About Me

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I am a stay-at-home mom of two sons, 12 and 10. I used to be an advertising manager. I love my new career and have thrown myself completely into it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We Have A Puppy ...

and this is what happens when one of us forgets to close the bathroom door. Our puppy LOVES going through the trash basket, and the laundry hamper for that matter. I have tried to teach the hubby and the boys to close all bathroom and closet doors. When someone forgets, this is what happens. But this is not all. He then proceeds to take whatever he has in his mouth and go under one of the beds or sofas. So I periodically have to look under all beds and sofas and clean up whatever gunk he's taken under there. Ah, the pleasures of owning a pet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitchen Counter Organized (finally)



OK - the kitchen counter is finally organized!! Woo Hoo!! The "before" shot doesn't actually look as bad as it was. There was a pile of paperwork and mail that had to be sorted under the present. Also, the spice rack was overflowing with items so I needed to go through and throw out some spices that were too old or I just was never going to use.

Organizing the counter took a lot longer than I expected. There were a few things that were going on that held me up. First, good friends of ours moved out of the country, back home to the Netherlands (boo hoo). They brought over 3 boxes full of pantry and fridge items in case I could use them. So in the middle of my organizing project, I get handed more stuff! I appreciated that they were thinking of us but it did take awhile to sort through everything and then figure out where to put items we were keeping. You should have seen the kitchen counter during that process :}

Once I sorted through all their food, I decided to give any we weren't keeping to a local food bank. I decided this would be a good time to go through my pantry and add some items. So I was able to do some organizing of our pantry, although not completely.

Then, I needed to finalize some upcoming vacation plans so we would have a place to stay. I get really into planning for vacations and love reading travel books about the area and looking on the web so this took a lot of time. I got it done, though, and I've got to say, we got some great deals! I learned that it pays to not only look on the web for deals but to call the actual properties, too.

Finally, we had conferences with both my sons' teachers last week. My sons go to year-round school so it was conference time. That always takes up a chunk of time. So there were a few things that slowed me down during this part of my organizing project.

But I love the way the kitchen counter looks now, and so does my husband. I learned a few things during this process. First, I need an "office" area in my kitchen because I need these items on a daily basis. So I set it up in the right-hand corner. The trick is to keep it organized so it doesn't overflow to the rest of the counter. Second, I need an area where I can stash mail and paperwork that I need to work on during the week. I want it out of sight or it looks too messy, but there was nowhere to put it. So I cleared out one of our drawers so I can stash these items there. The biggest challenge of that will be to make sure it's not "out of sight, out of mind" - I need to regularly look through that drawer. Finally, the mail and the boys' schoolwork really piles up quickly and I need to tackle that on a daily basis to not get overwhelmed, which is sometimes hard to do when things get crazy.

Now I'm going to work on our living room. A lot of items (books, toys, etc.) get piled up on side tables and a chest. I want these to look streamlined and get everything to its proper place. On to the next project...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trying To Teach My Kids To Be Less Materialistic and More Grateful

This is a topic I've been struggling with for awhile and have talked to a lot of other moms about. My sons, like many other children, always want more stuff. They always want new lego sets, new DS games, new whatever they see on TV or hear about through their friends. It gets so bad that sometimes they want to go to the store to buy a new toy a week after they have received one. My husband and I have talked extensively about this and feel that they don't value enough what they do have. They are developing a sense of entitlement that is becomming troubling. We don't want them to grow up feeling entitled to get anything they want when they want it. We want them to be grateful for what they do have and not take it for granted. We also want to teach them that their comfortable lives are not what everyone experiences.

Like many parents, we always wanted to give our children many opportunities. We focused mainly on giving them experiences that would enrich them and also to introduce them to different activities so they could decide what their interests were. They have tried all kinds of sports and activities like soccer, tennis, swimming, softball, basketball, tae kwon do, guitar lessons, cello lessons, violin lessons, acting lessons, etc. We've also tried to broaden their horizons with different trips like taking them skiing, river rafting, going to Yosemite, Hawaii, the desert, etc. In addition to all of this, they have a number of aunts, uncles and grandparents who have always been very generous with them for holidays and birthdays.

My husband and I have talked to the boys about how fortunate they are and the fact that not everyone is so fortunate. I feel,though, that it goes in one ear and out the other - it just doesn't sink in. So I've been thinking about what I could do to try to SHOW the boys what we are trying to teach them. I remember visiting orphanages near Tiujana, Mexico when I was 13. That trip changed my view of the world and left a deep impression on me. However, I'm not willing to take my sons down to Mexico to show them extreme poverty because of the current dangers. Trying to show them images of poverty, like on TV or the internet, doesn't get through because they can't really relate to it. I realized that there are examples of people struggling to get by in our own community and if I could show this to my sons, hopefully they can relate to it better. So I decided that we would donate food to a local food bank in our city that serves about 500 families per month.

I collected a box of food, then brought the boys with me to the food bank. I explained to them that some families don't have enough money to eat three meals a day, even in our community, which is in an affluent area. I talked to the boys about how they would feel if they couldn't eat three meals a day, let alone having snacks. Then when we dropped the food off, I asked if we could look through the warehouse so they could really get a feel for how they were collecting and distributing food to needy families. One of the most impressionable sights we saw were shopping carts that the families come to get. They can come once per month and the cart has a box and a couple of bags of food and one bread item. As we went home, we talked about how that was not a lot of food for a family for a month.

I think actually seeing everything helped make these ideas sink in. Only time will tell. It was definitely very different than just bringing in canned goods to school during food drives. That's a very useful thing to do, mind you, but there isn't much of an emotional tie to it. To see what these families are actually getting and to see that some of the shelves of the food bank are getting low on food really brings home the point that there is a real need right in our backyard.

Have any of you done anything to try to teach your children to be grateful for what they have? What have you tried and was it successful? It would be nice to get some other ideas.