Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shoes and Coat!!!!!

This is the battle cry every time we leave the house in winter. In the summer it's just, "Put on your shoes!" And what is the response 99% of the time......come know this one..... The response is...."I don't know where my shoes are! I can't find a jacket." Being that I had heard that 1,000,000 times I devised a few simple solutions.

#1 - A Shoe Rack near the front door. Every one is allowed 3 pairs of shoes to be "docked" here. That should be simple enough. Personally I have a pair of slippers, my gardening clogs and a pair of tennis type shoes. I change them out depending on the weather and season.

#2 - A Jacket Basket. Yes the children have a jacket basket. They don't have to do all that pesky hang up of their coats. They just have to lift the lid and throw. Fairly simple right? When you are leaving, to find a jacket it's just the opposite...lift the lid and grab.

#3 - Individual Baskets. Each of the kids has their own storage near the front door. They can store anything they want in there. It is primarily for their backpacks but other things can go in too.

These 3 simple solutions should make the front entry a fairly tidy and organized space....No? Indeed the answer is no. There are still shoes strewn about, jackets on the ground and backpacks all willy nilly. I instruct everyone to come and straighten things out and after about 5 requests, requests that increase in intensity to demands, it gets done. And usually when it's finally getting done someone says, "Geese mom! You don't have to yell!" Yeah right.

Tonight to prove a point I decided that we would have a Jacket and Shoe Summit, a meeting of sorts. I grabbed an IKEA bag and started cruising the house. After collecting all the shoes I could find I arranged them neatly in front of the door. Note, these were only the kids shoes. Guess how many I found....guess....nope, higher.....higher still....45. Yep, 45 pairs of shoes. They only have 3 pairs of feet! We did lots of math at our summit and EVERYONE agreed that 15 pairs of shoes per person seemed like a lot.

As a side bar...note the 7 sandals/shoes that are exactly the same in the middle on the left. That was an attempt by me to avoid Coulter saying, "I can't find my shoes!" The idea was, if I buy 4 pairs of the exact same shoe he can find 2 that look similar. I didn't care if they were both left or right just the same. It still didn't work. He has the full capability to loose 7 shoes just as easily as 1.

Next jackets....Bob and I had collected all the jackets we could find and stacked them on the sofa. We counted 23. Yep, 23 coats, sweatshirts, fleece jackets, snow coats etc. Again with the math and we decided that 8 jackets +/- was too many too.

Now I know that one of the main problems is that I bought all these coats and shoes. Actually I should say "obtained." Half of them were hand me downs or handed down. Lord knows how many coats and shoes Kees would have if I saved 'em all. And the shoes.... All the time with, "I can't find any shoes!" I caved, yes, I caved and just bought more because I was trying to throw shoes at the problem. 'Cept the problem is, the more shoes one has the more the individual pairs of shoes loose their value. You know, it's like flooding the market with anything. US funds, pork bellies, orange juice, gold, shoes (not gold shoes) ....and apparently jackets too.

So to prove a point we had our meeting and the kids got to see all their coats and shoes in one place. They were amazed at how many there were. They giggled, counted, divided, and agreed we needed to get a grip on the situation. We went through all the coats. I "logged" all the coats everyone had. I don't really need a log but I was showing due diligence, showing that I was keeping track. Then I "logged" the shoes. In the process we ditched a bunch of shoes and jackets. OK a few. AND I found one of Bobby's jackets, your welcome Julie!

Next we went over the rules, jackets in the basket, shoes on the rack - 3 pairs only - all others go upstairs in the rack in their closets. Agreed? Agreed! All for one and one for all.... OK not for all but it's a pipe dream. Tomorrow all the shoes will be on the rack, jackets in the basket and backpacks in the baskets. Yeah right! But I can dream, DREAM! Remember when our dreams were things like climbing mountains, taking exotic vacations at will, getting in perfect shape, having day after day of quiet afternoons, stuff like that. None of those dreams included clean entry ways, jackets in a baskets or shoes on racks.

Of course in my dreams I did have a couple kids. I have been blessed with three. In my dreams I had a wonderful husband and I have been blessed with one. In my dreams I had a beautiful house and I have been blessed with one....a messy one but beautiful to me. SO all in all I have achieved most of my dreams. I will fight with the shoes and jackets and I will keep the kids. Yet again I realize that I am living the dream, a modified version of the dream, but still a great one.

