Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Does It Look Like...?

Family Meeting last night. Went pretty well. When Sweet Girl thanked Webby for something he hasn't done for awhile (& what she usually says) Webby asked her when he did that. She said, "well, sometimes." I asked her what she appreciated about him that happened this week. She thought of something. We went on to contributions. Last week's momTV was about contributions. So I took some of those tips and used them. I assigned contributions. Yes, I know. I want then to pick them but I'm still getting it together. I assigned Sweetie Heart the kitchen.

SH: What! The kitchen?! What do I have to do??
Me: What does a clean kitchen look like to you?
SH: ::Looks around:: The counters are cleaned off and wiped off. The sink is empty and clean.
Me: And the table?
SH: Cleaned off and wiped.
Me: Okay, that's what you need to do every morning and every night.
SH: I'm not clearing off other people's places!
Webby: I'll still help with the dishes.

I assigned Sweet Girl the bathroom. What does a clean bathroom look like to her?

SG: Scrub the bathtub, clean the toilet and sink. She also added on the trash.

This morning I reminded both girls that they needed to do their contributions. Sweetie Heart grumbled a little. Again stated she wasn't going to clear other people's places. To which I said okay. Sweet Girl said she needed me to teach her how to clean the toilet. She didn't but I humored her. I jumped in the shower while she finished that and cleaned the sink. When I was about to go downstairs Sweetie Heart came up. She said, "Just wait until you see the kitchen!" I want down and man oh man, she did a better job then I do most nights! I told her I appreciated her doing such a great job.

As I was assigning contributions, I assigned Webby floors and dishes. To which he responded. "Great! I loves to do those." Well, love might be a bit strong, but you get the point. I assigned myself the living room. It is the room that gets trashed the most. There is always stray stuff hanging around in there. Webby looked at me and said, "Oh man! I'm glad I didn't get the living room!" I said, "I know. I don't like doing it either, but it's my contribution for the week so I will." Good tip Vicki. Love it!

So this morning was a success! We even got out the door and to school on time! Yeah us!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Tale of Two Baskets

I do the laundry. I have a pretty good system going with it. I do light colors on Mondays and do the the whites and darks on Fridays. I fold the clothes coming out of the dryer or off the line and put them in individual baskets for each member of the family. Each member of the family is responsible for putting their own laundry away.

If asked most members of the family will help with parts of doing the laundry. If asked, Sweet Girl will sort the colors, load the washer (front loader), put the soap in, start the laundry, switch the laundry over and turn the dryer on. She needs asked every step of the way, but she is willing most of the time. She doesn't really like to fold or put away. But really that is a ton for a 4 year old! Sweetie Heart can do it, but she complains about it and also needs reminded.

Here's the other thing. See these two laundry baskets? What is different about them?

Hmm, one is almost empty and the other one is full to overflowing you say? You are right.

I have one child who wears the same thing over and over and over again. She even said to me once that she was glad she wore the same thing over and over again so she had less stuff to put away. I then made the 2 day rule, which she doesn't follow through with because it's my rule not hers. She will wear clothes that have visible dirt on them and still insist that they are clean. Anything she takes off she puts on the end of her bed to wear again instead of putting the dirty stuff in the hamper. We recently put the hamper in their room to create an environment for them to put dirty clothes where they belong. It doesn't seem to be working for her.

My other child wears clothes like she's using a tissue. If it gets wet, it's dirty and goes in the hamper. If she decides she wants to wear something different (usually at least once a day) it's goes in the hamper. She also doesn't like putting away her clothes. I was putting her clean clothes basket on the end of her bed. If it wasn't emptied by the next time I did laundry I dumped it on the end of her bed so I could use the basket again. She would put dirty clothes in top of them and then scoop all of them up and dump them into the hamper for me to wash. That makes my blood boil. I washed, dried and folded them and she could even put them away? And then she wanted me to do it again to clean clothes!? It smacks of laziness. So I took her clean laundry away. Yes, yes I know it's controlling. When she was ready to put her all of her clean laundry away she could have them, but she couldn't pick and choose what she wanted from the basket. Problem is she's smart. She would put part of the basket away and then get what she wanted and stop. Then it went to the fact that she didn't have any clothes so she took dirty stuff out of the hamper to wear. Ugh! I had two big baskets of her clothes in my room. Obviously she has too many clothes. She and I went through them last week and got rid of a bin full of stuff. This is to create an environment for her to be able to put her stuff away.

