home anymore. (Hooray for being done with school!)

I could still use a few containers to really be organized, but at the end of 20 minutes my cupboard now looks like this:

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Evan on Superheroes

This week, Evan talks about superheroes, a red octopus, and dinosaurs!


Keepsakes

This is part of a series of sporadic blog posts about items I have in my keepsake box. If you think I’m not sentimental, this should prove otherwise.

Jarom and I met in 9th grade and had been friends since 10th grade, but it was only in our senior year that any real romance started. (On my part, at least.) We were both doing Academic Decathlon and had almost identical class schedules, so we spent a LOT of time together. It was a busy year, filled with [mostly] good memories. I came across my planner from 12th grade and thought you might like seeing a few pages.

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It looks like we had Academic Decathlon meetings every Wednesday and Thursday; my church youth group met every Tuesday; and I was very good at scheduling every assignment and keeping deadlines in mind. The “Y Weekend” was pretty cool – I got invited to visit BYU and see how great the campus was. I think my parents paid for airfare and the rest of the trip was covered by BYU. Part of the weekend was going to a football game against the Air Force Academy. It was so different from a high school football game!

Instead of doing AP English, I and a few other LDS kids (including Jarom) opted for a creative writing class. The AP English teacher seemed a bit too focused on the sexual innuendo in the summer reading, and we were already insanely busy, so the one-semester “college prep” class was a nice alternative. It turned out to be the easiest, most joke-of-a-class I took in all of high school. We watched a lot of movies and if I remember correctly, we even did some art projects. And there was a group skit we had to do, with a shy girl who had a very obvious crush on one of the other group members. I bring up the creative writing class because one of our assignments was to write and illustrate a children’s book. Mine was called Annushka and the Eggplant, and I still have it. The kids read it sometimes. The story doesn’t make a ton of sense; I really liked the color and shape of eggplants, so I wanted to work that in somehow. A little girl named Annushka wakes up in the middle of the forest instead of in her bed. She asks a fox for help, but he agrees only after she gives him her bracelet. The fox won’t take her across the river, so she’s aided by a bear, who asks nothing in return. Soon she’s getting close to her home village – and suddenly an angry mountain goat jumps out and bars her way! She weepingly says she has nothing left to give except a piece of bread and an eggplant in her little bag. The goat, it turns out, loooooooves eggplant, so he happily helps her find the village in exchange for the eggplant.

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By March, I had dated someone else, had a huge dramatic episode and crisis with Jarom, and realized that I liked him. (Very condensed.) We never made our relationship “official” by actually saying we were boyfriend and girlfriend, though that teenage logic now seems pretty weak. Also, apologies to all the people we hung out with and were an awkward couple around . . . teenagers are the worst. At any rate, one of our first “this isn’t a date”s was that first weekend in March. (When Jarom came back from Korea, we went on an official first date, without the teenage-ness and with several more years of maturity.)

The Academic Decathlon state competition was that month, and it was amazing. I loved it. We had a decent chance of placing first in our division and going on to the national competition – but I’m glad we came in second! It was nice to have a break after that, and relax before the end of the school year. The worst thing about the competition was that we found out afterwards (having won many awards) that the normal scholarships weren’t being given for medalists. I was heartbroken; I thought there was no way I could go to college without that scholarship. (I’d already been admitted to BYU.) I had somehow gotten the numbers confused in my head and thought tuition at BYU was $15,000 a year, not $1,500 a semester. Haha. (Don’t worry, tuition has risen steadily over the last decade. It isn’t quite that cheap anymore – but still very inexpensive.)

For the second semester of the year, after the creative writing class ended, we had a Shakespeare class. It was much more intellectual than the creative writing class, but it was definitely not a honors class. It did mean a return to Mrs. Mugg’s classroom, where we started out in freshman English. I’ll forever remember her asking students not to use “the S-U phrase” (“shut up”).

What was your favorite year of high school? Did you have a teenage romance?