We'll continue to work on our shoe and jacket issue. There is so much beyond it and I want my kids to value their things. For their own good. We have so much and there are so many that have so little. I want to instill good values and just buying endless amounts of shoes and jackets isn't the answer. I hope the kids learn something, I have. May you have comfortable shoes and a warm jacket and if you don't, come on over.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


We have been blessed in so many ways. First that we have been able to spend a few Spring Breaks in Manzanita at the Slack's Cabin. This has been the one family vacation that we take where we aren't visiting someone, taking someone along or staying with family. There have been years where it snowed during Spring Break, yes SNOWED on the beach. Still my kids took their socks and shoes off and ran in the snow. One time it rained the whole time. This time....the sun has been out the WHOLE time....well until late yesterday.

Bob and I are doing some work at the cabin. We put in new counter tops almost as soon as we got here. It was surprisingly easy but of course we had planned well. The last time we were here we measured, checked out how things were attached, took pictures etc. Luckily it came out 99% as planned. The company that the counter tops were ordered from made one small mistake but I can fix that....still, the best plans don't always turn out as planned. Today we take on the kitchen floor. I have never tiled before but am looking forward to it.

We spent the first day getting here unloading and playing at the beach. It was windy but the kids and dog didn't care. We caught up with our friends the Lees on the beach and all just took it in. A good start to the trip.

Day #2 was spent at Oswald State Park on the beach. It was a beautiful 65 degree day and we all had fun. Our friends the Bauer-Bakers (the BBs) were with us. The tide was out so we were able to see some tide pools and run around the rocks. It was great. Kees and Coulter ran around in their underwear, Sophia chose to get soaked. She's too big now, you know, to run around in under-roos. Iva chased the ball for HOURS!!!! Jolene, Iva's best friend, chased Iva and occasionally got the ball. Jolene was worn out by the end. I think Iva could have run all day. We soaked up the sun and really had a wonderful time.

Later in the day we were invited for cocktails at the BB's house. Sophia was invited to a sleep over with her friend Ally. We had a nice time all around. Upon arrival at home Kees insisted he have someone to sleep with. I laid down with him. Guess who went to sleep at 9:15? It was a great day.

Day #3 we spent at Hug Point. If you haven't been there it's quite amazing. Back in the day when covered wagons travelled on the beach as a high way the people blasted an "L" shape out of the rocks at Hug Point. They would then travel across this area during low tide. You do NOT want to go around the point and get stuck there so it's really important that you know when the tide is going in and out.

This time I was really prepared. I brought food, towels, sand toys, drinks even wine. Of course if there is food all Kees wants to do is eat while we're doing a family activity. He whined that he was hungry the whole time, even after I would give him food. Silly boy. It was sunny but it was also windy. That tends to be how it goes on the Oregon Coast. It was fun but not as perfect at the previous day. You just can't always plan the fun. We bid farewell to the BBs as they went back to P'land.

Day #4 - We drove up to Astoria. We've been coming to Manzanita for 10 years now and have never made the 45 minute trip up. Now was the time. The weather was perfect again. First we stopped at the visitors center to get maps and such. The kids thought the free magazines and books were cool. Next a bit of lunch and shopping on the main street. Yum.... And on to the Astoria Column. It is a long trek up the 164 steps to the top. OK, it was a long way for Bob and I. The kids ran up and down the thing like it was a play structure. They sell little wooden airplanes that you can throw off the top. That was fun. The view was beautiful and it was as clear as it gets. Finally it was down to the waterfront for a street car ride. It was fun, cheep and informative.

So that is where we are to date. We will be laying the tile today and then going to the spa later in the afternoon....Bob and I that is. I am looking forward to that for sure.

Ta ta for now.....

A Beautiful Day in Astoria!!!

Yesterday we took the kids up to Astoria. I think Coulter asked, "What is Astoria?" about 10 times on the way up there. They had a great time. Bob and I had a great time. In general, it was a wonderful family day. This picture is the Astoria Column, It tells the story of the Pacific Northwest (according to history in the early 1900's) all around it as it winds up the column. Note there are no Native Americans depicted before Lewis and Clark arrived. I'm not sure what is going on with my connection out here but I am having difficulty getting the picture of the column loaded....we'll see.

