Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Teen Boy Mismanagement of Clothing - Part 2

This Morning as Oldest Son Walks into Upper School

Me thinking "Those jeans look huge and so short ... hmmmm. Does he have on Youngest Son's jeans?"
(Youngest Son now outweighs his brother but is still shorter.)

This Afternoon when Oldest Son Returns Home

I say quizzically to Oldest Son "Uhm ... those jeans are huge and too short. Let me look at them."
(Oldest Son takes off his BELT and hands the jeans to me.)

I am stunned. Oldest Son has been wearing Commuter Husband's jeans ALL DAY. Let us put this in perspective:
  • Oldest Son: Who requires a belt with his 28 x 32/33 jeans for his slim, runner's frame
  • Commuter Husband: Who has very cute but short legs for his 33 x 30 jeans
How the heck did he NOT notice? This says much about my unassuming Oldest Son and his priorities. Love Him. 

Recall the boys are doing their own laundry and putting away their clothes with a primary objective being that they will keep up with their own items of clothing better. Obviously that goal is not going quite as I had hoped. However, we did get a much needed good laugh today!
Thank goodness Oldest Son had a belt! Commuter Husband will be getting these back now ...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teen Boys Mismanagement of Clothing

Oldest Son's laundry receptacle. He does pretty good job getting dirty clothes actually into the container versus the floor.

"I'm Done." Mommy with Commuter Husband (me) said with finality.

The topic prompting the declaration (this time) was "Teen Boys Mismanagement of Clothing." The offenses took on several variations and include but are not limited to:
  • Usual and customary is the lost clothing item which is typically a jacket but could be other things too.  
  • Missing clothing that we KNOW is in our house but cannot find when needed. Of course, this is frequently some vital sports accessory so we are sent into a search frenzy ten minutes before walking out the door to the targeted sports event.
  • More often than not, I find an article of clothing belonging to one of the boys in their school's embarrassingly huge pile of abandoned clothing put into parent view on conference days.
  • And there is the random bag find which means we have found clothing in some backpack or suitcase that was left there since goodness knows when!
  • A recent development is that the four people in our house wear similar sizes in certain types of clothing. Thus our closets and drawers often contain misplaced apparel. The weekly housekeeper, that we are fortunate to employ, tries to determine the right person but she cannot possibly know. Commuter Husband also seems challenged in figuring out what belongs to whom. My pleas to the boys to return items to the proper owner when found go ignored.
  • One teen, not to be specifically identified, seems to wear three times as many clothes as the rest of us creating surplus washing.


For years and years and years .... we have utilized financial consequences as well as rewards to encourage or punishments to ... well ... punish.

At this point, it was clear that a different approach was required.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son are now doing their own laundry every weekend. They first gather then separate into colors followed by spraying the stains. The washing stage includes detergent and fabric softener and bleach if needed. Drying requires determining what to hang dry (almost everything!) and what goes in the dryer (not much.) The final step is putting away their own clothes in the appropriate places in their rooms.
Youngest Son's laundry basket number one. So why is his stinky soccer uniform on the tile floor two feet away?!??
Youngest Son's laundry basket number two (yes he has two.) Similar results in that dirty clothes are all about ...


We are about one month into this paradigm.

"I hate doing laundry!" has been heard to echo through the house once or twice. Who doesn't?

Even so, we are pleased with the outcomes so far. Some of the household work distribution has shifted from parent to child - whoop! The boys are doing a great job and willingly accomplishing their laundry tasks each week. Nothing has been ruined in the laundry ... yet. There has been almost zero confusion about where clothes are or are not. And Oldest Son and Youngest Son are learning a valuable life skill.
The dreaded Laundry Room.
I am a total weirdo about hanging clothes to dry. Oldest Son and Youngest Son are stuck doing it my way ... for now. 

Monday, January 11, 2016


The artist of this painting is my friend Susan Sanders. I love it and it speaks to me.

I am not a poet ... just a person with words ...

Flawed. I feel flawed.
All the time. Well lots of the time.
Churning and moving
The thoughts never stop.

Self-inflicted. It is almost funny.
Escapes routes are devised. None really real, so it seems.
Fleeting and hopeful
The attempts never end.

Tortured. Not really the adjective that comes to mind.
Few see under the outside. We are really good at that.
Hidden and in full view
Every day life is the obstacle.

