Arden

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My Dad’s best friend died this week.  They probably met in high school, but they remained close through the years.  I sat down to write a note to his wife (whom he met when he was about 50) and I realized what a huge part he had played in my childhood.  I knew him better than all three of my uncles, even the one who lived just down the road.  What I remember, and did not include in my letter, was the fact that I got diarrhea every time we visited him.  Mom pointed out that he would wash his dishes and then let them air dry…without rinsing the soap off!  Here is my letter, with a few changes.

Dear E,

 

I was so sorry to hear about Arden.  He was an incredibly special person in our lives.  When I was a child he was Uncle Arden, no relation…but somehow related. 

 

Mom had these ugly mustard colored towels with gaudy orange flowers appliquéd on them (we are talking the 1970s here).  We knew Uncle Arden was coming when she got out the company towels.  He came to our brandings every year and often to Christmas and in-between as well.  We usually returned the favor by visiting him in Cheyenne during Frontier Days.  I watched my first MTV videos in his office at about age13. 

 

He was a bachelor who gave us gifts, and he always sent birthday cards.  What kind of single guy buys gifts for someone else’s kids?  Mom said she never quite forgave him for the TinkerToys he gave us one year.  John and I liked them a lot (but we probably didn’t pick them up).

 

Just last summer I was in Cheyenne and I saw what used to be his place of business.  I hadn’t been there in over 30 years, but I recognized it immediately.  We were very impressed with his Dobermans.  When we got our Brittney Spaniel, John and I wanted to name him Satan like Arden’s dog, but Mom wouldn’t let us.  I can’t think of the other dog’s name, (Lucifer?).  We ended up calling ours Robbie.

 

For a few years in the late 70s and early 80s we went camping and rubber rafting in the summer, usually with Uncle Arden.  Due to some kind of vehicle mix up, one of our rafting trips on the North Platte River ended a lake away from our transportation.  The grownups started rowing the raft across the lake (either Guernsey or Glendo, I cannot remember which; surely Guernsey).  John and I kept up in our inner-tubes, and Arden, well he paddled backwards. He is probably lucky he didn’t get a paddle to the back side of his head.  My brother and I thought he was hilarious.  I don’t think I could ever forget his laugh.

 

I remember being surprised that he was dating you.  We had never known him to date anyone before, but I am so glad that you two found each other.  You were the perfect ying to his yang.

 

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After a small set back which reset the clock, Paul is at 3 Accident Free Days.   His potty tractor was kind of lame, it was just like Dad’s, but it had nothing to pull behind it, no implements, so I went to Ace Hardware and bought him another tractor of the same scale but with a wagon and a disc.  Then he and his brother can each pull an implement with a tractor that fits it.  I figure the $16 I spent on the second tractor is less than two boxes of Luvs so we are still ahead.  212992663 I couldn’t believe this site is selling the tractor for more than twice what I paid.  Frankly, I think that if John Deere ditched their branded merchandise they would go broke.  At least IH has a little class and doesn’t proustite themselves by putting their logo and colors on everything from fabric to dishes to shoes.   Spell check and I just got in to it over the spelling of merchandise.  According to Mr. Webster I won.

Accident free day count

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GD has a sign at his place of work promoting safety.  I want to post a sign here too…  1 Accident free day.  Our good friend Paul used a public bathroom yesterday and managed to keep his underwear dry all day.  Today he is running around in the buff, but he has used the potty twice without being reminded. Woo hoo!  He may get that potty tractor before the end of the month yet!

In other news, the kitten has been excited to use our sand box for her…litterbox.  I was not impressed.  The older cats seem to know better, but they never lived in the house with the litterbox.  Someone told me in a completely different context that coffee grounds keep cats out of gardens etc.  Every morning Leo and Paul take the coffee out to the sandbox, just one of their many chores.  And our sandbox smells good to the last drop, the jury is still out on whether it works, but it can’t possibly hurt anything. 

