Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cleaning Update

Yesterday's day-long ordeal did not result in the complete cleaning of an entire room. However, I did take out about 5 bags of trash (and filled two more that will have to wait until the garbage is collected today before I can put them in the cans). We amassed three boxes of toys to keep and one enormous box of toys to give away (which I prudently "disappeared" before the kids came home). I spent an ungodly amount of money on two large garage shelving units and twenty-three plastic bins of varying sizes. I got one of the shelving units set up in the boys' room where the changing table used to be, and I moved the train set organizer in there too. I chose garage shelving units for their sturdiness, low price, and ease of assembly. Yes, they are ugly as sin, but they are unlikely to collapse when the boys inevitably try to climb on them. (I can always make them curtain covers anyway.) Yesterday evening the kids and I sorted out the boxes of toys into the plastic bins and labeled them all.

So today I start the daunting task of teaching the kids how to play with the organized toys. I have to get them into the idea that you play with one box of toys at a time, then put it away before you take out another. And I also have to start the similarly-daunting task of teaching FH for the millionth time that toys (and objects in general) have to be organized primarily by use rather than by shape, size, or the material of which they are made. I had to make sure that I had at least established the sorting scheme by the time FH got home so that he wouldn't be able to take over and re-sort things his way. We've tried sorting the toys his way, but kids just don't play with toys together simply because they're made of the same material.

Today's goal is to set up the second shelving unit and continue mucking out the boys' room, collecting the piles of bedding they've created, throwing out trash and organizing toys as we find them.

Home Based Business And Changing Perceptions

I got a call the other day from the Bravo network. They said they were doing a series of features on baby-related small businesses and would like to feature mine. They asked me a few questions, one of which was whether I had a store of some kind where I sold my products. I told them that my products were in some boutiques but I did not have a bricks-and-mortar store, it was a home-based business, but that I occasionally had a booth at farmer's markets. At that they regretfully informed me that they were not interested in featuring me and the conversation was over.

That's too bad, because home-based work is the future of business.

Plenty of people have noticed that homes are getting bigger. American homes in particular (and especially in the West) are orders of magnitude larger than European homes, even when considered on a square-feet-per-capita basis. While some blame this on the consumer lifestyle, I would suggest that at least part of it is due to changing patterns of home use. People used to sleep and occasionally eat in their homes, and do the rest of their living in public spaces. Now people do all that and play, work, exercise, socialize, and generally live most of their lives inside their homes and yards. When you do that, the home needs to be a far bigger space than it used to be.

Why do we have such changes? I would suggest that far more than rising gas prices (which certainly are a factor), the trend is due to the rise of the internet. You may note that the trend of working and living at home predates the last few years, although the precipitous increase in the cost of fuel has definitely accelerated it.

So this makes me wonder why the Bravo network is still stuck in the old way of thinking, especially since they are headquartered in Burbank and should know better. Perhaps it is not true after all that the media are a mirror that reflect reality.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Four Hours In

I'm four hours into the Cleansing of the Augean Stables, and so far I've taken out four bags of trash from the study with more still to go. I have my enormous box of stuff to give away half-full, and I've filled three boxes of toys to sort out. I found one of the missing library videos (one's still missing), and discovered that the reason Princess couldn't get the old newspapers into the bin was that she'd been trying to stack them on top of the lid(!). I brought up my radio because my mp3 player ran out of juice (it is now recharging).

I've found:
  • half a dozen nail clippers
  • eight sippy cups
  • innumerable dirty socks
  • a very large (though finite) number of pens, pencils, crayons, and other writing utensils, all of which had been whined at me were missing and could never be found

Can't talk. Cleaning.

I'm taking a break from the near-constant crocheting of booties (interrupted only by breaking up kid fights) to clean the house. I'm sending the kids away to the neighbors for the day. They're not too thrilled with that, but too bad. There are several library books and videos missing in our house, and damned if I'm going to pay for them.

