Thursday, March 15, 2012

Artist of the Month!

I just had to share! Maddie is one of the grade 1 artists of the month! Her picture is in the style of Picasso, who loved the circus. What a masterpiece! So proud of my little artist!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I still think in status updates

I've been home sick for two days.  I just started feeling human again this afternoon, so I thought I'd update my blog.

I may have given up Facebook for Lent, but that doesn't mean status update-worthy things have stopped happening.  Here, in no particular order, are the highlights:

-In kid language, mommy getting in the shower = time to ask mommy to do things for me.
-Instant pudding and cook & serve pudding are NOT the same thing.
-Pillows make good surfboards.
-I can't stand throwing away rotten produce.
-The world needs more films like The Descendants and Dolphin Tale.
-Todd and Ava have a secret handshake.  It's pretty cute.
-Kevin Honeycutt ( has renewed my passion for teaching.

I had a running list going.  There were several more, these were the ones that made the final cut.  I realized as I was compiling this post that a lot of what I have to say just isn't that important.  Not so important, at least, that I should have to shush my daughters so I can concentrate on writing a status update.

So that's what I learned so far this Lent: a kind of quiet discipline.  Thinking before I post.  I hope it's a lesson that stays with me even after Lent is over.

Oh, and for those of you that are having withdrawal symptoms from not seeing pictures of the girls, here's one from a bridal shower we were at last Saturday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letters to Your Child

"Direct  your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." (Proverbs 22:6)

My principal shared this wonderful letter from a mother to her son on her blog this week, and I thought I'd share it with you, too.

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing letters.  I have this quiet fear that God might call me home before I'm done raising my daughters.  This thought paralyzes me, because there's so much more that I need to teach them.  So I've been thinking a lot about writing my precious girls letters.  One on their graduation from high school.  For Prom.  On their first day of college.  Their wedding day.  Upon the birth of their first child.  These are the big moments.

But the letter I linked above is fitting for those small moments that we might miss if we're too busy thinking about the "big stuff".  It was written upon her son's first day of third grade.  It was meant to instruct her son about being compassionate and listening to that small voice in your heart if you see someone being treated as less than a beloved child of God.  

It is in these "small moments" that the most important parenting happens.  When a child is hurt or wronged by a classmate or friend.  When success or failure is experienced for the first time.  When a child sees an injustice.  When a heart is filled, then broken.  It is in these moments that we learn virtues like courage, faith, hope, temperance, and love. 

What is the biggest "small moment" you've experienced with your kids lately, and how did you handle it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Conquering Chores

Chore charts and checklists.  They make me crazy.  In the three years since Maddie has been old enough to begin doing chores, I've yet to find a system that works for me.

I've always struggled with the idea of doing chores for money.  There are "required" chores, like cleaning up one's own toys, brushing teeth, and making sure clothes make it to the laundry chute.  But there are also "extra" chores, like folding laundry, vacuuming, and sweeping the porch that could be used to earn allowance. 

 I saw the chore system pictured above on Etsy.  I knew I could do something similar for free.

So I grabbed some popsicle sticks, a pencil cup, and cute library pockets I had laying around my classroom.  I laminated the library pockets, used a straight razor to open the pocket part, and put a piece of adhesive magnet strip on the back.

I used the chore list on the Etsy site to start compiling a list of "extra" chores for which Maddie, and eventually Ava, could be paid.  Most chores have a $1 value, but some are $.50.  I was careful to not duplicate too many of the tasks in the consequence jar (more on that here). I wrote the chore and value on the popsicle sticks in colorful permanent marker. 

The idea is that when Maddie wants to earn extra money, she chooses a chore from the chore cup.  If it's the first time she's done that particular chore, I help or supervise as she works.  Sometimes I need to adjust my expectation of "clean".  I don't nag or demand that Maddie complete chores.  But I might suggest a task by saying, "Hey Maddie, I have a basket of clean towels here that needs folding..."  Once the chore is complete and it's been approved by myself or my husband, she can put the chore stick in her pocket.  Saturday is payday. 

So far, the system is working!  The "required" chores are getting done in a more timely manner, and Maddie has been earning allowance money, too.  The most she's earned in a week is $5, which I think is developmentally appropriate.  She's earned less, too.  I'm careful to motivate her that if she had a slow week, next week can always be better if you work hard!

How do you handle chores in your household?  Is it working?  I'd love to hear your comments!