So what am I to do? Do I just let it go? Do I let them do whatever they want with there clothes situation or do I intervene? And by intervene I mean, do I make up some sort of privilege and responsibility around it? I do not want to be picking out their clothes for them. Honestly, I think they would let me and love not having to be responsible for it. So what to do. Vicki...are you there? Are you going to give me some input? Please??

And just because I know you're looking for them. How cute is he??

A Tired Mind

It's been a bit of a tough week. Too busy, of my own making.

Sweetie Heart hasn't wanted to go to school, probably 3 days out of 5. There have been tears and tantrums. There have been chaos and whining. And yet I have also seen the girls work together. The other morning it was time to leave to take Sweetie Heart to school. Sweet Girl knocked 2 of her 3 coats off the hook and was ready to leave them there (like normal.) Problem is it's right in front of the door. We can't get out of the house with the coats on the floor. Even before I asked Sweet Girl to pick them up, Sweetie Heart reached down and hung them back up. The girls have played together happily.

Last week on momTV, Vicki talked about contributions. This has always been hard for our family. The kids don't especially want to do them, no matter how easy. And I'm tired of being the maid. The girls will do them, but only if I remind them, sometimes repeatedly. Before PonT I had a belief that kids should only be given an allowance if they earned it by doing chores. As I have learned more I agree with Vicki and I give allowance to my kids just for being a member of our family. However, I still wonder when doing contributions will catch on. When will my kids do them without being reminded. I made up an erasable board for Sweetie Heart but she doesn't use it. If she write something on it and walks away she doesn't come back to it to see what she still needs to so.

I really like this PonT blogger. She's using remembery boards. And it seems to be starting to catch on, but like everything it takes time. I'm impatient to see results. I've been reminding so long. When I bring it up to Problem Solve at Family Meeting no one seems to have a solution. I probably need to let the time run out and not give allowance. Maybe then the kids would think about what we can do. If I do get a response it's something like, "remind me__ many times" or "put me in time out if I don't." You can see what's been done in the past. It obviously doesn't work, but they can't think of anything else...it appears. Well, I think they could but they just don't. It seems like if it's going to take any effort on their parts, they don't want to do it.

On to another topic. Saturday dawned early. The only day we get to sleep in is Saturday. Saturday seems to be the only day the girls will wake up early voluntarily. And it usually starts with a fight...naturally. Webby and I do our best to ignore it. This past Saturday went a little like this.

  • 6:15am ~ Mom and Dad still sleeping. Squeak starts talking a little. I hear the bathroom light go on and both girls go in.
  • Yelling about lights turning on. (They share a room) One wants to sleep longer (SG) and one wants the light on (SH).
  • Screaming, threatening, crying. Parents stay in bed!
  • SG comes in crying. Calms herself to say she wants to sleep longer. I ask her if she has a solution. "Rest with you?" she says. Good solution, she gets to climb into our bed.
  • Bad solution for SH. She starts ordering SG around. Telling her what she has to do because she was trying to find other solutions for the lights (turning them off) which her sister was sabotaging her.
  • I shut the door.
  • SH begins to pound on the door. It's early and we live in a duplex. I will not allow her to bother the neighbors this early in the morning.
  • I back her up into her room. Tell her I not going to allow her to bother the neighbors. And tell her I am ready to listen to her problem when she is ready to talk.
  • She's bored and doesn't want to be alone. SERIOUSLY?!?
  • I refrained from lecturing. I explained that her sister wanted to continue to sleep. If she wanted to turn off the light and invite her sister back in she could, but it would be SG's choice if she wanted to come back. Or she could find something else to do.
  • She decided to do something else. But then it was done.
All this and so much more makes me feel a bit defeated. Yes, some things worked out but it just seems like such a fight sometimes. There are so many things I need to do and I just don't feel like I'm doing anything well right now. It'll get better...I know. It's just hard...again. But then I ran across this post. Just what I needed today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Face in Repose ~ Revisited

The other day Squeak and I were at the library alone. The girls have yet to earn the privilege of going to the library. The responsibilities required to go to the library and check out books are to keep all books put away on the bookshelves or in the library book bin and to be ready to leave a place on time/ when I say.

I digress. Since I have been a volunteer at the library for the past 3 years I know most of the other volunteer and staff. There is this very cute 95 year old woman who volunteers every week. She probably 5'2" tops. I was holding Squeak and looking at books to see if there was anything of interest. Mabel walks past me, smacks me on the butt and says, pleasant as can be, "Get that scowl off your face!" Totally made me laugh!

