Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Quarter Jars-Our Chore System

If you're like me, you struggle with keeping your house in order and clean, the kids on task to help, and most importantly, doing it all with the right attitude.

Teaching our kids how to take care of their things (and our things) is part of growing up and learning stewardship. Are you being intentional in how you go about teaching that? One day after getting on my kids for all the things they weren't doing to help me around the house, I had to admit that I hadn't been very intentional about training them to do it. I had taught them how to clean and put away, but I wasn't encouraging them in it. I expected them to see all the things around the house that needed to get done, and do it. I also expected them to do it with very little encouragement or reward. Here are a few tips I've learned and have helped us work towards a system of taking care of the house TOGETHER!

Have a plan
If I fail to implement a plan, I am planning to fail. Most children don't naturally want to do chores. They usually don't volunteer to help around the house. And they most certainly don't "see" all that needs to get done the way mom does. So we must teach them. As my kids have gotten bigger, I've started a few different chore systems. If the system is cumbersome to establish or to follow through on, or if it is overly dependent on me to work, it will quickly be abandonned. Often, we will start out strong, and then I'll forget to put the stickers on the chart, or calculate how much they've done and what I owe them, or fill out the next week's list of to-do items. And before you know it, we're essentially living like we don't have a system.

Let them be a part in establishing the system

My kids will be much more enthusiastic about our new chore system, if there is a craft involved. So, I bought 4 jars at Hobby Lobby for $1 each. I let the kids pick out their own wooden decoration and we decorated our jars with stickers and paint. I also bought a bag of pre-colored wooden blocks for about $3. These jars were going to help us keep track of work accomplished.

If they are old enough, let them keep track of their progress

It's not my job to keep track of what they've done or haven't done. With 4 kids to keep up with, I can't use up valuable brain cells on this! With our system, every time they do a chore it is their responsibility to come and add a wooden block from my jar into theirs. Every block is worth $.25. Chores that are more difficult can be worth more blocks.

Establish what the daily chores are that need to be done for each child There are certain things that need to be done everyday, and that changes based on the age of the child. For us right now, that includes making the bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, keeping their rooms clean, putting away their laundry, doing their own dishes and helping keep toys picked up. Those things are expected. We've determined that all those things are worth a quarter every day. Those chores need to be done without my reminding and in a timely manner.

Reward them for taking initative
When they choose to do a chore (without my asking) they can earn extra blocks. It's been amazing to me to observe this. If they know there is a reward (a quarter) waiting for them, they miraculously know that the dishes need to be washed after every meal, or that the dog poop needs to be picked up. I realize that life doesn't always reward us moms for every time we take care of something that needs to be taken care of. However, that responsiblility has to be learned some time. Why not encourage it at young age? It's a whole lot better than the alternative: frustrated mommy yelling at her kids for not helping out more around the house.

Involve the little ones
If you have younger kids too, involve them. Kids as little as 3 can help pick up toys, organize the silverware drawer, wipe the counter off. Our 3 year old loves doing something just like her big brother and sister. She loves to put a block in her jar for helping mom. Earning quarters isn't quite on her radar yet, but she does love an occassional trip to the dollar bins at Target!

My kids are very good at reminding me to pay up. However, that's one very important detail I'm good at putting off. Your system is only as good as your willingness to be consistent at it. So, delegate areas that you are weak in to your spouse. If the whole family is involved in some way, you are more likely to be successful.

Model the right attitude
Lastly, it's important for us to model the right attitude about our chores. Being a mom involves a lot of thankless, unseen service to our families. I often remind myself of Jesus' words: "What you've done unto the least of these, you've done unto me." Matt 25:40. Somehow in God's amazing economy, our countless loads of laundry and endless meal preparation and upkeep of our homes are seen. They are seen by Him.

Our home routines and housekeeping are a long way off from what I would call being a "well-oiled machine." We are still working at it, and a lot of training still needs to be done; both for my kids and for me.

What are some of the things you're doing that are working in your house?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Heaven's Heroes

Who do your kids want to be when they grow up? If you have sons, do they desire to be like Superman, saving the damsel in distress? If you have daughters, do they desire fame and beauty? None of these aspirations are wrong in an of themselves, but are they ultimate?

