You’re So Money Monday

1579 1579_ () 1579 1579 It’s back — the long-ignored but never forgotten feature of this blog where I try to act like one of those better organized blog mistresses roaming the Internets.

Today’s topic (ironically): Organization!

Specifically, let’s talk about toy organization. Maybe even more specifically, toys that you have in a home full of boys, which we all know means one thing: Lego’s!

Reader Bevlin wrote in to find out how I store the Lego’s at Testosterhome.

I am pretty sure you’ve mentioned owning Lego’s. My 5-year-old son has recently received two largish sets of Lego’s from a very generous uncle. I don’t have a lot of space to put things, but I do like having a place for everything. It makes clean-up so much easier, too, when my son knows what goes where. So, my question is, have you found a good system for storing Lego’s when they are not built?

To which I answered:

I keep all the Lego’s in a very large (lined) basket. For a while the Lego’s all fit in a smaller plastic Lego box, but then we outgrew that so I moved to something larger. For a while I tried using a three drawer el cheapo plastic dresser (a very short one) but that was too complicated. I have found that by using a larger (but not huge) basket, I can throw the separates in the bottom and then place the in-progress or already built pieces gently on top. This seems to be working just fine.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? If you live in a house like mine, I’d like to know where you keep your weapons. What about your capes and cowboy boots? And finally, have you figured out how to get scuff marks off your ceiling? 1579″>


Growing Boys

1578 1578_ () 1578 1578 Weekly column
Our oldest son was getting ready for a middle school basketball game the other day, and I was helping him adjust his too-large uniform.”This looks good,” I said, securing the safety pins on his shirt, “but don’t be surprised if the ref tells you to cover them with tape.”

One of the boys asked why, and I explained that something could potentially get caught on the pins. I flashed back to my days of middle and high school basketball, of our pre-game warm-ups that included covering all non-removable objects with tape, including hair clips and those little friendship beads we clipped to our high-top basketball shoes.

Ethan is beginning a season that I so clearly remember being in myself. While my experience as a girl was obviously different, there are still plenty of similarities. Watching my son during this first year of middle school has brought back a lot of memories.

It’s fun to talk to my boys about my own experiences with sports and studies and school plays, things that as they get older they can relate with more easily. Mostly, I watch them enjoy these new adventures, and it’s nice to think I have even a slight sense of what they’re feeling. Though they are boys, and I was once a girl, I can relate, even just a little.

As we got the uniform ready that afternoon, I felt like I was really connecting with my sons. I was talking about sports, and they were listening!

“When I played ball,” I continued, “if we wore barrettes, we had to cover them with tape.”

“What’s barrettes,” asked six-year-old Augie, and I looked up to see all the boys staring back at me, waiting for an answer.

Obviously, we won’t ever be totally on the same page.

As my boys get older, I’m also aware that while this season is a beautiful and fun new adventure, there will also be struggles. Entire books and lectures are devoted to dealing with adolescent boys. I’ve read some of those books and I’ve lived to tell the tale; but I’m also bracing myself for some challenges. Fortunately, my husband was once one of these creatures, and this should come in handy.

I recently read an article on parenting adolescent boys that suggests several things parents should keep in mind during this season. The list comes from a priest who is a spiritual director to young men, and it includes some sound wisdom and, for me, a few parenting goals.

The priest recommends setting clear guidelines and holding boys accountable for their actions. He suggests parents offer reasonable explanations for these guidelines and decisions, but to also have reasonable expectations. He also says it’s important to avoid hyper-analyzing your son’s emotions. I suspect this will be more of a challenge for me than my husband.

Important qualities in a father, he says, include manliness, temperance, making significant time for family, putting aside work, and being a reliable source of guidance. Qualities in a mother, he continues, include emotional stability, selflessness, loving service and extreme patience.

I have my work cut out for me.

Sometimes when I read lists like this, I find myself getting worried. For starters, the fact that he is warning me in advance to aim for emotional stability makes me slightly uneasy. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that stability is going to be a personal goal of mine in a few years.

But before I let my thoughts (and emotions) get away from me, I think of the words of John Paul the Great: be not afraid. While the season of life with teenage boys will no doubt be challenging, there is no grace for me to deal with it, not yet.

All I can do today is pray that when we enter that season, God will give me generous amounts of extreme patience and emotional stability, and the grace to guide my boys in the way they should go. 1578″ ?


Nope, no toddlers here.

Round the Block

1576 1576_ () 1576 1576 One of these days I’m going to add a little linky-loo in my sidebar to showcase interesting finds on the web. But for now, I’m just going to throw them here, every so often.

1. This was a great little piece by Elizabeth Scalia about receiving a “good”, either a compliment or a sincere effort from someone else. She goes on to talk about those class-less members of the crowd who booed President Bush yesterday (he didn’t seem to care), but I like the point she makes in the first paragraph:

If you cannot be gracious when someone — even someone you do not like — wishes you well, you won’t get much of that. If you cannot appreciate an effort someone makes, even if they’ve fallen short or you wish they had not bothered at all, you can bet no further efforts will be made on your behalf. If you cannot receive a compliment without making people uncomfortable about it, well…you won’t receive them for long.

That reminded me of something that happened a few years ago (that I had forgotten about): I offered a compliment to someone and their response was: I know. I figured that first time was a fluke but after the second compliment on another occasion, with a similar response, that was it for me. If they already know how great they are, they don’t need me to remind them! (HT: Danielle)

2. Over at National Review, Tony Woodlief writes about the pre-Inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, a star-studded event full of folks who can more or less present the words, but never think or write those words themselves:

Yet there was a time when scientists and thinkers were among the household list that today is entitled: Celebrities. There was a time when speeches were given by people who could write them, and further, could deliver them with greater force than the pale, this-is-how-we-talk-on-the-Academy-Awards-stage style of Judd, Jackson, et al. And surely the age of great speeches isn’t over, as witnessed by the performance of the most gifted speaker on Sunday’s stage, Mr. Obama himself. Might there not have been room, then, amidst all the glamour, for an Irving, a Goia, and perhaps—God forbid, given sensitivities about speakers who affirm the validity of the entire Bible—the booming voice of a pastor?

3. I enjoyed this Savage Chickens cartoon, mostly because we’ve been talking about James Bond around here lately. Last night at dinner, Ethan had a question for Paul. “If James Bond is such a manly man,” he asked, “how come he’s always just hanging around girls.”

We hope he continues this line of thinking for several (10) more years. 1576″