Even though I am working really hard at smiling more, I still scowl when I'm not consciously smiling. It will take some time to retrain myself to smile. Apparently I need a little old lady to follow me around, smacking me on the butt to remind me not to scowl.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More About Money

As much as I hate the consumerism I see in my kids at times, I still love giving them the money. I just remembered why when I read this post.

When we started giving the kids money a year ago I made it very clear that they could use their money on whatever they wanted. I took them up to the drug store and they bought candy, candy and more candy for a few weeks. I also made it clear to Sweetie Heart that if she wanted hot lunch at school it came from her allowance. If she wanted to order a book from the book order it came from her allowance. If she wanted to give her friend a present for her birthday or give Valentine's at school that would come from her allowance or she could get creative. The choice has been given.

And a choice has been made. This year Sweetie Heart decided that she didn't want to give Valentine's for the class party (her teacher said they could bring them if they wanted to. She didn't want to!) She went to a birthday party for a friend. She decided to look through our books to see if there was one she could give to her friend (I've done this in the past) and then decided to just give her friend $5 cash in the card she made. The mother of the friend tried to give the money back to Sweetie Heart. She didn't want her daughter to take it because the money was Sweetie Heart's. But she held her ground and said she wanted her friend to have the money. She hasn't eaten hot lunch much this year because she either hasn't had the money or she wants something else more. Funny too, at the beginning of the school year she said to me, "If I forget my lunch, can I charge my lunch and pay the bill when it comes?" Why yes, yes you can!

I also have to say, the kids don't beg for stuff so much anymore. Sweetie Heart is understanding better how to get what she wants, when she wants it. She is saving more and is much more thoughtful about her money. But buying books is still her weakness. Don't know where she gets that...ahem!

I also explained that if they broke something that belonged to someone else they would have to replace it. That actually happened to Sweet Girl. She was playing with Sweetie Heart's Barbie and broke the head off. She didn't yank the head off. The neck was probably already starting to break, but she was playing with it when it broke. She said, "Oops!" Actually it was really funny when it happened. I had to stifle a laugh. I said, "Oops, you'll have to buy a new one with your money." And she said okay. That was it. I was thinking there would be more of a fight, with a tantrum from Sweetie Heart about the broken Barbie and a tantrum from Sweet Girl for having to spend her money to replace it. I got none of it! Natural consequences at there best. I HATE those big stores. I could have ordered it online but I felt it was important to take her to the store and have her pick out the new Barbie and buy it with her money. So we did. And it was hard for her to go in to Toys R Us and just buy the Barbie for her sister and nothing for herself. But she did it!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Yes, this week is about money management. I have to say that is hard to give my kids money knowing that they will probably spend in on crap or candy. I just don't need more crap in the house! It's really hard to watch my kids just spend and spend their money and then not have the money for stuff later.

That said, I have seen some amazing generosity from Sweetie Heart. We have focused on teaching the kids about tithing. So after we give the allowance we give them tithing slips and help them fill them out. We give 10% off the top as tithing. There is then places for different things; fast offering (to give to the needy in our church), missionary fund (we have 2 friends on missions right now. She contributes a little for each of them), temple building, humanitarian aid (which the church uses to help those effected by natural disasters and poverty all over the world), and perpetual education (which helps those in 3rd world countries go to get training so that they can support themselves and their families and then give back to help others.)

I have seen her give all of her money to the church. And she does it with a grin. I must say that I have a hard time with it. I know..I know. I should be encouraging it. And I am, but it's hard not to remind her that there won't be any more money until the next week. And if she wants something then she won't have any money. I have seen her make bad choices and then recognize that they were, as she said a waste of money!

Now she is now focusing on saving her money for a guitar. She received %50 for Christmas and has been saving that. She's adding to it a little at a time from her allowance and dips into it as her desire for something arises. This is a big ticket item. Webby and I have talked about it. Part of us wants to help her buy it to encourage her to play an instrument. Yet, I want her to save for it so that she is dedicated to playing it. It also gives her time to decide if she really wants it. I am willing to pay for lessons if she will practice. I feel like if she buys it, then she will be more apt to practice. She's saving since Christmas and still isn't even close.

