Thursday, January 19, 2012

jump, jump, jump!

We have very busy kiddos.  They needed a new way to burn some of that energy.  I needed a break from them asking to ride their skooters in the front yard all the time.  So we splurged for a 7.5 foot diameter trampoline.  Best money we've spent in a long time. :)

We were hit with a cold front last week.  It was early still, and just 45 degrees out, and they jumped until their cheeks hurt from the cold.  (We're kinda wimpy here in S. AZ.) 

Gotta love those rosy cheeks!

We don't let the kids jump in socks -- too slippery.  Nichole was jealous of Keandre and Brooklyn's footie pjs, so she borrowed Keandre's spares.  Yeah....that didn't last long.  She said they were itchy!  And she's a bit of a fasionista and a girly-girl, so the pattern didn't help any. ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Does that word cause a pit in your stomach?  It does for me!  Our job as parents is to prepare our children for the world that awaits them -- spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  This includes the life skills that will help them be successful in life. 

Andy and I realized recently that we had slipped into that old parenting habit of constantly reminding our children to do what they already know they need to do. It was miserable for us and for the kids.  And it wasn't working.

Last I checked, Andy's boss doesn't bribe, cajole, or nag to get him to stay focused on his work.  It is Andy's responsibility to get his work done on time.  If he does, he is rewarded with good relationships with his boss and coworkers.  He is also rewarded with a paycheck!  If he doesn't do his work, 'real life' rewards him with some natural and logical consequences. 

Our former approach not only wasn't working; it was not preparing them for a world where they will not be reminded over and over to do their work -- they will receive a  natural or logical consequence (failed grade, lost job, etc.) and life will go on.  When they are grown, it is up to them whether they learn from those experiences, but in our home, we can talk about it and learn together. 

I had already prepared chore charts for each of them a few months ago, so they knew exactly what they needed to do, and when.  (ie, 'before lunch', 'before playing with friends', etc.)  The novelty had worn off.

We have now been using our new system for a couple weeks now, and I have to say we are all very happy with it!  We still use the above pictured chore charts.  In addition, here is what we did:

Please excuse the wrinkles on my 'example' chart. 
A certain toddler stepped on it as I was taking the picture. :)

We raised each child's allowance from a conservative $.25 per year (Nichole was receiving $1.75 per week at age 7) to $.50 per year (Nichole now receives $3.50 per week).  Lucas receives an addition $2 per week for caring for the chickens, rabbits, turtles, etc.

Then Andy and I considered the tasks that we find ourselves regularly nagging reminding them to do, and put a new policy in place -- they need to do their own work, or plan on paying someone else to do it.

Why is this a reasonable approach, you say?  Well, the reality is that we don't all keep up with what we need to do.  For instance, if Papa doesn't have time to mow his lawn, he might hire Daddy or Uncle Ian to do it for him.  If I've been focused on home schooling and I'm behind around the house, I occasionally hire a cleaning service to come and help me catch up.  Those are logical and acceptable alternatives to doing the work ourselves.

Our kids get a kick out of the fact that they don't have to do their work if they prefer not to.  Instead of hearing, "_____, you still haven't put your dishes in the dishwasher!", you will see Daddy clean up Sunday lunch, notice that a child was excused but did not take care of his dishes, do it for him, and note it on the chart.  Later, he will gently remind him, "You were busy with other activities. The job needed done, and I was happy to do it for you."  If the child complains about losing the money, the reply is, "You are welcome to do it yourself next time." :) 

Paying us to do their work for them is not a is a privilege!  They get to choose to use their money that way if they wish, and we focus on the fact that we are all a team together, keeping the home running smoothly.  They are also learning the value of saving and spending.  (If they go into the negative, which we haveen't faced so far, they will need to either work to pay us back, or lose a privilege.)

On Saturdays, we go over the chart with them. (No shaming or tsk-tsking over how often we may have put their dishes in the dishwasher for them, or the fact that they skipped their chores 3 times this week.)  Then we divvy up the money due and head to a nearby thrift store, where there is much happiness as quarters and dollars are spent, and much searching for the 50% off colored tags.  (They are also learning how to shop for a bargain! :)  Each of them checks out on their own so they can hand over their money and keep their own change.  Doing this regularly helps them value their money in a way that we didn't see when it was just sitting in their bank.

