Monday, November 14, 2011

Parenting On Track eBook Review

I am honored to be ask to give a review of Vicki Hoefle's eBook, Real Parents. Real Progress, (available for download for your Kindle, Nook, ipad or as a pdf) that will launch on November 17th!

First, I was excited to hear that Vicki was writing an eBook! Vicki is incredibly down to earth and honest about parenting. She shares her own struggles and mistakes and is an amazing person and resource. She is down and dirty and very, very honest.

The basic layout of this book is great. It gives a basic overview of each chapter of the Parenting on Track Program, asks you a question and then breaks the page before beginning stories from real life parents using the program on the next page. I love that the question is right there, begging you to look for the answer within yourself without feeling rushed to keep reading. At the same time, you feel compelled to keep reading because you want to hear how other families answered the question.

This book is inspiring. As a mother, a wife, a home manager and (everything else that I am), it can be difficult to balance it all. I am continually looking for inspiration from other mothers and Parenting on Trackers to give me a shift in perspective. I love reading about their successes, aha moments and even failures. It inspires me to tweak what I am doing. It helps me see where I am slipping up. This book puts it all together for me.

This book gives even those who have not taken the Parenting on Track classes encouragement to be better, to do better, to raise thinking kids. However, it is not an inexpensive replacement for the program. There is no replacement for the Parenting on Track Program. If you are looking for a great book of encouragement for parents, check out Vicki Hoefle's new eBook, Real Parents. Real Progress . If you are looking to start your own Parenting on Track journey look at the home program!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Done List

There is so much to blog about but I am just too tired to think of much. So this is what you get. A few weeks ago a friend said she was throwing out her "To Do List" and was instituting the "Done List." I thought that was a great idea! So I've been writing down all the stuff I've done this week.

Done List for the week
  • Walked 5.5+ miles
  • picked up Webby's car from shop and paid bill
  • 7 load of laundry washed, dried and put away
  • cleaned bathroom, including: shower, tub, sink, toilet, floor
  • made granola bars
  • made cookies
  • attended parent teacher conference
  • went to grocery store
  • arranged a babysitter
  • took Little Man to story time
  • took 2 naps
  • attended the Fun Run at the school
  • dehydrated apples
  • helped the girls sort and change over too small and winter clothes.
Not too shabby when you look at it that way. That's not mentioning cleaning the kitchen with Sweetie Heart each night and making a few breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Some days I did a lot more than other days but it all balances out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The month of June is a big one for us. Webby and Sweetie Heart have birthdays 3 days apart! We had a great time celebrating both of their births. Webby also took Little Man (formally know as Squeak) on his first Fathers and Sons Camp out. They both had a really great time! Little Man was entertaining for all. He really does love being out of doors. He's all about 'side?' and 'go?' He loves it. We've been gardening at a friend's house and he just loves digging in the dirt, as well as throwing it, laying in it, rolling around in it. Dirt is fun! I am becoming more relaxed about being dirty. We went berry picking and Little Man had the best time. When I handed him a berry to eat he rubbed it on his chin first feeling the seeds. I told him to bit it, which he was hesitant to do. But once he tasted it, he was hooked. And there was a whole field FULL of berries for him to pick and eat. He now comes into the kitchen when he is hungry and asks, 'bewwies?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

new photos

For my dad and everyone else who wants to see how cute my kids are!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


As a part of PE they did a dance unit. All the kids helped to choreograph the dance. Sweetie Heart is the one in the neon green, which happens to be Sweet Girl's outfit.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Marble Jar

A few weeks ago I watched this video with Vicki Hoefle and Anna Palmer.

We decided to do a Marble Jar. We are focusing on appreciating one another for all the wonderful things that we do everyday. We discussed at family meeting what we wanted to work towards. We decided that we would work towards going out to breakfast as a family. We so seldom do that. For the last 3 weeks we have been working towards getting those marbles (okay they are rocks. It's what I had on hand.) It looks like this weekend we will have earned all out marbles and get to go out!