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We also went on the street car that runs the length of town. It was cute and for a dollar you can't beat the price. There were a couple of old guys telling us the history of Asoria and fun little trivia bits.

More on Spring Break later.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Different People, Different Motivation

This morning Kees woke up and wanted to wear his Bumble Bee costume. He has been wearing it every day this week. Yesterday I heard him singing his Bumble Song. The song is really "Imma Be" by the Black Eyed Peas. The video is inappropriate for my kids, they have not seen it. All they really hear is the beat and Kees hears "Bumble Bee" when they are singing "Imma Be." After seeing the video, he's not that far off. The video has a bunch of transformers in it. Go figure.

Yesterday I heard him singing, "Bumble bee, bumble bee, bumble bumble bumble bee." He had his costume on and was standing in front of the full length mirror in the bathroom. When I peeked my head around the corner he couldn't see me because he had the mask on. I watched him for a few minutes. He was moving a little bit and really checking himself out singing all the while. When he finally noticed me he stopped and got a silly grin on his face. He then said that he needed the picture on the back of his costume too because he couldn't be the real Bumble Bee if the picture was only on the front. I said I'd keep my eye out for one like that....they don't make 'em.

When he woke up this morning he jumped out of bed and put on his costume with nothing underneath. I told him that he needed to put on clothes and he could wear his costume over them. He started crying a deep, soulful cry. "I can't. I only have jeans and they'll be lumpy and I can't wear them under my costume." I said, "I'm sorry but you have to get dressed." He cried....hard. Really hard. He said he only had jeans and that he needed other pants. Ahhhh, a teaching moment.... "It sounds like we need to do some laundry. Do you need to fold some more clothes so you have other pants?" And he said, "Yeah, I need to do my laundry."

Hello!!!! When was the last time you heard a 4 year old say, "I need to do my laundry." Me....never! I was thrilled. I have been keeping up with the cleaning of the clothes but I will not fold their stuff anymore. To have them asking when we can fold clothes is awesome. Saturday is the day this week.

He was still upset and I finally had to put Bumble Bee in time out until after school. There were lots of tears over that but he recovered.

It's funny what motivates us. I am motivated by getting things done. When my fridge and pantry are stocked, my laundry put away, and my house clean I can relax. If everything is undone I can't stop my mind long enough to relax. Kees needs to run out of clothes to be motivated to do his laundry. Sophia is motivated by a goal...Clean your room and then you can have a play date. Coulter is motivated by praise and Bob is motivated when I tell him to be...most of the time. Not to say that he isn't self motivated sometimes. He likes to do the fun projects and not so much the ones that need to be done.

Bumble Bee is waiting upstairs for Kees' arrival. I am sure that he'll do what he's done the first 4 days of the week. He comes home from school, puts on his pajamas and then his costume. I now understand the pjs. Smooth pjs, smooth costume. Ahhh, it makes sense now. I'll see if I can get him singing on the flip. It's terribly cute and so honest and 4, very 4. May you find what motivates you and get 'er done.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coulter Is a Fearless Writer

Once upon a time there was two men. One man said, “I will kick your butt.” “My butts on fire!” The fire was from his butt. It was so hot the world EXPLODED!


This is just one of the many stories that Coutler brought home from school today. If I have time I will post a few more. Typical boy, there are lots of butts on fire, shooting, army guys, monsters and robots. I was laughing my head off while reading these but the above was one of my favorites.

Have a marvelous day!!! I am because I am marveling at my boy's imagination.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Learn As Time Goes By

I've been quite busy lately. Since the car towing trauma I have not only recovered myself, I recovered my money. It's a long story but I did get my money back.

The following week... Bob was in Atlanta for 7 days. He had a HIMMS or HIMSS conference. Health Information Management blahbitty blah thing. It was Mon - Thurs. He left the previous Friday before we were all out of bed. This was so he could spend the weekend with his family in Atlanta. It all worked out really well because Bob turned 40 today and they were able to do an early celebration. While all that was great.....he was gone for a week.