How do you handle chores around your house?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

*BIG* feelings


We've had some big feelings come out in the last few weeks.  It has not been pretty.  And it is *hard* to respond in appropriate ways when my kiddos are taking those big feelings out on me.  I know I'm a safe person in my children's lives, so they're trusting me to be able handle it.  And in turn, it's my job to help them learn another way of handling their emotions.  This is a huge responsibility!

One of the ways I help my children process their big emotions after a blow-out is through coloring.  (It's important to also color during happier times, so it doesn't feel like a reward -- extra time to together after a blow-out.)  We sit down together and get it all out on paper.  Then I add whatever words they want.  I encourage them to identify the feelings they were having when they were so upset.  Sometimes it is very insightful!  

Here, Keandre shares that his tummy is hurting.  He deals with chronic pain and a VERY limited diet, due to his EE & EGE.  He is starting to grieve the way he can't eat like other children.

It has also been a very tough adjustment for him now that Daddy has a full time job.  Andy was unemployed, and working occasional contract jobs from home, for the last 3 years.  Now he works long hours M - Th, plus finishing up some contract work on the weekends.  Praise God my sweetie can tell me what is upsetting him so we can help him work through it!

Nichole, age 7, is dealing with adoption losses.  Her birthmother (also Nichole) has been out of state for a while, and she really misses being in contact with her.  These are normal ups and downs in an open adoption.  I'm thankful she loves her birthmom and that she is willing to talk to me about it.

I'm feeling worn out by all the craziness and acting out.  So I needed to draw also.  As I put it on paper, not censoring how I think it 'should' look, I found myself calming down.  I was reminded of the Cross, and Christ's gift of forgiveness when I don't respond the way I want to.  I'm so thankful for His peace and comfort, too!

Lucas doesn't spill his emotions in the same intense way, but this approach is still very helpful for him.  Here is a picture he drew last year after he and I discussed a problem he faces regularly.  He was frustrated and tired of sharing a room with his brother.  Lucas can spend a couple hours cleaning his room, and within a two days (or is it hours?), it is a disaster again.  After working through it on paper, we talked about some solutions.

If you are caring for spirited or wounded children, I hope you'll consider a little informal art therapy.  I'd love to hear how it works out for you your kids! :)

It's really hard to pretend you're angry when you're no longer angry. :)

(Pictures and info shared with my children's permission.)

Things We Love: Stripey PJs

Brooklyn's: Hanna Anderson (from Costco)
Keandre's: Children's Place

My handsome little boy.
I cannot believe he is turning 5 soon!

Reading a book together on the windowsill.
I LOVE our low windowsills. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

Oh, how I love the new year!  There were many joys and blessigs in the last year.  But it was hard, too. 

We had two failed adoptions. 

We entered our third year since Andy had been laid off.  (He now has a full-time job at an architecture firm -- hooray!)

Our middle children have been struggling deepling, and require much of us.  For the last few months, we've been feeling depleted and have not always up to the challenge. 

But every Christmas break, we have the opportunity to start evaluate what's been working, and what hasn't, and make changes.  Sure, we can do that anytime, but after a week away, and lots of time away from usual routines, we always return motivated and ready to jump back into life at home.

This year, we're revisiting the books and blogs that have been instrumental in helping us help our children.  These resources focus on wounded children -- whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and how we can help them overcome and heal.  I can't wait to share what we're learning with you!

You'll also see posts about our family life and spiritual life -- what encourages us and keeps us going.  I'm looking forward to a couple of giveaways. 

And, when I have the time, energy, motivation, and pictures downloaded, you'll occasionally see a back-dated post pop up in your reader or inbox.  Those are the catch-up posts that I try not to burden myself with *having* to do.  But the reality is, there are some I want to get to because this blog is our version of a family scrapbook. :)

So, let's get to it!  If you like to comment (we read every one!), I'd love to hear your view on the new year.  Do you like to make New Year's resolutions?  Do you take a day to re-evaluate how life is going, and how your family is doing?  How do you celebrate the new year with your family?  If you blogged about the new year, feel free to post it here.  I'd love to follow your link and read it!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...