Practial Advice (Kid’s Closet)


So I realized that my blog posts will probably still be online by the time that my kids have their own kids. They may even look to them for advice on how to address issues in their lives. I know that there’s several times I’ve asked mom to copy pages from her Journal so I could read them. I’m really interested in what it was like raising me.

So here’s a bit of practical advice that has nothing to do with your computer. Whether you stick multiple kids in the same room or not, have them all separate their clothes–give each kid a color. “China”-mart generally has mutliple colors for hangars, and they usual go on sale about the same time of the “back to school stuff” goes on sale.

This solves a lot of parental confusion for who’s clothes are who’s. Daniel’s closet now has a rod that’s at his level. At three he knows which clothes are his (blue hangar). Eliza knows which ones are hers (pink hangars–and the more girly clothes). Rainey doesn’t have as much of a clue yet–but his hangars are white.

There’s like a rule about blogs that says you can’t post text without a picture. Since I didn’t have a picture of hangars I googled it. Found the picture above, but then I also found this one.

There’s something about a giant gorilla made of coat hangars that tells me someone’s got too much time on their hands! WOW for creativity.

Hopefully my posterity will read the post tagged “Gorilla” when they’re looking at how to organize their kids’ closets.

Awesome Day Round 1


There’s two great reasons for celebrating today. You’re going to need a little background for me to tell you why it’s so great first. My mother and father have both gone through several computers. My dad has always loved gadgets. He also loves to read about them. One concern you can’t help but reading about when you read about computers is their security. Dad’s a bit concerned about loosing the hours of work he’s put into the family history files he’s created.

So for all of these years my parents have used the internet very little at home. I’ve been trying politely to change that.

Mom got a new computer. I got my opportunity. Last night, with only a little hesitation, I talked her through downloading skype. I’ve known for a while how simple the program was to install and use. Within 7 minutes we were webcamming each other for the first time.

Then the kids saw grandma online. Rainey climbed up onto the couch. Eliza and Daniel started talking. Pretty soon grandma had to sort through conflicting streams of conversation. I’m sure it was probably wonderfully overwhelming!

It could have been the fact that I had been up since 3 in the morning, but I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I was able to let out a big sigh. Finally we can use all this technology to keep our family a bit closer together. For years we have been talking with Chrissy’s parents via webcam. As parents we’ve watched our kids develop a close (although long distance) relationship with one set of grandparents. Naturally I’ve wanted to balance the scales.

Daniel can show grandma how he’s learning to draw letters.
Eliza can show off her homework.
Rainey blows kisses at the screen all day long–if you’ll let him.

You can do the research yourself but I’ll tell you quickly why I use skype:

  • Low footprint: not a whole lot of hard disk space and you can ‘call’ over dialup
  • Security: each conversation/chat is 256bit encrypted
  • Cross platform: I’ve got computers running Linux, Windows, and OS X. Skype works on all of them
  • Add free: Unlike MSN and Yahoo Messenger which are outlets for large corporations to display their advertising, skype doesn’t do that.

Thanks for skyping mom! I’m hoping we can make a habit of having meals together.

Good Babysitters do stuff like this…

So when you’ve got to go to a mandatory function there’s a few things you do.

  • You get dressed up fancy.
  • You open the door for your wife.
  • You compliment her appearance
  • Oh yeah! And you get a baby-sitter!

Since it was a school night we couldn’t ask any of the neighborhood kids. So we asked Matt Hargrave to watch the munchkins. For payment, we fed him.

He brought over his gas-powered remote controlled car. It was a curiosity with the kids. I mean it was like Lehi discovering the Liahona. They watched intently. As it sputtered and revved there were awaiting what it was going to do next.

Then it started. The revving turned into motion and it sped across the grass, driveway and the road. The small machine ran one direction then another. It darted around like a rabbit chance from Wild America.

I stood there with the camera on the side and I could almost hear the voice of Marty Stouffer talk about the great hunter emerging to it’s pray. Moby was very interested. He didn’t bite it, but tried to intimidate it through barking at it.