Here, back at the ranch, life was going on. Sophia was sick all week. Nothing really bad but stomach cramps, tired, some weird bumps on her tummy, just all strange. Nothing seemed to make her totally comfortable. I finally made her an appointment to see the doctor on Friday. The boys were they're usually selves, loud and ruining around. Iva...same.

As a small side bar....the doctor believes that Sophia had a low grade Chicken Pox. It hadn't occurred to me since she is fully immunized. Now she is back to feeling fine. Whoda thunk it?

I think I handled it all pretty well as a single mommy. I did all my stuff and added in Bob's usual stuff, folding laundry, taking out the trash, evening dishes (usually) and kid lunches.

While he was gone I made a few changes.... The kids and I folded the laundry and made lunches together. Even Kees, at 4, folded and put away his own laundry. The only thing holding me back from doing this was my own hang ups on how laundry "should" be folded. After looking at kid drawers for years now I decided, "who cares how they fold their clothes? They look like a disaster 2 days after you fold them anyway." I totally let it go....that was big. I dumped all the laundry out onto the bed in my room and then the kids separated and folded.

And lunches...if they participate maybe they'd eat what was in there. I made a chart of what needed to go in so they had a daily guide. It includes, protein, fruit, veggies,a drink and then the add ons; 1 treat, 1 snack and any utensils they might need. We made lunches before bed each night. That also improved our morning routine.

The kids were champs. They didn't like the idea at first but once we were doing things they were fine. Sophia even learned how to do the laundry. After the first couple loads she said, "This is pretty easy. It's kinda fun." Sweet girl. The folding became a game and the lunches, routine. Kees and Coulter were really proud of themselves for folding their own laundry. It was quite cute.

There are a few things that I really noticed while Bob was gone. #1 - our laundry went down by 2/3. I am pretty sure that he was just picking things up off the floor and throwing them down the shoot. No more!!!! The kids had to look at their clothes and determine if they were clean or dirty. Clean, fold and put away, dirty down the shoot. And #2 - We hardly had any garbage. This one I can't figure out. Seriously, we always recycle so that wasn't different. It was just nil. Strange.

The last thing that was different was the house was cleaner. Now this I am not blaming on Bob I am just saying the house was cleaner. I am pretty sure it is because when I am alone I know that I am the only one responsible for making sure the house stays clean. When he's home I expect that he'll help clean up. Now that he's home I have noticed even more....he doesn't clean up daily. When he puts his mind to it he's great but he's not interested most of the time so things pile up. I get it, he doesn't want to work all day and then come home and clean. I am not asking for that. I guess I need to change my expectations.

So Good Time Charlie is home and the "routine" is off a bit. I explained to Bob that I really want the kids to continue making their lunches and doing their laundry. He agrees. It's different then when I do it but that is what makes a happy, balanced family. So long as it gets done and the end result is the same I don't care.

We all learned a great deal while daddy was away. I learned that daddy's strength is either doing an assigned task or cleaning once a week as a mission. That's fine, I just can't count on him to do he mommy straightening. I walk through the house and move things back to their homes as I move through my day. It's just what mom's do. The kids need to have routine and responsibility. When they are made to do things they don't mind so much. It's their job to protest but it is also their job to grow up and take care of themselves. If Kees can do it, any kid can. I also learned to let it be good enough. The kids are going through the motions of folding their clothes and putting them away. Their folding is good enough. They are proud of their work and that is the result I am looking for, not perfect drawers of folded clothes.

So here's to messy clothes drawers and kid made lunches. My kids are learning to be responsible and that's how we like it.

Over Head at My House

Yesterday Kees said he wanted to rub my back. I said, "OK" So he scratches and rubs and then says, "Oh, what's that?" "Oh, I's your boob thing. Why do you wear that?"

This morning I was in the shower. Coulter likes to sit in front of the heater and talk to me in the morning. I asked him to pass me a razor. He looked at it and said, "Once I cut my finger on one of these." I said that he needs to be really careful with a razor. Then he says, "Mom, why do you cut off your fur? You would be warmer if you didn't cut off all that fur." I could only explain that I didn't want to be furry like daddy.

Kees is getting so big and really understanding the world. He was facing me as I was putting on his shoes. He said, "Mom, this is my left but it is on your right." I said, "Wow, you are right. That is really good." And then he said, "But if you turn around our lefts will be on the same side." I was blown away that he is understanding those types of concepts.