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  • Writer's pictureCindy


As you may know, we’ve been talking about coming up with ways to give Nolan opportunities to learn some job skills.

As Nolan gets closer to the end of his time in school, we’ve started thinking more about his transition into post-high school life. For most kids his age, this means weighing the pros and cons of a university or technical college or just thinking about what they want to do with their lives in the long term. For our little family, it’s a little more complicated.

We want to give Nolan the chance to contribute something other than his radiant smile, contagious laugh, and flirty eyes to the world. Our hope is that he can work even a few hours a week making the world a better place and getting paid a little for his work. He does have a job at school where he works folding towels in the lunchroom and occasionally watering plants or wiping tables, but we’d love nothing more than to give him a wider skillset and more opportunities to find something that he enjoys.

In fact, we’re currently doing Nolan’s Lemonade Stand where we’re making and selling shirts (not lemonade, despite the name…) to help him work off some of the expense of replacing the iPad that he decided to launch off of a balcony at school. When the shirts are ready to go, he’ll be in charge of packaging everything as well as getting packages ready to ship and delivering local orders.

It’s a small piece of the process for now, but we’re looking for more ways for him to be more involved. In doing so, we’re trying to think creatively—which is something I usually enjoy. While I don’t often consider myself an artist, I am definitely a maker. I love creating things to put out into the world in hopes of making someone even a little bit happier. It’s been truly a big joy in my life. This time, the creative thinking is aimed at letting Nolan put something out into the world that will bring people joy.

Right now we’re doing Nolan’s Lemonade Stand, and we’ve been planning to do some personalized jewelry that he can also be in charge of packaging… But Kirk and I have wanted to come up with ways for Nolan to be a bigger part of the process. Don’t get me wrong—packaging is important. But we feel like if we’re doing this for Nolan, he should play a bigger role.

It’s time for us to pivot. We’re not going anywhere, we’re just adjusting our path. Like the cast of Friends trying to move the couch that doesn’t want to fit through the available space, we’re still trying to get accomplish our goal. We just need to tweak our approach.

So we’ve got some new adventures ahead of us. I’m sure we’ll try some things that won’t work along with (hopefully) some that will. As long as we’re learning about what we’re capable of along with where our strengths lie, I’m confident we’ll find the right path in the long term.

And even if all we do is try some things that aren’t right for us, at least we’re doing it together. That in itself can be a challenge for a busy family.

We’ve decided to jump right in, because just thinking about starting won’t get us anywhere. So we booked ourselves a craft fair in March. Our plan is to start with relatively easy-to-accomplish tasks that we can all be involved in. I’ve got plenty of items to work on myself as well as projects that Kirk can help with pieces of, like cutting materials. We’ve even got a special project just for Nolan.

That’s right—Nolan’s got his own project for our craft booth… Nolan’s knitting gnomes (side note: English is weird). That’s right—he’ll be knitting. Okay, he’ll be using a machine, but I’m still counting it. We’ve got a small manual knitting machine that is relatively simple to use. It’s powered by a hand-crank, so we’re putting him to work. He’ll be able to pick out the colors for the gnomes, work the machine after we get the yarn cast on (that’s knitting machine talk for, “We’ve got the yarn set up and in all the right places”), and stuff them once they’ve been taken off from the machine. In time, maybe Nolan will be able to get the yarn started and properly pulled off of the machine. Hopefully we can even add some fabric options as well—I’m hoping his love of lacing activities will translate well to stitching around a circle (I’m sure we’ll start with pre-made holes) and gathering the fabric like a draw string…

Our first little gnome friend...

But I’m excited to see where we end up. I’m sure we’ll adjust our path more along the way, and hopefully we’ll be a well-oiled machine before we know it. Who knows—maybe a year from now Nolan will be such a pro at working a craft fair booth that the production piece will seem secondary. Or maybe the items we offer will have evolved to a point where Nolan is knitting more than just gnomes. After all, winter is cold in Wisconsin and we all need good hats and scarves.

As long as we’re willing to stay flexible and pivot where we need to, I’m optimistic we’ll reach our goal—whether it’s through craft fairs and knitting machines or any other means. And we’ll definitely share our new adventures along the way.

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