He barked and ran, and ran and barked. He did this for about 20 minutes. The other dogs in the neighborhood joined in. Moby was leader of the pack of barkers. What great fun! He barked so much he was hyperventilating for a few minutes afterwards.

Chrissy and I left for our function. Matt was off to a good start. He had the kid’s attention. When we came home they were dressed and watching Florence Henderson on the Muppet show. We said prayers, and put them to bed.

Matt may tell you that he feels like he lives in a prison. When he’s here, our home feels better. I think he’s got a crappy barracks room to encourage him to come visit more often.

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Long Distance is a Myth

There’s more that happens in a week than can be summed up during the week. Each weekend there’s a few minutes spent reflecting upon what has gone on before. This Saturday is no different. Chrissy’s at work. The kids are procrastinating going to bed–and I’m letting them get away with it (for a few minutes).

Rainey’s had an interesting day. He seems to be bumping into everything, falling down from everything, and generally just being uncoordinated. This has happened with the previous kids when their sick with a cold (stuffy nose/ears) or their going through a growth spurt. Chrissy and I have both had a bit of a cold and so we’ll see how much of this is related to health and how much is related growing up.

Grandma Hill went in for surgery this week. We were told from the doctors that things were going well. We were also told that when she’s coming out of the anesthesia she’s rather funny to listen to. That’s the only word we’ve gotten so far. It gives us hope that all the prayers said are being answered. The kids have a real sweep spirit when you ask them to pray for “GG Hill.”

Well, our various projects seem to be providing us some hope for the future as well. Our “Bug Board” is getting a lot of attention. It’s mounted above the piano in the living room (my mother would not approve in her house). Chrissy’s helped to contribute several of the creatures. I’ve been impressed at how much she participates. This story should help illustrate:

Earlier in the week we found two really cool looking bugs. Chrissy donated a cotton ball soaked in her facial cleaner. We didn’t have any other strong smelling stuff to kill it with. After a while it did the job and we had two good specimens to add. It’s one thing when you get someone’s reluctant help. It’s another when you get their creative energy flowing to help.

Creative juices started flowing earlier this week when I noticed a pile of scrap wood being created from the four houses going up in the neighborhood. Those framers are good about using the wood, but what they don’t use helps me in my projects. So what sort of project did I create this time?

Well, let’s start off with a review: First we got used to making things by creating a bird feeder. Although no birds have been sighted using it the project went off without any injuries and is safely mounted to the house.

The next project was and still is a big hit. It’s a see-saw that accommodates different size folks. Last week Matt Hargrave helped me adjust it for Daniel and Rainey sized people. The see-saw looked too cool for him to leave alone. So we put it on the adult setting and he and I had a go at it.

I’m not the only one who’s been feeling a bit creative this week. Chrissy has finished the quilt she was working on, and managed to make quite a few barrettes as well. She’s been really quite busy getting all of this done, fighting off a cold, not sleeping well at night, and raising three children. Not to mention she’s been working.

While she’s been working on these projects I’ve been trying to be supportive. So I “hired” a couple of models to show off her barrettes. The models are actually a neighborhood teenager and her friend. I think they manage to do a good job showing off Chrissy’s work. The girl on the left is Kyla, and her friend is Megan. Both of them have great smiles (makes it a lot easier). They’re a delightful bunch to have around. Wouldn’t you buy some barrettes if you saw these faces online?

When they were through taking photos, and telling me which ones I had to delete. The walked out the front door. To my surprise they had taken the liberty of adjusting the see-saw to “adult size” and were having a go at it. I’m used to my projects failing and I can’t tell you how much I love seeing other people just randomly use them. So I had to take a photo.

I guess we’re a family that does projects. We’ve already started teaching the next generation. Tonight Eliza made a ‘wood floor’ for her playscape. I didn’t take photos, and it’s going to kill the grass. But she thought it through and did a good job. This week her father (me!) has also taught her to use the internet. Our 6 year old sent her first email!!! I was listening to her read with Chrissy and realized that she’s got enough reading words to carry on a basic conversation over email.