The Bible is full of stories and accounts of unlikely heros. Men who didn't fear the lion's den, the firey furnace or the executioners' stones. Women who hid spies, or mothers who hid their babes in baskets. Forgiven women who made radical acts of worship at the Savior's feet. We know and love these characters.

From time to time we all need stories that will rekindle our love and passion for Christ and for missions. Stories that ignite our spirits to live fully for Christ. We all need "heros" to look up to and emulate. For that reason, I commend for your reading, Heaven's Heroes by David Shibley. This devotional-like book introduces 22 ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things for missions and ultimately-the Kingdom.

Take for example: Eric Liddell. He was an athlete. But not just any athlete, he was an Olympic gold medalist runner. He left the fame and glory that was his in Scotland for the unreached people in China. In the village he was serving in, a man was sentenced to die by beheading. The executioner missed his mark and the man was left for dead. Liddell placed the man in a cart and pushed the man for 18 miles to the nearest hospital. The man's life was saved and he converted to Christ. I could see the wheels turning in my son's head as we read these amazing accounts, and he exclaimed, "I want to be like Eric Liddell, when I grow up!"

What makes a real hero? I submit it's not a latex suit and super-human powers. But a real hero is made by men and women, boys and girls who take God at His Word and live, and maybe even die for Him.

William Carey, missionary to India so aptly put it, "Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God." Get this book, be inspired and fall in love with some real heroes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We don't do Santa...

We don't do Santa or the Easter Bunny and I accidently spilled the beans on the Tooth Fairy. But a few years ago I came up with some new characters for Valentine's Day...the Lovebugs.

Maybe I did it out of guilt, or maybe I was just bored, but I wanted to create some of that childish wonder and imigination for my kids that I had as a child. We felt that for our household, Santa and the Easter Bunny both detracted from the ability to saturate Christmas and Easter with the gospel. So, I thought, "Why not take the historically-pagan "Tamus" day and turn it around for Christ?" Thus, the Lovebugs were born.

From February 1-14 mysterious little bugs sneak into our house, leave goodies and notes in the the children's mailboxes. Sometimes its a note, sometimes a joke or a riddle, sometimes there's a gift, sometimes there's not. And sometimes, the bugs get caught in the winter storm and are running a little late. (A.K.A. Mom forgot that it was February 1st and had to run to Target last minute.) But the message remains the same, the Lovebugs try to remind and point us back to the most amazing love during this season and every season-God's love for us through Jesus Christ.

The best part of the Lovebugs are some of the notes the kids leave behind. "What's your favorite color?" "Where do you live?" or my favorite, "I love you Lovebugs, we'll miss you!"

I've been surprised at how quickly and passionately the kids have latched on to the Lovebugs. My oldest is pushing 10 and she doesn't "seem" to suspect. Maybe she knows deep down, but fears that if she verbalizes her doubts the fun tradition might stop.

If you see any of my kids between now and Valentine's Day, help me keep the secret, and don't spill the beans!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Summer in Review-2010

Summer flies by, even as an adult. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) from the "R" household over the last 2 1/2 months.

Horseback riding lessons
Friend playdates
New photos
A friend's visit from out of town
Start-up of new Silpada business
Sweet family time in Durango
The smell of 4th of July fireworks
A weekend with friends in Chama at a friend's cabin
Matt Whitling, our houseguest
Teacher training and new family interviews
3 trips to the zoo
1 trip to Explora
1 trip to the Natural History Musuem
2 trips to the Botanical gardens
1 trip to Cliff's, or lovingly renamed in our house "Clifford's"
1 NAUMS conference in Dallas
1 Sweet get-a-way with husband and 4 month old
1 extra movie role in "Let Them Shine"
"Little House in the Big Woods"
"The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane"
3 rooms in the house re-arranged and cleaned out
1 loft repainted
2 bike rides along the Bosque
4 board meetings
Family Education Week
Oak Grove projects-galore
Countless "owies" kissed
Countless forgivenesses extended
Sister-in-law's scary car accident
Outpouring of love and prayers
New mercies every day...

A good reminder, and my prayer today is, "Teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ella Faith

Admittedly, I'm terrible at this blogging thing. I've been so sweetly reminded by several friends, of late. So here it is. I'll try to do better. Promise.