There has been a bit of training that has had to go along with earning a "clink" (that's the sound the rock makes when it's dropped into the glass. In the beginning and even now I have been doing a bit of pointing out. I would say, "Wow, that was nice of your sister to do that! If you appreciate her you could get a clink." I have been pretty good about appreciating the kids and Webby more. And it has changed so much in our home. Not surprisingly, when you start looking for the positive the mood shifts that way.

It's been great to see the success of our family!

It has been going really well! It really works hand in hand with Privileges and Responsibilities.

Here is our P&R Board. It's kept in the kitchen. I move each tack forward every morning so I remember to do it. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it's a good place for me to keep track.

In the morning I've been asking the question, "What is your goal? And what do you need to do?"

That seems to be helping each of the children to remember and refocus on their goal.

There have been lots of success and some restarts, but that's all apart of the learning.

The most amazing thing that I have seen is in Sweetie Heart (8). She has been trying to earn the privilege to have a friend spend the night since September. Up to this point, she hasn't been able to get past 4 days in a row. Her mouth and attitude tend to get in the way. She has told me that she has a really hard time controlling her temper. But she blames everyone else when she has to start over.

So Webby and I decided to give her a "Marble Jar" for the privilege of having a friend come over for dinner and a movie on Friday night. We are tracking this on the same sheet and in the same way we do the P&R. The responsibilities are the same, the difference is that she isn't going to loose the "marble" for loosing her temper and she needs to get 15 marbles to earn the privilege. I has been amazing to see how she has stepped up. I think once she saw that she could get past 4 in the marble jar she felt encouraged that she could do it. It carried over to her P&R. She has been able to earn both privileges for this weekend. No one she wanted could spend the night this weekend, so we're planning on next weekend. She is going to a friend's house for dinner tonight and is super excited about it!

Sweet Girl (5) has been working to earn the privilege of going to a friends house and putting her dishing in the dish washer. She is really bad about leaving her dishes on the table and not rinsing her dishes before she puts them in the dishwasher. She needs to clear her place and wash her dishes after each meal for 4 days. She has gone back and forth with the dishes and is really easy going about having to wash her dishes by hand. She also is working on going to play at a friend's house, which she has earned as of today. And we are going to a friend's house for lunch this afternoon!

I know appreciating each other is important. And we've been doing it here and there and at Family Meeting. But I don't think I realized how huge of an impact it would make on my family. We are having more fun, laughing more, helping each other more! It has been great!

I LOVE the Marble Jar. Here are some tips to using a Marble Jar.

Checkout the Marble Jar app here! And become a fan of both the Marble Jar and Parenting on Track on FaceBook and Twitter!

Friday, April 1, 2011


Recently on FaceBook I have been re-posting articles and blog posts about how praise and rewards don't work and why. I was asked by another parent at our school what I thought about the P.O.P.S. program they have at school this year.

Each year our school has a theme. It's introduced to the parents on the first day of school and then implemented in the school and classrooms all year long. This year it is P.O.P.S. That stands for: Positive, Organized, Polite, and Safe. To get the kids to focus on what they are supposed to be learning, each classroom has a PAW (our school mascot is the Thunder Cat.) It has 50 squares that members of the class fill with smaller paws that the kids earn by doing the right thing. If a teacher or staff member notices a student doing the right thing (helping someone, walking on the correct side of the hall, etc.) they are given a paw to add to their classes paw. Once a classroom paw is filled the kids are given a reward. All of them are good things: reading to a younger class, a picnic, picking the lunch menu for a week. Fun stuff like that.

I don't think this theme is bad at all. I think it is wonderful that the school is focusing on teaching the kids to do these things. They should always be teaching these things to students. These are things that everyone needs to learn to be able to do to be respectful of their selves and others and good members of society. It seems to me that these are just givens. I am far from perfect on implementing these things at home but I am striving to teach my children the same things. And yes, sometimes I do still bribe my kids.

I don't have a great perspective on how it is working at the school. I'm not there as much as I used to be. But what I have observed is things kind of just seem the same as last year. If there is a group of kids in the hall together they are usually talking. When walking in a line they are seldom straight and they often take up the whole hall. Of course, that is only a small part of it, and I don't see all of the other ways they earn those paws.

