Friday 24 January 2014

(Pre) Occupation

I've been completely preoccupied over here. There's a very simple reason - Jay has become totally focused on quitting his job and finding a gross  old house to renovate.

I know. 

Is he insane? Maybe. The probability gets higher when I include the fact that he currently has a slipped disc. You know - in his back. I can't help thinking that a fully-functional back would be helpful if he's about to embark on a career of manual labor.

But he wants to do this so badly. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to spend my days hammering and gluing, but he does. I mean he really really does. He doesn't want to make a ton of money, he just wants to do a good job and make enough profit to pay for his own labor.

But ugh, who can forget what happened in 2008? And I'm extremely financially risk averse, and always was even before that happened. All those Victorian novels I read as a teenager, probably - too much Dickens has given me a morbid fear of Debtors' Prison, even though I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist anymore.  The thought of any kind of self-employment has always terrified me. What would we do if we had to pay our gas bill and there was no money at the end of the month to pay it? I have no idea.  (I'm aware how privileged this all sounds, by the way. Please don't hate me for admitting that money is a very useful thing to have). My big fears are silly, I think - we wouldn't risk any money that we couldn't afford -worst case scenario- to lose. Obviously nobody goes into one of these projects planning to lose money, but we wouldn't be out on the street if we did. I don't think so, anyway.

So should he stay or should he go? Here's the pro/con list.

Things I hate about his current job:
  • All his friends have left for other companies;
  • It's a ninety minute commute each way;
  • It makes him miserable. That's definitely my least favourite part. 

    Things I like about his current job:
    • He wears a suit, and he looks super cute in a suit;
    • They pay him. That's definitely my favourite part. 

    I hate that he is miserable at work. Right now I really love my job, and I wish he could have the same experience. I so want him to do something he loves with his life, and he really does love anything to do with houses and building - also, he's really good at it. I'm trying so hard to be a supportive wife, but right now I'm not entirely sure what that looks like.

    The housing market seems to be moving again - right now, we can just afford to do this. If it moves too much further, we won't be able to (at least not without a lot more risk). This is probably his last chance to do the thing he's always dreamed of. I should say yes, right?

    But what if his back flares up really badly? What if something happens and I lose my job? And even if none of that occurs, how will we survive for the length of this project without his income? When I first moved to the UK I lived on a tiny student stipend for years, and I know I can do it - eat nothing but dried beans and canned tomatoes - but frankly I also know it's freaking annoying and I'd rather not do it again if I can avoid it. I like the security - the easiness - of knowing I can buy a latte without having to save for it. Jay assures me that he's done the sums and it would all work but what if he's wrong?

    Did I mention that my job is part-time?

    I hate the risk, but what about what it would mean for him to spend (even more) years in a job he hates? I've always assumed that's just what you do, because hey, the kids gotta be fed, but what if it's not? Is my hesitation prudence, or is it just selfishness because I'm not the one who has to go into an office and do stuff I don't want to do?

    Should I be the voice of encouragement or the voice of reason? I mean, I'm not going to forbid him to do it, but if the house he's looking at now doesn't work out, should I be scouring the real estate pages for the next one or just saying a silent prayer of thanks? What would you do in this situation - not what you think sounds like the right thing (that's follow your dreams, right??) but what would you actually do?

    Curious minds want to know.

    Thursday 9 January 2014


    My son and I have almost nothing in common except large heads, asthma and a shared love of music. My daughter, on the other hand - different story.

    She's just like you, said a friend at church. She's so...... verbal. 
    Ummm, okay, I said, thinking it's nice of her to do the whole 'you're so alike' thing, but it's really not necessary. We don't have to be alike to be a family. Hmmmph. 

    Then a few days later, Pink and I had a stand-up fight about angels (don't ask). Why am I having an actual fight with a four-year-old? I asked Jay, and he said because neither of you can admit that you're wrong. (This was a dumb thing for him to say - surely I didn't have to admit that I was wrong, because she was wrong. That should have been obvious).

    Later: She doesn't like to go with the flow, does she? said Jay. She's very contrary. She kind of reminds me of... you. 
    What do you mean? I asked. Watch, he said.

    Over lunch, Blue asked me Mummy, is it fun being a grown up? and I said Well, some of the time it's fun, Blue. It's good to eat as much chocolate as you want sometimes without anybody stopping you, and it's good to know how to drive. But being a grown up means working, too, and sometimes it means that you have to do things that you don't want to do.  
    He looked sad, and said Oh. I not like doing things I don't want to do. and I agreed - That's right, Blue. Nobody likes doing things they don't want to do. 
    Pink scowled at us both and said  That's not TRUE! I LOVE doing things I don't want to do.  And then she started to cry, clearly because nobody understands how complicated she is.

    Also. Blue was talking to me a few days ago about what it would be like being inside a shark (he'd been watching the Octonauts again). Would it be smelly? (yes it would be smelly). Would it be scary? (yes it would be scary). Would it be dark? (yes it would be dark). Then he told me that he did not think it would be very much fun to be inside a shark. I said that I agreed, that I didn't think anybody really wanted to go inside a shark. Then Pink, who I didn't even realise was listening, roared I do. I want to LIVE INSIDE A SHARK FOREVER! 

    Of course you do, Pink.

    My mother observed : she does find it hard when other people get things she wants, doesn't she? 
    She didn't have to say that I'm like this too, because I know I am and I hate it about myself.  And she knows me well enough to know that I know.

    Over dinner on Sunday, I told them that a friend of theirs was about to start school*. It's so exciting! I said. When you go to school on Tuesday, Jillian will be there! 
    And Blue said Hooray! Jillian is my best friend! (Right now, he has a lot of best friends).  Pink said Why is she at school? and I said Because she has turned five and she, of course,  wailed with unhappiness. Why is SHE five? she asked. Why aren't I five? 
    And I said ummmm, because she was born before you, Pink and she cried and cried, refused to eat any more food in protest, and yelled I WILL NEVER, EVER, BE FIVE!!!  It transpired later that this is, obviously, Jillian's fault.

    Another fun moment with my girl recently:

    Me: High five, Pink. Good job answering that question. You could not be more right! 

    I really have no words for that.

    She's stubborn, and annoying, and she can't bear to be wrong. She thinks she knows everything, she will fight about anything and does not let facts get in the way of a good argument. In other words, she really is just like me. It's kind of unbearable.  Am I really this difficult to live with? I asked Jay, and he whispered Yes, my sweetheart, you are, except actually he didn't say that with words, he just laughed like a maniac and nodded his head.

    My mother adores my girl, but she finds it hilarious that I have to parent her. She really is the only child I've ever met who is as stubborn as you were, she told me. Then I guess we're a perfect match, I said, and she just laughed, probably because she's actually come out the other side of parenting Pink I mean me. I asked her for tips and she just said Prayer. Lots of prayer. 

    I knew we weren't getting a blank slate when we adopted, but I really, really didn't think I'd be getting a mirror. Adoption has all kind of unknowns, but I thought there were a few things I did know. Surely the one thing you're not getting yourself into, when you adopt,  is that weird situation where you see yourself and all your flaws reflected in your children. Surely the one thing you can guarantee is that your children will be bratty and annoying in new and unique ways - ways that your family has never seen before?

    Apparently not.

    You have been warned.

    totally, totally, totally worthi t. 

    *Oh yeah, I never followed up on the school thing, did I? Our kids are enrolled at a new, small - read, tiny, Christian school that Jay and I are helping to set up. Bet you didn't see THAT coming - well, neither did I. We both volunteer there one morning a week, and the kids go along when we do. I'm currently the music teacher, which is so hilarious that I cannot even begin to tell you.