Monday, March 28, 2016

A Little About Jake

I recently needed to take some pictures of Jake for his confirmation invitations. It's been awhile since I've asked this kid to purposefully pose in front of a camera. I ambushed him as soon as he walked in the door from school. I barely gave him time to remove his coat before I was pushing him out the back door and promising this would take less than five minutes.

Jake is a lovely young man...but a natural model he is not. If you ask him to smile for a picture you generally get a widening of the mouth, but it is definitely a forced effort. And every picture shows it. My goal was to get something that looked slightly more relaxed. At first he sat down in typical "Jake picture" fashion...which includes a plastered smile and ramrod straight back. By simply asking him to lean forward, suddenly he was so much more relaxed and I was able to get a couple shots that weren't all statuesque!

At 14, Jake has definitely shot up in height some and people say he's really starting to sound like Mike - especially on the phone. His love of cars has not waned and he's still our walking encyclopedia for any pricing or style information we need. He definitely has our next Lamborghini picked out! (HA!)

He still really loves to play percussion in the band and this year was in the Jazz and Chamber Winds ensembles. According to Maddie he listens to "weird" music....That comment intrigued me so I had him play some of the what he was listening to thinking I may need to pull the parent card if it was some crazy death tune stuff.

No worries. He listens to what is basically orchestral music...but more the style you would hear in movies. It's actually pretty interesting to listen to. Lately - since he knows he has to practice anyway, he's taken to picking out his pieces which consist of arrangements of movie/t.v. themes that some prodigy from YouTube writes and plays. They are fairly difficult pieces. I'd really like him to try other style pieces, but this isn't a battle I think is necessary at this point; he's playing and he's playing challenging pieces that he likes.

He's getting to be pretty proficient in the kitchen and one week made 4 of our 6 at-home dinners. Not just Mac and Cheese...full fledged recipes. We met with his "Teen Chef" teacher and she informed us that after this class the kids should be pretty confident to walk in to a kitchen and read a simple recipe. At that same moment, Jake was at home making our evening meal which consisted of grilled hamburgers. He has also learned how to carve a swan out of an apple...these are life skills, people!!

He's an okay kid. We'll keep him.

Monday, March 7, 2016

First Taxes

Back in February Maddie and Mike sat down to do her first taxes together. I sit on the sideline in tax season and have since I first started earning an income. I'm only too happy to hand that over to someone else.

In fact, during one of Mike's momentary absences from the room she asked me, "Mom...can you help me here?" I replied, "I doubt it."

But when Mike returned - I did enjoy listening in on the conversations:

They did everything with some free software/app thing and the first thing I heard from Maddie was:

"Oh! What a cute app this is!"
(Never before have I heard anything related to taxes described as "cute".)

Then there was this conversation:

Maddie: Why are they asking what I invested in - I don't want to tell them that.
Mike: You don't have a choice....they already know.
Maddie: Then why are they asking. They are wasting my time.

After five full minutes of working on taxes she was flustered:

Maddie: This is taking forever!
Kerry: Dad has been working on ours for two weeks.
Maddie: [with a sheepish look] Oh...sorry.

Toward the end:

Maddie: $9! I get $9 back and I haven't even done state yet!

After the state taxes were finished it was a moment of thrill for Mike because she will be making money off the state. She paid $4.75 and since the government rounds things to the nearest dollar, she will be getting back $5. This was a small moment of triumph in "sticking it to the man", I believe.

When all was said and done she was getting money back and was thrilled. 15 minutes later she found out her filing was rejected. She had entered the wrong social security number at work and has since had to redo a lot of paperwork, which she felt pretty bad about. Maybe she should buy the person handling all that a cup of coffee with her refund.