I have to say, this is a hard concept for me. This money is just given, they don't have to earn it. And yes, I know that this is a better time to make mistakes with money. But giving them money and then watch them buy stuff I won't is hard. Plus, if we don't have the money in the house for the allowance we tend to forgo Family Meeting. We didn't have Family Meeting for close to two months because we didn't have the money for allowance. We're back on it and working at it but it's still hard.

On the up side, I have had a good experience with the kids and money.

A couple of weeks ago, Sweetie Heart and I went to a local resale shop. I had two boxes of clothes for them to buy and put on store credit and a little left on credit from last time. we were talking about spending money. I told her that some people like to go shopping. She asked me why. I said they think it's fun. Here is what she said to me. Well, they are going to have to figure out what they need and what they don't. Because, you know, their parents aren't going to just keep sending them money every week when they are college just so they can spend it. Very astute for a 7 year old.

Just last week, Sweet Girl was playing with the scotch tape. Just peeling it off and taping her clothes and stuff. I don't like that kind of waste, but I was letting it go. I said, I can see you really like tape! You know we could go to the dollar store and you could buy 3 rolls of tape for a dollar and they would be just yours. Wow, she got excited about that!! She ran and got her purse and counted out $5. She said, I could get 5 tapes! I said, You could get 15 tapes for that! She was even more excited by that prospect. We got there, and can I tell you I hate. those. stores. I like them for tape, envelopes, shower curtains, but that's about it. We walked in and it was all about the stuff. She kept grabbing stuff like pedicure sets, wooden letter, and incense sticks. She didn't even know what she was grabbing...it was just stuff to buy. Heaven help me, I have a consumer! I admit I told her no on all the extra stuff she didn't even know what it was. I got us in and out as fast as we could. She bought 1 box of tapes and asked me to help her open all 3 of them, which I did. I put her name on them so we don't get them mixed up with the family tape. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Hmm, have to think about that. I caught her taping up her face that evening. But it is her tape she can do whatever she wants with it. She keeps it in her sock drawer, by the way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Morning Routine

Our morning routine...well usually it bites. No, really. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to get it all done. My girls tend to get distracted, don't keep track of the time and don't/ are not able to do two things at once. I see the clock tick down, knowing that when it's time to leave there will be a tantrum, screaming, self depreciation (I hate myself statements) and general chaos.

So instead of staying out of it and keeping my mouth shut, I begin to nag, remind, badger, order around... you get the picture. And then all of the things I was trying to avoid (see above list) happen anyway and there is usually crying and "I don't want to go to school" stuff, as well.

I know that I cannot be trusted to keep my mouth shut in the morning. So I've been trying to figure out what to do about it. We have a baby in the house. That, in and of itself ,is a great reason to NOT be downstairs for the morning routine. However, the girls keep coming upstairs to talk to me, ask me questions, say they don't know what to have for breakfast/ lunch, she touching me... the list goes on. Things aren't going well then either. Do they really need me there? Maybe.

I've done the tape thing, but that makes Sweetie Heart crazy. Just seeing it darkens her mood. I know why. If I'm not talking then I not reminding her what needs to be done and how much time etc. Plus then they ask questions I should answer, so I have to take it off, then it doesn't stick as well, so then I'm wasting the tape...blah, blah, blah.

I was talking to a friend from church the other day. She has a large family with seven kids from ages 8 to 20. I asked her how she trained her kids. One thing she said really struck me. She said the morning sets the tone for her family. They always have breakfast together. In the morning they come together ready for the day. They read scriptures, have family prayer and eat breakfast together. Her kids know that when they come down they need to be ready to walk out of the house for the day after they eat. She does home school the elementary school age kids, but they still have to be ready for schooling to start after they eat. If one member of the family has to leave early for something, then the whole family gets up earlier to have this family time together.

I brought that home to Webby and we talked about it. It felts right, a big change though. I have been struggling to get out of bed. I have been struggling to get things done and to feel like I am accomplishing things. I set the tone for the day and it hasn't been pretty. So we decided that was the thing to do. Starting this week. I've been pulling myself out of bed at 5am to be ready for the day. The kids are up earlier. We are uniting spiritually in the mornings. As an added bonus there is more time to have a non-rushed morning. I'm not nagging, etc because I can look at the clock and see there is plenty of time! The girls are fighting less. I am with them in the morning talking and connecting. They have time to play with the baby. And we've been walking out the door earlier then ever. It's only been two days, I know, but this just feels right. As hard as the change is, it's so worth it if this is how it changes our family!

