Third Grade and Taxes

I guess I am a legitimate nerd. Chris’ W2 arrived in the mail yesterday and it was like I just won the lottery. All month I have been eagerly awaiting the day that I can start working on our taxes. It’s my favorite time of year. I hear that most people dread it and I just can’t believe it. There is nothing more fun to me than getting all my papers in order and answering all the questions, one at a time, on Turbo Tax. The little numbers up in the corner of the screen that change every time I put in a new piece of information are just like playing slot machines. I’ve never played slot machines but I’ve seen how the numbers rapidly change until they land on the final number. So exciting. I like watching numbers change. I will never play slot machines for this reason. It sounds dangerous. But taxes…..ahhh. Nothing dangerous about them. Just some good old-fashioned fun. Granted, we do have three children and are paying a mortgage on a home in which we have not just one, but two home offices and four different businesses. The things that cost us a patootie-load of money all year long actually benefit us at tax time. We all have to have something to look forward to, don’t we? I don’t even know if I’ll get out of my pajamas today. I’m like a taxaholic.

Speaking of looking forward to things, I just got home from taking the girls to school (yes, in my pajamas). Grace, who is in first grade and loves school (and was in a great mood this morning), sighed loudly in the back seat, buried her French-braided head in her hands and declared, “Third grade is gonna be the worst year of my life…..I just know it.”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Cheer up, honey. At least you can look forward to being an adult and doing your taxes.

Things I Think About (Part 3, I Think)

Is anybody else intimidated by people that live in other places? I don’t know why I do this, but I always have an idea of other places and I don’t really know where I get these ideas. I think I make them up. But whenever I think of certain places, an image immediately pops in my head and most of these images are intimidating to me. Some of the places I’ve even been to before (or lived in), which is strange, I think. I don’t know why I’m always surprised every time I go someplace new, to realize that everyone everywhere is a person just like me, who probably shops at Target just like me. Why do I forget this fact? Is that a human tendency? Or is it just my own weird mind? Like, for instance, I’m intimidated by people that live in Connecticut because I imagine that they all sit around their lovely kitchen islands (with fancy pots hanging from hooks over their heads) having animated political discussions. I’m intimidated by people that live in Canada because I think that they all know how to grow beautiful flowers. I’m intimidated by people on the west coast because they have frizzy hair and beards and don’t wear any makeup. (I know – why is that intimidating?) I’m intimidated by people in Kentucky and Alabama because they know how to relax and play banjos and stuff. I’m very intimidated by people in Colorado because I think they hate me. I’m intimidated by people in Iowa because I think they’re a lot tougher than me and can endure physical hardships. And I hate the fact that everyone on the east coast gets to live life one hour ahead of me. I’m intimidated by that.

I’m curious to know if anyone else has weird notions of other places that aren’t really based on anything.

Happiness is in the Eye of the Beholder

I took my daughter to get her eyes checked yesterday. A curious thing happened to me there. The eye doctor came out to call us in, kind of did a double-take after his initial greeting and told me how happy I looked and that it was so good to see happy people, especially on Mondays. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I remember when I was pregnant with Callie and would go to my doctor for regular check-ups. After I had been going for a few months, one of the nurses told me that I always had a smile on my face and that the staff always looked forward to me coming in because I was one of their happiest pregnant women. Here’s what’s weird: I know happy people and I would not call myself one of them. I don’t think that my husband, my mother or happy people like Kirsty would call me happy. In fact, I have been told by dear people that love me that I am one of the moodiest human beings on earth. But it has always been important to me to smile at strangers. Especially when I am doing business with them in some way – doctors, cashiers at the grocery store, the parking lot attendant at the girls’ school… Maybe it’s left over from an experiment that I conducted once with my friend, Carrie. We were about sixteen, sitting on a bench in a shopping mall, waiting for whoever we were with to finish shopping and meet back up with us. We decided to start smiling at people and see who would smile back. It was no surprise that the most positive responses we got were from teenage boys. But I remember being shocked at how many people, especially women and girls, looked us directly in the eye and looked away again with either no response whatsoever, or some kind of negative facial expression. So maybe people just aren’t used to women smiling?

I’m afraid we were a bit of a letdown to the eye doctor yesterday. He probably thought we were going to be a lot of fun, since I was so “happy.” Sadie sat in the exam chair, not answering one question, looking anywhere but at him, with big red circles forming around her eyes and her breathing becoming very quick and shallow because she was so nervous. I repeated every question he asked her in a way I knew that she would know how to answer, very quietly and tenderly. I was afraid she might burst into tears at any moment. Somehow, I think he was able to determine what she could and could not see. Hopefully she’ll be able to see a little better when her glasses come in.

I’m really not that happy. I’m just a quiet person who smiles at strangers.