Babies everywhere you look

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We went to my husband’s church today.  He is Catholic, but he doesn’t attend regularly, so we usually go to my church.  That is neither here nor there, but the Catholic part does matter.  The priest is a little… goofy for lack of a better word.  He is fairly young and prone to speaking off the cuff.  He had a triple baptism today, and he described to us what he was doing to the babies; he spoke extensively about the annointing oils or what ever it was he was using.  He told us how the church got a new stockpile of it every year after Easter and that he liked the scent of it, then he invited us to personally welcome the babies to the congregation after church… and to smell their heads.

We found this announcement in the bulletin, in bold all caps, headline style font.  I. Kid. You. Not.  “April is child prevention awareness month.”  …I wonder if they will be holding seminars or something.

Wildflower’s Discipline Primer

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Here are my thoughts on discipline.  Of course the idea is that the mom (parent) is on top of her game at all times and can think clearly enough to implement creative solutions rather than losing her temper and going ballistic on the kids.  I try to discipline by non-invasive methods, natural consequences, choices and respect.  When those fail, we can fall back on ballistic and of course the spanking option.

 

It is difficult to physically “make” somebody do something or stop them from doing something; for example squealing.  When Mae was about 18 months she started squealing.  It made the glassware in the cupboards nervous.  How do you stop this behavior in a toddler?  You can’t.  I designated her bedroom her “squealing room” because it had the best acoustics in the house, especially when the door was closed.  When she started squealing I would walk her down the hall to the squealing room, so she could enjoy the full force of it in the privacy of her room.  It was not punishment; it was a no-pressure solution to a situation we couldn’t control without the use of duct tape.  When we visited Grandma and Papa, we decided the upstairs bathroom had the best acoustics for squealing.  Once when Mae stayed with my folks, mom heard an unearthly screaming coming from the upstairs bathroom.  She rushed up to see what had happened.  Mae said, “It’s the squealing room, I was just squealing.”

 

Another non-invasive technique came to me in a flash of brilliance.  I was walking through our yard last fall and I noticed toys all over.  We have a large yard and we don’t rake our leaves, so toys are easy to lose that time of the year.  I decided to make a scavenger hunt out of it.  I made a list of the toys I remembered in the yard and added bonus points for things I didn’t remember, like shoes.  After about ten minutes Mae came to me with a suspicious look on her face and said, “Are you just having us pick up our toys?”

 

As a mother of four kids, two of whom think they are fashion models, I used to do nine loads of laundry a week.  That is a lot for our 23 year-old washing machine, and a lot of folding too.  Plan A was me doing all of the laundry from the collecting off the floor to the depositing in dresser drawers.  Someone was always upset because “You put her stuff in my drawer!” As the ladies got to be pre-school age and in Kindergarten I implemented Plan B, having them put their own clothes away.  I folded the clothes, put them in a basket and they sorted them, wadded them up and put them in their dressers.  I moved to Plan C several months later.  I piled their clean clothes in a basket for them to sort, wad up and put in their dressers as they pleased, saving me the pointless chore of folding. Then I started finding matched socks in the dirty laundry, folded shirts and even clean swimming suits.  I was also hearing a lot of, “I don’t have any clean pants!” (Or socks, or shirts, or underwear.)  At this time I implemented Plan D.  This involves them being responsible for their own laundry from washing to drying to folding (or wadding up) and putting away.  I showed my 7 and 6 year-old girls where the washing machine was and made a little chart on which cycles they would likely need.  I told them I am available for consultations as needed but I am no longer responsible for their clean clothes.  I will put their clothes in the drier and start it as needed.  Just this morning, Mae was crying because she didn’t have any clean socks.  I was sympathetic but not guilt ridden.  The ladies are washing a load of laundry as I type.

 

I really like Parenting With Love and Logic.  They are big on giving kids choices, like do you want to clean your room before snack time or after?  I have found that when my kids are edging towards naughtiness I just need to overwhelm them with choices and they start concentrating on what they want to choose rather than stalling at bedtime.  My kids sleep at the “silly” end of their beds rather than the “boring” end about half the time, but they are choosing to get into bed and not being told to do so. 

