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.

Afternoon Narration

It’s 4:35pm. Chrissy leaves to be early for work. She says good-bye to us for the night and kisses her boys goodbye. Eliza is already come, done her homework, and gone. She’s old enough to go to her friends house without being escorted. Every chance she gets, she takes. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve gotten considerably less cooler, or if I just haven’t been putting the effort into having a better relationship with her. Maybe the relationship is fine; it’s just one of those stages where you wonder. In any case there’s no time to think about it.

Daniel is hammering a nail into a piece of wood nearby. The more he pounds, the more it bends. The nail and hammer are both small, but his 3 year old frame isn’t quite ready for this test of coordination. Rainey is wandering around ‘helping’ as well. He’s actually pretty good when he’s around, but the moment he’s not: you have to worry. While contemplating my relationship with my daughter, saying goodbye to Chrissy, and wondering about Rainey I’m constructing a bird feeder out of wood lying around the house.
It’s not going so well.

Chrissy can’t quite see the finished product in her mind, and I’m too embarrassed to share the details. I’m wondering if it’s the fact that I’m totally winging it. I’m wondering if working with tools is a genetic thing and somehow I misplaced my skills. After all we grew up with three boys at home–there was a lot of testosterone. Growing up I thought the A-Team was the way life really worked in the real world. Now I wonder why you would ever throw down your gun so you could punch someone instead. I wonder with as many montages on building a ‘tank’ that I saw I didn’t get more out of it. Maybe a birdhouse isn’t a ‘tank.’

Maybe I’m just not good as solving problems that involve wood and a barely used table saw. I considered myself technically smart until this morning when I realized that I wasn’t good at manually gunnery and failed. One more thing to think about. Now I’ve got to re-study and spend Saturday morning in uniform taking the test over again. What were those mistakes again? I wasn’t allowed to take notes during the test review this afternoon.

What’s Rainey getting into in the van?

Oh, he’s got those hot-sauce covered pistachio nuts. How the heck can my kids eat those things and like them? What’s this cut supposed to be? I hope this thing doesn’t look too ugly when it’s finished. I’m putting effort into it, but it all goes down the drain if Chrissy doesn’t like the way it looks. She’ll never let me put it up in the yard.

Done with the bird feeder.

Where’s Rainey? He’s moved from the nuts to a bag of honey roasted peanuts he found in the door. Hey, those were in Chrissy’s door, and I was really hungry the other day when I was driving. How come I didn’t get to snack on those on the way home?
It looks like it might rain. The garage is still covered in stuff from the move. My workshop is outdoors and needs to get packed inside.

Daniel’s tired. It’s that time of the afternoon. Tired or not he’s the only consultant I’ve got on where to put this thing up. First we talk about hanging it. He wants to put it where you can’t see it unless your outside. I want to be able to stay inside and watch the birds eat. Hanging it means that you end up with weeds in the grass near the house. That’s the only good grass we’ve got in spots. Wait a second! We got a picket and I can put it on that. Daniel doesn’t like the idea. He let’s me know. I wander around the yard holding a picket and a hammer. Rainey’s out of sight and Daniel is protesting in pure 3-year-old fashion. I’m wondering where I want the weeds to grow.
Do I really want one more thing in the yard I have to mow around?

Bird seed is nothing more than weed/wildflower seed mixed together no matter where I put it I’ll end up with weeds. Maybe here near this pipe sticking out of the yard. Yeah, that might be good ’cause then I’ll only have one thing to work around. Wait, that pipe marks a sprinkler for the septic. How far down were the piped dug again? Do I really want to be watering weeds?

“Daniel, we’re done.” Best to wait and ask Chrissy. Let’s go in and eat. Bad idea. Eliza showed up with her friends. They’re leaving someplace and Daniel wants to go. He runs into to get his shoes. The leave while he’s inside. I’m the only adult left and so it’s my fault. Where’d Rainey go again? He’s crying outside ’cause I left him. It’s a good thing it doesn’t take too hands for any one kid. I can carry Daniel upside down with one hand and Rainey upside down in the other. Grab tight just above the ankles. Daniel’s pants are sliding off–gotta hurry. Dropped them both on the couch.

Two growly children. Ok, outdated church video said distract not discipline. Today I’m doing good. I thought of a distraction on my way home. Paper bag costumes are not a good enough distraction–but since they were so keen on the costumes in Wal-mart (curses and blessings be upon it) the idea seemed to have some merit. Discipline’s still not an option–what’s next?

LIFE: This is the egg-beater on “low.” Eliza comes home and it’s time to clean house and the setting gets changed to “high.” Sure Chrissy does it all day. Lots of moms do it all day, but when it’s my turn it’s not just “not mom’s,” it’s mine. It’s me on the wrong end of the three-to-one ratio. I’ve never been able to compete in an argument about how it’s ‘tougher’ for dads. Most times I can’t finish a significant sentence. The reply is generally: “No evidence will be considered in the case of mom’s vs. dad’s watching kids. We’d appreciate if you didn’t try to bring this up at all.” They should have a warning on conversations like that: “Please deposit 5 happy relationship points for every 30 seconds you try to have your opinion on this subject heard.”

It’s now 9:00pm. Rainey’s lying next to me. He’s being quiet so I don’t mind. Chrissy told me this afternoon that he’s done with his bottle. I discovered the last two hours before bed that he’s also managed to loose both of his pacifiers. She’s not answering my text messages. I’m really hoping she’s got a spare stashed away somewhere. She was supposed to be home a half hour ago.

This kids going to be unruly tomorrow. He pooped in the toilet tonight before bath time. He pooped in the bathtub tonight during bath time as well. If Chrissy reads this before looking at the birdhouse I’ll get to put it up out of sympathy instead of success. This spring I want to build a chicken coop for my birthday. The idea has shifted from fun present, to an ominous project.
When it’s all done I wouldn’t trade today for anything. Some stupid inkling of faith tells me I’m going to miss days like this one. I still need to put my mind at ease–there’s poop residue in the bathtub I need to take care of still. Although the memories of today will be nice in the future, the memories of yesterday ring a bit sweeter for now. I wonder what Matt Lammie is doing?

I miss hiking in Utah.

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.