My thoughts started bouncing as I mulled this over. It makes me wonder, why do they need the paws? Why are the students being 'rewarded' for something they are or at least should be expected to do? How do you decide which kid to reward? What about the students who always do the 'right' thing? You can't just keep giving them paws. They would get a bunch of them every day. So does that mean that the kids who have a problem following the rules are the ones who are getting most of the rewards when they do what they are supposed to? How is that making the other students feel? Then it begs the question, what will happen next year when the rewards are gone. For that matter, how is it going now? We all know the year starts off with a BANG! Everyone is excited. Students are on their best behavior. The students are aware of what they are doing because they know the teachers are looking. And the teachers are looking to 'catch' the students doing good. Was the students' behavior any different than normally would have been at the beginning of the year?

What about now? Are there still as many paws being given out? If not, why? Is it the students behavior worse or are the teachers too busy teaching to notice? Then there's the question of age. Have the younger classes gotten more full classroom paws then older classes? If so, is it because the tweens think it's silly or pointless? Why bother doing what you're supposed to if you think the rewards are dumb or you haven't been noticed for doing the right thing? And then I begin to wonder, if the students who normally do the right thing are actually aren't being noticed are they behaving worse because they aren't being noticed or rewarded for it. I also wonder if behavior is better, worse, or the same this year than in the past.

I wonder a lot don't I!

I don't have any of these answers. I'm sure the school has a big party planned for the end of the year to congratulate the students for all their hard work this year. A big theme wrap-up! And next year the theme will be different. What then?

My child has yet to come home and tell me she's gotten a paw. I don't know if she has or not, she probably has. Honestly, I'm glad she hasn't come home to tell me. She does and acts the way she believes to be correct, not because of the reward, but because she knows it's the right thing to do. She knows the rules and acts accordingly. If she doesn't like a rule she comes home and we talk about it. We talk about why her teacher or school feels the way they do and if it's something she can live with or something she wants to do something about. Then she chooses to follow through with the discussion or not.

For example, a couple of months ago Sweetie Heart (8) came home a bit worked up. Her teacher had told her that she was SH's mom while she was at school and was responsible for having SH do what her mom would have her do. Well, first off, Sweetie Heart was TICKED that her teacher would imply that she was like her mom. As she said, "She is NOT my mom!"

Second, Sweetie Heart was being told by her teacher that I would make her wear her coat out to recess, no matter how warm she felt. Her first mistake was to to say, "If your mom sent you to school in that coat, then she wants you to wear it." (SH decides which coat she's going to wear not me!) SH told her teacher that, in fact, I would not make her wear her coat. That I think she's old enough to make that kind of decision for herself. Her teacher told her to go home and ask me. I told SH that she was right, she knows if she's warm enough, not me. And that she could go back and tell her teacher so. If she needed to, her teacher could call me and we could discuss it. She did so and her teacher said okay, she didn't have to wear her coat if she was warm enough.

So in a nutshell, my opinion is of you want long term change you need to teach and train students/ children/ coworkers etc. what to do and hold them to that standard all day everyday. But if we want short term change that will fizzle and end , then go for the reward system. But that's just my opinion.

And Vicki's
And Amy's

Updated: A friend who works in the school left this comment but I want to put it in this post. I like POPS even better now!
POPS is our school's implementation of a well researched and successful behavior model, it's not a 1 year theme. And I'm a fan, and from what I've seen, it fits well with the personal responsibility you work on with your family. PBIS is in place at VUMS/HS as well, encouraging a pattern of consistent expected behavior from K-graduation. Teachers and staff, not just students are recognized for P.O.P.S. behavior (and I think it's at least as hard if not harder for some teachers than many students.)

You can read more here

Friday, February 18, 2011

More Capable

Sometimes it takes not saying anything to see how capable your children are. Sweet Girl has learn that if she doesn't ask if she can do something, most times she is proving that she is capable of doing . Things like answering the phone when she's 4 (she 5 now). Sweetie Heart I have held back a little more so she still asks permission to do things like get a glass of juice and how much. I am encouraging her a bit more to take on mire of her life and she is stepping up like crazy!

Here is a small glimpse of how each of my kids are capable.