 

I didn’t nag the ladies to clean their room this afternoon when they got out of school early (12:30).  I told them they could come out when it was clean.  It is now 6:15 and they are still cleaning their room because they got distracted and played instead.  The gentlemen and I are done with supper, and nobody has done their homework.  The ladies might have to get up early to do homework because I am not going to budge on bedtime. 

 

We stress treating others with respect.  I don’t really do time out, I ask what happened.  I do not ask who started it.  When I learn what happened, (one person is rarely at fault, it takes two to fight) we figure out what is fair and what will prevent this from happening again.  Sometimes it means playing in separate rooms.

 

The gentlemen like to help me cook.  Paul was on the chair helping when I asked him to wash his hands.  While he was doing this, Leo climbed on the chair.  When Paul saw Leo in his spot he poked Leo and made him cry.  When I asked what had happened, Leo (nearly 4) told me with surprising insight what had happened and why.  Paul (2 ½) looked at me and told me, “I have go time out.”  Leo interrupted and told him, “We do that at Miss Tami’s; at home we have to apologize.”  Paul gave Leo a hug and told him he was sorry.  Leo moved over and Paul climbed onto the chair.

 

When I lose it, and I am not gonna lie to you, I do lose it, I try to inject humor.  For example I will stomp down the hall and say, “What in the wild, wild world of sports is a-going on around here?” (surely you have seen Blazing Saddles)  Another favorite movie is Annie! “Do I hear happiness in here?” or “I’ll step on your freckles!”

 

The Love and Logic guys stress letting consequences happen instead of enforcing punishments which don’t fit the crime.  However, some “crimes” defy all logic and as parents we have to do something…

 

Jane got her first hair cut; it was a cute bob that highlighted the gentle curls in her hair.  Mae was probably three-and-a-half.  She got the scissors and…000_0022 well she did this to Jane’s hair.  I spanked her.  I spanked her in anger and I spanked her when I was done being angry.  She has never lifted a pair of scissors to anyone’s hair again.  She came to understand quickly that she had done something very wrong.  All the crying I did probably helped her come to that conclusion too.  We found a beautician who “fixed” it with the shortest wedge ever.Watergun 3

 

It was about a year and a half ago that Nebraska scandalized the nation by implementing a safe haven law allowing parents to drop their children off at a hospital, no matter what age.  After about 30 days and nearly 20 children (none babies) later they altered the law to change child to infant.  Lately I have noticed billboards and TV advertisements about where families can get help.  Parenting is the toughest job ever; your mistakes can be passed on for generations.  Unfortunately you can’t always be on top of your game, and kids can sense that.  If I am functioning at a less than optimal level I try to inject humor, but it doesn’t always happen.  If I need to get away, I go outside.

Kansas here we come!

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This man is a black WWI veteran and cowboy.  How many places can I sell an article about him?  I am thinking a minimum of five.  Maybe I could write something about his sister too.  Dad said he would go with me and we might go Thursday.  This week. 

Yes, when I get something published I will let you know about it.  Do you realize that this idea has been floating in my head since 2002?  That is the postmark on the envelope my grandpa sent me with two magazine articles about him and his obit.  Who needs a library when you have my grandparents!

Happy Dance

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I am doing some research about an old cowboy who lived near where I grew up.  He died an old man 20 years ago.  Today I was on the internet googling different things and I found where someone who was possibly his sister presented a program to the company her granddaughter worked at five years ago.  On a whim I called the company and the granddaughter still worked there.  She told me her grandmother is still alive and would love to talk on the phone with me.  The woman is 103 years old!  I am beside myself with joy.  I never would have guessed that his sister was still alive, he was eleven years older than her.  GD is bringing me a phone conversation recorder home from Radio Shack (or “The Shack” as the guy said when he answered the phone) this evening.  I had to call Dad so he could bring me down to Earth and help me jot down the right questions to ask her.  I love it when a plan comes together!

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