Since my last post announced our pregnancy, I thought it would be appropriate to post the first pictures of our sweetest addition, Ella Faith. She was born 2.5 weeks early on St. Patricks Day. She's already 11 weeks old. She was 7lbs 15 oz, 20inches long.

My labor with her was unlike any of my previous 3. Tim and I had taken some Hypnobirthing classes. (I know, it sounds weird, but it really works!) For the first time, I felt that we were in control of our birth experience. We decided to birth at home as long as possible. The Lord's timing was really amazing as I look back. It was spring break, so thankfully we had no school responsibilities. Tim and I had toyed around with the idea of taking a vacay to southern Colorado, while the in-laws kept the kids for us. On Tuesday morning we decided that we'd have a stay-cation instead. The idea of driving for 3-4 hours was less than appealing to me. So we had a great day hanging around ABQ. We ate out, went shopping, saw a movie, and just had a great time together. I had no idea that I'd have a baby in less than 24 hours.

The next morning at 3am I woke up in labor. We ended up going to the hospital to get checked (just in case). I was 5cm, and we decided to go home and labor at home naturally. The nurses looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to go home at 5cm. We were there all day, working through my contractions. At about 5pm I knew it was time to go in. All of a sudden I was very nervous that I'd be having a baby on the Big-I. By the time we got to the hospital, I was about 7cm. I'll spare you all the gorey details, but just 2 hours and 2 pushes later we had a baby.

The HB worked really well for me. I was amazed at how much I learned in the class. I thought after 3 kids, I knew what I was doing. On our last class our instructor brought a 2 lb bag of ice to our house. Our, I should say, my "test" to graduate from the class was that I had to stick my hand in a bucket of ice for about 3 minutes. I had to use all the relaxation techniques I had learned to get through the pain of the cold. If you've never tried keeping your hand in a bucket of ice for an extended period of time, you should try it. It hurts!!! After about 30 seconds of tensing up and wanting to pull my hand out, I was able to give in to "it" and actually relax. That's the whole concept of HB. Learning to relax your mind and body through labor and delivery.

I'd always dreamed of being one of these women who barely made a sound and refused all medical intervention. I did, ahem, make a few sounds, but was happy that I felt in control of my experience. The Lord was so gracious to even let my midwife be on duty that day and she delivered Ella!

Right after Ella was born they placed her on my belly and she nursed right away. This was one of our requests that she wasn't wisked off to be tested and rubbed down. She was definitely more relaxed and less traumatized by the whole thing. It was a beautiful experience with an even more beautiful result. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

A sampling from the last 11 crazy weeks of our lives...

A Welcome Home board for me and Ella coming home from the hospital.

The "Wild Card" was how Grace would accept her new sister. So far, that hasn't been an issue. She's quite smitten with her.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Post-NY Surprise

I suspected all week in NY, but kept talking myself out of it. We've never been surprised before, so I was sure my mind was playing tricks on me. So, the first morning we returned home, a test confirmed my suspicions. Next April, our quiver will be +1 and complete. We're anxious to meet this new little one, known right now only to the Lord.

Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward.-Psalm 127

First Day of School-take 2

#1 with 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Nixon

#2 with Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kinney

Ok, so once again, I'm a bit behind on posting since this happened over 2 weeks ago. #1 started 3rd grade, her second year at Oak Grove, and my #2 started Kindergarten. Neither he nor I cried, which surprised me. I was fully prepared for this to be the case. I had been dreading and looking forward to this day for over a year. The realization of how big this day was didn't really occur to him. He just knew that he was getting "big" and was able to go to school just like his big sister.

Maybe I didn't cry because I realize it's only 2 days a week, and the thought of actually getting some chores done during the week sounds really nice. Nonetheless, it feels like such a monumental step in life to send off yet another child to start at least a 13 year journey towards hopefully more fully grasping Christ-likeness and understanding the world around him.

When I picked him up from school the first day I asked him, "How was your first day of school?" He replied, "It was so hard! We worked all day!"

I know one day I'll blink and they'll be graduating. I'll try not to think about that too much, and I'll just appreciate the fact that they are both just so darn cute in their school uniforms and excited about going to school.