She’s been emailing my mom (with a bit of help) and really doing well with learning the words she wants to say. She’s also using a linux computer running Ubuntu. Her email program is Thunderbird.

Well, now that I’ve written on just about every project that we’ve done this week it’s time to share today’s project with you all. Using only scrap lumber from down the street I created a table for our back porch.

In Germany we used to eat outside nearly every day (when the weather was good). It’s one of those times in our family’s life that we look back on with romantic memories. I’m trying to get some of those memories to come back. We’ll see how breakfast goes tomorrow. I’ve got good memories from putting it together.


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Unanswered Questions

You know there’s a lot of unanswered questions in life. There are trivial unanswered questions. Like those math problems about one train leaving Denver and another one leaving Los Angeles and when they’re going to crash. I mean really–who takes the train anymore? Why should I care?

The hot-dog bun phenomena. While can’t the hot dog companies and the bun companies come to a consensus on a common denominator for the bun/dog ratio? I understand that there are some exceptions, but I think the issue is still perplexing the populous.

Then there’s the unspoken questions. Why is it taboo to openly discuss race issues in America? This presidential campaign gives us a terrific opportunity to confront some of the underlying themes in our society, and yet the subject is once again tabooed. Polite conversations do not continue when race issues are brought up–I’ve tried.

There’s the important questions as well. Of course I can’t think of any important unanswered questions at the moment. I’m sure there out there though. Although not as important I can ask this one:

THE WAFFLE QUESTION: How come Eggo waffle’s advertising campaign hasn’t started using this song? I mean really, you figure in the 16,000+ times it’s been viewed someone from the marketing department at Kellogg’s would have had a cousin tell them about it. I mean really, it’s catchy, clever, clean, and fun to sing with the kids.

Brian Biehle does a great job orchestrating all of his kid’s music. We’ve got both CD’s lying around here at the house and listen to the songs frequently. A number of years ago we took Brian’s song “Pretend” and made a montage out of it with Eliza.


I’ve talked to Brian on the phone a time or two about how he took his aspirations of being a rock star from large concerts to kid’s classrooms. He’s found a great niche, scored a few ‘cool points’ with his kids, and helped me build bonds with mine. Brian, it’s not much, but this blog post is for you! Thanks!

If you’d like to find out more about Brian & his music visit http://brianbiehle.com

Good Friends

One of the neatest things about living in Logan Utah was that we had a great set of friends. Thanks to the internet we still keep in touch with a lot of them. It was fun to participate in their lives, and watch the kids take off their training wheels. Sunday dinner rarely occurred without sharing the food with someone else.

It’s definately fun to participate in the significant events in their lives. When Nick and Lisa had their baby blessing they took extra care to invite us among their relatives. When Leslie Haddock became Leslie Johnson she took extra time to ensure the Eliza was able to help in the ceremony. Now that we’ve left we watching ultrasound pictures for a welcome addition to the Snow family. We’re also watching an interesting relationship unfold between Mike and McKell. The last week I was there we set them up on a date. Both of them separately put on their best selves and they’ve been maintaining that ever since. We’ll have to see what happens to those two in the future. In the meantime the waterskiing/kissing photo will probably remain with all of us.

One of the typical concerns of a six year old during a move is finding new friends. Before leaving Eliza was very concerned with leaving behind her school and her friends in the neighborhood. There were a lot of conversations revolving around the sentiment that “it’ll be ok.” When in reality we didn’t know if she’d find anyone close by that would be her friend.

Well, two doors down from us there’s a single mom with four kids. The kids range from 15 to 7–not much of a spread–but quite a headache. One of them is named Kelsea. She’s the youngest of the four and likes to belive she’s a princess. Eliza and Kelsea turned into friends as soon as they met. Now their imaginations have taken over their play time. This past week I’ve been on leave and have rarely seen my daughter. They play together for 8-11 hours at a time only stopping for food.

