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The Road to Opportunity

This year is already trucking right along… It’s hard to believe it’s nearly March already.


And that big event that we committed to as a family—it’s sneaking right up on us. You know the one, right? Where we decided to be a vendor for a craft show so that we can work on job skills with Nolan? Yeah. March 19th is looming close.


Honestly, I’m surprised I am not more anxious about it. I mean, obviously we knew what we were signing up for, but there’s a lot of work involved—especially for a first-time vendor. Not only do we need to be sure we’ve made enough inventory, we’ve also got to come up with a plan for our set-up and all of the basic materials we’ll need.


Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of lists going right now. In fact, I’ve carried my favorite notebook around so much lately that it feels a bit like having a toddler that’s always at my hip—the only difference is that a toddler would be causing me stress while my book of lists is helping me deal with stress. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t resist the matching 2022 planner that I found on clearance Sunday.


I wouldn’t say making lists is about keeping myself organized. It seems to be more about freeing my mind to do whatever it is that the invasive craft show thoughts are trying to distract me from. If I’m at work and find myself remembering another thing that I need to add to my shopping list, that thought will make itself so difficult to ignore that I have to either shop for it online or write it down to think about when I can.


The trickiest part, however, is planning to involve Nolan in the process as much as possible. I’m trying to do as much as I can now to be prepared and make the show go smoothly in anticipation of what Nolan might need the day of. But as I do those things, I’m focusing on being efficient and eliminating things that slow me down along the way.


Already working on his "Lemonade Stand"


My fear in all of this is while I’m focusing so much on getting things done that my brain will just go, “Oh, well it’s just quicker if I do it myself.” Or even, “Nolan’s happy and comfortable—I’ll just let him be and take care of this little thing myself… We don’t need to trigger a meltdown right now.”


But neither of those things will teach Nolan anything. And that is the whole reason we’re doing this in the first place. Sure, we’re starting small—Nolan is able to help with a few rows the knitting machine, making bean bags to provide the weight in the bottoms of our gnomes and even hanging earrings on display cards—but I like to think that we’ll get to build up as time passes.


Hopefully we’ll be old pros at this before we know it. By then Nolan could help with loading in and out of our space, helping some with setup, knitting gnomes and other goodies from start to finish (hopefully he still lets me do the noses, beards and other decorations), sorting stickers, bagging customer purchases, handing money and change between us and customers, using his flirty eyes to increase sales—the possibilities are limitless.


And, no, we probably won’t be the most efficient when we let Nolan join in on our fun… But that’s not the point. In fact, as I’m trying to plan how our projects will run, I often find myself adding steps or adjusting my typical process just to give him more opportunities to be involved. Do we NEED beanbags in our gnomes? No… But it gives Nolan a consistent and attainable way to make sure that we’re getting weight into the bottoms of our gnomes that Nolan can be a huge part of. I’ve also considered options like using fabric bodies on some gnomes, but I’m fairly confident that instead of just sewing them myself I’ll be giving him a way to close them independently whether it’s by putting a drawstring in myself or cutting the fabric with holes so that he can stitch through it like a lacing card before pulling it shut.


It's hard to know what the future holds for our little adventure, but I’m optimistic that we’ll do well. And I feel like we’ll do especially well with our primary mission—getting Nolan involved so that he has opportunities to learn more job skills. If I need to do more of the production/ making until he’s more independent, that will be worth it too. It’s one of the things we can do today to lay the foundation for tomorrow’s opportunities.


Hopefully this notebook full of lists will help us find the way to those future opportunities.

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