Love. And there is that.
It saves the day. It is always there.
Encompassing and ever-present
This word is the safety net.

Unconditional. Thank you for it.
Some have the gift. Eventually it appears to be the only one that matters.
Admirable and precious
The fortunate to give and to receive.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Small House in Garland

The corner of Winell Drive. We parked and walked up the street.
Today Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I went into the community of Garland. A place where certain streets were devastated by the tornadoes after Christmas. The story today is one of simple connections ....

Belongings ruined by the storms line the street. The City will start hauling away tomorrow.
I saw a Facebook posting yesterday by our friend and the program director of our Temple describing their day providing help. A few private messages later and she had given us an address in Garland of an elderly couple needing help this afternoon.

We arrived to a street lined with debris and tree branches. The houses were speckled with blue tarps on roofs and giant gaps in walls. We walked to the appointed address and encountered Mr. Owner on his front lawn with a Chik-fil-a bag in hand. We introduced ourselves and I let him know we were there to pack up his garage. He greeted us warmly offering food and fumbled for the piece of paper with a number for the contact who was organizing the effort at his home. I called the number and was told that a truck would arrive later to haul belongings to a storage facility and where we could get boxes and supplies if needed.

We approached the front door where a red piece of paper taped to the doorframe indicated the home was unsafe. We walked through the empty, damaged home in which the electricity had been shut off. The garage was completely full of discarded furniture, tools, yard implements, cleaning supplies and treasured keepsakes. It was clearly the garage of a gentlemen who loved to tinker and fix things. Fortunately there were boxes and tape for us to start our efforts for packing up the contents.

We spoke with Mr. Owner to sort through what to keep and what to throw away but most was intended for the keep pile. A local church member stopped by to see if Mr. Owner needed anything. We made introductions and when asked what organization we were with, we replied none really.
The pastor from Oasis Church arrived next. Again, he just wanted to see if Mr. Owner needed anything and made sure Mr. Owner knew where he could get food and help. Sadly, Oasis Church was hit hard by the tornado as well. The kind pastor thanked us for being there to help.

Mrs. Owner arrived and she began to help organize what to box up from the garage. She let us know the attic was full but it was too dangerous for anyone to go up there so whatever was in the attic is "lost." As we worked through items, Youngest Son was often amazed at the cool old stuff. However, Youngest Son also found a gun and some knives. Mrs. Owner expressed sincere relief that these weapons were found and she quickly removed them from the garage.

Shortly thereafter, two women, two men and a boy arrived with trucks to move the items we had been stacking in the driveway. We loaded as much as possible but not all could be sent in one trip. Another woman, In Charge Woman, stayed behind and helped us to finish packing up. When the truck crew determined that the storage facility was locked and they could not get in, In Charge Woman scrambled to solve the problem. After some confusion, Mrs. Owner produced a key. By this time, we had completed packing and Youngest Son was getting antsy.

We decided it would be best for our family to drive the key to the storage facility. In Charge Woman was so nice and had lots of positive energy. She grabbed Youngest Son and me for a selfie as we headed out! We set up a text message to communicate as we worked to finish our tasks.

As we were leaving the street, another woman and man pulled up and offered us hot pizza and water. She said she was from Alvarado and was there to hand out food to volunteers, residents, whoever was on the street and needed it. I took some food for Youngest Son and expressed our gratitude. We made our way to the storage facility, unlocked it and helped unload the trucks.

We made one final trip back to return the key to Mr. and Mrs. Owner. By this time, the streets were dark with the streetlights extinguished. However, families and volunteers were still diligently working since tomorrow the city starts hauling away trash and closing streets. Fortunately, In Charge Woman has arranged for another volunteer to come back in the morning to take the rest of Mr. and Mrs. Owner's belongings to the storage unit.

This older couple has lived in their modest home for seven years and they have no mortgage on it - completely paid for! They were in their home when the tornado hit!! They are now living in a motel. The insurance adjuster has STILL not arrived but they are hoping to meet with the insurance reps tomorrow. Mr. Owner was quite talkative and made jokes about the situation. A sense of humor is always good in times of hardship. Mrs. Owner expressed genuine appreciation to all. I was humbled by this lovely couple and what they are going through to put their lives back together.

There were many simple connections today. People helping people. 

In Charge Woman, me and Youngest Son as the sun sets on the ravished street and we head out. Smiles were good today.