The task ahead is daunting. I look for things to compare it to, but all I can think of is the Augean Stables (do they still study the Greek myths in school, or have they cut that out yet?) Too bad I don't have a couple of rivers at my disposal, or one of those keen lion skin capes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Knuckles ABC

Ever since we got Here Come The ABC's, we've seen a distinct uptick in alphabet knowledge in Bagel and Knuckles. Bagel knows almost all of his letters, and Knuckles, despite being only two, already knows a few letters: M, T, and O. He also says many letter names like A, D, and B, but he doesn't reliably connect them to the proper letters.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Everyone Watch Ellen Today

Everyone who has seen my cowboy booties before (or who wants to see them) needs to watch the Ellen DeGeneres show today.

That is all.


We are still adjusting Bagel's meds, but since we started him on Abilify a couple weeks ago, we've seen some small progress. Last night, he wore a pajama top and bottom that didn't match.

Yes, that's a breakthrough for him. He absolutely insisted that his pajama top and bottom had to match. One night we tried to get him to wear a nightshirt; he wouldn't do it. He kept asking where the "nightpants" were, because in BagelWorld, you don't wear just a shirt, even though Sonshine wears nightshirts all the time. Another time he had a meltdown because we couldn't find the tops to one set of pajamas that he particularly liked, and I told him he could wear an undershirt with it instead. Eventually I got him to wear the undershirt with those bottoms. Another meltdown occurred because we tried to get him to wear some pajamas I'd made a long time ago for Sonshine. The top was a solid color flannel and the bottom was plaid. I was entirely unable to convince him that these two went together. So when he picked out and wore a pajama top and bottom that were from different sets, I was bowled over.

So believe it or not, this is progress!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kids And Their Dads

Sonshine has a friend that he likes to visit. One day I went to pick him up from this friend's house, and we discussed a future playdate for the boys. She mentioned that such-and-such a day would work, but only if I were OK with her leaving the boys with her husband for an hour or so. I said that would be fine, but I thought it was strange that she would think it would even be something that needed mentioning, so I asked her why. She said that some people are not OK with kids being left alone with a man, and I told her that I thought that attitude was incredibly sexist and of course I would be fine with the boys being under a father's supervision.

It occurred to me that people who won't leave their kids (especially sons) alone with a father are basically saying that they don't trust the mother's judgment. We would hope that a mother would pick a man who isn't a child abuser to be her husband. If you don't believe she has enough judgment to pick a good man, then why the hell would you be willing to leave your precious child with her in the first place?

Kids need their dads. They need to see dads in a leadership role in the family. Boys especially need to do things with their dads, so that their dads can show them how to be men. It is not healthy for boys to grow up seeing that child care is solely a woman's responsibility. Yeah, there are child abusers out there, so don't leave your children with random men. But a man who's already been vetted by a woman you trust? Why the heck not?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Economics Lessons

My mother-in-law, She Of The White-Glove Inspection, is coming on Friday, so we've put off schooling for the week and are spending all our time cleaning instead. But schooling really hasn't stopped, we've just switched subjects: we are now conducting an economics practicum. I am paying the kids to help with the cleaning jobs, and it is proving to be an interesting learning experience indeed.

Here's what we've learned so far:
  • If you want to earn money, you have to work; and if you want to earn more money, you have to be willing to do jobs others won't do, such as clean the toilets.
  • Wages can be negotiated. (Princess is a very aggressive negotiator, especially when it comes to cleaning the rabbit cage.)
  • An open bidding process can result in a lowering of prices.
  • Once you've agreed on the price for the job, you do the job for that price, even if it proves to be more work than you wanted it to be.
  • Winning an open bid by bidding very low has an opportunity cost.
  • Sonshine has a comparative advantage in scrubbing.
  • Basic arithmetic to calculate tithing. (Addition and subtraction to make change, dividing by 10, rounding)