Sweetie Heart (8)

This is the most amazing experience to me. Last Friday Sweetie heart came home from school. She realized that she didn't have a piece of homework she needed. If the packet wasn't done she wasn't going to be able to be a part of the Valentine's party and brownie sundaes.

She started to cry and get upset. I told her I understood how disappointed she must feel and asked her what she wanted to do. It was already 5:30pm and I wasn't willing to walk over to the school with her to see if it was open. She said maybe the school would be open on Saturday. I said maybe, but what if it's not? What do you want to do. She asked to email her teacher. I told her she could do that, but her teacher might not check her work email over weekend. I told her I did have her phone number if she wanted to call her.

She said she wanted to call her teacher. She took her phone, dialed and talked to her teacher, explaining that she didn't have her homework and asked if she could stay in for recess to complete it so she be a part of the Valentine's party. Her teacher asked a few questions: How did you realize you didn't have your homework? Was it when you were getting it out to do it? (totally a leading question, of course Sabine was going to answer yes even if that wasn't the case.) Her teacher told her that she could come in before school to get it done and if she didn't get it done before school she could finish it during snack time.

And that is exactly what she did! She got ready and out the door 20 minutes earlier then she usually does. She was able to finish her packet exactly as the bell was ringing. Many of the other students in the class didn't do the packet, so Sabine was one of few of the students who got to have their brownie sundae. The others had theirs the next day after their packets were done. Even if the students got their packets done during the party they weren't able to get the brownie sundae.

Her teacher ended up asking Sabine if she could tell the story about what she had done to the class, which she did.

We are having a warm spell these last 2 days. Yesterday was about 50 degrees (unusual for February in these parts.) She came home with just her sweatshirt on. Her snow stuff having been stuffed in her book bag. She came up to me and said, "Mrs. D said that I had to wear my coat. She said that if my mom was here she'd make me wear it. I told her that you wouldn't. I told her you would ask me if I was warm enough and that I can make that decision for myself. She told me to go home and ask you." I told her she was exactly right. She can make that decision for herself. This is the reason that she refused to wear her winter coat until it snowed this year. Her teacher would make her wear her coat even if she got hot because, "Your mom made you wear your coat to school, so she wants you to wear it. I am your mom while you are at school so you need to wear it. If she was here she would make you wear your coat." So she got around it by not wearing her winter coat. She wore 2 or 3 sweaters and her fleece lined raincoat instead. Good for her is all I have to say.

Sweet Girl (5)

Like I said she started answering the phone when she was 4. She can do laundry almost all by herself (we have a front loader.) I keep the soap up high so she needs me to get that for her.

Just today she surprised me. Squeak (who will now be known as Little Man) had just woken up from a nap. She said she was going to go in and "play" with him. That usually means that she would go in, make a bunch of noise, make him laugh and play with his toys. Today she came out and said, "SURPRISE!" and out walked little man. I had to ask how she did it. He still sleeps in a crib and the side was all the way up.

I have these Sterilite plastic stackable drawers that I've had since college. I have 3 small ones in Little Man's room. She moved those over to the crib and made stair steps. She then climbed them, turned on the light (pull string from the fixture) and pulled him out, I guess. I didn't see it, but no toddler was injured so I guess it works.

Little Man (17 months)

Just now Little Man was crying for a snack. He is always hungry. He is going to eat me out of house and home when he gets older! YIKES! I digress. I asked him if he wanted popcorn. He went into the kitchen and started pointing to where I keep the bread box, cookies and ...popcorn maker. At first I thought he was asking for a cookie, but then I looked at where he was the popcorn maker! I asked him to get the popcorn out for me. He opened the lower cabinet and after I moved the pretzels out of the way (they were blocking his view of the popcorn so he couldn't see it) he took out the popcorn and gave it to me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

As we can see it's been awhile. We've been through a lot here at our house. On Christmas I announced that I was pregnant. Unfortunately, that isn't the case anymore. Just thought you should all know. I deactivated my FaceBook account for a bit. I need to get some distance and perspective. I have been using it as a distraction. So here I am, hopefully back to blogging about all the wonderful things my family does!

In the mean time enjoy these videos and slides.