Yesterday they held a pretend funeral and were reading eulogies out of a ‘journal.’ Other times they’re playing princesses and ballerinas, watching girly kid shows, and playing dress-up. As a dad I’m a little concerned. I’m wondering if I’m ever going to take my daughter hiking again.

Daniel and Rainey are still somewhat oblivious to the ‘friend’ concept. As long as someone is playing with them they’re fine and Kelsey’s older siblings love how cute they are. They’ve managed to get plenty of attention. Chrissy and I have met the local mormons in the area and have figured that there’s some good friendships to be had. Time will tell. We’ve already had the Millers over for dinner and now we’re being asked to join them this Sunday.

I still can’t get over the kissing/waterskiing picture. That relationship has to go somewhere. Looks like everyone needs to keep updating their blogs and we’ll see where life ends up.

Our First Oklahoma Tornado

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It started off as just a typical morning. I went and did PT with the guys in class up on base. At the end of one course we’ll usually play sports for PT. This was no different. We played a version of football that was a lot like ultimate frisbee. I would have rather had the frisbee. Something about a sport with a ball doesn’t really appeal to me (unless it’s soccer).

After PT I hopped in the car to take care of an appointment at the house. I arrived and tidied up. Chrissy had been on the road for several hours at this point and I’ll let her talk about the insanity of her trip. I sat and waited, got the phone call that they were coming, and somewhere close to 10:00 the movers arrived.
We unloaded the van all day. The quiet, clean, empty house began filling up with brown boxes. The bedroom closet got full. The master bedroom got full. The kitchen got full–so we put kitchen stuff in the garage. The garage got full. The movers we had were great! They were courteous and very careful with everything they unloaded. Of course, some things got damaged during shipment. Our cheap bookshelves that we’ve had for years didn’t like this move and broke. The terracotta pots didn’t survive. Other little things were damaged and the walls in the house got their first scratch as the old blue couch was being moved in.

The soundtrack for the day was from over the hedge–granted this place seems to be away from the suburbs–but it seemed rather appropriate.

At the end of the day they tried to help assemble the beds. By this point I knew Chrissy was fast approaching and the beds were a must. We looked diligently for the box that had the hardware, to no avail. So we started working on the paperwork. It was pretty easy. There was a whole crate of our stuff missing. I contemplated living without a dryer and our flat panel TV and decided quickly that I like both of those things too much to do without them. The paperwork was easy because we just wrote in big letters “SHIPMENT INCOMPLETE.” The movers had a tornado of their own to deal with finding the crate. A mislabled crate in a warehouse is a difficult thing to find.

At the house the tornado arrived about twenty minutes after the movers left. I found the box of hardware for the beds. Our neighbor (Stacie) has four kids. The younger three like to come over and visit. While the movers were here their presence was somewhat obtrusive. When they came by after dinner though they were quite helpful. Austin helped me put together Eliza’s bed–definitely a two person job–couldn’t have done it without him! Christie and Kyla helped me with the boys bunk-bed–Definitely a two person job–couldn’t have done it without them! Things were looking up.

Chrissy was going to arrive sometime around midnight and that gave me just a few hours to get things ready for their arrival and breakfast in the morning. I started with the clothes on hangars–got those boxes empty and remembered that my kids really like cereal. In order to eat cereal they’d need bowls. So I found a box labled “Kitchen, Glassware” and began to empty it. About the middle of the box I realized that there weren’t any bowls in there and that there were about 4 boxes labeled “Kitchen, Glassware.”

With Chrissy’s arrival there was more than just me emptying boxes. Now the house is cluttered with a mixture of boxes and unboxed items strewn across the house. The last boxes showed up yesterday with the dryer. The house is messy–it’s probably my fault.

Last night we went shopping. In addition to not talking about our goals and getting frustrated as a family, Daniel ran a shopping cart into the back of my left leg–knocking me over. We got home and vented. The adults got out on the front porch and enjoyed a “sit” and at 9:00pm it was still warm enough for the kids to run around in the sprinklers.

It might have the fact that my camera doesn’t take good photos at night–but some of these photos make it look like once we’re finished with this moving tornado we’ve got three smaller ones coming.