I guess that's another aha moment!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Face in Repose

I've been busy the last couple of days setting up environments for my kids to succeed. I'm moving stuff around. Doing my best to make the things that I have work. I'm kicking myself for not picking up that free desk on the curb the other day. It would have been perfect! I even tried to get it in the van but it wouldn't fit without me moving the kids around. I just couldn't do that right then. When I went back an hour later it was gone.

I'm looking for bunk beds for the girls room. There is no space for them to play in there at all. There is literally a foot of space between their beds and Sweet Girls mattress in on the floor. If we ever find one that is inexpensive enough for us, we will need another dresser, too. I would like to find one big one. But all of this stuff costs money and we don't have much to spare right now. I looking on craigslist right now. I have always hated the idea of bunk beds...you know the whole falling off and breaking arms and stuff. But Sweetie Heart broke her arm when she feel down a hill so I think I can navigate that if it were to happen again.

I am taking the Parenting on Track class again live. Vicki's not teaching it this time but she trained 4 women how to teach the program so I'm going to attend that while also watching the program Vicki's doing on momTV. I'm fully into this right now. Up to my ears immersed in it and I'm loving it.

This week at church we had a lesson about being a peacemaker. The challenge went out to be a peacemaker in your home for 1 week. We went so far as to challenge the young women I work with to do it for a month. We'll be checking in weekly to see what they are doing and how it is changing their family life. I am doing that too. I know that a lot of the tension in my home comes from me. I get stressed and my mood changes everyone. I am making a conscious effort to smile more. When you smile or frown it changes the way you feel. Read Blink to understand this better. My face in repose tends to frown, so I consciously have to lift my eyebrows and lips to smile. It really is helping though.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm Back

Not sure why I'm not blogging right now. I think maybe it's because I'm going crazy, but that's a different post.

The last two weeks we have been working on Encouragement (as in to instill courage) and Privileges and Responsibilities.

I'm finding it a bit easier to not praise but to encourage instead. When I first started I would praise and then ask questions, so as to encourage the girls. Funny though, Vicki says it's hard for kids to stop getting praise, they seek it because it is given so often. I have found that I have a heard time not giving it. I am doing better. Asking how and what questions. I especially like asking what they like about whatever and asking what they would do different. It really goes deep into how they feel and them learning that they can change the way they do things.

Privileges and Responsibilities are harder for me. I know I let my kids to way too much stuff. It's almost like I feel like I should let my kids do all the things they want to do, even when their actions don't show me they are ready to do them.

Here is my list of Privileges that they haven't earned:
  • play dates
  • going to the library
  • checking out books from the library
  • going out to eat
  • doing things after school (art class, after school program)
Admittedly, I enjoy going to the library, so often we go for me. But we don't have to go. I have plenty to do without going to the library every week. Sweetie Heart doesn't even participate in story time. She hangs out in the librarian's office and then comes out for the craft at the end.

We have been working on how to sit at a table and what is acceptable behavior when we are eating, but we can't seem to get past the sitting in your chair thing. Often Sweet Girl stands/ squats on her chair, next to her chair or through her chair (folding chair.) Sweetie Heart sits on her feet or on the edge of her booster seat. Oh and did I mention she just started belching at the table. NICE!

It only seems fair that we sit down with the kids and tell them they are going to have to start being responsible to earn their privileges. I feel like I should write it down so that they can go look at the list and know what they need to do. We should probably all sit down together so we can make the list and everyone is on the same page. Because I know that when kids help make the rules it is easier to hold them accountable.

I am reading The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman. It is very enlightening on how children (and all people) receive love differently. If I know their primary love language then I can fill their love tanks. I gave the girls the test today (found in the back of the book.) Sweetie Heart is physical touch and Sweet Girl is receiving gifts. That must be why Sweetie Heart is always touching me and Sweet Girl is always giving stuff to people. I don't agree with Dr. Chapman's description of encouraging words. Mostly because what he describes is praise not encouragement. Otherwise I find the book very insightful and it is helping me to connect with my kids better.

I guess that's all for now. We are all alive and kickin' (sometimes against the pricks.)

Vicki's away this weekend at a Mom's Retreat this weekend. I so wish I could go! It looks like so much fun and learning. And it would be great to get to hang out with a bunch of other mom's committed to using the Parenting on track Program. There is another one in 2 weeks. If you live in New England and want to attend sign up here. If you don't live in New England and want to sponsor me just let me know!