A Few More Things…

Well, I’ve been thinking and I’ve come to realize a couple things regarding my post-before-the-last:

1. I actually had a major identity crisis around the age of eight or nine that I forgot about. A pre-identity identity crisis, if you will. I remember dwelling on the fact that I belonged to the Lord and that was that. I had given my heart to Him at the age of two, (definitely long before I can remember having any kind of identity) but as I hit the rough old age of eight, I became paralyzed by the knowledge that there was nothing I could do to hide from Him. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, God could even see me in my closet with the door shut and the lights off. Not only see me, but be there with me. Not only be there with me, but dwell within me. I spent a lot of time in my closet that year pondering these facts and coming to grips with them. I was never going to have all those stories to share with others of all the things I had done before I knew God and then once I found Him, my life changed so dramatically. It sounds silly to say now, but at the time it felt not fair. It felt like I had too much responsibility for one so young. Over that year, I came to grips with the fact that not only had I chosen God, but He chose me. And somewhere over the course of the next couple years I understood that it was not such a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing. Something that I was thankful for. Something that I could fall on my face and worship the creator of the universe for. He chose me? A very, very good thing.

2. (Totally unrelated to point #1) This is the longest we have ever lived in any one house since we’ve been married. It hit me yesterday that we have lived in this house two and a half years and the amazing thing is that there’s no end in sight. We have no plans to move. I really think my house feels out of control because I have never had to do spring cleaning before (or winter cleaning or whatever). Before, whenever my cabinets or closets got to the point of needing to be gone through, re-evaluated and organized, it was time to move and it all got done anyway. The really crazy thing is that I haven’t even got that itch to move. I love this house. But I definitely have the itch to do spring cleaning. Not that it will resolve my identity crisis or anything. Besides, even if this one got resolved, I would certainly just plunge head-first into the next one. And I’m definitely not ready for that yet.

You Can Call Me Your Highness

Well Debi, I did it. I’m not proud of how long it took me. I really hope you’re not still checking this blog actually, because chances are that you’ve surpassed even this high score that it only took me three months to achieve: 3,051,420. I have committed to not play this stupid game anymore once I surpassed you. So please, people, nobody beat this score! I prefer to remain the queen.

The Reality of Snow Days

My house is a mess. It feels indicative of my life. I remember when I used to live in this one house that had hardwood floors and I would mop the whole house twice a week. Those days are gone and that Me is gone. I don’t know what’s become of me. Somehow, I think I was better at having babies and toddlers than I am at having school-age kids. I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. I even kept my house clean then. Who knows what’s what now? I certainly don’t claim to. I try this chore chart thing that seems to be working pretty well, but it still doesn’t really satisfy me. Yes, I know I am not easily satisfied. Sigh. The bedrooms are horrific. They spill over into the rest of the house. Snow day brought a bunch of dirty, wet clothes and leaves and mud tracked all over the carpet. Who knows when it will all get clean? I certainly don’t. I know I could just take control and do something about it all, but I don’t want to. And therein lies the problem. What do I want?

When I think about my life, I like to categorize it into the different identity crises I have had. My first was around eighth grade when we moved back from Mexico and I realized I had a choice: I could either be happy or I could be miserable. It was much more within my nature to be miserable but I recognized that for survival’s sake in a strange land with strange people in the den of lions we called Brixner Junior High School, I was much better off being happy. Happiness turned into airheadedness, which really suited me just fine throughout high school. Identity Crisis #1 taken care of.

My second came when I married my beloved at the age of nineteen. Now that I have lived a little past that age, I have become aware that nineteen is the age of identity crisis for most people, whether they are married or not. So I just happened to be going through mine with a husband by my side – a blessing, really. Who was I? The character that I had created in high school no longer worked. I needed a new character, but couldn’t find one anywhere. I knew I was a wife now, but couldn’t figure out what that role meant exactly. How was I to relate to others now that I was a wife? All I ever wanted my whole life was to have a baby but everyone knew that there was nothing more irresponsible than having a baby right off the bat. I mean, we already had a lot to prove to the world by getting married so young. We needed time alone, just the two of us, right? So after trying in vain for two years to prove how responsible we were, all the while hating my jobs and hating my roles, I gave into my deepest desires and talked my wonderful young husband into two years being long enough to wait. Identity Crisis #2 happily resolved.

My third is a little harder for me to put my finger on, because I am currently in the middle of it. Although it’s not as life-changing or depressing as numbers one and two, I am finding myself in the midst of another change that has lasted longer than I thought it would. Ever since my youngest started school, I am once again not sure of what my role is. Sure, I’m a mom. I think I’m a pretty good one. I love my husband and I love my kids. I work out of my home, helping run the home office of a mission. I’m good at that and I enjoy it. But I miss having babies. When I think of what I was good at and what I enjoyed more than anything in my life, that’s it. I was really good at it. I enjoyed the predictability of my mostly-scheduled days and the fulfillment that came with providing for an utterly helpless human being that I loved with all my heart. I hope I don’t get preached at for saying this, but I’m having a hard time seeing how I’m really needed now. I know I’m appreciated. I make dinner and do laundry and play games and talk and snuggle and help with homework and run little people here and there and have a lot of fun, which is all very nice and a blessing to many, I know. But needed? I don’t even think of myself as needing to be needed. Who am I and what have I done with myself?

Yesterday’s snow day revealed a lot more dirt than I thought it would. It was fun. Now the house is a mess. At least I can look forward to my cup of coffee tomorrow morning.